Marriage Talk and Divorce Talk

As we ate dinner, we were listening to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song “Same Love.”  I really like the song, and I think the boys should be exposed to good music and good causes.

Tornado E: Mommy,why do you like this song?

Is this the time to talk about this?  Should he know?  But then he’s already exposed to Ron Paul beating up Obama and Obama is against the military.  Thank you socialization at school and ill-informed parents.

So yes.

Me: Because it’s beautiful.  It celebrates all love and equality for everyone.

Tornado E: Boys marry girls.  But boys marry boys?  Eww.

Me: Why?

Tornado E: It’s gross.

Me: Love is not gross.  If it is real, healthy love, it’s beautiful.  Love is God.  If two boys love each other, then they should be able to get married if they want.  Or have a family if they want.

Tornado E: I don’t know.  I don’t think I want to marry a boy.

Me: You don’t have to.  You can marry whoever you fall in love with as long as it’s real love.  Everyone should be able to.

Tornado E: I still don’t want to love a boy.

Me: (laughing) Then fall in love with a girl.

Tornado S: I love everyone in the whole world!

Me: Good job, Tornado S.  We should love everyone.  Right now, we’re talking about a love that makes people want to marry.  Like Nana and Papi.

Tornado E: Why didn’t you say you and Daddy?

And we have found a dangerous path.

Me: Because Daddy and I aren’t married any more.

Tornado S: You should get married then!

Me: We were.  But now we are not.

Tornado E: Why?

Why?  The question that worries me.  They deserve the Truth.  But when they are ready.  Because it is their story too.  But they are too young to understand the mistakes, the issues, the choices, the stupidity of it all.  The things that are a war on marriage, more damaging than two men or two women getting married.  No one’s marriage destroyed my own.  He and I did it.  While he dealt the fatal blow, I helped tear it down too.  But a 7 year-old, a 5 year-old, and a 2 year-old do not need to know all that.  They do not need a white lie either.  They don’t need to hear the bs excuse of “we fell out of love” or “we are too different of people.”  Honestly.

I took a deep breath.

Me: It’s complicated.  It’s very complex, so you’ll have to wait until you’re older for a full answer.  But basically, we made mistakes.  Some people didn’t want to change.  (Ok, I didn’t say I would give the perfect answer.  Damn.)  But no matter what, your daddy and I love you boys very much.  More than we can say.  You are more important than anything else in this world.  (I looked each of them in the eyes.)  I love you.  You are wonderful boys.

Tornado E nodded.

Tornado S: Can we have dessert now?  I ate all my food.

Thin mints!  Chocolate!  That’s what we need!

I needed lots of chocolate.  Because as far as complicated, complex, oh-man-being-a-parent-is-so-hard talks, this didn’t go so badly.

It’s the first one in a long run of them, isn’t it?

Damn.

Just a pause

Tonight I was going to type up and post the new craft we did.  Tonight I was going to email a pen pal I owed a letter.  Tonight I was going to return a Facebook message that is a week overdue.  Tonight I was going to catch up reading on a bunch of blogs, maybe even work on writing.  Tonight I had goals.

But as I read a post mentioning midlife crisises and life sucking but having friends, my breath came out ragged.  I sat there, breathing.  Hearing it catch.  Not being able to take a full breath.   In.  One.  Two.  Three.  Out.  One.  Two.  Three.  In.  And then the worst happened, tears started to form in my eyes.  And that solidness, like a gong, like a thud, like understanding, filled me.  I was scared.  Terrified.  Scared out of my f-ing mind.  And I kind of have the right to be.

So now I take off my armor.  The one that keeps me fighting, standing, guarding.  The one that keeps me smiling, doing, moving, being.  The one that kept me from running off.  The one that kept me living.  The one that makes me strong enough to be a good mother, even if I want to run away, curl up in a ball and talk to no one.  I can take it off because they are sleeping.  And I can take it off here because this is the space for it, right?

I’m scared.  And I wonder how I could have chosen so wrongly.  I know what my family and friends would say to that.  I know what he would say to that.  But I don’t care because the fact is if I had chosen wisely, I wouldn’t be here now.  Scared.  Alone.  Scared.  I can handle alone.  Right now, at this moment, I can’t handle fear.

I’m scared of going into battle.  I don’t want to.  I’m the pacifist, the diplomat, the peace-maker, as my dad would say.  I don’t like fighting.  But I know I will fight if I have to, and I will fight hard and strong.  And I’m terrified about losing.  Because I’m not fighting for me or my pride or for vengeance, I’m fighting for what’s best for my boys.  I’ll do anything to give them a chance to be The Good Guys.  And I already messed up.  Because if I had chosen wisely, we wouldn’t be here.

I’m scared of all the pitfalls and traps that could be out there.  I have to face the facts of a good plan gone to hell.  I have to read statistics that make me nervous.  I can see dreams disappearing, hopes being dashed.  It’s a dark, scary world out there. 

I know the worst won’t be as bad as I fear.  I know I’m loved, and I have some great people in my corner.  I know whatever happens I’ll make the best out of it.  But that doesn’t stop the fear. 

All I can do is acknowledge this.  Accept it.  Know that it’s there.  Because tomorrow I’ll strap on my armor and get back to what I do best.  By the time you read this, I’ll be already battling, already moving, already going, and this will just be a dream.

Mail Call

I stared at the envelopes.  Three Christmas cards arrived in one day.  They all had something in common.  It took me a moment to realize it.

My maiden name.

The first one was addressed to me.  It was from my best friend.  She always used my real name.  She knew from the beginning of our friendship.  We discussed our reasons why we didn’t change ours.  Feminists that we are, it was obvious.  Our reasons were the same.

The other two cards.

My maiden “And The Boys.”

How fitting.

The first was from a friend who had a son in Tornado E’s class last year.  We walk as often as we can together during the week.  With our busy schedules. We make it once or twice.  I couldn’t remember telling her my maiden name, but I talk so much, it wouldn’t have surprised me if I had said it and forgot two minutes later.  Or she could have asked one of our mutual friends.  Or looked it up on Facebook.  Whatever the reason, it was an acknowledgement.  She might have known a few weeks after it happened, when I told my friends so they would understand if Tornado E acted a little odd and cut him some slack.  They did.  They also created a net to catch me if I fell.  I didn’t.  I dance a tight rope well.

The third card.

My maiden name “and Sons.”

My grandma.  She knew I never changed my name.  “Hollywood actresses don’t.  They keep their maiden names for professional reasons and use their husbands’ for personal business.”  I shouldn’t have been shocked.  This was the matriarchal side of the family, after all.  There hadn’t been a weak-willed woman born into that family in living memory.  But she had always addressed mail and checks to my married name.  Even my last birthday check.

Someone had told her.  At first, it was held a secret because we were “suppose” to be working it out.  It didn’t take long for me to realize I was foolishly hoping, and it all became permanent, just not legal.  Why not tell then?  But how and when?  With my mom going through chemo.  Without a set legal date.  With the worry of what would be said to my sons who regressed in their bathroom habits.  With his asking to keep it secret, just for a little while.  And then a year came and went.  The Clan knew.  But only because they guessed and gossiped.  My father’s mother gave me oh-so-not-helpful advice.  Quite similar to her oh-so-not-helpful marriage advice.  My mother’s family did not know.  I had asked for respected silence because I didn’t want to be gossiped about, because I felt like a failure, because of all the things mentioned before.  It’s easy to hide things when chaos reigns.

My maiden name “and Sons.”

When did she learn?  Was that why she stuffed so many leftovers in my hands at Thanksgiving?  Was that why she reminded me over and over how she could watch the boys if I needed it?  Was there a certain awe in her voice (much like my mother-in-law’s voice held) when she talked about how I did so much with the boys, by myself?  (Keep in mind that for the first year of our move, the ex was only in town half the month, spent football Sundays at the bar, and was gone on business and guy trips more frequently than the family deemed appropriate.  Not that I cared; that was my life, taking care of the house and boys without help.)  Does that mean I get an extra gift like The Friendly Giant at Christmas because I don’t have a spouse?

My maiden name “and Sons.”

An acknowledgement.

Yes.  My family.  My no-name household.  My boys and I.

It was a more fitting acknowledgement than the other’s Grandma writing how Christ will watch over me.  Um, thanks.