10 Years, 9 Months, 12 Days, and 2 Kids Later …

I filed for divorce.

So there’s that.

This decision was arrived at neither casually nor mutually. While Leif would be quite content to stay married forever, I am not, for reasons I do not feel the need to discuss at this time.

I know the question you want answered: What happened? Sorry to disappoint you, but nothing happened. We could blame the fact that we got married too young or too fast, or had kids too soon, or worked too many long hours, but the fact of the matter is that lots of relationships include those variables and turn out just fine in the end.

There is no one moment in time a person can pinpoint and say, “Aha! That’s when it all started to fall apart!” You don’t just wake up one day and say to yourself, “You know, I think I’ll file for divorce today. For kicks and giggles.”

Divorce is tragic. It rips families apart. It leaves emotional scar tissue in its wake. God hates it. It is never to be taken lightly. It is an option of last resort. Well, except for murder, but that’s illegal and I hate blood, and oh yeah, it’s evil and I hope I never hate anyone enough to even entertain that idea.

I know there are questions, so I’ve done my best to preemptively answer some of them below. Because I’m a blogger and I like to share.

FAQ

Q: How can this happen when you guys seemed so happy?

A: Once upon a time we were happy. Not every couple’s story ends with a “happily ever after.” Once you start to realize you aren’t happy, there’s a very long period of time spent in denial. I am happy, dammit! Things are just rocky right now, slowly transforms into, ok, I’m a wee bit miserable, but I’ll be happy again soon.

This doesn’t happen over weeks or months, but years. Then you start to question your sanity, because there are some good times sprinkled here or there that glimmer of hope that things are changing and the heat wave will break and beautiful flowers will bloom on the morrow.

If you’re a blogger, you share the good times and only occasionally the bad, and you hold fast to the belief that things will get better. Behind the scenes, you hope and you pray and you beg and you try everything to make it work. You yell and you cry and you apologize and try to ignore the fact that there’s been no real resolution.

You remember how happy you were to walk down the aisle and say, “I do,” and promise your heart to another. You hold onto those memories with a vice-like grip. You look at your children, little human beings that you made together, and think things can’t be so bad, because look at this amazing goodness that came from your union. It will get better, right?

In other words, denial is a powerful thing, and not everything is as it seems.

Q: What about the girls?

A: They are bright and wonderful children who are very loved by two devoted parents. With some counseling and time to grieve and adjust, they will be just fine.

Q: How can you call yourself a Christian?

A: If you call yourself a Christian, you have no business asking that, you hypocrite. If you don’t, then the only answer I have is that I believe in the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that my soul was bought at the price of His blood shed on the cross. That doesn’t change with my marital status.

Q: Have you thought this through?

A: Gosh, no I didn’t! I didn’t think at all about how much this will hurt our friends and loved ones, how it might affect my daughters’ romantic relationships later in life, the grief of our happily married parents, the awkward social situations that are bound to arise, the inevitable financial strain …

Q: Do you know how hard life is as a single parent?

A: Probably not. I didn’t know how hard motherhood was going to be either. No one can fully anticipate what trials the future holds. One day at a time, baby.

Q: Is there any chance you guys could work it out?

A: It’s unlikely, but I have agreed to hold off on definitively answering that question or finalizing anything until some of these festering emotional wounds have had a bit of time and space to heal.

Regardless, I believe that ultimately all things work together for God’s glory, even the nasty bits. So even if we don’t work out, I know everything will work out in the end exactly as it’s meant to be.

Q: Are you still living together?

A: No. (Please see previous Q&A and note the ‘time and space’ contingent.)

Q: Where are the girls?

A: They’re living with me, and Leif has visitation. We’re working on figuring things out. It’s been all of less than three weeks since the fit hit the shan, so we obviously don’t have an ironed-out schedule at this point. So far we’ve been making sure that they know when they will be seeing the other parent next, because apparently stability is important.

Q: Is this why you’ve been so quiet on the blog front this past year?

A: Basically. My life has been consumed with getting through my days, aching at not being able to get through to my husband, questioning my grip on reality, questioning our history, and questioning God. And tears — lots and lots of tears.

In other words, it’s hard to think up something to share with y’all when all I wanted to write was, “Sooooo … my life is falling apart around me and the scotch tape I’ve always used to hold it together doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore…”

Q: What can I do for you?

A: Please be respectful. Don’t assume anything. No one knows what goes on inside a relationship except the people in that relationship, and even then it occasionally often gets convoluted.

Pray for us. Don’t take sides. Don’t pray for reconciliation and don’t pray for divorce. Pray that God’s will be done — no matter what the outcome. Because guess what? It will be done. God is kinda almighty like that. So I guess … please pray that grace be plentiful all around as we wade through this crap.

And of course, the most important thing is our children. Hearing negative things about either of their parents will not benefit them in any way, shape, or form, and as my great grandma always said, “Little pitchers have big ears.” So if you have something negative to say about either one of us, I kindly ask you to take a deep breath and remember that there are children involved.

On Contentment

So yesterday I threw myself a little pity party. It was a looooong day, especially considering I couldn’t sleep the night before because of the big snoring man in my bed. I slept from 1-3, then just could not get back to sleep. It was like those horrible power naps that toddlers do in the last five minutes of a car ride, and then they think they’re ready to roar instead of going to bed. Parents, I know you know what I’m talking about.

So I was exhausted to begin with. Then the Things woke up slightly cracked as well. I put them in front of the TV, because I had about two hours of phone calls and loads of writing that needed to be done.

I made them turn off the TV after a few hours (yes, I said few hours. Judge away, Judgey McJudgerson), but maybe I should’ve just called it a day and let the thing stay on. Because I was left with two TV monsters.

TV Monsters are worse than Playdate Monsters, but not as bad as Birthday Cake Monsters. Crap. Fine. Whatevs. Let’s get some energy out. Time to walk to the park. Maybe I’ll even make up for being a crummy mommy by buying them ice cream at the A.M.P.M. across the street from the park!

We found our shoes, Furbaby’s leash, I slipped my credit card into the back pocket of my jeans, and we were out the door. It usually takes fifteen minutes or so to walk the halfish mile to the park, but the girls were flying, excited to get to their frozen yumminess. The idea was to get the ice cream, then let them burn off some energy at the park.

We walk in, and the girls picked out ice cream cones. There was a line. There was someone that couldn’t figure out which lucky lottery scratcher should be his. It was 90 degrees outside. I was holding a squirmy dog that didn’t get why she couldn’t be on the floor. Two little girls were dancing impatiently, asking if they could eat their ice cream.

Yes, that’s fine. I didn’t want it to melt before they had a chance to enjoy it.

Do you know what’s coming next? A.M.P.M. doesn’t take credit cards. I had no way to pay for the two cones my kids were munching on. I felt like such a dick. Especially because I totally knew they only took cash or debit. Which is why we usually go to the 7-11. But I didn’t want to walk the kids along a busy road, and it’s the opposite direction of the park anyway.

I stammered something about coming right back to pay him, I live just right over there and I’m so sorry, no really I am, I never do crap like this and I really want to pay you and I swear I’ll be right back!

The guy just sort of waved me off and said I could come back. He didn’t seem to believe me, and determined to prove him wrong, we skipped the park and went straight home, where I grabbed my purse, buckled the girls into the car, and drove back. It couldn’t have been more than 15 minutes later, but there had been a shift change, and I had to explain to a very confused man that I wanted to pay for two ice cream cones that had already been consumed.

That was fun. Not.

Finally back home, park skipped, now behind on a deadline, I ask them to PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS GOOD AND HOLY KEEP IT DOWN SO MOMMY CAN RUB HER THREE REMAINING BRAIN CELLS TOGETHER AND WRITE SOMETHING COHERRENT!

And then they turned into these angel demon children and mewed screamed like kittens banshees for the next few hours. Meanwhile, my head is pounding, my hands are literally starting to shake with exhaustion, and every time I talk to Leif, he sounds distracted and distant, and just says he’ll be home ‘late.’

Fine. Whatevs.

Somehow manage to get the girls fed and into bed, sit down to try and put together my podcast. And then Leif calls to tell me he’s headed home; he had a crappy day, and is there dinner?

Gah.

He told me not to worry about it, but he sounded so damn sad I thought to myself, poor guy worked a fourteen-hour day, the least I can do is throw together some tomato sauce and boil water for spaghetti. And as I chopped onions and garlic and filled pots, my brain simmered with the tomatoes. Only the tomatoes were probably smarter at this point.

Must be nice to work all day without howler monkeys climbing all over you and then come home to dinner.

I’m so sick of it being a mess in here. I need to call that lady to come clean, but I have this horrible fear of calling people.

I’ve called John Thune, I should be able to call Rita’s Cleaning Service.

Talking to John Thune was fun.

Way better than today, which has sucked beyond a thousand sucks, and it totally would’ve sucked less if Leif had come home earlier, or at least been a little bit nicer to me on the phone.

Come to think of it, it’s totally his stupid fault that I’m this exhausted. Why couldn’t I have a normal-allergy free husband? Then I could put Parmesan in this sauce and it would be so much better and Leif ruins everything including Yosemite because he’s allergic to everything that grows and he snores and its not fair and oh my God I’m sitting on the kitchen floor sobbing and talking to my mom on the phone asking her to say something nice about me because God this is too much to handle right now and I know I love Leif but right now I’m so damn upset with everything and it’s totally all his fault.

Got off the phone. Leif got home a minute or two later. He snapped at me for making dinner, saying he could’ve done it himself. I said, “I know it’s irrational and you won’t understand, but I’m just so angry with you that I can’t even stand it.”

I tried to get the podcast put together before it needed to be uploaded, but it wasn’t happening. I was just … done. My brain was officially shutting down. I tweeted this:

I really couldn't.

And then I cracked open Proverbs 31, because maybe that lady of virtue had some advice. This verse resonated in my soul – “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” It’s about God, not about me.

Not. About. Me. I was wallowing in discontentment rather than showing appreciation for the wonderful things I’ve been blessed with. I mean, Leif worked 14 hours yesterday, and he just g*talked me to say he’s still at work. He went in at 8 this morning. It is now almost 10pm. He does this so that our daughters can go to private school and the doctor and piano lessons and we have a roof over our heads and safe cars to drive and an occasional vacation. So he’s allergic to everything. Oh well. It’s turned me into a great cook because I have to make everything from scratch. So he’ll never camp in Yosemite. I won’t have to worry about a bear eating me.

I’m sure I’m not exactly what Leif thought he ordered either. I’m impulsive and impetuous, I hate cleaning more than just about anything, and I will never understand anything about computers, comic books, or RPGs.

Thing 1 has this saying she picked up in school somewhere: You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

Sometimes life is rough, and it’s so easy to fall into a pity pot and think, “Only if…” There is no “only if.” It doesn’t exist. Yeah, working from home is not a piece of cake, but I get to be there to walk them to the park and accidentally steal ice cream cones for them.

Yeah, I have stretch marks, but they are so worth it for those two gorgeous girls.

We don’t have a house with a backyard, but we have a gorgeous (cluttered) home in America’s Finest City. And a community pool.

I will probably never learn to play the guitar. But that’s ok. I have an iPod. I’m good.

I don’t have a convertible, but I have tons of daydreams about having one someday. And daydreams are fun.

I don’t have a sister, but I have amazing parents, brothers, in-laws, children, and of course my Leif, who is still at the office at 10:04.

I got what I got, and gosh it’s a lot.

I’ll try not to throw any more fits.

P.S. Yes, we kissed and made up. It’s what we do. :-)

Thoughts On the Royal Wedding: It’s the Marriage That Counts

The newlywed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had quite the wedding party to celebrate their marriage vows. I think it’s wonderful. If a girl marrying a prince can’t have a spectacular wedding and supremely gorgeous dress, who can?

But my heart’s just not into the excitement of it all. One of the greatest gifts God gave us is marriage, and the public declaration of a life-long commitment to another person is precious, glorious, and terrifying. It’s why chicks cry at weddings. It’s emotional, man!

It makes me sad that so many people no longer value the sanctity of marriage. That love has become a squishy, tender feeling, rather than a verb. People don’t fall out of love; they fall out of lust, infatuation, or like. And then they throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Marriage is hard. Sometimes it sucks. Tough. Deal with it. When you set out on a journey with another person, you hold that person’s hand through storms and sunny afternoons alike. Hopefully your days will be mostly sunny with a small storm here or there, but there are no guarantees in life.

Marriage vows do not ask us to have and hold each other until death do us part, or until life gets crappy, whichever comes first.

Marriage is commitment, not an excuse for a party. No Brad Pitt, you and Jennifer Aniston did not have a successful marriage, and you saying so doesn’t show maturity or emotional evolution, or whatever anyone wants to call it. It mocks and belittles marriage, and shows a blatant disregard of your own commitments.

The deprecation of marriage by celebrities (royalty included) makes it impossible for me to get super excited about Will and Kate. I wish nothing but the best for the newlyweds, and hope that through the years they will prove my cynicism wrong. I hope they will be each other’s best friend and truly love one another, and not become another couple that disparages their vows with secrets, lies, cruelty, affairs, and eventual divorce.

Now please excuse me while I go kiss my husband and remind him that I love him.

Who Needs a Man? I Do!

In this fabulous era of equality, I’m hard-pressed to find something a man can do that I can’t. Maybe pee standing up, but that’s about it. I have the same opportunities as men in this glorious nation. Opportunities for an education, a career, the right to vote — things our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could only dream of.

It was a hard-won fight by our foremothers, but by golly, we have arrived. Growing up in the tail end of the twentieth-century, it never occurred to me to limit myself based on my gender. I never played dumb to attract a boy (in fact I tutored more than one boyfriend), never feared discrimination for having breasts, and never needed a man to intercede on my behalf.

In other words: I am woman, hear me roar!

Unfortunately, many of my homegirls have taken this whole equal-to-a-man concept and erroneously transformed it into a we-don’t-need-men-except-as-sperm-donors ideal. Want kids, but don’t want to put up with a pesky man and his stinky feet and his whiskers in the sink every morning? Just get yourself a spermsicle, and you too can be aglamorous single mom!

Who needs a perpetual man-child anyway? Aren’t we better off without them?

Read the rest at The Stir