with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
So 2011 was a bit of a ride in the relationship department, in case you hadn’t heard. Facebook doesn’t yet have a diagram that would accurately convey my relationship status changes for 2011, or I’d copy it here. I’m thinking it would look something like a squiggly fat black line scrawled by a hyperactive toddler, a dark surly maze of crayon scribble. I went from attached to single to dating to attached to engaged to confused to more confused to oh crap to single again to single forever to time to revisit dating women to dating that’s not really dating to single again.
I’d like to think that everything happens for a reason. It sounds good and it’s reassuring, and if you say it with enough certainty at a dinner party or in the checkout line at the supermarket, whoever you’re talking to might just leave you alone about the miserable, sordid, mortifying details of what went down.
When the engagement became unengaged in late 2011 (like a car out of gear, drifting backwards down a hill, slipping into a dark lake, never to be seen again), my first reaction was OH THAT’S JUST SWELL, THAT’S AWESOMESAUCE. Because, really, there’s only so much character a 40something single mama can take. At a certain point, character-building becomes overkill, and you wind up wishing to God and the Universe to back the hell off so you can attempt life as a happy, shallow bee-yotch. BUT NO. For nearly five years, I’ve felt like an unlucky foie gras goose, being force-fed Character and Very Unwanted Wisdom. I’m sick of the stuff. JUST EAT MY F@CKING LIVER, ALREADY. Like most single mothers, I am now so full of character, I can practically puke it up onto crackers on demand.
If you don’t know, unengaging is awkward. It’s toilet paper hanging out of the back of your jeans awkward. It’s your skirt and your heart tucked up into your underwear for all to see kind of awkward. So I did what any reasonable, self-respecting woman of dubious choices would do in this situation: absolutely nothing original. I went back to bed whenever possible. I quietly deleted my relationship status on FB at 4am, when most of the continental U.S. was sleeping and less likely to notice the Epic Fail Newsflash. I wrote saccharin, cloyingly inspirational Jack Handy thoughts on the bathroom mirror. I walked my dog. I missed the one who stayed with the Disengager. I adopted a new dog. I hiked. I took up running, badly. I threw rocks in a river and bagels to birds. I smooched younger men. I returned to my old dysfunctional habit of nocturnal grocery shopping, to avoid running into any friendly faces or curious acquaintances. I WAITED THAT SHIZ OUT, is what I am saying. Not because I thought the world cared much (it didn’t), but just one or two people asking the wrong questions was going to smush me like a beetle on the wrong doormat at the wrong time.
So I told only the necessary folks that I was now unengaged and that the details were not worth talking about, unless they wanted me to puke character onto their shoes. I let the word get out from there. I prayed for the next meteorite of gossip to thunk down into our tiny community soon. Spring would come soon enough, I figured. Spring 2012. Surely some good juicy mess would reveal itself and everyone at the organic food co-op would have long forgotten about my minor drama.
For once, I really had nothing to say. I really didn’t want to talk. The exception, of course, was the girls. They had been let down too. So we talked plenty. We were there for each other. We laugh about the whole scene now, a little. They know better than the average kids that grownups are flawed and absurd and embarrassing creatures. I like to think their mother’s debacles will help them feel A-OK about any upcoming mistakes or heartaches in their own lives. I think life is easier, maybe, if your mother has a sloppy heart. You grow up with love and all of its messes, so none of it comes as much of a surprise to you later on. I’m working with that theory. At the very least, they will grow up to be marvelous sitcom writers.
So far, so good. We’re all doing well. Spring 2012 has arrived, and as I predicted, there are far more interesting tales circulating in the ‘hood. (You wouldn’t believe who just slept with whose ex.) I shop in the daylight hours again. I’m happy enough to remember to put on lipstick. I reconnected with the fella with whom I’d started 2011 but didn’t make it to February with. His 2011 was about as groovy as mine, busting with character-building exercises and public mortification. He’s the other exception: I wanted to tell him everything, which surprised me, in every way. I liked hearing about his gory 2011 too. The funny thing: 2011 looks good on us now, here in mid-2012. We’re a little savvier, a little softer, a little less likely to take anything for granted. Plus, he has awesome dimples, and my boobs are not half-bad either.
“So did he engage you yet?” my younger daughter asked. She’s happy he’s back on the scene. She and her sister approve.
“Uh, no,” I said, thinking again of car gears, of a Buick disappearing underwater. “But we’re good.”
“Yeah, I can tell. You both seem really happy just the way things are. That’s a good sign,” she said, then began brushing her teeth.
“It is,” I replied. “At least, I really think it is.”
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