It’s a Monday morning. Baby girl likes to stuff her plushy kitten into the doll’s highchair so she can feed him ‘cheeee!!’ In Baby Girl speak, that’s cheese. Of course, I’m sitting and helping her with the logistics, and giving her praise for kitty’s newfound happiness. Most days, I believe my job as mommy should come equipped with a kazoo and a handbook entitled ‘Chasing: how many laps around the couch are enough?’ I’m like the personal assistant of silliness. I love my job. I’m good at it.
But some days, my job represents something monumentally overwhelming. And when I think about it for even just a moment too long, I have to swallow hard to stop the tidal wave I know is coming. But today, I don’t want to think about that. I just want to help this cat eat some cheese, and get lost in the delight that I see in Baby Girl’s eyes over the simplest of things.
Stupid Calliou. It never fails. It comes on in the background behind me for the 412th time, and the crippling pain strikes out of nowhere as I hear the narrator say ‘Calliou wanted to go to the park, so he asked his daddy to take him. But he couldn’t find his skates!’ And then Calliou’s crudely animated mommy and daddy sit down together to talk to him about responsibility, about putting his things back where they go…and suddenly, I’m in the familiar position of feeling like I need to stifle a scream with the back of my hand.
A mere glimpse of this simple family interaction during my child’s show, and I’m undone. I feel the full force of the unending emotional implications that have been handed to us, all at once. Brutally. Thoughtlessly. ENDLESSLY.
He took our family away. It is incomplete now. It is forever. And the cruelty of it reverberates in my heart as strongly today as it did the day that he left. I look to our future, and I see the unknown. I don’t see family dinners together. I don’t see days where Honey runs out to the store, and takes Little Man for an ice cream secretly before coming back home. I don’t see Baby Girl running to him, arms outstretched, exclaiming ‘Daddy!!’ as if it’s the best word she’s ever uttered. I don’t see Christmas morning, leaning into Honey holding my coffee as we watch them squeal with delight.
What I do see now is the unknown, commingled with one singular, constant truth. Suffering. I see it stretching far off into the distance, like a piano wire running through every day of every calendar I’ll ever own. Suffering will now always be a part of our lives.
Our little threesome is a cracked vase that I’ve been painstakingly trying to fix. My fingers bleed as I use every shard to try to put it back together, but no matter how great a job I do, we are always going to be a cracked vase. Little Man and Baby Girl are always going to feel and know and suffer from the fact that their family is broken. I will do my best to stifle my horror at this. I will put on the smiles. I will take up the slack in every conceivable, exhausting way I can. But it’s never going to resolve within their hearts what they did wrong to not deserve a family. What they did wrong that they don’t get to have their daddy living with them. Because that’s what kids do. They blame themselves. And I am going to do everything in my power to make sure they know it wasn’t their fault. It’s yet another thing I have to feel disgust and resentment towards Honey for. Divorce: the gift that keeps on giving.
If Honey were reading this, he would likely claim that I’m being overly dramatic. I would love for that to be true. But it isn’t. And for the sake of his own conscience, I’m sure he will choose to see it that way. Of the handful of times he’s responded to my pleas or anger or dismay at what he’s done, he won’t comment on 95% of what I say. He’s beyond non-confrontational. He’s…robotic. He’s said ‘Your opinion is just that; your opinion’ when I’ve blasted him for not keeping in contact more with the babies. I guess that may be non-confrontationalese for ‘I don’t care what you think’. I wish, just one time, that this man who CANNOT FIGHT would get in an argument with me. I would have much preferred a nice, raised voice argument over adultery and abandonment. I can’t even have a fight in my divorce! But, no matter what I say, I can’t get him to crack that veneer. He’s broken, and there’s no amount of glue that can ever fix him, either. I think he’s incapable of escaping what plagues him.
And I’d almost feel sorry for him, feel sorry for his brokenness if I had an ounce of selflessness left in my body. I’m mommy, daddy, breakfast/lunch/dinner maker, employee, taxi driver, spider killer, and future planner for a 1 and a 3 year old. You’ll have to get in line, Honey.
…You know what else kills me? Birthday shout-outs on the Sprout channel. ‘To Taylor of Madison, Wisconsin…happy third birthday! We are so proud of the great helper you are, you are such a blessing to us, we love you! Love, mommy, daddy, and your sister Kayla!’ And yet again, I’m choking back tears and white hot fury all in the same nano-second, wondering how this animal sleeps at night…