Who You Calling Broken?

There were lots of things many people had to say when I separated from my husband of four years:

"You were married?" (My ex travels A LOT.)

"I told you it wouldn't last."

"I guess no more double dating?"

"Way to follow in your mother's footsteps!"

My mother-in-law insisted I was nothing but a "bad sport."

And on and on, filters hopelessly absent in most people's assessments of my un-wedded un-bliss.
Most of the responses, however, hovered around the concept of a Broken Home. As in, how will I possibly make up for my son's stigmatized status as a Child of Divorce. Conservative pundits found their way onto my radar with pronouncements of long-term horrors in store for my children, poor bastards.

Children, you say? Did I forget to mention the part where I got knocked up seven months after moving out of the marital home? BY A DIFFERENT MAN?

So now, not only did I have a son whose emotional, financial, and psychic stability I was threatening, but I was about to bring another baby into the mix whose very birth was being ignored by the one who had impregnated me.

And I was still living in Bronxville, Westchester, epi-center (however illusional) of picket-fence, SAHM, family values living.

Oh lo the bygone, sylvan days when graceful (if alcoholic) acceptance of a fucked up marriage was the only path, and girls were sent away to birth babies in secret.

Hark, in their stead, the separated and swollen-with-child Brooklyn Mama...cuz as soon as I could, I beat a fast path back to Fort Greene, where I started to recreate my narrative and tell myself and my kids a different story than the one our world wanted them to know.

So instead of talking about Broken Homes, we spoke of how lucky Luca was to have two Happy Homes. And bedtime stories wove in threads of his country house, where he had a grill and a backyard, and his city apartment, where we had three floors of neighbors and a whole playground within walking distance of our lobby door.

We talked about Papai's new girlfriend and how much fun they all had together.

And when Dash arrived home with me from the hospital, Luca's dad and I both thrilled at how much fun it was going to be to have a baby brother, even though he didn't have a Papai like Luca had. I told my kids how lucky we are to have each other, to have so many people around who loved and supported us. And that we are one Whole Family, all in one place in our hearts and heads.

Un-living together, yes. Un-married, yes.

But so very Un-Broken.


Christmas cheer...undone

I was trying to gracefully, and without much fanfare or ado, get the Christmas tree out of the apartment before the pine needles took over the living room and drove me to drink more than I already do. In my OCD-induced frenzy, I forgot the impact this could have on my two children, the youngest of whom had just discovered Holiday Spirit.

I had a friend come over and help remove the pendant decorations, and made a valiant effort at removing the silvery, stringy hair things I had carelessly and thoughtlessly hurled at the tree in a fake fit of Christmas Enthusiasm, otherwise known as Holiday Spirit For The Children.

We removed most of the decorations that seem so sweet and simple and anachronistic going up and so hopelessly old-fashioned, annoying and clingy coming down. Boxes of old-school Tree Balls, blinky lights, and homemade pinecone, puppet, and collage decorations. It all came down.

Upon waking the following morning, my boys hopped out of bed as usual, brushed their teeth, and went downstairs to watch television while I dragged myself out of bed in order to feed them before school.

Before I could say Organic Toaster Pastries and Grass-Fed Cows Milk, I heard a blood-curdling screech from downstairs, and flew, two at a time, down the stairs from my bedroom to the living room.

Upon arrival, I found Dash sitting on the sofa, mouth wide and lips starting to turn blue from lack of oxygen as he tried to catch his breath. His arm was extended, his right hand pointed out to his side, index finger aimed straight at the now-naked Christmas tree. In a look I can only describe as accusatory and murderous all at once, my three-year-old fixed his normally-sweet-little-face on my person and asked, in a tone nearly synonymous with the voice of Juliet upon finding her Romeo prone and lifeless, "WHAT DID YOU DO TO THE CHRISTMAS TREE?!???"

I went and kneeled before him, took his hands in mine, and said, "Oh sweetie, the elves came and took everything away..."

Because I am not going to be the subject of one more therapy appointment.