Max and I were talking a few years ago about all the cool stuff that his grandpa had collected from World War II. He said, “I really love my grandpa and I hope he lives forever.” I said, “I hope so, too, buddy, but you know, he’s in his eighties now so we have to be sure to visit him and your grandma as much as possible.” He said, “Mom, he’s going to be around for a while. Don’t you know that 80 is the new 50?”
Max’s grandfather passed away when he was 91 years old. I was divorced from Max’s father but I got the phone call when he died. I was devastated. This is a part of divorce that you do not think about when you are extricating yourself from the ruins of a house that you thought was built to last forever. I had talked to Max’s grandfather a couple of months before and he had told me goodbye. I just hadn’t realized that it was, really, the last time I would talk to him. I guess by that time, I was just done saying goodbye. To my marriage, my dreams, my ideal of a perfect life, being a perfect wife and mother, how selfish of me. It hadn’t entered my consciousness that saying goodbye to my marriage meant saying goodbye to everything and everyone else associated with it. After spending 20 years with the same person, it didn’t occur to me that I was truly going to be starting all over again. That division of property included dividing up family. You don’t stop loving your extended family but the fact is, you are not family anymore when the divorce is not amicable. And for the record, very few divorces are “amicable.”
The other night I sat with Shane at the dinner table and we talked about his future. He told me, “I don’t want to be in another house where people are fighting or breaking up. I’ve already been in that house. I don’t want to be there again.” That broke my heart. I said to him, “I am so sorry. I am sorry about the divorce. I am sorry that I didn’t try harder.” He said, “Don’t be sorry. You and my dad are different people now. It’s been good for both of you. This is better for all of us.” How fucked up that your kids are better people because you are apart, despite the fact you had to be together for them to exist in the first place.
Divorce sucks. The logistics of divorce suck. There’s no good way to transition kids between two households. There just isn’t. You can rationalize it all you want, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I know that when I don’t have my kids with me, I stay up too late and I don’t eat well. I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner and I watch and re-watch old 80’s movies on Netflix with my dogs on the couch. But it is my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It is my couch. And it is my time. I miss Max’s grandfather. I miss having the giant extended family that being married brings you. There’s nothing that can replace having a partner who really loves you and a huge, loving family. No peanut butter and jelly sandwich is that good. I believe that eventually, we will all get there. According to Max’s math, 55 is the new 25 so I’ve got some time left to have that great loving partner and huge extended family. So do you. L’Chaim.