I think I must have blacked out for a bit there. And now I’ve come to, Christmas – that sneaky, emotion-charged season – is in full swing. Do you know what that means? It means it’s a whole year since I looked up from making pom poms (those bastard little school fete pom poms) to realise that my marriage was toast. It also means I can legitimately buy myself (I mean the kids) an enormous tiger soft toy and listen to soppy Wham songs.
Yep. Last Christmas was positively craptastic. There’s nothing festive about sucking it up and holding it together for the kids, when all you want to do is crawl under a large rock. I was lucky, though, to have my sturdy support crew, who propped me up through December and January while I stomped my feet and cried bucket-loads. Whatever it took (wine, inappropriate jokes, nose blowing) they had my back, and helped me stumble through the season in a pretty rock ‘n roll fashion.
This Christmas is so much better.
Some marriage break-ups stretch out over a bumpy, painful road for years. Mine felt more like a gut-wrenching supernova at the time. But once the shell shock subsided, I realised that not only was I still standing, I was starting to feel a little inkling of something good. It felt like one of those stinking hot Melbourne days we have, after the rain washes all the heat and stink away. When everything feels fresher and newer, and suddenly you can breathe properly again.
I won’t sugar coat it and say it was a walk in the park from there on. Some of this year was absolutely, mind-numbingly, face-palmingly frustrating.
And here’s what really blows about being a separated parent. It’s the stupid (and not so stupid) little things:
Stupid little thing 1
The school uniform that got left at the other house. And by the way, it doesn’t make any difference how many sets you buy – they always end up at the other house.
Stupid little thing 2
The Goddamn Tuppaware and drink bottles and homework books that you need right now, this very morning, but are also at the other house.
Stupid little thing 3
The freaking 20-pack of kids socks and undies you bought last week, which seems to have migrated, on mass, to – you guessed it – the other house. Or the grandparents’ house. Or their beach house. Or ANY HOUSE OTHER THAN THE ONE YOU’RE IN RIGHT NOW.
< Deep breathing >
(not so) Stupid little thing 4
It’s when you’re in the car, absentmindedly fielding questions about McDonalds / why you shouldn’t play with your doodle in public / why the lady on that song just said shit… And then the littlest one hits you up with:
‘Mumma, can you explain again why Daddy had to go and live in another house?’
It’s the little things that make your heart feel like it might just implode. Because you realise that these questions are just floating around in their subconscious all the time, and it’s only every so often that they rise up to the conscious level and bubble out as words.
At times like these, about the only thing that can save you from unravelling then and there, is a really funny motivational meme.
But the good news I have is that at this point, I’m still relatively sane. And on the whole, things have been pretty awesome this past year. Being mindful of attention spans and word count, I’ve decided to loosely classify the good bits into the following neat categories:
People. Dancing. And The Universe.
This year, from the comfort of my lounge room, and thanks in part to this little blog, I’ve met people from all over Australia. They made me laugh out loud, and reminded me I was fun again. They saw me travelling to Byron Bay for 5 days of yoga, mindfulness and slightly raucous gin and tonics. And to Darwin, for my first crack at a long distance relationship. And two stops on the train, for renegade dietitian meetings. These beautiful new and old friends helped me start picking up the pieces and sticking them all back together again.
And the kids – my little people . They’re just as baffling, and high maintenance, and hilarious as they ever were. I can’t help but be happy when I look at their precious faces and sturdy little bodies. Sometimes I want to eat them. I mean like literally devour them. And sometimes, when they’re arguing (which is a large percentage of the time), I also want to knock their bloody heads together.
I dance a lot these days. I’ve always danced in the kitchen and on big nights out. But six months ago I twisted the arm of a new buddy into taking me dancing (it didn’t take that much twisting – just a few scotches). I’m talking beginner swing dancing class.
It was equal parts excruciating, exhilarating and hilarious. Not unlike year 10 dance classes, except this time we didn’t have pimples or bad ’80s hair. We walked out with two huge grins plastered to our faces, and were hooked.
Dancing is nice because it gets you touching other people (albeit sometimes strange and sweaty people), and laughing and being a dork. In the words of Amy Poehler – dancing gets you out of your head and into your body. And by the way, I am totally in love with Amy Poehler. She has a lot of piss-funny and wise things to say about life and divorce. One of them is this:
‘Someday you may be in a happy couple again. Someday you will wake up feeling 51 percent happy and slowly, molecule by molecule, you will feel like yourself again. Or you will lose your mind and turn into a crazy person. Either way, let’s just hope you avoided tattoos, because most are pretty stupid anyway.
Oh crap. I wish I read that last bit earlier…
The Universe is a funny thing. Sometimes it knows stuff you don’t, and puts you in funny places at funny times, to show you that stuff. Sometimes it taps you on the shoulder, and then when you don’t listen the first time, it gives you a big old shove. And then it slaps you square on the bum and grins. Kind of like this:
Universe: Hey – look over here
You: Ah – c’mon.. That’s ridiculous!
Universe: Yeah, I know. But trust me – I’ve been doing this a long time you know?
You: That’s outrageous! It’d never work. Surely you can’t be ….. ?
Universe: Yes I can. Just shut up and go with this.
Sometimes you just have to stop overanalysing and defer to The Universe. Because it knows stuff. And maybe there just aren’t enough newly tattooed, swing-dancing, bar-tending, biker mole dietitian types these days.