Yes, I know...this is the year I'm going to stop being divorced. I KNOW. But when something happens that makes my divorce-senses tingle, I can't stop myself from writing about it. Kind of like when your teen has a big white pimple on his/her face. On one hand, you don't want to do anything to make their teen angst flare up..on the other hand, who hasn't spent a day walking around on sunshine like Katrina and the Waves only to get home, look in the mirror and see that you've been conversing with humans while sporting something that looks like a giant sesame seed on your chin/nose/forehead. I always tell them about it, along with saying, "Sometimes it's okay to pop them."
Where was I? OH YEAH. Divorce. I'm really looking forward to the day it doesn't feel sharp and icky when my ex-husband's name pops up in an otherwise mild conversation. Talking about life and kids and other things and then his name comes up. His given name, the name I used to write and say with love.
This happened the other night at William's hockey game. I was chatting with a mom I hadn't met yet. Our boys are on the same team, and attend the same junior high. William has what I think is a darling and completely hetero boy crush on her son. She and I have crossed paths, but never officially met. So she came up, introduced herself and we got to chatting. She is a divorced mom herself, and we were talking a little bit about that (see, you can say you're not going to be divorced anymore but it's kind of like saying you're not going to have freckles anymore). She said, "I've met XXX (Big D's real name) but not you..it's so nice to finally talk to you." That name..ugh. I felt my lips curl up into the snarl/grimace that occurs naturally whenever I hear his name...honest to God I never knew I did that until one of the kids pointed it out not too long ago: "Mom..how come whenever someone talks about Dad you make that face?" Me: "What face?" and then one of my little carbon copies tried to show me. It was a wake up call. Now I notice it, and stop it. Like I did when my new hockey mom friend said his name.
She stopped abruptly, put a hand on my arm and said, "I'm sorry. I know things aren't good between the two of you." I smoothed out the snarl/grimace and put on my EVERYTHING IS GREAT face. "Oh, don't be sorry. It's okay. It's fine. We've had some issues between us, it makes things uncomfortable." She replied, "Mine too. But for whatever reason we still act like friends. In fact, XXX (Big Daddy) even said something to me about it."
I was torn, for a second. Part of me was thinking, "find out! find out what he said!" and the other part, the cool girl leaning against her locker holding her Trapper Keeper and Le Sport Sac was thinking: "who gives a crap! Talk about something else!". Cool girl lost this one and I heard myself say: "Wow. What did he have to say?"
She said, "He came up to me after a game a couple of weeks ago and remarked how impressed he was that my ex and I have a good relationship. He said, 'Jenny and I don't speak at all. I really respect the fact that you two are friendly'".
Cool girl wrestled the controls away from the other one and I simply said, "Hmm. Interesting. Hey, we definitely need to hang out sometime." Our conversation continued down an ex-free path, plans were made and we parted with a big hug.
But I couldn't stop thinking about what she had said. I was even inspired to sit down and write a little bit about it that night, only to abort that post in favor of taking the high road and all of that Not Divorced stuff.
I thought I had pretty much forgotten about it until last night.
For some reason, William started talking about what it's like for him when he visits Big Daddy's house. He said how different it is, how at my house we all end up in the same room, talking or reading or watching something together. Like a family. And how at his dad's house, it's not like that. He said, "I spend literally every minute down in the basement." Then he dropped this in my lap:
"They got rid of our bedroom (the room he and Henry shared) and made it a playroom for the baby. We don't even have beds anymore."
I am certain that my snarl/grimace was in full force, and I was ready to pounce. Then my sweet and loving and oh-so-Switzerland child, Henry chimed in: "Shut up, William! We do too have beds. Stop telling Mom this stuff." Henry has a heart the size of the Goodyear Blimp. He's so loyal and loving and diplomatic..he is the one kid, out of four, who has never, ever tried to play us off of each other or said a single ill word against either one of us. This talk of things that had to do with his other parent infuriated him. William muttered something about beds and basements and "not a bedroom" and then I declared, "Conversation over."
But, the conversation raged on inside my head. The talk I'd had with my new hockey mom friend kept coming back to me. Especially the part about how Big Daddy "respected" her friendly ex relationship. Big Daddy, and the word 'respect'. It struck me as ironic that a man who has shown so little respect for his ex wife, and for his own children, is able to respect something like another divorced couple's public behavior.
Respect? Does he know what that word means? I have to wonder where the respect was when he decided to start a relationship while we were married. When he would come home at two, or three, or four in the morning and angrily throw his shoes on the floor instead of answering my questions. Where was this respect when his new and improved wife slowly but surely scrubbed every bit of evidence of the "old" kids out of his life? If he has respect for something like two stranger's amicable relationship, how come he has none for his own flesh and blood?
The room that used to belong to Charlie was made into a nursery. Now the room that used to be the one space Henry and William could call "theirs" is a playroom. Where is the respect there?
With all due respect...I don't think he has any.