Words vs Actions and all that matters

Warning: I'm in a mood.

Why? I can't really tell you. I'm enjoying a rare day off. The summer school office gig ended yesterday and there are a few days before the Back To Life/Back To Reality 2018 tour begins. School secretaries are a good-natured bunch but we do have a reentry process that sometimes involves salty ire.

So yes. I'm in a mood.

And while in this mood, I happened to be looking through a pile of mail that one of my roommates/offspring brought in and left in the living room.

A J Jill catalog (WE MISS YOU JENNY lolol I bet you do, Jill)
A once-in-a-lifetime-offer from Xfinity (maybe once in my lifetime you can offer internet that doesn't blow, xfinity!)(also that doesn't cost a metric shit-ton of cash)
Oh! And what's this?
A letter from the University of Minnesota. Addressed to my ex-husband.

We've been divorced for a long, long time. Almost as long as we were married! And this wasn't an important letter. It was an advertisement, really.

But it was addressed to him. He's never lived here. I don't want to get into all the psychological stuff about moving on and getting over it, but I will say that it does feel good to be able to finally see his name and not feel anything other than annoyance. His presence in my life has gone from scary brain eating zombie to small mosquito and like Kramer going commando, I'm lovin every minute of it.

So no, seeing his name on a piece of paper in my quiet, peaceful and love-filled home didn't push me down a rabbit-hole of sadness and anger like it used to do. It did, however, cause my eyes to roll a tiny bit and for my mouth to open and the following mutterings to tumble out:

why am i still getting that dipshit's mail?

These words were spoken softly and without intention to be shared with any other living being besides my faithful pooch who shadows me on these days off like it's his job.

I didn't realize one of those aforementioned roommates/offspring were awake and within earshot. Oops.

For a second the shrill judge and jury voices of the Greek internet chorus rang through my brain.

omg jenny that's their FATHER you're talking about
never ever ever ever badmouth the other parent it will guarantee that your children will be irreparably damaged and probably become terrible humans
oh honey you gotta love your kids more than you hate your ex
high road high road high road high road infinity

They rang for a sec and then I shooed them outta there.

My kids are all chronologically grown. They are all over 18. I did a good job of holding my tongue for many years.

One dipshit does not equal years of badmouthing. So I let it go. I told those voices to leave and I also told them this...

The fact that someone's sperm found an egg and fertilized it does not make them a saint. Nor does being the owner of that egg and growing a human being. The title of Mom or Dad does not equal Superhero, folks. If it did, we'd not be able to exhale without breathing on one.

I am one hundred percent behind the whole "watch what you say around the kids" sentiment. It's truth. Speaking as a child of divorce, I can testify to it! My own mom, rest her soul, used to say some pretty awful things about my dad. And I can remember every single syllable. So I took that experience and tried my damnedest to not hit "rewind" on history. And I think I did a passable job*.

I am also one hundred percent behind the whole "actions speak louder than words" sentiment. It's truth. Speaking as a child of divorce, I can testify to it! My own dad, who is alive and kicking, never said one bad thing about my mom. Nothing. And if anyone had the right to complain, it was him. He fought for custody and lost, and then saw his ex and her lover ride off into the sunset with two confused kids. He took in one of those confused kids when she got tired of being hit and needed a safe place to live. My dad and I aren't as close as we should be but that's because I'm a messed up human and not because of anything he did or said.

My mom was a good person. I loved her. But she wasn't a saint. My dad had his faults too but he wasn't deserving of the awful things my mom said about him. As I grew up and lived more life I realized these things. Realization came a little late and it will haunt me for the rest of my days. There were years I took my mom's words as the gospel truth. I don't hate her for it. I know she was flawed as we all are.

But now I see those past words and actions and I know better.

*I haven't been perfect. I have made mistakes, some huge ones, many small ones. But I know better and so I try to do better.

There are many of you who are in the beginnings of your divorce story. You will receive lots of advice, whether you want to, or not. Oh you'll get it.

If there's one thing I can add to that avalanche of warnings and proselytizing and inspo, it's this:

Watch your mouth. But watch your actions just as closely.

Both matter. And both will leave an impression.


  1. Great post! I periodically get mail for my ex-husband too, even though he has never lived in our house. I actually think it's kind of funny seeing mail addressed to "Mr. and Mrs.....it looks just weird,which I think means I moved on.
    My ex badmouthed me constantly while he still shared custody of our kids. It definitely affected our kids, to the point that none of them want anything to do with him. Divorced parents need to remember that the effects of their actions and words last for years; even after they are adults.

  2. I'm 72 y.o.; I can remember to this day the awful things my father said to my mother. I never heard her say anything bad about him except that he was mentally ill, which he was. But I knew he was crazy-mean and that he was totally capable of killing someone. That stuff sinks in. I felt like a whipped dog whenever I was around him, even after he'd died and I had to clean out his hoarder trailer. Believe me, the kids know.

  3. I want to believe that once we understand things more and realize our mistakes, we can go back to explain what happened and make amends - even if from a distance, or done quietly from within ourselves. I have hope that you and your dad will somehow bridge the gap. We can be lucky enough to have several chances to heal things, all the while realizing the remaining time becomes more precious.

    Miracles do happen, Jen. I still cannot believe the closure I had with my mother and it came weeks before she passed away from cancer. I'm grateful I decided to be there, to take care of her, even though no one would have blamed me for staying away.
    Sending you love. xoxo

  4. My father said very little about my mother. My mother didn't say much about my dad either. But my maternal grandmother took up the slack and not only did she badmouth my dad almost constantly, any of my so-called bad habits she would respond to with "little Jim Roley." It got to the point that my mother told her....Hey, Suellen didn't pick to got to be her father and you need to shut up about him....paraphrasing a bit there as my mom would never have told her mom to shut up, but that's what she meant. She stopped for the most part, cos guess what no matter what you say about my dad, I love/loved him very much and was the biggest daddy's girl in the world. So what if he had a few faults, she wasn't fault-free herself LOL/

    1. Some people can be good parents but negligent/lousy spouses. That's slightly better than having someone who sucked at both, and that view depends on whether it's from the partner versus the child.

  5. They know he's a dipshit. They love him, he's their dad, but they've (more or less) accepted what he is. That's the good thing, and the bad thing, about being a grown child of divorce. Do please tell us all about your son who, at the age of 11, starting charging Dipshit interest on loans.

  6. I love this. I come from a long line of hot headed, no filter Italians that scream out every awful thought and feeling in their heads without using the god given filter most people employ during rage fests. Ashamed to admit that it took me until my mid forties to even get a handle on spewing all the fury my brain could imagine and use the “walk away for ten minutes and then come back and see how much of that you really want out there” method.
    Thank you for this reminder. Also- I miss my J. Jill catalog as much as my old 90s Tweeds one.

  7. Anonymous on September 16

    Whoops, my bad. That was Chump Lady's boy!


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