So Much, by Clare Elsaesser on Etsy
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
Five years ago, I would have given absolutely anything to see myself today.
November 20, 2014, was the day I discovered that there was a lot about my marriage, and my husband, that I didn’t know. It was the day that the life I thought I was living suddenly slipped between my fingertips and disappeared.
It was all hard, at first. The brutality of it. The shame of it. The white-hot incandescent rage of being treated as disposable. The tawdriness of the whole thing. The sudden plunge into single parenting. So much of it was hard, but the divorce? Oh god.
Louis CK is problematic in many ways, but he had it right when he said that divorce is always good news.
Over the past seven years, I’ve come to understand my strengths as a mother. My weaknesses, too.
I’m great at talking, first of all. Especially the hard conversations. I think my time as a youth worker prepared me for this. When you spend five years having daily chats about awkward subject matter with even more awkward teenagers about everything from personal hygiene to sex to drug use to abusive relationships, you get used to diving into the tough stuff, erasing the judgment, letting your matter-of-factness draw out theirs.
I’ve always felt comfortable talking to Olive about the tough stuff, too. About the divorce, moving, consent, swearing, body image, my dating, her fear and anxiety, and the budding dramas in her friendship groups. Talking about things feels like it comes easily to me; the words show up and I speak them. We talk a lot, and she tells me everything. I’m good at that stuff.
I have to say, I have cruised into these last few weeks of school an absolutely bedraggled, exhausted mess.
Back in September, I posted a cute picture to Instagram of Olive’s little stainless steel lunchbox, tidily packed with mini croissant sandwiches and neatly cut fruit and veggies. My ex-brother-in-law, Chuck, father of four, commented wryly, “Remember this post and show us a picture of the lunch you pack on the Friday before the end of school”.
Well, Chuck, I would like to tell you that here we are, the last Friday before the end of school and oh my god I would never share the lunches I’ve been packing lately. NEVER.
This, right here, is what happens when love for your daughter overwhelms your common sense.