Monday, June 23, 2014

Elmo Ruined Everything

Tonight's cocktail is a Blue Farmer's Daughter. A Farmer's Daughter is a strawberry/basil martini, which I love, so I thought I'd try something different. Muddle a handful of blueberries, a sprig of lavender, 1/2 oz lemon juice, and a splash of simple syrup in a shaker, add 2 oz vodka, shake with lots of ice into a martini glass.



My marriage died a gradual, gasping death, but I can pinpoint the exact moment when I knew I would get a divorce. It happened in Elmo's World.

Elmo thinks Tweak's and Tink's mommy is about to flip her shizznit!

My ex husband is always running to the next activity. Instead of viewing weekends and vacations as opportunities to rest and regroup, he fills them with funtastical adventures from sunup to sundown. Downtime, much less routine tasks like grocery shopping and laundry, didn't even figure into his calculations when we were married, because he seemed to think magical fairies would do them.

Before kids, we managed to take a 2-month hiatus from our normal lives and backpack across South America, which was amazing. Unfortunately, I contracted walking pneumonia, which lasted for 6 weeks, during which time I saw the Nazca lines from the air, explored Machu Picchu, trekked in the Andes, rode buses with chickens, chatted with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands, and spied on beautiful Amazonian wildlife. You know, in between bouts of fever-chills and coughing up blood. I wish I were kidding. I desperately needed to rest, but Ex was not willing to let me, so I muddled on in his wake. I'm pretty sure the only way he would have stopped would have been if I had collapsed. It was a metaphor for our relationship. After kids came along, things didn't improve, to put it mildly.

Fast forward to when Tweak was 4 and Tink was 2. It was time for a summer vacation, and I suggested we go to the beach, and maybe detour into New York City for a couple of days. Ex wanted to do "a few other things" as well. The first day, we drove from D.C. to the Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where we spent several hours. Then we drove to the beach - where we stayed for two whole hours. Then we drove to Newark, arriving around 11 p.m. The next morning, we took the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan met up with my friend Monica at a park went to Times Square visited yet another children's museum uptown, then-headed-into-Brooklyn-in-a-pouring-rainstorm-had-dinner-with-some-of-Ex's-friends arrivedbackattheferryterminalandwaitednearlyanhourwithtwooverstimulatedtoddlersarrivingatourhotelat11again. Good times.

After more days like this, we ended up at Sesame Place, just outside Philadelphia. We had been there before, but God forbid we should miss it. We got there when it opened at 10. We stayed all fucking day. When I suggested we should go back to the hotel for naps after lunch, all I got was an eyeroll. I started saying we should leave around 4 to make sure the kids got fed and bathed and to bed at a decent hour, but each time, I got a Cat Butt Face.



If you click on the image, you can buy a set of your own.
I get a whole quarter!
At 7, it started pouring. Huddled under an awning in Elmo's world, hungry and shivering, I asked why we were still there, given that every ride was now closed and we had literally done All The Things. His response? "The parade starts at 7:15. I figured we'd stay for that." I said, "We went to the parade at 2. It's the same damn parade. In the rain. Let's go." *Cat Butt Face.*

At that moment, it was as if time slowed to a crawl under a giant, glaring spotlight. I remember the rain sluicing across the pavement, Tweak jumping in the puddles. The shrieks of children in the covered play space. The 70,000th rendition of the ABC-DEF-GHI-JKL-MNOP-QR-STUV-WXYZ song pounding into my head from the PA system. My kids' glazed eyes and sticky faces, heading quickly into meltdown land. The popping of the capillaries in my brain. And Ex making that face. I looked him in the eye and said, "If we do not leave right now, I will know that nothing I need, and nothing I say, means anything to you." He rolled his eyes again and turned his back.

Looking back, I ask myself why I didn't just bundle the kids into the stroller and walk out of the park right then. I don't have a good reason. I was tired. I didn't want to make a scene. I didn't want to be Mean Mommy who stops the funtimes. And it had been my habit, for 11 years, to enable him. So I stood there, more angry than I have ever been at anyone at any point in my life before or since. I literally had to clasp my hands behind my head very tightly so that I would not physically assault Ex in front of our children. When Elmo came up to me during that godforsaken parade, the person in the suit must have sensed I was about to nut-punch him, because he stopped, backed away, and gave me a very wide berth.

As I stood there, taking deep breaths, trembling with impotent rage, my pulse pounding, I felt the words clicking around in my head like polished stones and tumbling into my consciousness: I Want A Divorce. I had never allowed myself to consider the possibility before, but in that moment, I knew I could not sacrifice one more piece of myself to be in that relationship, that I was not going to be a good mother to my children if I stayed, that I had to advocate for myself or I would die from the inside. Mentally, I palmed the words and rolled them around: I. Want. A. Divorce. They felt cool and smooth and calm. I closed my eyes and let the weight of the words settle my rage. When I opened them, I hugged my babies, took them by the hands, and started walking away from their father.

26 comments:

  1. I can't stand people like your ex. They must. have.every. second. of. the. day. filled. with. activity. GAH! When do they sleep, or read, or write. I can't live like that. You and Elmo both made the right choice. Elmo avoided a nut punch and you got your life back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm all for adventure, but he broke me. At least I finally learned to advocate for myself. And my kids aren't in therapy from watching their mom nut-punch Elmo.

      Delete
  2. I am cracking up at nut-punching Elmo - he needs a good swift kick to the crotch just for good measure. It's like punching monkeys. It's very cathartic or so I have been told. However, I am not cracking up at the rest of your story. I am exhausted just from reading about that hell vacation. I can not imagine living a lifestyle so frantic. You did the best thing for yourself and your babies by standing up for yourself and taking back your life. So many kudos for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was one of those moments where I wanted both to laugh hysterically and cry my eyes out from the sheer juxtaposition of tragedy and absurdity. I'm enjoying lazy weekends by the pool much more these days!

      Delete
  3. I loved how you describe those thoughts. I can see myself in your shoes, with a few details different. I'm learning to advocate for myself whilst learning to handle my anger in the meantime. When I blow, I'm likely to nut punch Elmo and set him aflame.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think many of us have been there - at some point, you've had all you can take.

      Delete
  4. I'm so glad for you that you had the realization sooner rather than later...and that no Elmos were injured in the process. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I did feel a little bad for scaring Elmo.

      Delete
  5. At first I was going to say I think all men believe this: "magical fairies would do them." But the whole ferry to Manhattan to the Upper East Side to BKLYN to Ferry to Hotel w/ or w/o 2 kids is insane. You can do one of those things a day. Could not believe he wanted to see the God damn same fucking parade AGAIN. In the rain. I think you made a good call.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's only in hindsight, and with affirmation from my friends, that I realize how completely crazy it was. I'm so glad to be out of it.

      Delete
  6. Ugh, I have a word for this "working vacation" -- that's what I call the type of vacation people take where they can't sit.fucking.still. CALMDOWN! (I want to scream) Anyway, so glad to see you took back control of your own life!!! (and that elmo survived...that was part made me snort)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! After that day, I insisted we drive home early. I went back to work so I could have a vacation from my vacation.

      Delete
  7. As much as I find Elmo annoying, I would find your Ex even more so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've come to the conclusion that it's a compulsion with him - he avoids dealing with unpleasant emotions by scheduling activities. Now that I'm not part of that scene, I get along with him much better.

      Delete
  8. Thank you for telling this story. It helps me think back to the moment when I decided I wanted out of my marriage. I am back in a stupid relationship like that and I kick myself for doing it AGAIN!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't speak to your situation in particular, but if you're at the bailout point, quick and painful is better than slow and painful. I hope it gets better one way or the other.

      Delete
  9. This makes me sad but I'm happy that you were able to move forward and make something out of it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is why marriages end. It's because one person simply will. not. hear. the other. person. ARRRGH I am frustrated ON YOUR BEHALF. Bless you, woman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. At the time, I wasn't sure if I was taking crazy pills, and of course all the relationship books paint divorce as the biggest failure ever, but honestly sometimes you've just reached the limit of what you should be expected to take.

      Delete
  11. You paint such a vivid picture. I almost felt that rain. I'm sorry you had to go through that for so long, and I'm glad you got out!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mike @ Papa Does PreachJune 26, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    What a powerful story! Thank you for sharing! You instanly gained a new fan when you said, "Cat Butt Face"....lol, I'm so in

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mike! It's funny, everyone seems to know exactly what a Cat Butt Face looks like, too. I thought it was just me.

      Delete
  13. My ex was polar opposite. Wanted nothing to do with us. Even holidays. I got to the point that I preferred he stay home so we could enjoy ourselves. Never took a vacation together, even before kids. It was all about him, and I suppose it still is where ever he is. I grew tired of being married to a single man, he spent weekends with his girl friend, until he finally moved out. He kept me on the line with the promise of 'fixing' our relationship and moving forward The final straw was when the house went into forclosure and his answer was to call a lawyer and file chapter 13 or something, he didn't have any money to help. ok. I get that you don't care about me. You have now provided pretty good evidence you don't care about your children either. Fuck you. (sorry for the language) He left when they were 5 and 6. They are now 21 and 23. He lost so much more than he can even imagine. I never talked bad about him to the kids either. I knew they would figure it out for themselves one day.

    Whew. Lookit what your story did to me! Well done and good on you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you're infinitely better off without that guy. WTF is wrong with people?

      Delete

Your comment will appear pending moderation.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...