At the end of every day, I tell myself that I will be fine. I know these feelings are temporary. I know that I am a very strong person. Here’s the surprise though, the bad feelings are not because of the divorce. Yes, divorce sucks, and losing your partner in any capacity is difficult, but I have come to peace with that. What I didn’t expect was all the other stuff.
I wonder if it’s true that women have a biological disposition to be the caretaker? I know we hear that growing up, but I’m not a scientist, nor do I pretend to be so I can’t be sure. I can, however, speak for myself, and I am born to take care of people. The usual reaction to this statement is, “Well, now you have time to take care of yourself.” My response remains the same, “Yes, that is true.” I only say that because it’s easier than having a philosophical conversation that would follow my real answer.
I’ve always taken care of myself the best way I know how. I’m not shy about making my nail appointments, taking time for myself, or sleeping way longer than I should. Self-care is something I’ve been practicing since I was introduced to Kaboodles and Vervé. Inherently, I’m selfish. Work was always a priority for me, I made sure I always had what I needed, and I chose not to have children because I wanted to live my life on my own terms.
Having said all of this, one of the things that brings me joy is making sure the people in my life have what they need. Sometimes I wonder, should I have had children?
When I was married, I orchestrated every holiday to be an event. New traditions were being created every year while I maintained the traditions already in place. The recipient of this fanfare was the ex, but was that fair? He didn’t want to wake up early on Christmas for coffee sprinkled with cocoa, and candy canes then watch “Meet me in St. Louis” in our matching jammies while the pups opened their presents. I don’t think he wanted what I lovingly referred to as the “Magical month of Christmas” or the themed gift wrapping every year. The decorations, cookies, hot cocoa, I told myself were for him and for fun, but he never asked for any of it.
It’s what I know though. How to host a party, make a holiday feel special, and take care of those around me. And I love every second of it. I started to decorate this year for Christmas and thought, “Who is this for this year?” Doing it for myself is just no fun. The dogs, no matter how much I want them to, have no idea what is going on. They only know that they are delighted when they open 30 tennis balls on Christmas morning.
So back to the original question, why didn’t I have children when I so clearly set up a life they would have enjoyed? For the first time, I have no answer. Here is where the universe gets funny. I go through my most fertile years without a biological clock, then the minute I get divorced, it starts to tick and will probably continue to tick until its expiration. An expiration that I finally now feel.
Before you all get excited, I’m not having kids. I’m simply saying that for the first time in my life, the urge is finally hitting me. It pops up ever so slightly like when hanging Christmas stockings. I just hear “Baby” in the back of my brain. Instead of yelling about the screaming children on the plane, I feel the need to go help the mother. A friend tells me they are pregnant, and I burst into tears. I went as far as to have a conversation with my doctor about it and got a hormone test done. Turns out, I probably still could reproduce, and I quote, “I have the uterus of a 20-year-old.” So at least I know if I do change my mind, there is a chance. Spoiler alert, I’m probably not changing my mind.
Two things are happening here. One is that I’m alone now, forced to face my brain as it spins out of control. The second is, of course, biology; the final push from my ovaries to reproduce. They have been sitting there dormant for years and are now trying to make me answer their siren call. I hear you, and I see you, but what do we say to our eggs? Not today.
My poor pups take the brunt of this motherhood frustration. Coddled and spoiled with the best of them, they often give me very strange looks. Although they do get home-cooked meals, special blankets, and have a wardrobe Versace would be proud of, so I say they are winning.
Now I know this feeling will pass. This is just one of many in a series of feelings and thoughts that I fixate on. It just so happens, it is one that I can talk about openly because I know I’m not the only one who goes through this. I know I would be a wonderful mother, dare I say – a hover mother – but it wasn’t in the cards for me by my choice. Just because I made that choice, doesn’t mean feelings don’t change once and awhile. We need to face them and move one.
Some days are harder than others. It’s amazing what I will latch onto to torture myself. I’ve written about my obsession with my kitchen, now there is this baby thing, and in between those, there was a laundry list of items that haunted me.
One weekend I spent hours upon hours organizing my clothes and decided that I hated my wardrobe because it was the wardrobe of a wife. I got rid of many pieces and then spent another handful of hours googling what I should be wearing now that I’m single. I don’t even know what a “wife wardrobe” is, but I was convinced I had it. I needed new jeans, shoes, sweaters; you name it. I even bought a cropped red corduroy jacket that is beautiful, but I still have no occasion to wear it. What exactly is the right occasion to wear a cropped red corduroy jacket, by the way? Maybe apple picking? Another traditional activity I forced people to do because fall is fun.
I made it through Thanksgiving with the help of my wonderful friends. This was the first year in over ten that I didn’t host or make dinner. Not to brag, but my thanksgiving dinner is delicious. I’ve perfected it over the years. It takes two weeks to plan and prepare, but it is so worth it. I missed seeing my family, and I missed the leftovers, but going away was the best thing I could have done this year.
The next hurdle will be Christmas. Christmas Eve will be fine, as we do the feast of the seven fishes. With over 40 family members and plenty of alcohol, it should be easy. Christmas day, however, that’s a different story. That was my day. I made brunch and spent it in jammies savoring every moment. I need a new tradition this year. One for me and the pups that we can repeat year after year feeling that same joy we always felt.
2020, however, I plan on making my bitch. I told my therapist to let me mope until the end of the year, and then I will come out swinging in the new year. She was ok with that plan as long as I didn’t hibernate, although it’s easier said than done. I don’t want to hibernate, but it turns out that divorce has a ripple effect. There is no real finality. You learn new things every day, and they can quickly bring you down.
For now, the pups and I are holding strong. We are enjoying life. We are making new traditions. We are a family. Our extended family consists of amazing people and beautiful friends who lift us up, each and every day. We wake up in the morning and say, “We got this.” We go to bed each night saying, “We did it.” You can’t ask for much more than that. No baby, Christmas tradition, or piece of clothing will ever be able to fix you. All we have is what we tell ourselves and, more importantly, what we believe about ourselves. This, I know, is true.