Are you friends with me on Facebook? Do you enjoy seeing photos of my fabulous life, complete with rewarding career, adorable children, and abounding love from family and friends?
There is the self we all present to the social media world. Then there is the dark side of our moon. The less flattering selfies that show our true flaws and worst angles. The way we really spend our down time when nobody is looking. And most importantly, the less brag-worthy realities of our lives.
Some of you know this, some of you will be surprised by what’s coming… I’m a legally-separated single mom, struggling to make financial ends meet, battling what can barely be referred to as baby-weight anymore (what’s the statute of limitations there? Can it be baby-weight if my “baby” is 3 and 1/2?)
First, gratitude. I’m grateful that my ex, also known as my baby-daddy, remains a dear friend and unbelievably wonderful parenting partner. He is very much still my family. I’m also grateful that my family still embraces him as part of our family – both immediate and extended family alike. I’m grateful that my family is the village that it takes to raise and care for my two children. Without that support, we would be floating down a river somewhere.
I’m grateful to have had a professional rebirth over the last three years, and to work with the M-F/9-5 family that I do. It’s been a long time since I went to a job everyday that has felt this fulfilling, both professionally and personally.
I’m grateful to have met a new partner-person who makes me laugh, think, learn, and live. I’m grateful that there is peace between my old relationship and new relationship. So much so that most people are incredulous. So much so, that I actually asked my ex if it would be ok with him before I wrote about this very topic in my blog, and he quickly said, “Yes, of course.”
I like to think it’s a tribute to the respectful and thoughtful way in which the ex and I have handled every detail of our split. Our children’s well-being has always been our absolute number one shared priority. That is non-negotiable. I see the horror that many exes and families endure – right down to the damage it inflicts on the children. How lucky we are to have avoided that. How lucky we are that despite tumultuous change, our children have transitioned relatively seamlessly. They get shuttled between two homes every few days and every other weekend, and happily. They casually ask, “Whose house are we going to tonight?”, and they don’t bat an eye, whatever the answer.
But some moments are still hard. There is on-going drama with our old house, which after 13+ months, a devastating fire, and various forms of permit-related red tape, still has not sold. This sucks royally and financially. Parenting a 3- and 5-year-old alone half the time is really hard. Being without my 3- and 5-year-old the other half of the time is also really hard. My daily and yearly work schedule (and commute) don’t make this any easier. I again refer you back to the endless help we get from my family.
It’s also hard knowing how the very difficult decision to end our marriage has had ripple effects. As peaceful as our friendship and parenting-partnership has remained, there have been losses as well. The decision to end a marriage, particularly when children are involved, is one of the hardest that anyone can make. It is certainly not one that we took lightly or made in haste. Years – YEARS – and tears were spent discussing and addressing very personal and difficult issues that we faced.
There are people who have opinions about the personal decision that was made. That is unavoidable. Nobody knows what truly goes on inside a relationship except for the people in the relationship. I’m grateful for the friends and family who have remained in my life. To those who have decided to distance yourselves from me, I have no choice but to respect your decision to do so. I have no ill-will toward anyone from my “former life”, and my door is always open if you decide to reach out and reconnect.
My hope, with this long-winded soliloquy, is to let the other humans out there know that we all have a dark side of the moon. It’s natural to put our best feet forward on social media, or at work, or in social situations. Don’t ever feel alone in your less glamorous, human side of life.
Perhaps we should invent a version of Facebook that is only intended for posting the real stuff. Posts of the number of pre-washed salad packages that get purchased, sit in my fridge drawer for two weeks, and get tossed unopened into the garbage repeatedly. (Truth be told, this was the main downfall of my marriage.) Photos of me would include a full Saturday spent on the couch wearing no bra and acne-cream spots on my forehead. A tally including the number of times I threaten one of my children with a time-out but don’t follow through because I just don’t have the energy. The list of imperfections goes on.
We could call it Crapbook.