no roadmap

It’s been a week or so since I sat down to write, and though I hate the term “writer’s block,” that is what it feels like a little this weekend. But I make myself come to this space regardless of what I have to say. Most of the time, the biggest truths come along between the written lines anyhow.

We are wrapping up the summer with only 4 days left until school begins for Jude. We’ve  been swimming with cousins and playing with neighbors and staying in our pajamas for hours after waking up. I don’t feel ready for the start of the school year, but it’s almost here anyway.

Jude spent hours yesterday chasing butterflies while we were playing with family. I joke that he is the Butterfly Whisperer. He will quietly sneak up behind them as they pause on a flower and gently grab their wings. It takes so much concentration, and then he’s proud of his accomplishment.

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We played with them a minute and watched them flutter in a Mason jar for a few hours and then had a butterfly release on the back patio just before dinner. Both of my kids are growing so fast, just like every mom says, but I am astounded at how much they comprehend. How much they observe and the conversations they have with me, the ways we understand each other and know each other well. Motherhood is not easy, but they are getting easier, no doubt. I’m grateful we are hitting our stride.

There are so many things swirling in my head that I haven’t mentioned here because I am not sure how to say them gracefully or how much to say. I don’t talk much about my former life circumstances because it feels so, so far away. Like another lifetime. But that little TimeHop screen on my phone shocks me back to reality sometimes. Two years ago this summer, I was cooking out with friends for the Fourth of July in my married home without so much as a hiccup on the horizon. Two little years ago, we vacationed in Mexico together. But I look at those photos now, and only my children even look familiar. I have changed a million times over, and it looks like a stranger next to me.

It has changed somehow. Instead of the overwhelming shock and heartbreak I felt a year ago, it just feels like some weird sense of disconnect. Like that could not really have been my life before. I hardly remember it somehow.

He is welcoming another child in two months. The kids told me, nonchalantly, back in March as I stirred dinner on the stove one Sunday evening in the late daylight. I expected as much, but the speed at which it all has happened is still enough to make my head spin sometimes. Two little years after we were vacationing in Mexico together without a hiccup on the horizon, and I am writing this sentence on a couch in my own home with my own life and dreams unfolding as I watch my two gain independence. And he is likely in a baby aisle somewhere surveying pacifiers and buying breast pumps and diapers. Life is stranger than fiction indeed.

My close circle in day-to-day life knows this, of course, but I have not mentioned it here. It’s a weird thing to be — this nothing to the other child. Not a step-mom, of course. Or an aunt, or a side mom. A stranger really. But one whose children are half-tied. The thing about divorce is that it never really leaves you. It’s not a cheating boyfriend you can be angry at and avoid the rest of your life. As it turns out, it’s a whole other family who shows up in your driveway twice a month for weekend visitation. If you have any chance at all of inner peace, you have no choice but to face your shit, as people like to say.

That’s precisely what I have spent the last twenty months doing. facing my shit without distraction or avoidance. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. Like most things in life, you have to somehow just figure it out, though there is no roadmap. I’m figuring it out pretty well, I think. But I do often think about how much time it takes to get it all sorted out. How much I change from month-to-month. How much I learn with every experience, every conversation. How much every challenge leads me inward, inward, inward to what I alone can offer.

Life is just one big, long unfolding, isn’t it? You really don’t know where it’s going to lead and what will happen in the meantime. I’m grateful for the freedom to figure it all out in this season without demands or expectations, but I can’t help, in my flawed human nature, to wish I had binoculars to somehow see what lies ahead at the end of the road. I think the answers almost always surprise us all.

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8 thoughts on “no roadmap

  1. Such real moments captured here. I love the “face my shit” last three paragraphs. Your map will always be authentic and inspirational, my friend.

  2. I have read your posts ever since I signed up and this last one feels like you are letting yourself feel the raw pain of a marriage that ended because of cheating. Any marriage can end and a lot do end, but to be blindsided by a cheating spouse, is unforgivable. As women we do not have a choice but to go on especially with children as small as yours. You stay strong and take care of yourself.

  3. Rebecca

    So true, there is no roadmap. I had to chuckle about all or those uncharted days we share with my husband’s three ex’s. I laugh now at our first Grandmother’s Day: the five grandmothers (nobody else had that many) that took turns helping little Jacob put together his book project for the day. But we worked it out, and have built lasting relationships as we shared the bleachers at baseball and basketball games … and ooohed ah ahhhed at the girl’s dance recitals. We just gathered for another college graduation and now, after 25 years, it would be weird not to have all of these parents, grandparents aunts and uncles of the kids in my life. There are times I long to be one on one with the kids at these milestones, but I have had to alter that fantasy of mine, and enjoy that I have lots more people to celebrate with. It often reminds me of the “Watch the Lion with the Fox” videos on YouTube. You know, the uncommon friends videos. Some of my most cherished friendships are with my husband’s ex’s relatives. Who knew?

    1. Such an interesting story! I’m glad you found a way to work it out. I think women are stronger than men realize, and we can overcome and move forward and withstand.

      As it is now, I wouldn’t say we are “friends” – as expected given that it was infidelity and they married so very quickly as he went straight from my bed to hers with literally no time at all in between. But what I feel for her is something between compassion and pity. So many other women thought it would make it harder for me that she is a full decade younger than I am, but every time I look at her situation and realize that she stepped into all of it at only 24 years old, I feel nothing but sympathy for her. She has so much road ahead and no idea how motherhood will change her.

      I think that is part of what I mean by the future almost always surprises us. No woman I know is truly happy or self-aware or sincere without countless changes — especially in that mid-twenties with no kids to mid-thirties with children transition. I suspect her current tendency to see me as some sort of enemy who is old and unfun and uncool will change with the realizations of motherhood.

  4. Just six -almost seven- months into the split, alcohol being his original mistress, but now he is ‘In love’ anyhow, it’s been incredible to me, the classic time warp…the kids getting bigger so fast, my days and healing just Crreeeeep along. It’s sad and good that each month finds so many changes again and again, but I, too, wish for a clear sighting ahead…

    1. Time warp, yes! Time on the actual calendar seems so irrelevant. Like in ways it is all so slow… the incremental growth. But in other ways so much is happening so fast that it is disorienting. When I stay in my own lane, so to speak, time is much more easily swallowed and “normal” paced and things are alright and make sense. But when I realize that he divorced, remarried, is welcoming a baby, and bought not one but two houses in less than 2 years, it makes me feel like I am living in slow motion or something. It’s weird. I can’t help but wonder how much of that my kids feel as they bounce from house-to-house with such different perceptions on reality and priorities existing in each home….. Good luck to you. Real healing takes time. ❤

  5. Tony

    Oh my , yes. One big unexpected unfolding. I look back at photos of when I thought we were couple, but my wife was having an affair. He great dividing line. Before and after I knew . Thank you, Katie. Your words are solid truth, pain and life as we can know it.

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