You expect it when you lose a loved one to their eternal caretaker—the gaping void, the wound that never really heals. The times weeks, months, and years later when you think, “Dad would have loved this.”
But there’s another kind of grief, just as vivid, just as raw. And that is losing a loved one to divorce. My heart still aches so very often. I’ll see things that remind me of my sister or make me want to call and talk to her, but I can’t. I’m so sad and angry on behalf of my brother, who was never flawless but always loving in the best way he knew how. And more than anything, my heart aches for my sweet, beautiful niece, who will never understand why her mommy went from being a fully devoted full-time Mom to working long hours and coming home exhausted, who will never understand why she’s passed like a parcel from Mommy’s house to Daddy’s, and will never understand why the love and devotion she saw between her parents when she was an infant has been replaced with bitterness, disappointment, and anger.
As with death, the pain and grief of the loss of divorce is not encapsulated in the moment the family is broken—it is faced most often and most painfully in living after the loss.
For me, it’s when I have a spare moment, see my stationery, and think, I should write my sister. Then realize she’s not mine anymore. For me, it’s the indescribable pain of making Ava’s birthday present, and the present is a bag to carry her favorite things as she moves from one parent’s to the other. It’s seeing family pictures and knowing the family will never look that way again.
But mostly, it’s looking at pictures of my playful, happy, smiling niece and trying to imagine if it’s this hard for me, how difficult and painful must it be for her?
I am not, nor have I ever been, a “girly” girl. My closest young childhood friends were boys; we’d climb trees and eat grass and play in the mud. When we moved and my closest friends were girls, we’d climb trees and crawl around the house and yard pretending to be animals.
Make-up? Jewelery (besides funny/gaudy earrings)? Shoes and fancy clothes? Never really been part of my repertoire.
Which means I’m going to be in BIG trouble, because my 10-month-old is already a girly girl. How do I know? Well, Kara’s Aunt Deb got her some new shoes as an early birthday present. Kara LOVES them. She found them on the floor this morning as she was crawling around, so I put one on and she turned her foot left and right, admiring the shoe. She even helped me put the second one on, sliding her toes into the shoe while I held it open. She’d crawl around for a few minutes, then stop and sit up so she could put her feet in front of her and admire her new shoes.
She is starting early. I’m gonna need lots of help.
I have several thoughts that have just been drifting through my brain. I think there might be some sort of loose connection among them, so bear with me while I meander through them.
The train of thought began, as so many do, with yet another realization of one of the differences between sexes—they make very different customers. As a coffeehouse/deli worker, I serve a lot of regulars, and many of them want things a certain way. When the men order their food a certain way, it rarely seems like a big deal. “I want the burger, no mayo.” Bam. Done. He pays for it, he gets his food, he’s happy. When a woman orders food a certain way, it’s like she has to spell it out for you. Repeatedly. Just to make sure. And quite regularly, when you take the food out to her, she’ll ask if it’s made the way she wanted it before she even looks at it. Maybe it’s a confidence issue—a man pays you to do a job and assumes it will be done correctly until you mess it up, while a woman wants to mother-hen the entire process—I don’t know.
But I think that same problem can carry over into the dating world when a woman wants to “custom-order” a man. I wish I could count the times I’ve heard or seen a girl list all the unrealistic expectations she wants in a man (my favorites include the words “always” and “never,” as in, “He’ll always notice when I dress up” and “He’ll never play video games when I’m around”). Not only are they patently ridiculous, but never have I heard a girl say what she’ll aspire to do or be in order to be her dream guy’s dream girl. No doubt, listed among all her expectations is that he’ll accept her for the way she is, never mind that she’s imperfect, asking for perfection.
I can’t put my finger on exactly what quality makes it so, but it often is true that when a man knows what he wants, he’s confident, but when a woman knows what she wants, she’s a witch. Or maybe it’s just that the confident women don’t need to display it or make an issue of it and so are overlooked in memory when people try to remember picky men and picky women.
How have you seen the “I know what I want” mentality acted out, for good or ill?