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October 8, 2010

He went off to school today, looking wan but happy.  I’ll pick him up early–I still think he’s a bit under the weather, and we have to drive to a soccer tournament for my older son that’s about 3 hours away.  We’re staying in a hotel with a pool and a jacuzzi and everything–I dread socializing with the other parents, as I have ever since my ex-husband and I split up, but there’s nothing for it.  Youth soccer is some kind of bizarre throwback to the worst part of the 1950’s in America, I think–the repressed, racist,  homophobic part.  Maybe it’s just my state.  A divorced person scuttling along the sidelines feels more like an undesirable rodent than like a bona fide parent of one of the kids on the team.

Still, I yam what I yam, and I’m determined to hold my head high.  My divorce was a hot topic among this crowd a couple of years ago, but by now I imagine whatever scandal could be wrung out of it all has gotten pretty stale.  Besides, there are two other divorces just launching in our tiny town.  They’re pretty high profile–one couple was the Head-of-the-PTA type, and another was the Together-Since-High-School-Local-Fixture type, and you can’t leave your house without being accosted by someone whispering excitedly, “Have you heard the NEWS?”  I am, I admit, as guilty as everyone else–I’m dying to know What Happened, even though I know that the public version of what happened bears little resemblance to what REALLY happened.  However, I like to think that from my privileged position I’m better able than most to fill in the gaps.

My mother met someone the other day who was divorcing the man she’d been married to for something like fifty years.  Everyone, this woman said, was aghast–asking her over and over why on earth she’d go to all the trouble of leaving her husband now?  Or at all?  My mother, who’s seen everything, had a different reaction.  “My god, how unhappy you must have been,” she told the woman, who practically collapsed in gratitude.  My point is simply this:  No one wants to get divorced.  The word on the street about the Head-of-the-PTA couple is that she’s not giving him a chance, and it makes me feel ill.  Do people really think divorce is something you just wake up one morning and decide, blithely, to undertake?  Divorce means you’ll be broke.  Your neighbors will gossip about you.  Your children will be sad, and possibly angry.  Your family will say peculiar things that hurt your feelings.  Some of your friends will abandon you.  Everything will change, and if you’re willing to take that burden on–especially now, when we’re all middle aged and lame and boring and want nothing more than to sit quietly with a book and a gin and tonic and be left in peace–you’ve got to be really, really miserable in your marriage.

Anyway.  Think of me and wish me bon courage as I face down the phalanxes of contentedly married Soccer Parents.  And root for my kid–his knee is strained, Osgood something or other disease, which he’s thrilled about because it means, apparently, that he is actually GROWING–but he’s desperate to play.  This is his old team that he’s been on since he was eight, and they’ve all grown up together.  I’ll let you know how it went when we get back.

And thank you, so very much, for your kind comments and well wishes for the sickly one.  Every time the phone rings I jump about six feet in the air, convinced it’s the school nurse, but so far so good.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Anne permalink
    October 8, 2010 12:26 pm

    Wow, where do you live? In my 3 year old’s daycare, at least two sets of parents of kids in her class have gotten divorced, and there was hardly as much as an eyeblink (half of one of the sets was a state senator, too, and you’d think that would have caused some gossip).

    On second thought, maybe it did cause gossip in their actual neighborhoods? Our daycare is located in the downtown area of a major city, so all us parents, even if we do get together for the occasional weekend playdate, tend to converge on it from various and sundry geographical starting points.

    Anyway, good luck in the jacuzzi! I think someone said this earlier on your blog, but remember that people who are truly happy with themselves don’t need to gossip meanly. The ones that DO gossip meanly=not so happy. And not worth your time and energy. 🙂

  2. October 8, 2010 12:42 pm

    Good luck with the soccer tourney. I hate how the dark side of community means that when you’re out, you’re OUT, at least for a while.

    And I’m glad your boy is feeling better. That’s rough, sickness, that is.

  3. Laurie permalink
    October 8, 2010 1:27 pm

    “Divorce means you’ll be broke. Your neighbors will gossip about you. Your children will be sad, and possibly angry. Your family will say peculiar things that hurt your feelings. Some of your friends will abandon you. Everything will change, and if you’re willing to take that burden on–especially now, when we’re all middle aged and lame and boring and want nothing more than to sit quietly with a book and a gin and tonic and be left in peace–you’ve got to be really, really miserable in your marriage.”

    Thank you for putting years of my life into words. I’ve come out the other side, but I will never forget the years of feeling broken.

  4. Lauren permalink
    October 8, 2010 1:36 pm

    I agree with the person above. That is a great description and so exactly what has happened for me. I appreciate reading it this way. I enjoy your blog. Please keep writing!

  5. minoti permalink
    October 8, 2010 4:18 pm

    so glad your son is doing better. hopefully the little trip will pep him up a little more. good luck to your other son on his soccer game.

  6. nancy d permalink
    October 8, 2010 4:59 pm

    “contentedly married soccer parents” Are you kidding me? Everyone is miserable. Its just that most people are too afraid to get out.

    Yeah, I am bitter. But I don’t envy all those married couples because they probably are not all that happy. Unfortunately.

  7. Anna permalink
    October 8, 2010 7:55 pm

    I agree with Laurie: thanks for putting into words what I too feel.
    I just came out the other side and am still adjusting daily to the complete 360 that I have decided to take my life in. Divorce is harder than I ever thought it would be but I would never go back.
    As for those soccer parents, they aren’t so happy and I should know as I am
    one of them. While I was separating, I had a relationship with another soccer parent who is
    back with his wife (who knows nothing) while he now pretends nothing happened. So much for Contentedly Married!
    From my experience, truly happy married couples are few and far between.
    So don’t be intimidated at the soccer tournament and hold your head high. I’ll be rooting for you.

  8. October 10, 2010 2:17 pm

    Glad the younger one is better. The whole soccer mom thing is alien to British people well this one at least. We do have our own version of the ghastliness of school gates though so I feel for you.

  9. Take 5 permalink
    October 10, 2010 3:22 pm

    Because a little peace after all is so much better than misery.

  10. October 10, 2010 5:58 pm

    Just so glad he’s better; thanks for the update. I will now continue to read (early and often!) but with less nail-biting.

  11. October 10, 2010 10:51 pm

    I got divorced just before my sister got married. My cousin called me to tell me that she hadn’t told her daughters – my goddaughters – that my now ex-husband and I were getting divorced, so if we could just pretend everything was okay at the wedding, that would be great.

    I hung up the phone and cried. I’d been abused for six years and finally worked up the courage to leave my horrid husband, but I’d have to pretend we were still married just because my cousin didn’t want to have to tell her children that marriages sometimes didn’t work. I was broke, broken and emotionally destroyed. But so long as her children were deluded, all would be well.

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for putting into the perfect words what divorce is. Also, I’m really glad your son is feeling better. It sucks when kids are sick. Also, have fun at the soccer tournament. If the other parents get to be too insufferable, just remember that you’re better than them because you were strong enough to know that misery just isn’t worth it.

  12. Laurie permalink
    October 11, 2010 10:19 pm

    Glad he’s feeling better.

    Somehow you manage to articulate my exact feelings about divorce. It’s amazing.

  13. kath permalink
    October 20, 2010 11:19 am

    this is such a validating post for me – my 11 year-old daughter plays hockey on a team that has been comprised of mostly the same girls and parents for the past 3 years. her father and i separated (initiated by me) last december. the hockey season is nothing if not l-o-n-g (september – april) and her father is an assistant coach – i cannot tell you how i dreaded each and every game, of which there were no less than 2 of every single weekend. there is nothing worse, as you’re desperately trying to get your legs under you, to feel some sense of “normal” again, than that feeling of certain judgment and utter disapproval from other parents. it’s absolutely horrible.
    i solemnly vow to never again judge one party or another based solely on the information i think i may know…
    thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog.

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