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Divided custody

May 25, 2011

By the time you read this, I’ll be de-tonsilled. And it’s certainly high time the damned things came out. I’ve had sore throats my whole life–whatever cold I got invariably ended up as tonsillitis or strep, and there was talk bandied about regarding surgery for most of my childhood. Last week, when I went for a follow-up appointment after having an abscess lanced and drained–a ghastly process, in case you were wondering–the doctor looked at me and said, “Enough is enough.” So off I go at dawn tomorrow, and I’ll be damned if there isn’t nearly unanimous agreement that tonsillectomy, for an adult, is a real bitch to recover from.

But what’s the alternative? I’ve been sick, off and on, since January. I’ve been on antibiotics and steroids more than once. I’ve said to myself, Christ, you lazy slob, get out of bed and go running–and then collapsed the next day with a fever. A strenuous yoga class I absolutely loved last week wiped me out for two full days afterward. “Fighting a low-grade, chronic infection takes work,” said my doctor, kindly. “And having an abscess near your brain is not a good idea. Let’s get this over with.” So I signed the papers, made my plans, told the children. I didn’t tell my ex-husband, however.

Over the last few months, as I’ve mentioned several times, a lovely distance has grown up between us. I have finally stopped micromanaging his every move with the children, and he has finally stopped botching his every move with the children. I’ve also tried hard to minimize contact. Putting it bluntly, I’m sick to death of him. We’re raising the kids together, of course, but surely we don’t need to talk or email every day. And surely we don’t need to make every decision jointly–can’t we divvy them up, can’t we agree to delegate? I am royally fed up with the constant back-and-forth of emails, phone calls, and texts, which serve as a vexing umbilical cord (or a noose, if you prefer) binding us tightly together. Should the kids play in this or that baseball league? What about soccer? Did you sign them up for camp or shall I do it? Did you email the coach? Are you taking them to the Home Run Derby? Did you sign the permission slip? Is the cello by the front door? I want the kids to be mine when they’re mine, and his when they’re his, and I want a clear purview.

So I bravely issued a proclamation, ex cathedra: from now on, I told my ex-husband, you will register the kids for everything that has to do with sports (and handle all coach emails and the like.) Meanwhile, I’ll cope with camp, music lessons, field trips, doctors appointments, and so on. We’ll settle up financially at the end of the month. Divide and conquer, and avoid having to interact. It has been great. “See, that wouldn’t work for us,” a married friend of mine said, “because my husband would sign them up for all kinds of camps and shit that I don’t want to fool with.” So far, however, it’s felt as if an anvil has been removed from my chest.

And so I didn’t tell my ex that I was having my tonsils out. Why? Well, because it’s none of his business, first of all. He’s not my friend any more, nor my confidant. Second of all, because he left the country last Sunday and won’t be back until next Tuesday. He’s in France. It’s ostensibly a work trip, but he’s building a vacation around the free plane ticket, and who can possibly blame him? So there’s nothing he could do to help in any case, and I must admit, some perverse part of my psyche loves the idea of going under the knife (while taking care of both children for ten straight days) just to prove how tough and indomitable I am.

And yet, and yet. There is, it turns out, a hell of a lot going on this week. My younger son’s first orchestra concert. The usual baseball games. My older son’s exams loom large. A piano lesson I’ll be in no shape to drive to. I’ve figured it all out, with the help of my exceedingly generous friends. I’m being driven to the surgery, and driven home afterward, and the kids are farmed out my first night home. Our town is so small that the kids can bike places by themselves, and my boyfriend will be here for the long weekend. I’m all set, really. I was feeling incredibly smug. And then I overheard my younger son tell his father (who was at the airport, about to board his flight) that I was having my tonsils out on Wednesday.

Fuck, I thought, he’s going to want to talk to me. And my whole Ooooh-I’m-so-independent-and-you-know-nothing-about-my-life little power trip will be blown sky high. I hovered nearby, expecting to be handed the phone. But guess what? He talked to my son a bit more, then hung up.

He hasn’t emailed once (or called, or texted) since he got to France. Correction: He hasn’t texted me. I actually don’t even know where he is (“Lyon,” said my older son, matter-of-factly. “I got a text from him today. He made it safely. And he said his first talk went well.” Oh, I said, that’s good to hear. “Yeah,” my son said, turning back to his physics homework. “He said to tell you hi,” he said to his little brother, who beamed.)

(I guess he doesn’t care that I’m about to have a terrible operation, I thought bitterly. I guess he’s not worried that I’ll die under the knife and the kids will starve to death before he gets home. I guess he doesn’t even care enough to wonder whether the kids will be okay while I’m recovering from an exceptionally painful surgery. What an asshole! What a terrible father!)

And then I had to laugh at myself. Who’s still attached? And who’s blithe and carefree?

Let the infected lumps cut out of my throat tomorrow serve as more than just a physical purging. Let me start the summer practicing what I think I preach, and let time set me free from expectation. He’s gone, I’m here. He knows I’ll be fine, or else he just assumes I will be. And for once he’s completely right, and I’m the one who’s wrong. I WILL be fine. The kids and I, all by ourselves, are perfectly independent, and perfectly all right.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Simona permalink
    May 25, 2011 4:05 am

    I wish you a quick recovery! And I do know the feeling you described so well (I’m not divorced and for me it’s mostly about accepting help. I’m telling people I don’t want any and then am silently sulking because nobody helps me EVAR…)

  2. lucy permalink
    May 25, 2011 5:28 am

    Good luck with the tonsillectomy and recovery, and above all your superb plans for the summer!

  3. May 25, 2011 6:17 am

    I hope it goes well today – not nice to do as a grown up (or so I hear) will be holding thumbs that your recovery is a swift one

  4. May 25, 2011 7:57 am

    I already wished you a speedy recovery in the last post, so I’m going to focus on the fact that the words ‘first orchestra concert’ caught my attention and hope your son enjoys it. Those early string concerts can be squeaky, but charming nonetheless, and my childhood orchestra memories are among my most cherished.

  5. May 25, 2011 11:52 am

    Let me just say that that pre-surgery anxiety made you write your ass off. Love this post!

  6. May 25, 2011 12:18 pm

    Of course I hope that it all goes well and that by the time you read this, you’ll be back on your feet and running your home effectively and efficiently. BUT (yeah, there’s always a but!) I got my gallbladder out on 12 May and was very glad to have my mother down to look after me – and that was with keyhole surgery.

    If your friends want to fuss over you on your return, please let them. You’ll be knackered after the anaesthetic for a start.

    Hoping that it all goes fabulously well!!!!!!

    Ali x

  7. Ellie permalink
    May 25, 2011 12:45 pm

    Thank you for leaving us good reading material before going under surgery – wishing you a prompt recovery. Sore throat is exactly my tendon d’Achille, no tonsils to blame. I had to laugh at how your ex cannot be right, even when he is 🙂

  8. SarahB permalink
    May 25, 2011 1:25 pm

    Best of luck with the surgery!

    My husband had one of those abscesses once. Not pretty. I wish you well in getting rid of that lingering nastiness.

    Just think: You’re ending a long, unhappy relationship with your tonsils, and, while it will be painful for awhile, once it’s over you’ll never have to communicate with them again.

    • SarahB permalink
      May 25, 2011 1:28 pm

      P.S. I’m in the middle of and rather enjoying The Ginger Tree right now. I’m planning to take the rest of your list to the library over these next couple months’ gestation. Great for all the couch time!

      • irretrievablybroken permalink*
        May 25, 2011 11:26 pm

        Oh, I’m so glad you’re reading it! Warning, it is not all skittles and beer. Where are you in the book? (Start a new thread down below if you want so this one won’t get all skinny. I read all the comments no matter where they end up, so I’ll find it.)

  9. PinkieBling permalink
    May 25, 2011 2:25 pm

    Hope it all goes well. Get plenty of rest, please! Sending healing thoughts.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      May 25, 2011 11:28 pm

      “Rest” is, like, not doing anything I don’t feel like doing, right? But I can potter around in a low-key way if it soothes me, or go for a very short walk? Or will that precipitate the dreaded Throat Bleed?

      • PinkieBling permalink
        May 26, 2011 4:21 pm

        Probably best to leave the short walks til a couple of days post-surgery, but that’s…right about now, isn’t it? Perfect! You simply MUST NOT do anything you do not feel like doing. Doctor’s (and more importantly, Internet’s) orders!

  10. PinkieBling permalink
    May 25, 2011 2:33 pm

    “And then I had to laugh at myself. Who’s still attached? And who’s blithe and carefree? ” Oh, I have SO been there. I hope you DO have a blithe, carefree summer, and beyond. (I’m wishing the same thing for myself.)

  11. May 25, 2011 2:59 pm

    Hope it has all gone well.

  12. tammi permalink
    May 25, 2011 3:00 pm

    Had mine out at age 22. It wasn’t horrible and I have been so much healthier!

    Advice: Slushies. Cool icy slushies. Coke-slushies, fruit slushies. Smoothies.
    You will want cold things soothing your throat. I was not as interested in ice cream and detest jello. My poor boyfriend, now hubby, drove me all over town looking for such things. Now, umpteen years later you have tons of options. McD, Starbucks, Burger King and DairyQueen all have icy frozen drinks. Also check out the freezer section, you will find smoothie mixes there.

  13. SarahB permalink
    May 26, 2011 11:51 am

    I’m to the point that I’ve had a few surprises already (a little more than halfway through). These keep happening when I’m on the Metro and have to stop reading to go to work!

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