She was in first grade when her world changed. Her Daddy had moved out during a three-day weekend — one of those holiday weekends when people buy refrigerators and mattresses. Me? I was online looking up how to tell children about their parents’ separation. That Sunday we told the kids and he moved out the same day (I cannot describe that day, it was — no words, yet.) On that holiday Monday I held back sobs long enough to call each teacher at home and give him/her a heads up. Having no idea how the kids would be at school, I asked the teachers to call me if there was any strange behavior — outbursts, crying, sullenness, etc. They were crying a lot at home, off and on.
They still had “Circle Time” in Mr. Harris’ first grade room. “Circle Time” was the part of the school day when the children sat on the floor, each taking a turn to speak freely. It was meant to encourage discussion and teach respect and listening to others. The teacher used a rain stick and passed it around the circle. The rule was, the child with the rain stick had the floor (or rug — ha ha). The other children must listen to the speaker and be quiet, but they could ask questions after the child has finished. Since it had been a long weekend, the children discussed what they had done over the weekend.
When my daughter got the rain stick she announced to the class:
“My Daddy moved out over the weekend.“
She told me all about it when she got home from school. She exclaimed, with bright, light eyes open wide, and in that — slightly too loud, high-pitched and overly dramatic little girl voice,
“Mommy, everybody got soooo quiet. I could hear the birds outside and the trucks on the street! Nobody said anything.”
That’s some serious silence for a classroom of first graders.
I was a mess; I managed to murmur something about how they probably didn’t know what to say. I asked what the teacher said. She said he didn’t say much.
I sometimes referred to this child as a wealth of “inaccurate information” (Hell, I still do). I never really know what the whole truth is with her. Once I found her name written on the wall at home. Of course it had to be her work. Why would another child write her name? She denied it of course. But not only did she deny it, she took paper and a pencil to all of the other children procured handwriting samples in an attempt to prove her innocence. Her investigation was flawed since little sisters couldn’t write anything but their own names at the time, but I had to give her props for her tenacity.
My little lawyer . . . but I digress . . .
She was telling the truth about Circle Time, though. I spoke to Mr. Harris later, and he confirmed her story, saying that the other kids did indeed fall silent when my daughter made her announcement. Since there were no questions he just continued on to the next child. Reportedly, my daughter appeared to be okay. Mr. Harris told me that he was glad he already knew, though, and he thanked me for giving him a heads up.
We often think of how to tell the kids. This is how one kid told . . . her whole class.
Just Me With . . . a Circle Time story.
By the way, her twin in the class across the hall didn’t say a word to anybody, and was angry that her sister told our business.
Our Break Up, The Musical Revival — Oh yeah, we went to a play that weekend.
Six Days of Separation — I was a hot mess.
My Cheating Husband Was Packing Viagra — Self Explanatory
When I Needed a Helping Hand — People can be so nice.
The Hallmark Holiday of Mother’s Day is fast approaching. The advertisements for flowers and candy, and brunches and jewelry, are popping up more quickly than the weeds in my yard. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against honoring motherhood, sisterhood, and female nurturing. It’s all good. But I have long maintained that it works best for the mothers of adult children (preferably child-free) who are in the position to do things for their mom that their mom might actually want and in this way show appreciation for everything their mother has done over the years — the kind of appreciation you usually only understand after you’ve grown up. Before my kids came, and back when I had disposable income (sigh), I used to take my Mom to a fancy brunch in the city. It was nice.
At the other end of the spectrum of motherhood, mothers of babies and small kids usually love the home- and school-made cards and trinkets and hand prints of the little ones. I know I did. These new moms usually also hope their husband or significant other will give them “a day off” of mothering. A little ironic. Moms of intact families often want to hear this from their men:
“I’ll take the kids, I got this. You do nothing, I mean NOTHING — no cleaning, no meals, no laundry. We will bring you food.“
That’s a beautiful thing, if someone can do that for a mom. Of course, those newer mothers, if they are lucky enough to still have their mother alive and close by, have to go to the mother thing for her, so it is not a day to stay in bed all day watching trash TV and surfing the net.
Single mothers of course, have a whole different thing going on. They might have to haggle to even see their own children on Mother’s Day, depending on the calendar, the court order and the relationship with the Ex. And, unless the kids are grown, any celebration must be engineered, paid for, and cleaned up after — by her. A single mom might want a day off, too, but having the kids celebrate Mother’s Day elsewhere . . . well, that’s not quite right, either. And like the married mom, if the single mom has a mother, she has to do for her, too. Conclusion? Different situations call for different celebrations.
But let me take you back to a time when I had a husband and either one or three babies. Can’t remember. I think just one, but it wasn’t my first Mother’s Day. My then husband (kinda like the sound of that . . . but I digress) went out and got me a card. Kids weren’t old enough to do it on their own. It was nice of him. He didn’t always know how to do things like this. He was brought up without a father so he had no role model in the home for how a husband should treat the mother of his children. I don’t give him a pass because of this, it’s just a fact. It’s a fact easily remedied by reading, looking at TV, or copying what he sees good husbands do. It’s not that hard.
Another fact? Attention to detail was never his strong suit.
Like I said, different situations, different celebrations . . . even different cards.
Clearly my husband shopped in the wrong section of the Hallmark Cards display.
He got me a card that said,
“Happy Mother’s Day!
Our family is so much better . . . now that you’re in it.”
Yep, that’s right folks, he got his wife, the mother of his children, a card for a Stepmother.
Alrighty then. I mean, damn, I think I was still nursing somebody at the time . . . and I got a Stepmother’s Mother’s Day Card. And no, he didn’t accidentally mix up the card he bought for his own stepmother. He had no stepmother.
He bought that card for me.
I read it. I read it again. I read it TO him. He gave me one of those embarrassed laughs and apologized, but not profusely. I kept that card for a time, but of course, did not display it. I just couldn’t believe it. I mean, damn. I was a new mom, and it kinda hurt. I do give him credit for getting me a card. I know there are some guys who don’t do that for their wives. I probably would have been mad if he’d done nothing. But there are plenty of men who do the right thing — with precision. So many things would have been better. Flowers, a single flower, even those nasty flowers that are sold on the highway — would have been better. No words, no careless mistakes.
He took the time to get me a card.
Didn’t take the time to read it, though.
It was long ago . . . but it still smarts a little bit.
Just Me With . . . The Worst Mother’s Day Card . . . Ever.
Postscript: I thought this was the most insensitive thing he could have done on Mother’s Day. I was wrong. See “How I Found Out That My Ex-Husband Was Getting Married”
My Marital Home was large Victorian fixer-upper still in progress. I had accumulated a lot of children and stuff over my years there. One of my forms of therapy has always been to get rid of things and rearrange furniture (I know, a little weird) . Consequently I’d been cleaning crap out with a vengeance after my husband left (so much so he thought I was moving way before I even thought about it).
When the real move was on the horizon, I was faced with moving from this big house to my new little project where Piss Man and his GF were living (See Piss, Puke and Porn). So I basically decreased our belongings by — my guess — around two/thirds . . . Mind you the kid count was remaining the same and they were/are growing by the minute and although some days I’d like to sell them, I’m aware that generally this is frowned upon. Consequently, other stuff had to go.
Since I’m a purger by nature I drop by Goodwill often; they know me (even got hit on there). But since I was already doing this massive move by myself, including getting the Marital Home ready for sale and fixing up the new old hoarder’s house, I was quickly tiring of schlepping my stuff to Goodwill. I also tired of selling individual items, you know, meeting strangers at inconvenient times, etc. to maybe or maybe not make a sale. (Sounds a little like dating, but I digress.) I’ve never had luck having yard sales. So I started posting things for free.
We’ve all seen those ads, “Free Stuff” “Moving” etc. Well, I became one of those people. I decided to give away everything I could on one beautiful weekend. I took pictures, posted them on Craigslist and said FREE — come get it . . . first come, first served.
When living in a smaller space you don’t have the luxury to store certain things, one of them being holiday decorations. I’d already gotten rid of much of that stuff, but I was ready to let go of almost everything else. I told myself, and I was right, that I probably wouldn’t miss it and if I wanted more decorations later I’d start fresh.
My kids’ babysitter (now a good, good friend) had given them these beautiful angel decorations — you know the kind with the velvet gown and fur and whatnot — I had four of them for the girls and she’d given the boy a big nutcracker (heh heh). The angels had looked beautiful in my formal dining room when I had my Christmas sing-along parties. But, that life was . . . over. Still, even for me, it is a bit harder to get rid of items that were thoughtful gifts from a loved one– so I struggled a bit.
I knew I couldn’t store the angels and I knew that in the new old house I wouldn’t have a place to display them at Christmas . . . so . . . I took a picture of the kids’ pretty angels, posted it on Craigslist and put them out on the street, convincing myself that my friend would understand. It felt kinda like giving away my four girls, except my girls aren’t always angels . . . but I digress.
After posting, I got an email right away from a guy wanting to know if I still had them. I checked outside and they were still there. He asked me to hold them until he could get to my house.
I mean, they were pretty, but I didn’t know they’d be hot property — in June. I moved them to a more secluded place and told him where he could find them. He came and got them right away. I never saw him.
“Cool,” I thought, “My stuff is going.” It’s amazing how you can’t sell something for a dollar but if you offer it for free — it’s gone.
A couple of hours later I got an email from the man who took the angels. He thanked me for the them, telling me that they were for his mother who was going through Cancer treatments and having a pretty rough time. She didn’t get out much, he said, hardly ever. But when she saw the picture of my Christmas angels she wanted them so badly that she rode with him to get them.
He said those angels made her so happy. He was thrilled to be able to make her smile.
He just wanted to let me know how much I’d done for the both of them.
I almost cried. I’m lying, I did cry.
Oh wait, it’s Just Me With . . . tears in my eyes . . . again.
For what happened when I prepared the Marital Home for sale, see My Panty Drawer/Your Panty Drawer
For my purging of marriage related material, see:
and for what I wish would happen with Craigslist, see, A Craigslist Fantasy.