Post-divorce, anniversaries are a thing of the past, but the milestones keep coming. My latest wasn’t a big one – in that it was a little one. The father of my child had a baby. With someone else. My son has a sister but I don’t have a daughter and it’s all very confusing. Especially because I was that baby. My father had kids, and then he got divorced, and then he met wife 2.0 who wanted baby 1.0. And along came me. While his ex and his kids were dealing with a broken family, he and the replacement (my Mom) had a nice new family (Me). When exes move on, sometimes the previous administration finds solace in resenting the replacement. (I can’t because my ex’s wife/son’s step mother is really nice.) But nobody can resent a baby! Right? Babies are wonderful and yummy and sooo innocent. One of the ways to come to terms with divorce (or any change/adversity) is realizing that resilience isn’t optional. Unfortunately, sometimes neither is resentment. I never thought my siblings resented me until my father got old – really old – and they decided he wasn’t their responsibility, let alone his replacement wife. Maybe they are getting back at me? Getting back at him? Who knows? Through the journey of divorce, I have been determined to stay on the high road despite the road blocks and speed bumps. So, I bought my son’s sister a baby present. A really nice one that I put a lot of thought into, and that I knew ‘they’ would like. Like the wedding gift, they didn’t acknowledge it. Probably because they choose not to acknowledge me. I’m sure they are hoping that I will just go away. (Any divorced person who says they never once wished their ex would disappear/die is lying.) However, I am not going away, so all I can do is try to deal with it and make it as easy for all of them so that one day my son and his sister won’t be dealing with the aftermath of decisions their parents made a long time ago. Resentment is not an option for me. I don’t have a husband. Or even a real boyfriend. But I have a wonderful son and he has three parents who love him. And now, he has wonderful sister.
Envy is my most hated emotion. I have never really had an issue with jealousy, even when I had every right to glow green. If someone wants to cheat on me, good riddance. I don’t give a shit about the Joneses or what they wear, or how much money they have. Trust me, I live in a town surrounded by friends with phat houses and fast cars and ridonculous shoes. None of it bothers me – I am happy for them – and I am fortunate enough to share in their luxuries from invites to Tahoe homes and pool-side sips at country clubs. Last year I made my third post-divorce move. The neighborhood is old but uber safe and quiet and there is little disparity between the houses. A developer must have built them all at the same time, and so jonesing to be a Jones is even less likely. The next morning I hurried out to my car, stuffed my sleepy kid into the backseat so I could drop him (push him out) at early camp drop off fast enough to get ahead of the traffic and get to my desk before the dreaded face-time office check.
At the same time my new neighbor walked out of her front door in a silky pink robe (and slippers!) with two cloyingly perfect little boys in actual matching button-up pajamas. Their Dad pulled out of the garage in his sports car which was parked romantically next to her Range Rover. Neighbor Mom, holding the smaller offspring, leaned into the car kissing him good bye. The bigger toddler jumped up and down waving. As man of the house drove down the street, dutiful family waved and called to him and bounced and watched the car leave until it was way beyond sight. I grabbed my coffee off the roof, threw my briefcase, dry-cleaning, gym clothes, purse, lunch and my son’s backpack in the back seat – arms aching from carrying it all. Apparently a muffin is all a 9 year old can hold at one time. As we drove away, the Stepfords were still watching Dad’s vapor path. I thought they must be really worried about him going away on his business trip. Clearly, Dad was their hero. Our family was currently down one Superman which I was painfully aware of every day. We went through our ground hog day routine and then the sun came up again.
As we rushed out to the car, my son’s shoes untied, my coffee spilling, there they were again. Waving frenetically, pressed jammies, and silky pinkish robe to complement her airbrushed skin and hair with no roots. Dad drove away, arms flailed, smiles everywhere. Oh… I realized. He isn’t on a trip. He is just going to work. And then the green hit. She is standing there in her pretty robe with her pretty children clearly in no rush to go anywhere. I started wondering about what they would do together. Maybe make breakfast, or go sit by the pool, or drive to a short day camp leisurely? Maybe it was a disaster inside and the kids had colic and chronic lice. Either way, she didn’t have to work and she got to spend time with her kids, and there was someone coming home at the end of the day. Someone who loved them. And I admit it, I was so jealous. I know green is not a flattering color, and I’m going to try really hard to expand my wardrobe. Maybe one day I will even wear pink.