So, last night it happened again: I met another one of "us".
I had volunteered to help with the picture taking station at the Junior High open house last night. I've been in charge of our elementary school's Picture Day for a hundred years or so, and now since William has graduated to 7th grade, it's time to move on.
Some of my friends (ahem) despise volunteering, and openly mock me for doing so much of it. And I do admit, I have a nasty habit of saying YES when asked to do something (explains the four kids, huh?). Sick truth is, I really enjoy it. I love seeing the kids, and I love meeting other parents. Last night was no exception.
My new "co-worker" and I didn't have much time to chit chat. Picture time is one rife with confusion and the fact that it was 95 degrees yesterday wasn't making things any more pleasant. You know I had big things on my mind, like, "When I get up is there going to be a sweat mark on this wobbly plastic seat?". There were some quiet times, however, and we did get a chance to do intros and gab a bit.
She looked EXACTLY like Rachel Dratch, except very thin and blonde. I didn't mention that, though, because as much as I love Rachel Dratch (she cracks me UP like nobody's business) there has been some recent and annoying controversy over her attractiveness. I could meander off onto a whole nother subject here, maybe along the lines of "Slate used to be cool but now sucks" or "let's talk about the double standard when it comes to attractiveness amongst female and male celebrities" but I'll wait for another day to do that. Where was I?
Oh yeah. So Blonde Rachel and I were chatting. And then, like the spider in the nursery rhyme, along came my ex-husband. He had on his "I'm such a cool aging new dad" outfit and his requisite floppy hair/graying goatee. He was there to retrieve our two younger sons, Henry and William, who were somewhere in the school learning new locker combinations and hanging out with friends. When Big Daddy (what I lovingly call my ex) first saw me sitting at the picture table, I saw the look of disgust in his eyes. I saw him scan the hallways for the boys, and when he didn't see them, I saw him begrudgingly make his way over in my direction. "Where are they?" he growled. I wanted to take the little black Sharpie I was holding and draw a curly mustache on his face. "I would guess somewhere down in the 200 hall" I answered, and then got back to helping people figure out the picture taking process.
Blonde Rachel gave me a look. "Are you divorced?" she asked me, and then we really started bonding. Turns out that she also has an ex, and in her words, "Funny how they all seem to act the same...like they took a class on how to treat their ex wives like shit." That was when I fell in love with Blonde Rachel. As the night progressed, we discussed things like ex-husbands, depressed kids, second chances and new lives.
As I was driving home that night, I thought about how many times this scenario has come up since my divorce. How many women I've met, women just like me who carry around scars and hurts that nobody can see. When I was a rookie, a newbie divorced chick, the loneliness was almost overwhelming. I remember wishing for a friend who knew what it felt like to be a single in a world of pairs, so clearly recalled being desperate to hear from others who had been there and had lived through that.
Slowly, but surely I found them. You know why? Because women like me, like us? We are out there. We are the women teaching your kids, the nurse taking your blood pressure, the young barista making your latte. That woman sitting behind you at church or in the synagogue? She's one of us. We don't have big red "D"s on our foreheads or sad mariachi bands strolling behind us, but we're out there.
When I took my daughter Molly into Wells Fargo to open up her Teen Account, the banker who helped us was a sweet woman named Teresa. Since Molly's account had to be linked to mine, the fact that I had to declare bankruptcy last year came up. Teresa didn't judge, didn't say boo, in fact. I told her a little bit about how and why I am in this boat, and she quietly suggested to me that I may want to get a secured Visa card to start rebuilding my destroyed credit. As Molly and I were leaving, Teresa touched my arm and whispered in my ear, "Mine left me after I paid his way through law school. Hang in there."
Finding other women like me wasn't my goal when I first started writing this blog. I wanted to tell my story, get it down in black and white so that I could make some sense of it. It was a beautiful bonus, all of these women I've met along the way.
That fact that there are so many of us isn't awesome, but the fact that we have each other?
That's pretty cool.
Hang in there, sisters.
The Happy Hausfrau writes stuff here
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