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It takes longer to un-do a marriage than it does to grow a human being

We've past the point now, the points of comparison for those life-shifting, identity-altering, soulful and spiritual and schedule transitions happenings.

It has now taken longer to get divorced than it did to make a baby and bring that fully-realized child into the world. It has now taken longer to divide the nothing we had and decide upon hours for shuttling that child from city to suburbs than it did to say yes to marriage in the first place, plan a wedding and walk down the aisle, so full of amazing intentions.

That time-line doesn't pain me. When I mentioned it to my mother, she winced and asked me if hurt to have those measures. It doesn't. Rather, in the heartache of dividing up our child's time and the 401(K) and the mixed tapes and video tapes and crap from Ikea, it feels like the cells inside me are spitting as well.

That's a dramatic PBS picture, I know. But I feel myself
growing, sometimes in the smallest ways and sometimes in such dynamic
ways that I meet the changes just as startled as I was to hear a
heartbeat. Or see a foot travel from east to west across my belly. Or
feel the flip with the change of position.

Lil E is changing too. He's leggier now and much more four than
he was only weeks ago. This is his life now, and soon, it will be the
only life he remembers. The memories of us all living together have
already faded substantially and he clings to a few photos of his dad
and me with the same wonder that I once did with ultrasound prints of
his tiny, crossed feet.

In that wonder is a mix of the
unrecognizable and the familiar and I see it as he stares at our smiles
and locked hands.  I remember that same balance of what I knew and
didn't know in my first thought as I looked over the blurry black and
white paper of him in utero: "Oh yes, those are your feet."

lives don't look the same. Still, we fall back and relax and let down
in what we have always known about ourselves and each other. We have
our same old jokes and I sing the same lullabies every night that I
have sung every night of his big little life.  He will go to a new
school and we will live in a new place, but the morning routine goes on
each day. Even as his nut-brown legs dangle over the edge of our big
chair, we snuggle and ask each other questions and I hold him to me
just like I have since the day we first met.

A few days ago, Lil
E and I hugged in the doorway for a few moments before he went off for
his first mid-week overnight with his dad.  Before he crossed over the
threshold to take his dad's hand, he pulled me in close, nuzzled my
cheek and pointed to the balcony off our apartment.

"Mommy," he
said, "please watch me leave from upstairs. Then all the thoughts I
have of you will float from my head up to your heart."

That boy
was born ten days early, a sage one who will soon be four. Three days
before that celebration, we will be back in court to negotiate the
final aspects of the divorce. The day after his birthday will mark one
of the most difficult days of my life, the exact moment when I realized
my marriage was spilling out all over the floor.

But I know, I
know so deeply, that the best thing I've ever done -- growing this
child in my body -- happened in the right time at the right time. And
so will this divorce.

As the weeks pass, more changes. I am
trying to hold on to what I recognize, the something old in all this
growth and still be open to the unfamiliar in all the somethings that
are new.

Some of us are growing up and others apart, and the cells are all busy dividing.

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Reader Comments (7)

beautiful. I just can't say it enough, a woman filled with grace and beauty raising a child filled with grace and beauty. Love you!
August 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter2Jmama
i know this will make you want to kick me in the shins, but your beauty and strength shine through when you write this..

honestly, totally gorgeous and touching.

August 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRedsy
what they said. wow, i couldn't be this loving and lovely in a time like this. i feel sad for e but so happy he has you.
August 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersarah gilbert
It's clear to me that you have the heart, strength and courage to move forward gracefully......and you've got yourself one special 4 year old angel that holds you close to his heart...
August 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlittlemansmom
Wow great post. Ms. Single Mama has you linked on her page, so I thought I would check you out. Good stuff!
August 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpisceshanna
You and I are going through the same thing, though my son is about to turn 3.

I look forward to reading about your journey into this new world.
August 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTere
Divorce with littles involved sounds positively brutal. Beautiful post.
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAll Adither

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