Self Expression Magazine

Learning to Be a Grown-up Through Divorce – Guest Post by Rachael Lubarsky

Posted on the 29 September 2015 by Martinisandminivans @martinisandmini

When I was 27, I felt very grown-up.

I had my own car, a great job making a lot more money than most 27-year-olds I knew, an apartment with my fiancé, and a wedding to plan.

I was marrying my best friend, which also felt very grown-up. We had the important stuff in common – sense of humor, a sarcastic outlook on life and enjoyment in each other’s company.  That’s what marriage was all about, right?

After I was married, I felt even more grown-up. I had a new last name! I was a wife! I was a Mrs.! I changed my driver’s license and bank account (I had a new signature!) and felt extremely grown-up doing it all.

Marriage didn’t really change our relationship all that much. My husband and I continued to do all the same things we did as single people. I cooked dinner and played house and he sent me flowers at work and gave me greeting cards for no other reason than because he cared.

Impulsively, we decided to move from the North East down to the Outer Banks, NC because we enjoyed vacationing there so much, we were sure we would love living there. A big move together! How grown-up of us!

On the eve of our move, I discovered I was pregnant. For the first time in my marriage, I hesitated. Was this relocation still a good idea? Was this the right decision? But, it felt too late to go back on it and we went ahead with the move.

Marriage doesn’t change your relationship all that much. But, having a child sure as hell does.

Our son had colic. Or maybe he was just pissed off all the time, I didn’t know. But, the lack of sleep, the seemingly constant jarring cries of our newborn and the sinking realization that this level of responsibility was for keeps, forced us to take another look at our life together.

Our move from a well-populated metropolitan area to a vacation resort town had slashed our salaries, but not our cost of living. With more expenses and less pay, we suddenly discovered that we were both terrible with money, each accusing the other of not checking the dwindling back account before making purchases.  We had left to escape the ‘yuppie’ materialism of Connecticut for the peaceful life at the beach, and then spent every weekend driving an hour and a half to the nearest mall because we were so bored.

Finally, we admitted defeat and moved back up North – into the home of my husband’s parents. We were broke and jobless and living with the ‘rents – which is about as un-grown-up as it gets.

We fought about money, our future, living with his parents and the steadily deepening divide about how we saw our lives together. It wasn’t enough anymore to like the same jokes and enjoy going to the movies. The birth of our son had changed what I thought was important in life and I felt my path diverging from my husband’s.

When I finally decided to leave with our son, and my husband resolved to stay, I knew it was the final straw for our marriage. But as we moved toward divorce, I realized there would be no neat and tidy resolution. Having a son together meant an evolution of our relationship, not an ending. I was divorcing a husband, but not the father of my child. As much as I wanted a clean break, my responsibility to my son to maintain and support his connection to his father forced me to continue to engage with my ex-husband, and still does to this day.  And, at this point, years later, as I am remarried to someone who balances me out a little bit better, I think my ex and I are in a better place than we have been.

Here are some things that make you grow up: Making major decisions that affect not just you, but the lives of the people that matter most. Agreeing to relinquish your child for extended holidays and school vacations. Rearranging your schedule to fly up the coast to accompany your son back from a trip to see his dad. Losing precious family memories because they are happening somewhere else. Holding back emotional baggage and anger to avoid conflict for your son’s sake.

At 40, I am finally very grown-up.

Rachael Koenig is a writer and humorist.  Her site Maxisms contains essays and a collection of precocious, snarky and hilarious conversations between herself and her children. Her work has recently appeared on Scary Mommy, Role Reboot, Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, The Mid, What The Flicka, and The New York Times Parenting Blog Motherlode . She thinks of herself as more of an essayist than a blogger, because she is old-fashioned and grumpy and out of touch with modern social media vernacular. Also, ‘blogger’ still sounds like something one would pull out of a left nostril. You can find her on Facebook.

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