Stop Expecting Equality, They Advise

I saw something once on a Facebook page. A woman who had been left by her husband of many years was lamenting the fact that he made approximately 4x what she did, and once support ended he would still be making 4x what she made and she’d be struggling on her own. Like many of us, she had been a stay at home mom, supporting him in his career climb behind the scenes for years, and now that she’s middle aged and he’s decided he needs a different model, she’s disposed of and left to fend for herself. She did have a job, a teaching job, but it paid far less than her ex-husband’s job. Where is the justice, she wanted to know? Where are his consequences for his behavior? Why must she suffer all of them while he suffers none?

Someone advised her to stop expecting equality. She pointed out that it was a fruitless exercise and once she stopped focusing on that, the better off she would be. Unfortunately it didn’t stop there. She went on to say that countless numbers of people undoubtedly make more money than the original complainant does and she needs to put her ex-husband in that group and focus on herself and what she can do to make more money.

I get it. I truly do. If we continued to dwell on the unfairness of it all we would go crazy. Hell, I consider myself to be at “Meh” when it comes to the end of our relationship and the fact that he married his gold digging whore of a cousin. I’m even pretty close to “Meh” when I think about my old lifestyle and everything that has been lost. But that’s because I’ve learned not to stay there in that cesspool of “What if’s?” too long. If I do, it infuriates me. Even to this day. So I walk away. I focus on other things.

But here’s the thing. This isn’t just someone else that makes more money than we do. This is the person who was supposed to be our partner. We supported them, encouraged them, picked up the home life slack for them. We thought we were building something together. We formed our plans for our life based upon them. And they decided to take their toys and give them to someone else. 

My boss makes more money than me. I’m pretty sure both of my brothers make more money than me. Most of the people I work with make more money than me. I’m perfectly aware that there are a lot of people out there that make more money than me. Am I resentful of them? No, of course not.

Those people also didn’t rise to their position on my back. They didn’t string me along until they got what they wanted and then kick me in the face and leave me and my kids to starve. They didn’t ask me to move multiple times throughout our relationship, leaving behind friends and a life I had foraged. They didn’t throw up roadblocks to me getting a job so that I was financially dependent upon them.

He did. He did all of that and he suffers no consequences. His life goes on exactly as it did before. And for the most part I don’t think about it. Because I would go crazy and the anger would consumer me. So I don’t dwell on it. I don’t expect equality. For crying out loud, he’s got a 20 year head start on me. I’d be crazy to expect equality.

But to act like he’s just some other person out there who makes more than me? To skip happily along and get a second and third job so I can get somewhere close to the amount he makes? To donate plasma twice a week on a regular basis to make up the difference? To sign up for Door Dash and Uber and tutor and babysit and string together a whole list of side jobs so I can hopefully take a vacation once in a blue moon while the ex takes two and three expensive vacations a year? To live in a crappy little dingy basement apartment while he’s living in a four bedroom/ 2 bathroom house with a fireplace and a hot tub in a quiet subdivision?

Nah. I’m not going to do any of that and act like it’s no big deal. It is a big fucking deal and that was the original woman’s point.

Thanksgiving 2021

This was going to be a much different post. Thanksgiving 2021 didn’t go exactly as planned and I was not in a very good mood because of it. By the end of the day I had Thanksgiving 2022 all planned out. I was going to the beach. I was going to stay at a hotel. Wake up and have a lovely hotel breakfast. For lunch/dinner I would go Captain George’s Seafood Buffet. Crab legs on Thanksgiving! Yes, please! I’d spend the day walking the boardwalk, playing Pokemon Go. Maybe I’d try to do a puzzle. Maybe I’d write a few posts. In the evening after the sun had set I planned to walk along the beach and look at all the Christmas lights set up on the beach.

And then I pulled my head out of my ass and reminded myself of how much I have to be grateful for. Yes, Thanksgiving 2021 didn’t go off as planned but it wasn’t horrible. It simply wasn’t what I had envisioned.

I think it’s fair to say that Christmas has a leg up on Thanksgiving. And no, that’s not a turkey joke. Christmas has music and lights. Pageants. Christmas plays. Church bizarres. Presents. Cookies. Lots of Christmas baking. Cocoa. Santa Claus. The Nutcracker. Hallmark movies. Christmas has tons of stuff. But Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving has food and family. That’s it. Oh, and a parade. But then again, so does Christmas.

I was feeling sorry for myself because my daughter and her boyfriend weren’t coming up the night before or spending the night the day of. In fact, they arrived right before dinner started around 2, and they took off 2 or 3 hours later. It was a very brief visit. And needless to say, I miss her. My mom misses her.

Then as I was getting ready to make the meatloaf that my niece loves (she’s not a fan of turkey) my mom told me Queen B had texted her to let her know she hadn’t been feeling well all week and still wasn’t feeling great. So she wouldn’t be at Thanksgiving. The appearance of her boyfriend had been up in the air until that point. Obviously, if he was only going to come for dessert even if she did attend he wasn’t going to be at our home when he had a family of his own.

Also during the conversation that morning I realized my sister-in-law opted to work the holiday so she wouldn’t be over either.

That now left myself, my mom, my son, my brother and my nephew, and my absent sister-in-law’s brother, along with a very brief visit from my daughter and her boyfriend. Hours of cooking, followed by cleaning up the mess, for 3 guests and a drive-by visit from my daughter. Awesome. How could the holiday get any better?

Oh yes! Notice how I did not mention the mobster? That’s because the Friday before the holiday he suddenly decided to return home to spend the holiday with his family. While I understood his desire to go back and spend it with his kids I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. I thought when he moved up here that we would get to celebrate the holidays together. 

Despite the many blessings I have enjoyed because I divorced once my children were older and Jerry Lee disappeared like a puff of smoke (they got a say in visitation; I never had to co-parent with a fuckwit- basically because he abandoned them; I never had to share holidays; they were old enough that they knew the truth and weren’t having any of his nonsense; I never had to deal with my kids being around him, Harley, his family, and/or her family) I realize that one of the pitfalls of divorcing when the kids are older is that you never truly blend your families. The kids are simply too old. It’s not to say they won’t get along or they don’t like each other. But there’s no sense of family between them, which means you live essentially two lives- the life with your kids and the life with your partner.

On the plus side he had a really good visit with his kids, his parents, and his siblings. I’m glad he went. Despite my sadness at not spending Thanksgiving with him I still made a batch of Scotcheroos and sent them with him. I’m very glad he got to see his kids and that he had such a great time with them. I know he’s given up a lot to be with me and it was just me being selfish that wanted him here.

Similarly I can’t be upset with my niece for being sick, or with my sister-in-law for taking the opportunity to make 2-3 times what she normally makes. Disappointed that our table is smaller? Sure.

And the reality is I did get to spend the holiday with both of my kids. I know there are a lot of people out there mourning the fact that their cheating spouse gets the kids this year. Not me. I’ve had my kids every holiday since this happened. Who knows what will happen in the coming years? My daughter and her boyfriend seem pretty set on moving out to Utah. I can say from experience that it’s not as easy as you think it will be to just buy tickets and fly home for the holidays. My daughter is going to be a nurse and it’s possible, probable even, that she’ll be working future holidays. My son likes his job at the supermarket and thinks he wants to stay there. Another job that requires working on the holidays. Hell, maybe next year I will make it to the beach!

Then I remember my best friend who just lost her mother earlier this month. Her father suffered a second stroke in July and she and her family have been enduring insurance and nursing home care nightmares for months. He was already blind from his first stroke a few years ago and this second stroke exacerbated his dementia. They’ve been so focused on him and undoubtedly preparing themselves for his death, and then after what was called a perfect day her mother slipped and fell, hitting her head as she went into her house. She never regained consciousness. And to top it all off her dad caught Covid so they couldn’t even go visit him at Thanksgiving. She’s had a hell of a year. I’m sure she would have loved to have been able to celebrate the holidays with her family, and here I am whining and feeling sorry for myself because my mom and I have been cooking for only a few extra people.

Maybe that’s the heart of it. If I’m going all out and cooking a huge feast I want a crowd. I’m not doing eighteen dishes for four people. Yet as I think back on my 52 (well, 53) previous Thanksgivings I can’t say that we’ve had a huge crowd throughout most of them.

Before my parents divorced we had Thanksgiving over at my grandma’s. Her father and my grandpa’s mother would be there. My aunt, and later, her husband, would be there. And then my parents, myself, and my brother. I think maybe sometimes they would invite a family friend as well, but I may have that mixed up with just a regular Sunday dinner. After my parents’ divorce it was often just my mom, my two brothers, and me. I remember at least once we went to Virginia and celebrated with my Mamaw.

Now, Thanksgiving at Tammy Faye’s was a completely different beast! One year I think there were 30 of us, including Pastor Fake’s ex-wife and her new, just released from prison husband. She met him at the halfway house when she got out of prison for embezzling. I’m also fairly certain I spent at least one Thanksgiving with a convicted murderer. I mean, I know he killed a man and he spent years in prison. That is not the part I’m doubting. I’m not 100% certain he was at Thanksgiving dinner, but I wouldn’t be surprised because Tammy Faye’s sister remarried him. Yeah, remarried.

Then of course we had the Utah years where it was just the four of us typically. Ordering Thanksgiving dinner after the first disastrous year where I cooked for hours and hours for what amounted to a 20-30 minute meal. Heading out to the zoo in the morning. Maybe catching a movie if they weren’t sold out.

Finally, we had our last Thanksgiving before the bomb dropped. Or as I like to call it, my last normal holiday. I hosted it at our new house which I had decorated to the hilt. I cooked all the food and it was a feast! My mother, brother, his family, and my other niece all came down. My daughter’s best friend flew out from Utah and spent almost a week with us as well. We played tons of Phase 10. They drug me out Black Friday shopping. We all wrote down 3 things that we liked best about the holiday. Maybe I’m hoping for that again, and if I can’t have it I’d rather just do something completely different.

Although, Thanksgiving of 2017 was pretty sweet. I don’t remember who came over for dinner but I do remember getting the judge’s decision the day before. $25,000 in legal fees awarded. Child support. Spousal support. He got imputed. Judge named Harley and basically said, “You’ve got the money; you just prefer to spend it on your girlfriend and her kids. That’s not acceptable. And by the way, your PTSD claims are rejected. This was a self-inflicted injury.” That was a good Thanksgiving.

This year had good parts, too. Sure, my stuffing was a disaster. Like, literally, it was a soupy goo when I checked it the first time. I kept baking it and baking it until finally it looked like stuffing- burnt stuffing. That’s my favorite part of the meal. But on the plus side, the turkey was really good, and that’s usually my least favorite part of the meal. And, I got to sing our Thanksgiving prayer. Yes, I was laughing and my brother kept trying to squeeze my hand as if to say, “Knock it off!” but I got out a good Hallelujah and a rousing chorus of Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna. There was something about pumpkin pie and it being so good I could cry. Usually when I offer to say the prayer and begin singing my brother interjects, “Nope. Stop. I’ll do it.”  My daughter told me after I finished it was the best prayer she had ever heard. “It had it all! Singing, shout outs, recognition for everyone!” It was supposed to be a duet with Picasso but he backed on me. “You’ve got this, Mom,” he told me. Rock Star is willing to do a duet for the Christmas prayer. Maybe we’ll work on it this weekend.  Oh, and Picasso has promised to do some Latin chanting at the Christmas dinner as well.

In the end I’m thankful. I spent the holiday with my family. Maybe not all of them, but enough of them. And we were able to welcome my sister-in-law’s brother over for dinner once again. He has been a frequent visitor in the past. His parents are in Florida. He’s single. And several years ago he suffered a stroke even though he was only in his 40s. He’s living in a rehabilitation center. Picasso’s friend who spent most of last Christmas with us also came over after the meal was over. And then another friend of his showed up as well. Apparently the kid brought his own pie with him. I like any kid that travels with his own pie. I think I might adopt that philosophy.

Also, Black Friday shopping was awesome. I didn’t get out there super early. My mom and I went to breakfast first and didn’t hit a store until after 12. But I bought myself a fabulous pair of 1/2 carat diamond earrings. Almost bought the 1 carat ones but I held back. Kinda wish I hadn’t. In exchange for buying myself an early Christmas present, plus a few other things, I ended up with $150 in Kohl’s cash. Went back the next day and bought myself a coat. It is amazing! So, so warm. And it’s got the little hole you put your thumb through to pull the top of the sleeve over your hand. It’s also slightly longer than my old coat so it covers my butt which is nice when the wind is blowing and you’re outside walking.

Happy belated Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a fabulous one. Maybe one day my Thanksgiving will look a little different. Until then I’ll give thanks for the blessings I have.