So Mr. W and I are planning on shacking up in the next couple of weeks. We’ve been working out the details for several months now. Mapped out are how the kids will be going to school, how the finances will be split up, who gets to park where in the driveway, and calendars coordinated to include a merged family’s daily schedule. Each kid has their own room, and they’ve selected colors to paint the walls and make their space more personal (DQ has a lovely shade of brown, the Taz chose a wild shade of bright golden yellow after I put my foot down over “Startling Orange”. Trust me, it was definitely startling). And Mr. W’s son gets a brand new room that we’ve had built just for him.
Every day I’ve been setting time aside to go through the corners of each room, separating my items into ones I want to keep and ones I want to give away. It’s not a fast process, placing my hands on things I haven’t seen for years, bringing memories of the past several years flooding back in. There’s my diary that I kept from the very beginning, chronicling every triumph and mistake I’ve made in my dating life after divorce (oh, the juicy shame in that little book!). There’s the box of art that contains a Mother’s Day card that turned into an “I’m Sorry” card when the kids spent the morning fighting while I waited for their promised breakfast in bed. There are the clothes I no longer fit into when I took a stand and decided to lose the weight I’d put on and take pride in my appearance. There are the blue flowered plates I coveted so long that now sit in my cupboard. And there are cabinets upon cabinets of kitchen supplies I’ve collected over the years when all I started out with was a drawer full of borrowed silverware, $2 ugly dishes, a few dented baking sheets, and a pan I used for everything. All of it is now to be divided up, bit by bit. And while it’s freeing to be rid of some of the clutter and exciting to be moving into a new life, it’s a little melancholy as well. For in those boxes, I’ve divided different compartments of me – deciding what of myself I’m keeping and what I’ll be saying goodbye to.
I moved in here a scared single mom. I had never lived on my own, and frankly, I had doubts about what I was capable of. Could I afford to feed my kids and pay my bills all at the same time? Would the landlord kick me out once she realized I was just a silly girl playing make-believe house? Would my mom say “I told you so” when it proved to be too hard and I needed to move back home? All we had in the house was a kitchen table and our beds. But it was after a few friends made the house a home by furnishing the rest with donated items that I realized it. This was home. And I was determined to succeed. I became a wizard with my money, making it work each month even when I wasn’t exactly sure how it happened. I watched every penny, and my landlord never had to worry about when my rent was going to come to her. I went from a stay-at-home housewife to a full time worker, to where I finally am now in the desk I’ve always wanted to sit in. We graduated from a timid family just barely scraping by to a seasoned one that knew the ins and outs of being a one parent household…and having that be no big thing.
Frankly, we made it.
I think I needed to prove this to myself more than anything, that I really was capable of anything even when I wasn’t coupled in a marriage. I created my own white picket fence reality. It may not have been perfect to everyone, but dammit, it was mine. Being a single mom didn’t diminish who I was, it made me more. And I take pride in that as I leave my single mom house behind and join into one of a partnership with Mr. W. Yes, I’m saying goodbye to my complete independence, my very own bed, bills and schedules that are dealt with in my own way, and dinners on my own terms. But in exchange, I’m gaining space I’ll share with my best friend, another son, a partner in parenting three fantastic kids, waking up to the man I love every morning, someone to help me clean and cook, help with the bills… I’m gaining a co-conspirator in life. And knowing that I could do it all on my own, that I did, what I’m gaining now means that much more.