I used this photo for last Saturday’s post because I thought it represented what my ex must have felt seeing another man’s number on my fridge. I revisit it now with my own recent run-in with a refrigerator…at my ex husband’s girlfriend’s apartment. What was I doing there? you ask. Well, in our typical peaceful way, she was helping me (us really) out because my ex had to suddenly go to Puerto Rico to visit his dying father. It was their spring break, and she offered to take the kids for part of the day so that I could go teach.
The first time she had made such an offer, I considered refusing, telling myself that she was not our children’s parent and shouldn’t be doing such a thing. Then I reminded myself how silly I sounded trying to be a martyr (never a good look for anyone) and that I really just didn’t want to admit the role that she played in my kids’ lives, even though by all appearances it seemed to be a positive one. The second time she offered to stay with them, I had moved right into practicality mode. Let’s face it. It just made good sense for the kids to spend the day with her instead of being bored in my office while I taught class (and tried to multi-task). So I graciously accepted her offer without hesitation.
I was feeling good on the drive to her apartment. It was a beautiful warm spring day and I was looking forward to having a few hours to myself in the office and then an afternoon trip to Great Barrington where I was leaving the kids for the night with a friend. However, when I got there I received a metaphorical punch in the face or maybe just in the stomach (which is worse?). As I dropped the kids’ stuff off, I came face to face with her refrigerator, and what was there were photos of my kids. Now I’ll admit that I did some snooping on Facebook and saw that her profile picture was of her and Hugo. It felt a bit weird to think of someone else’s identity being formed by her relationship with my husband (right…ex), but I didn’t feel any sting. Seeing my two precious babies on the front of her refrigerator was a whole different story. For a split second, I wanted to grab them and run and remind her that they were mine. But luckily yoga has taught me a thing or two about non-reactivity, and so I politely thanked her for helping out, kissed and hugged the kids, and got the hell out of there.
They had a wonderful day with her riding their bikes on Smith campus and visiting the greenhouse. But my overwhelming memory of that day is those photos and how they offered me an important lesson. Yesterday a friend of mine wrote on Facebook “There is a difference between what is right, and what is right for me.” The photos on the fridge moment certainly made me come to terms with that adage. It wasn’t right for me to see those pictures there, but it was right that they were there because, as I said just yesterday, more love is more love, and that woman loves my children. That might not make me feel good, but it makes the kids (and my ex) feel good. It makes them feel loved. And with that realization, what was right instantly became right for me as well.