Today, as I dabbed on a little makeup in the bathroom and my 9-year-old Peanut sat in the tub, he pointed out to me that his dad loves me. "I wish you were still married," he told me.
"Why do you wish that?" I asked, as neutrally as possible.
"Because he doesn't live with us anymore, and we used to do stuff together and it was fun." Peanut started. Really? I thought, is that how you remember it? By the last year we were together, it seemed to me that when Dad was off the couch and not stoned on pain meds, we were arguing. Or, I was taking the kids out to do things on my own. Granted, my own recollection might be biased, just like the Peanut's is biased, just in the opposite direction.
"Besides," he added, "you told him about the divorce on a Sunday. You could have at least waited until Monday or something."
"Why would that be better?" I asked him.
"Because it was in church, where people get married."
Wow. That is a touch of irony that had not occurred to me, and I am surprised that Peanut thought of it. I explained that at church, where I had told my exhusband I wanted the divorce, the pastor and other people were there to offer friendship and support to him. Clearly I was not the person to offer anything.
What I did not tell our son is that at the time, given the mood swings and tension that were commonplace, I deliberately chose church as the setting, as a safe place. I anticipated yelling, probably throwing things, possibly even striking. I didn't really expect it to go that badly, but was prepared for the possibility. It was better all around to talk somewhere with people around, though we used the library for some privacy.
It caught me off guard when Peanut brought it up today. I hope I succeeded in acknowledging his feelings as valid and important. It was more difficult than I had ever imagined, not spelling out why the marriage ended, why I used a public place to protect myself from the yelling, belittling, dramatic outbursts that had become common. Let it be hard for him to understand, I thought, rather than understand too much. My life is healing, and the Peanut needs time for his idea of life and of family to recover.