Shortly before my marriage ended, Simi decided she would like to go to public school. She has only homeschooled, and although that hasn’t always been perfect, it is something that has worked well for us, and definitely suited her introverted and overly-independent personality. Today, I dropped her off at school for the first time. I am grateful that it was her decision to go to school because, of course, the divorce happened, meaning she was going to end up there whether she wanted to or not. And I am equally grateful she was assigned to the school we most wanted, a place where she already has friends. I’m sure, like homeschooling, it won’t be perfect, but it’s really the best case scenario for the situation we find ourselves in.
About that situation, though…
I want to be happy for this moment in our lives, this big change that really marks the start of something new for us, but I just can’t. Every beginning is an ending of some kind, and I just can’t get myself into a celebratory mood when it’s such a blatant reminder of the end of my marriage. Yes, it was my kid’s decision to attend school, but it’s the divorce that makes it so she will have to stay there. Whereas before she could have “tried” school and gone back to homeschooling, now it’s what she has to do. It’s the same reason she quite suddenly had to take on twice as many household chores when her dad moved out.
I want to be clear, I am not at all against my kid going to school or having to do housework, those things themselves are not the issue. The issue, quite simply, is divorce is really, really hard. There’s a big difference in being able to be deliberate in my decision-making and having decisions made for me, and, in turn, forcing my child into situations in which she has zero say. It may not be rational, but I think it’s likely I will never stop feeling guilty about putting my daughter through this. I can’t think of a part of her life that hasn’t been touched by this divorce- whether it’s adjusting to new weekend and holiday routines, or learning to live with a lot less because there’s not as much money to go around- and it just makes me feel awful.
Last night, I overheard Simi talking to her dad on the phone. He had called to wish her luck on her first day of school, a gesture that made me happy and sad at the same time. I am really glad my kid has the kind of dad that thinks to do those things, the kind of dad that still takes fatherhood seriously. Still, I couldn’t help but think, It’s not supposed to be like this.
It’s been well over a year since everything fell apart so I am sometimes surprised when the sadness hits. I don’t know if all of the major losses in my life have snowballed into one gigantic one, making it harder for me to move on, or if the end of my marriage is just harder to accept than all of the others. I do know, however, that it takes as long as it takes and there’s really no way to speed up the process. I have no choice, really, than to let the grief unfold regardless of how long and excruciating it feels. Truthfully, I feel mostly OK most of the time. If I’m not happy, I am at least hopeful. In spite of everything Simi and I have been through in the last year, we are still in pretty good shape, both ready to start over together.