About a month or so after our divorce was finalized, Teddy started preschool. Until that time, for the first three years of his life, he had been cared for by our beloved nanny at home while I worked from home.
When Teddy entered public life, so did my divorce. Into an intimate community of in-tact families our little, leaky boat of a family went. Often, I felt during the drop-offs and pick-ups like I had no skin. My organizing principle seemed to be the throb of pain and the wince of dislocation.
One morning during the first week of school, we were removing our boots outside the classroom alongside another mother and child.
“Hi, I’m Taylor,” she said, “and this is my son Liam.”
Clunk went my heart. What were the odds of having a mom in the school community with the same name as Pete’s girlfriend?
Teddy’s face lit up.
“Your name is Taylor?” he exclaimed, “My daddy has a husband named Taylor!”
“Oh, that’s nice,” said Perfect Mom Taylor as she shot me a glance and entered the school.
I drove home chuckling to myself at my son’s confusion over (or perhaps expansion of) all of the possessive language that his family had outlived. He knew “husband” belonged in there somewhere, but he didn’t have the dotted lines mapped out yet to past and present, male and female, married and divorced.
Somehow, this brief comic moment helped me accept myself and my family as it was, as we all are. Flawed. Hurt. Vulnerable. And beautiful. Daddy and his ex-wife and his new “husband” and their very well loved child comprised our family constellation. This is what I had to work with.
I didn’t need the people at school—or anywhere else for that matter—to approve of my torn-apart places, or to make me feel welcome in their happily married world. I just needed to put one foot in front of the other. And let the laughter and tears move freely through me.