Like every mother in America, probably the world, I am grieving deeply this week.
I absolutely cannot believe Heather and Jon Armstrong are getting a divorce.
What kind of a world do we live in where Rihanna and Chris Brown get back together, but Dooce and Mr. Dooce can’t reconcile their differences? It makes me want to get out my Michael Lohan vag-kicking boots and go to nuts. Alas, I am a pacifist at heart.
I’ve needed to be cheered up almost constantly this week. Repeatedly rewatching former child star and current house”wife” Kim on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills toss her homemade chicken salad can only help so much. A few minutes of Miss Universe contestants parading across the stage in those absurd shoes didn’t hurt. Some of them looked like newborn foals trying to walk in rainboots or cats with peanut butter between their toes.
The world is a horrible, sad place. This week, it feels that way to everyone, not just those of us who suffer from clinical depression. I listen to the news when I don’t have kids in the car, but I can’t watch anymore. Whether it’s my PPD or just being a mom, I have to stop myself from obsessively pouring over details of the Connecticut school shooting. I think that reading about it will help me process my grief somehow, but then I learn a new heartbreaking detail and I’m back in the black hole of despair again. I become panicky and desperate, wanting something to take it away. Lucky me. For the families of the murder victims, nothing will ever take it away.
My grief and guilt are irrelevant. It isn’t about me.
I’m fully experiencing what’s been called the Newtown Effect. I can’t get enough of my children. I am suddenly full of patience and affection for them. Even though Pringles is at that stage of toddlerhood where her ability to communicate lags behind her ability to get frustrated and so her piercing scream is like to bust your eardrums apart, nothing she does irritates me. Viva is three-and-a-half. Everything is high drama. I am grateful for every second. We have abandoned all efforts to put the children in their own beds. Instead, we share our California King family-style, cherishing the luxury of having them close us.
I belong to a couple of “mommy groups” on Facebook, and one thing I’m used to is how we all dissect tragedies and accidents involving children so that we can tell ourselves and each other how that could never happen to us. We describe and discuss all of the precautions we take against falls, burns, drownings, poisonings, and abuse. I think that’s why the news media on behalf of the nation is so obsessed with the motive. With the “why”.
This situation devastates us because we cannot say “That would never happen to me.” It could happen to any of us. If anything, what the Sandy Hook Shooting brought into stark awareness is that none of us is safe from this kind of tragedy. We could all lose a child in a school shooting. It can happen anywhere. As a teacher, a small part of my brain is always preoccupied by the fear that an angry boy will show up at my door with a gun. Every time my classroom door opens, that is one possibility that flashes through my mind. Whenever I discipline a male student, I worry. Does he have access to firearms? Will he come back here and take out his anger and resentment on us?
Statistically, our children are in more danger in our cars on the way to school than they are once they get there. The risk of an automobile accident is something we all accept as the price of convenience. The risk of death by murder at school is not something we can, or should, accept.
I have to think about something else.
How could Heather and Jon do this to us? Who the fuck do they think they are? I was counting on them! I needed them to make it. If their love experiment can fail, what the hell hope do the rest of us have?
The risk of becoming invested in love is terrifying. But the cost benefit analysis is proving to be worth it for the most part. I can’t wait to spend two weeks on winter break, bonding with my family. We’re about to work our way through the third or fourth family virus of the season, but that’s just what you get the first year of day care. January will mean a new semester and a much needed fresh start.
Sorry I’m all over the place. The few moments I get to peck out a few thoughts here on my blog lately don’t lend themselves well to editing and revisions. My New Year’s Resolution is to have a writing plan and publish regularly. I hope that’s good news!
Have a wonderful Christmas, if that’s your thing. I’d like to remind you as you see everyone’s “Elf on the Shelf” shenanigans all over the ‘net, I did that LAST year with Farkle the Elf. So, ahem.
I wish you good food, intoxicating drink, and love this holiday. Blessings.
Yes, your New Year’s resolution is good news indeed!
I have experienced unspeakable Grief and you put it so well when you described a need to read more, but not sure if that’s the right thing either but I feel guilty for saying I need to focus on my family. Anyway thanks for expressing where you are in this process as a teacher and mother.
I stopped watching the news sometime during my first pregnancy. It was just one heartbreak after another. What is the point of doing that to myself day after day?! I couldn’t take it. I’m so much happier not carrying all that sadness/tragedy/pain for others’ suffering around with me all the time, (because that stuff just started to really stay with me once I knew I was going to be a mom). You don’t NEED to watch the news. Life really will be okay and function just fine without it. A friend of ours worked at a news station here in L.A. and he told us the mantra there was, “If it bleeds, it leads”. Do I really need that regularly in my home? No thanks. I say just stop watching permanently.
I love reading your posts and look forward to the New Year! I hope you get as much enjoyment out of writing regularly as I get out of reading them!
Much love, Mrs. Odie!
I think there is much wisdom to be gained from this outlook, Joy. Your name says it all. xoxo
There is a difference between your decision to choose not to focus on tragedies unrelated to you over which you have no power and the “blue pill philosophy” of putting a happy face on everything and living in a dreamworld of bullshit.
Public school teacher here. I love your take on things. Including school, holidays and Dooce. What went wrong there??? I must know!
Hello, fellow teacher! Shaper of young minds! I truly believe that fame and marriage are incompatible. I also think that Heather ceased to feel that meeting Jon’s needs was a priority. I believe that over the years, they both built up little resentments and little by little those resentments took the place of loving feelings toward each other. When they separated, despite the pain, they both felt relief and hope for themselves as individuals. I feel sad that Marlo will have no memory of her parents in love with each other. It will be fascinating to see what this generation of children who grew up with starring roles in their mothers’ blogs will become.
Well said about Sandy Hook. You expressed the confusion that filled my mind for weeks; Do I grieve? or Do I love them extra hard? I did both, and it worked for me.