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This Is How It Always Is

emotional labor and divorce

If we're being honest, I don't think it was my marriage that broke me. It was all the marriages.

I just finished reading this book, Fleishman Is In Trouble. It's about divorce - and specifically about a woman who, one day, simply disappears - abandons her marriage and her job and her children while her husband holds up the fort, so to speak. It involves major twists that I won't spoil for you because you really should read it - but I don't think it's a spoiler to tell you what I took away from it. Which is that this book explained my own story to me in a way I hadn't fully comprehended before.

At the crux of the issue is the plight of the working mother. I shy away from this topic because in our present culture there is such (completely valid) sensitivity to the different ways women approach parenting. There is a danger, when you identify yourself as a "working mother," of creating distance between yourself and the other kind of mother - the one who "doesn't work." But who does! Of course she does! She does the hardest job

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The Choices We Make

I'm moving. Again.

Not quite so far this time - and with considerably less drama, thank god.

But no matter how you slice it, moving an entire household filled with assorted children, pets, and board games requiring the wrangling of 10,000 extremely small pieces (I hate you, Risk) all by yourself...it's exhausting. I am exhausted. And excited, because this move is a good one for virtually everyone involved (except maybe Lucy, who DNGAF where she is, because she is very busy napping).

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Still There

I've had many summers that felt like little jewelboxes of time, sweet and slow - the one we spent living in temporary housing while we waited for our daughter to be born comes to mind - but there was one that was wonderful in a completely different way than all the others.

It was the summer after Kendrick and I moved from our tiny Hell's Kitchen place to our slightly-less-tiny Upper East Side apartment. The summer that I quit my office job, and started writing for a living (well, that was the plan, in any case). The summer that we were working out how to be married and wondering how in the world we were going to pay our rent and trying to figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up...but it was so exciting. The sheer possibility of it all. We were children standing on the edge of adulthood, thinking about jumping.

We had a little crew that summer. Stephen and Dave, of course - we had rooftop cocktails with them most nights, Lucy whizzing in circles around us while we watched the setting sun light up all that silver paint. Francesca was living in the city then, just a few blocks away, and a few of Kendrick's other friends from college lived at various points along the 6 line. We'd all go out to terrible bars and drink terrible drinks and stay up far too late, because we were still so young, and it still felt like bad choices were a life imperative.

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Witness

When I left my seven-day retreat - seven days with no access to phones or computers, no music, no books, nothing to do but look myself straight in the eye and see what, if anything, I might find - I didn't go home; not right away. Part of the commitment I made when I signed up for the retreat was to spend the two days following my departure somewhere quiet, all by myself. The hope was that I'd be able to use this time to figure out how to take what I'd learned into my *real* life: the earsplittingly loud, endlessly busy one filled with responsibilities and distractions and triggers and proposals that need to be written and homework that needs to be finished and meals that need to be cooked.

So I booked two nights in an Airbnb in a town called Occidental. I'd never been before; never even heard of it. I found it because I did a quick search for inexpensive places to stay in Napa, and picked one that sat next to a little pond, and had a hammock strung up between two apple trees that I thought looked like a place I might like to nap.

I expected to feel frantic during those first couple of days on the "outside," as it were - panicked by the number of emails I'd missed; desperate to find out what had happened to everything from my kids to the news cycle while I'd been gone. But on the morning of my last day at the retreat I was handed back my phone...and I didn't want it, to the point where I felt full-on physical revulsion.

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In Which I Subdue An Aggressive Dog…With My Rebecca Minkoff Purse

Me, as drawn by Jacqueline Bisset for Carrying On

Well THAT was a morning.

So you know how I've been having all these Big Life Realizations lately? One of them is that I need to refocus this site to be less about *me* - essentially because I've started to realize that I want to be peaceful, and happy. Which means having less drama in my life. But which also, alas, leaves me with fewer stories to tell.


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