A Picture Worth a Thousand Questions

Under unexpected circumstances, it so happened this summer that my two little girls were seated with me, their father, and his boss at my kitchen table for an impromptu lunch. During a regrettable lull in conversation, my older daughter seized the opportunity to try sounding grown-up: “Sooooo,” she says, “both of my parents have been married twice.” I felt like Henry Higgins hearing Eliza Doolittle carry on at the Ascot Races. I saw the humor but of course felt horrified. And what my daughter didn’t know was that the boss man already knew the truth of her statement, along with a lot of other uncomfortable facts. He had been there all the way from the office rumors to the papers being signed; to this day helping paint the walls in my ex-husband’s new little house – which, by the way, is in my backyard.

Some of you might need a moment here to get over the stun and the panic…. I’ll continue…

With this weird economy and shifting standards, I’m afraid my situation is becoming increasingly commonplace. Still this case begs a gazillion questions, most of which will never be answered to most people’s satisfaction. Some of the details make for a long story but an old one, so I won’t get into all that here. But I can tell you that this was his idea. I can tell you he has always stayed close to the girls and many times I’ve even tagged along on their activities. Our civility only goes so far and is not leading to reconciliation. And I can tell you, must tell you, that legally it’s not my back yard. He agreed to pay for me to live here as long as we both feel it’s best for the girls. (I’ll have to leave out all the lawyer-speak about that.) But right now that means he wants to save money and doesn’t want to buy another place. So his once workshop became a fully livable 384 sq. ft. dwelling over the past few months.

Then last week, in a much more age-appropriate setting, my big girl’s art class assignment was: Draw a family portrait. To my relief, it is beautiful and colorful and almost cheery. It is a side-view of “my” house, with her daddy’s smaller version down behind it. For us jaded adults, the clarity of details only makes the story more confusing. But to her, the buildings seem to be a mere backdrop for us – and our three cats, three chickens, and two ducks we’ve also gained over the summer. (I know, more questions.) She managed to fit in a sunset and a picnic, our chicken coop and a mini-trampoline that hasn’t been around in years. The rest is covered in different shades of green. I guess the grass here is green enough, at least for now.

I wonder what her art teacher must think. What the neighbors and people at church must think. Every time I tell my crazy story, it only makes me wonder what others must be going through that I could never guess. It helps me get past being judgmental and start off with more empathy. One of the biggest things I learned during the separation and divorce was, you can never know the whole story. Even when you’re part of the story, you still never know the whole story. Not this side of Heaven anyway. And I have a feeling, a hope, that when I do make it to the other side, one of the advantages will be that I won’t be thinking about all those questions anymore.

Colette Duncan is a stay-at-home/work-from-home divorced mom of two crafty and daring little girls. A resident in the beautiful Carolina Foothills, she lives “just outside the middle of nowhere” and tends to be off-center in many other areas too! A bit to the right here, a tad left there, but aiming to be true to Christian values. She is a part-time employee for her church and thrives on helping with computer projects for businesses or friends. Her loves are organizing cabinets and creating with/for the girls, as well as sleeping without interruption and having a movie all to herself. Follow her @junkinpunkin.

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