shake it off

Last night I had an awkward interaction at work. It wasn’t huge, and honestly, I know I was the only one it was awkward for.

A female co-worker was inquiring why I only work part-time.

Are you in school?

I explained I had been a stay-at-home-mom and am slowly getting back into the workforce and wanted to do something that was a change of pace from your standard corporate gig.

As soon as I said, mom, her eyes darted to my ring finger. I know I didn’t imagine that. She had to linger a bit longer to get a good look because I wear an infinity band on my left middle finger that my baby’s daddy got me as a push present, which might make someone do a double take checking for a band on the ring finger.

She asked how old Charlie was . . . and when I answered going on 6-months, she seemed shocked. Probably due to her observation I was lacking a wedding ring. And I have an infant. All signs point to unwed mother. And considering she assumed I am still of school age . . . well,  let the stereotypes, judgements, what-have-you begin.

Of course, I immediately felt self-conscious and wanted to vomit out my entire life story to explain why I am here, working on a used car lot, with a bouncing baby boy at home, and no wedding ring on my finger.

I didn’t.

Thank God.

Instead, I compensated by throwing the term “husband” around. I explained how My Husband and my parents watch Charlie while I work. Blah blah and blah blah blah.

We got interrupted . . . you know, to do real work . . . and my initial self-consciousness turned into a bit of shame. Using the term husband doesn’t feel natural anymore. Saying the term, ex, doesn’t feel natural yet, either. Why did I even have to mention anything about a baby’s daddy? And why am I trying so hard to cover up the truth to my situation?

On the drive home, I thought about what IS my situation really? I’m not technically ANYTHING right now . . . not married, not a single mom. Even my job history is a bit of a blur and depending on who asks I have a different answer for “where did you come from?”. (That’s a whole other story.)

It was then I started to cry.

But, half way through my tear-fest I realized I was forcing them out. It didn’t feel like I wanted to cry . . . they weren’t sad tears. I suppose they were tears of frustration and nervous energy. I was upset at myself for feeling self-conscious and ashamed at what my family unit looks like right now.

Why should I care what anyone else thinks about my situation, if it’s what is working for my family and, above all, me right now? If I’m honest with myself . . . I’M HAPPY! Truly happy, with how things are right in this moment. I’m not happy about where things were two months ago. I can’t say I was happy with where things were just one month ago. But, right now, we’re in a sweet spot and I don’t want to take it for granted.

I know that we won’t always be besties, capable of being welcome guests in one another’s homes, chatting on the phone, having family dinner dates and Epic Sunday Family Fundays (we need to copyright that . . . more on those later). But, right now . . . it works. Charlie doesn’t really know what’s going on, so this ambiguity in our relationship is okay for the time being. It allows us the time and space we need to both process what’s happening. To grieve the loss of our marriage. To go at our own pace and to think over the possibility of reconciliation and what that might look like.

Just to make darn sure, you know.

It took a great chain of events to cause He Who Shall Not Be Named to sit across from me at happy hour and ask for that divorce. He admits now it was too premature and too soon to ask for something with such finality and that he went about it in a cold, disingenuous manner . . . but . . .

The words can’t be taken back. And it would take an even greater chain of events to overcome them.

As a result . . . I have had to accept I cannot change what’s happened. And I cannot control what hasn’t happened yet.

But, if we’re in a place right now where we’re happy and healthy and loving our baby like no other . . . then that’s all that matters for today. I know I have a plan forward and that no matter what happens – it will be okay. It will be the right choice for our family. And I will be happy.

And for that, I am not ashamed.

So, the next time someone lingers on my ring finger, I still might have a zing of self consciousness. But, I’m going to shake if off and not allow myself to jump to the conclusion I am being judged. Nor feel compelled to start name dropping husband.

In the words of America’s sweetheart, Taylor Swift:

But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop grooving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, “It’s gonna be alright.”

Shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off

I got my first opportunity to exercise my “shake it off” mindset this morning when I was visiting my stylist getting my hair cut. I was in there just 8 weeks ago getting my hair lopped off in an emotional, break-up cliche . . . but she didn’t know that then.

So she asked me today if my husband and I planned to have more kids?

I’d be lying to say that innocent question doesn’t sting. I’d like a boat load of more kids. (Boat load = possibly 1 or 2 more.)

But, I shook it off. I’m not looking behind me. It’s not my reality right now to think about more kids. I refuse to let that take away from my joy in today.

I said with a warm smile on my face . . . “well, we’re separated right now.”

And as she apologized for the probing question because it yielded that uncomfortable answer, I continued to smile because I had already moved on from the subject and was signing Taylor’s catchy little tune in my head.

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