Being married twice means I never have to get married again. I’m basically off the hook.

People get it. They look at me now and say, “Marriage is just not something you’re good at.” And it’s totally acceptable, if not practical to never do it again.

Like a pilot who has crashed a plane twice, does anyone really want to see me take flight again? Nope. And neither do I. It would be idiotic to get behind the controls, putting flight crew and passengers at risk, when clearly I’m Harrison Ford in heels.

My first two, and might I add, only marriages where doomed from the beginning. It was as if upon starting the engine, I realized the wings and tail were missing and said, “It’ll be fine. I’ll just wing it.”

I apologize for the pun. There may be more. Note to self: Were my witty and relentless puns a cause for marital strife? No, that’s an adorable quality, not annoying. 🙂 Just like my overuse of emoticons. 🙂 🙂 :-0 Am I missing something?

I actually convinced myself that two wings were unnecessary appendages that just gave the plane symmetry, like the high cheek bones of aviation, not the physics behind aerospace engineering. And the navigation system, merely a cute little TV of the stars! Ohhhh, is that Cassiopeia? She’s totes adorbs!

I figured that all I needed was to get above the clouds. And once that happened, we would figure out mid-flight (after drinks were served, of course) where we were going. I hadn’t anticipated an actual destination or GPS to get us there. I believed in the magical thinking of flying through the air without the reality of gravity.

Were their red flags before my marriages? Yes. Red flags, caution tape, a hazmat crew, flares, and the entire air traffic control standing on the tarmac waving light batons shouting, “You’ll crash and burn. Crash and burn!” And yet, I put on my diamond ring, pulled the throttle and said, “But just look at that sky baby!”

There is a certain satisfaction that comes from fucking up on such a catastrophic scale, that takes the pressure off something I would never want to do again anyway.

I’ve had a root canal. Don’t want to do it again. I’ve given birth without pain meds, don’t want to do it again. I’ve been through custody and child support, attorneys and mediators. Don’t want to do it again.

And the beauty is, I can say, “I’m never getting married,” without anyone arguing, “Someday you may feel differently.”

When I say it, friends and family nod in unison and say, “That’s probably wise,” like they’ve just taken a loaded gun out of my hand.

“There’s a girl, just give me the weapon. You are not to be trusted with wedding cake or a ‘Save the Date’. Just step away from the alter slowly and no one will get hurt.”

As sarcastic as I am, (note to self: maybe another reason for marital discord), I’m not bitter. I think it’s great people are able to make marriage work, to compromise and rely on one another for support in life and with children. And I mean that. My parents are still together forty years after saying, “I do,” and they genuinely like one another. It’s weird.

But I’m not like that. I can’t do forty years, or as it turns out even eight. I’m more of a candidate for arranged or plural marriage. My family could have done a much better job of choosing a life partner for me. And if I were a sister wife, and wanted to take the day off from our twenty-seven children and cooking giant pans of tater-tot casserole, there would be ten more women in gunny sack dresses and high bangs to take my place.

The truth is, I never want to feel stuck again. Leaving a marriage, even a bad one is considered failure. But leaving misery did not feel like failure to me. It felt like freedom. It felt like flying.

I am blissfully tethered to motherhood and my child. And that is the only marriage I would ever take part in.
I’d like to be in love again. To feel that stupid giddiness of shmoopy poopy delirium. I want to date, but this time while looking deep into a man’s eyes will think to myself, “You will never be my husband.”

It’s liberating. Not just for me but the other person too. Whew! Dodged that bullet. Yes, you did. We both did! Isn’t it great!

I’m not scared of failure. Because I’ve already failed. I have crashed and burned and rose like a limping and scorched phoenix from the ashes, vowing never to fly too close to the sun again. And should I find someone I want to be with (sans vows and rings) I know that before getting on that plane, there better be landing gear, a twin engine, two wings, a tail, and just in case, a parachute.

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When my first marriage ended, the day before Thanksgiving in 2003, I took a deep breath upon returning from court and began meal preparations for my first major holiday on my own. I set myself (and my raw nerves) to the comforting task of marinating pears for a compote, then started on the bread-sage stuffing. Why? Because for as long as I can recall, I’ve cooked elaborate dinners for the holidays.

During my first marriage, our family shared hosting duties for the holidays, but the times when it wasn’t my turn didn’t mean I was off the hook. I contributed side dishes and desserts to the groaning board so the burden of cooking an entire meal wasn’t borne by the host. That, however, was all in the past. My son would join me, and my cousin, for my first post-divorce Thanksgiving. That was it. Taking the smallest turkey I’d ever roasted out of the oven, I marveled at its lightness. And cried.

One month later, at Christmas, I said goodbye to all that and performed a variation on the theme. My cousin brought her nephew, my son came with his girlfriend at the time, and I rounded out the rest of the table with a young violinist from the Ukraine, who was studying at the conservatory where I worked. She brought her mother along. And, for the first time in my entire life, turkey was not featured on the table. Instead I prepared a standing rib roast from one of Ina Garten‘s Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.

This was my new family dynamic, and the start of a new tradition.

It can’t have been easy for my son, who at the time was in his early 20s. He was now required to divide all of his holidays in two; the first half of the day was spent with his father, the latter half with me. Those mornings and early afternoons dragged on so! It seemed strange to be alone in the house on a holiday. I probably hugged him far too long and far too tightly when he arrived. But so it went, each year, until the year I remarried.

My new husband had taken a job in Virginia, and I was now living nearly 500 miles from where I grew up and lived my entire life—and 500 miles from my son. Whereas holidays had presented a mere logistical inconvenience, now the geographical stakes were raised to challenging heights. Would I be able to spend at least one holiday with him? And what of my husband’s sons? How and when would we see them? The oldest is in graduate school in Illinois; the youngest had just started college in Ohio.

As it turned out, I wasn’t able to see my son at all that first year after our move. His work schedule simply didn’t allow him enough time off to make the trip. I cannot tell you how that rocked me. Things fared a bit better with the other boys; they drove to Virginia the second week of December to have an early Christmas with us. But again, what orbits they had to navigate! The eldest and his girlfriend drove from Illinois to Ohio to spend time with his mother and brother. Then, with his brother in tow, he drove from Ohio to Virginia. Then it was back around and up to Ohio to drop his brother off, and westward to St. Louis, so his girlfriend could see her family. And back to Illinois. It was like a 1930s movie, where a map of the United States with moving, dotted arrows illustrated a character’s travel progression from Point A to Point Whatever. The mind reels.

Last year, John and I decided that it was our turn to give the kids a break and do the driving. We left for Ohio early in the morning the day before Thanksgiving. Once there, we stayed with my son and his girlfriend. John’s sons joined us the next day, and we all enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner together in a suburb of Cleveland. In a restaurant. For Thanksgiving.

That took some getting used to. Never in my life had I set foot in a restaurant on a major holiday; it went against every cooking and baking gene in my body. I had always felt nothing but sadness for Ralphie and his family in A Christmas Story, forced to eat Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant after the Bumpus hounds devoured their turkey.

The meal was traditional enough and tasty enough, I suppose. But that was hardly the point. The goal was to be together: one scattered family gathered for a few brief hours around a table laden with food that might (or might not) allow us (allow me?) to pretend we were in the old homestead, however new that homestead might be.

It was more than enough that we were together and healthy.

It’s true, as the old song says, that there’s no place like home for the holidays. But when you create a new family, and circumstances toss your family hither and yon with no viable base of operations, it helps to remember another song—one that can serve to brighten your thoughts with a clarity that allows comfort and joy to shine through:

Home is where the heart is.

This post was originally featured on Marci’s blog, The Midlife Second Wife. Photo via

A.C.O.D. is a dramedy that takes a humorous look at dysfunctional families and what it means to be an adult child of divorce.  The film follows Carter, a seemingly well-adjusted Adult Child of Divorce who appears to have survived the madness of his parents’ separation and now has a successful career and supportive girlfriend. But when his younger brother gets engaged, Carter is forced to reunite his bitterly divorced parents and their new spouses for the wedding, causing the chaos of his childhood to return.

Our own contributors have shared similar experiences with divorce, separation, and the effect it has on children, though none quite so crazy as the situation that unfolds for Carter. The following are some of the firsthand experiences our contributors and readers have shared here on What The Flicka.

1.) Life Happens, Then You Move Forward Again.

Life happens. Sometimes it sneaks up on us and gives a little tap on the shoulder. Sometimes it takes us by surprise because we allow ourselves to practice denial. And then sometimes it actually slaps us across the face.” 

2.) How To Date A Single Mom… Or How Not To

Show her you love her not in spite of everything she comes with, but because of everything she comes with.”

3.) 5 Pieces of Marriage Advice… From A Divorcee

I realized; that I thought marriage was supposed to be a certain way and (shocker…) I didn’t fit that mold; no matter how hard I tried. And I tried really, really hard.

What I understand NOW is that marriage is what you make it.”

4.) Custody Arrangements

Even with our table for two missing one, he was there. We were free to do anything; everything, but what we really wanted was to be parents again. Anxiously, we’d spend Sunday awaiting his return.”

5.) A Bump in the Road or The End of A Marriage?

“My husband and I have been having problems for some time. At first it was mostly just those little things that only your partner can drive you crazy with. You know what I’m talking about. Then the distance that was created, grew into real problems.”

Photo courtesy of

My posts have been few and far between of late and writing this one nearly broke me. I had to walk away. I dug my heels into my fiction reading addiction and kept my nose buried there, refusing to think or write.

I’d been distracted and inattentive for weeks. I’d been remiss. I failed to share my wonderful margarita-filled Mothers Day. I failed to share my daughter’s first ballet recital and my first experience as a dance mom backstage. Worse, I failed to share my son’s one and only high school graduation. Amazing moments and milestones—all certainly worthy of being shared.

My daughter kicked me in the panties one night recently. Let me tell you, my 4 year-old sounded like a 40 year-old and she really let me have it. Immediately after her brief but effective daughter-to-mom lecture, she curled up on top of me, said a sleepy goodnight and quickly drifted off to sleep. And then I cried. She was right. I had let her down and that’s something she’d never before experienced with me. After I finished my cry, and ate not one but two chocolate bars, I was finally inspired to pick up my beloved MacBook Air and write.

Life happens. Sometimes it sneaks up on us and gives a little tap on the shoulder. Sometimes it takes us by surprise because we allow ourselves to practice denial. And then sometimes it actually slaps us across the face.
I had my face slapped by life back in April when I received a letter at our home from my husband’s attorney informing me there would be a divorce. Then I allowed myself to be bullied for the following few months. Not to worry, I’ve since bucked up and reinstated my 2012 new year’s resolution—be fearless.

My blogging endeavors aren’t about motherhood but rather womanhood. And for me, that includes motherhood and so much more. So as I begin to process my thoughts on the present and look forward to the future, I may be writing some posts and articles that do not include mention of my darling children, though they’re always the center of my universe.

Divorce is one of the most difficult life experiences. It’s easy to get caught up in who-can-hurt-the-other-more combat. It’s hard to keep things in proper perspective. And most importantly, when it comes to children of divorcing parents, it’s imperative to always remember to do what’s in their best interest.

If you’re going through a divorce currently, or headed that way, I encourage you to be sure you retain an attorney that is suitable for you as an individual. It’s okay to change attorneys if you’re not comfortable with the one you first hire—your life is worth making that correction. I’ve watched my husband’s attorney fuel his fire and seek every opportunity to create more billable actions. On the other hand, my own attorney is an expert at gently talking me down from the inevitable emotional cliffs so that I can make rational, fair decisions.

When life happens, we must find the best way to move forward and find happiness again. As for me, I will no longer be bullied. I won’t let my kids down. I will find peace. I will remove the chocolate bars from my nightstand. And I will write.

My husband and I have been having problems for some time. At first it was mostly just those little things that only your partner can drive you crazy with. You know what I’m talking about. Then the distance that was created, grew into real problems.

I never thought I would ever consider leaving my husband. He is an amazing father and when it comes down to it, a good husband. But we’ve also grown apart and seem to be going in opposite directions.

I’ll admit, some of my bitterness is because all of the years that my husband has been in the military, I’ve put my education on hold and mostly do volunteer work. But I want more for my life and to show my children that they can do anything their heart desires. Recently, I finally started pursuing my dream of writing, but the support isn’t there from my spouse. That’s hard to deal with on a day to day basis.

My husband and I do try and make it work, but we also have a lack of communication that’s been there for most of our marriage. The scary thing for me is, I’m not sure if I want to work things out at this point.

My biggest concern is our kids, but I’m not staying in an unhappy marriage just for my children. I think it would do much more harm than good and as selfish as it may seem, I know I deserve to be happy too.

Have you been through a separation or divorce?

I sighed sadly as I looked at the clock: 5:45pm, Friday night. My ex would be here any minute to pick up our son for the weekend. I’d get him back at some point on Sunday, exhausted, disheveled, and dressed in precisely what he was wearing now. We’d never formalized a custody arrangement, instead, we worked it out ourselves. My ex was fairly anti-establishment (also: anti-me). So the drawn-out court proceedings, dueling lawyers, and battles over who got visitation at what time for which holiday seemed like it would have the most impact on the only person in the whole situation who really mattered: our son.

Most of my friends – at least the ones who were happily married or happily single – thought I was nuts. The ones who had been through it, they understood where I was coming from. I just prayed that I was doing the right thing for my son. So many ethical choices; the lines in the sand crossed every-which-way. How the hell was I supposed to know what the right choices were?

We’d worked it out so that my husband, Dave, and I took care of the Monday through Friday kid-stuff. This included schooling, doctor visits, play-dates, therapy for his autism (something my ex firmly refused to acknowledge), shopping for clothes and toys, and all other parental responsibilities.

My ex whisked him off, removed the sacrosanct routine that autistic kids often cling to, kept him up too late, and neglected pesky things like personal hygiene. He wasn’t negligent, just forgetful. And, I thought, the change in routine was actually pretty good for the kid.

6:00: Time to make the donuts, er, put a coat on the kid. Like clockwork, my ex rang the doorbell. He hugged his son warmly before giving me the hairy eyeball.

“You aren’t going to send him in THAT, are you?” He sniped.

“Yep,” I said, refusing to be baited. I hated taking the moral high ground more than I hated mayonnaise, thousand island dressing and John C. Mayer’s music, but I knew that the kid didn’t need to see us arguing over what was really no big deal.

“Really, Becky, you always send him in such crappy clothes…” He railed on about my failure to properly dress the kid, failing to note that he, of course, could buy the kid some clothes all by himself.

When he was done with his tirade (I’d sent my son to hang with Dave during this), I said simply,“Why don’t you take him shopping?” He rolled his eyes and called our son, who was non-plussed to be leaving. He hated transitions.

I hugged, told him I loved him and reminded him he’d be back home soon. The door shut with a firm finality behind them. The house, even with my husband home, felt…empty. Energy that had, mere moments before, been floating freely around, unencumbered, limitless; was sucked out in one greedy sluuuuurp. The thermostat dropped from a toasty 75 degrees to 60 when that door closed.

My friends – happily single and happily married alike – seemed to think that this was an amazing stroke of luck: weekends off? Parenting as a weekday job? INCREDIBLE. We should thank our lucky stars! Maybe if it had been by choice; if he’d gone with his grandparents or some arrangement on our terms, maybe that’s how we’d have felt.

But it wasn’t, so we didn’t. There were times when we enjoyed the freedom, certainly, but most of the time, we were acutely aware of what was not there. Like your tongue unconsciously dipping into the aching hole where a tooth was supposed to be, dammit, a constant reminder of what was gone. What should have been there. We’d go out to dinner – the two of us – and the conversation always wound it’s way back to our son. Even with our table for two missing one, he was there. We were free to do anything; everything, but what we really wanted was to be parents again. Anxiously, we’d spend Sunday awaiting his return.

Eventually, my son; well, an over-stimulated, dirty and exhausted version of my son would be returned. He required an hour of quiet downtime to recover from the weekend. We always popped in the only movie he’d watch, a documentary about The Planets, as we carefully washed him with a washcloth (he was anti-bath), changing him into fresh clean pajamas, while he ate his favorite; a bowl of dry cereal, as he sat entranced by the moons of Jupiter. When the movie was over, he knew it was time to brush his teeth and go to bed; his father, always the one who tucked him in. I could hear them on the baby monitor: “Goodnight Daddy, I love you! I missed you!” Dave echoed back, “Goodnight Buddy! I love you. I missed you too. So much.” It was only then that our house was, once again, a home.

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