Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Unwedding Ceremony

My ex and I have started the formal proceedings to divorce. At this point we’ve been living apart for 20 months, so it’s just paperwork and separating our finances. The emotional stuff was all processed long ago, and after years of struggle together, we’re on better terms apart. He texted me yesterday to tell me how his dog is doing. I bought him a Christmas present last week. We are friendly, with boundaries.

I’ve explained to the kids what’s going on, because I don’t lie to my kids, and they wanted to know where I was going when I left them with a babysitter to head to our first mediation appointment. My 7-year-old confided that she was worried her living arrangement would change again once the divorce was final. I explained that she’d still spend the same amount of time between her dad and me, that her two homes would remain unchanged, that everything would look and feel the same to her. We’ve already worked out the custody schedule. We’re just making it legal now. After all of the explanations, her fears were put to rest. Now she wants to know if either her dad or I ever remarry, will she get to be a flower girl? She’s a romantic at heart. Who loves any excuse to wear a fancy new dress. My 6-year-old hasn’t had any questions, and seems bored by the lengthy discussions on the topic that her sister wants to have.

Tonight we were watching a TV show, and there was a wedding ceremony in it. The girls sat down in front of the TV to oooh and aaah over the pretty dresses and flowers and music as the wedding party marched down the aisle. When it came to the exchange of vows, they both looked at me and asked if all weddings were so boring.

“It’s just a lot of talking,” the 7-year-old said. I told her she was right. But that there is a big party afterward.

After the big ceremony-ending kiss, the 6-year-old perked up. “What happens when you get divorced again?” she asked.

“Paperwork!” her sister told her.

She thought about this for a minute, then said, “I think there should be an unwedding ceremony when you get divorced. Where the woman wears black instead of white, and instead of talking about how much you love each other, you talk about why you don’t want to be together anymore.” We all had a good laugh, expanding on the notion. You could ceremoniously give the rings back. Instead of getting wedding gifts, your friends could even help the two of you divvy up what you already have. And then, of course, you’d all have a big party. 

She’s a funny old soul child, my little 6-year-old cherub. She’s a dreamer, who seems to be off in her own world most of the time, until you find out she was listening the whole time, and understood everything, no matter what code you were speaking in. It's the same way I was as a child, which is probably why I love this little streak of hers, even if it means I never get to have any secrets let alone private conversations. I also feel like when she finally gets inspired to share her insights, she's usually right.

I personally like the idea of an unwedding ceremony. Divorce has such negative connotations, creates so much tension not just between the couple, but around the friends and family they share, everyone wondering what it all means, how it will all turn out, whether they have to choose sides. Maybe it’s a perfect idea: gathering all of our friends and family together, explaining ourselves to them en masse, then letting it all go and celebrating the new phase in our lives with a big party. And I bet my 7-year-old would even get to wear that fancy new dress she’s been dreaming of.