We've past the point now, the points of comparison for those life-shifting, identity-altering, soulful and spiritual and schedule transitions happenings.
It has now taken longer to get divorced than it did to make a baby and bring that fully-realized child into the world. It has now taken longer to divide the nothing we had and decide upon hours for shuttling that child from city to suburbs than it did to say yes to marriage in the first place, plan a wedding and walk down the aisle, so full of amazing intentions.
That time-line doesn't pain me. When I mentioned it to my mother, she winced and asked me if hurt to have those measures. It doesn't. Rather, in the heartache of dividing up our child's time and the 401(K) and the mixed tapes and video tapes and crap from Ikea, it feels like the cells inside me are spitting as well.
That's a dramatic PBS picture, I know. But I feel myself
growing, sometimes in the smallest ways and sometimes in such dynamic
ways that I meet the changes just as startled as I was to hear a
heartbeat. Or see a foot travel from east to west across my belly. Or
feel the flip with the change of position.
Lil E is changing too. He's leggier now and much more four than he was only weeks ago. This is his life now, and soon, it will be the only life he remembers. The memories of us all living together have already faded substantially and he clings to a few photos of his dad and me with the same wonder that I once did with ultrasound prints of his tiny, crossed feet.
In that wonder is a mix of the unrecognizable and the familiar and I see it as he stares at our smiles and locked hands. I remember that same balance of what I knew and didn't know in my first thought as I looked over the blurry black and white paper of him in utero: "Oh yes, those are your feet."
Our lives don't look the same. Still, we fall back and relax and let down in what we have always known about ourselves and each other. We have our same old jokes and I sing the same lullabies every night that I have sung every night of his big little life. He will go to a new school and we will live in a new place, but the morning routine goes on each day. Even as his nut-brown legs dangle over the edge of our big chair, we snuggle and ask each other questions and I hold him to me just like I have since the day we first met.
A few days ago, Lil E and I hugged in the doorway for a few moments before he went off for his first mid-week overnight with his dad. Before he crossed over the threshold to take his dad's hand, he pulled me in close, nuzzled my cheek and pointed to the balcony off our apartment.
"Mommy," he said, "please watch me leave from upstairs. Then all the thoughts I have of you will float from my head up to your heart."
That boy was born ten days early, a sage one who will soon be four. Three days before that celebration, we will be back in court to negotiate the final aspects of the divorce. The day after his birthday will mark one of the most difficult days of my life, the exact moment when I realized my marriage was spilling out all over the floor.
But I know, I know so deeply, that the best thing I've ever done -- growing this child in my body -- happened in the right time at the right time. And so will this divorce.
As the weeks pass, more changes. I am trying to hold on to what I recognize, the something old in all this growth and still be open to the unfamiliar in all the somethings that are new.
Some of us are growing up and others apart, and the cells are all busy dividing.