It’s been nearly 8 years since Adam and I separated. We’ve made up and moved on, but last night, I hated that I was divorced.
Since Ethan was born, our Halloween tradition has remained the same. Trick or treating through our favorite Alexandria neighborhood. Candy for the kids. Wine and beer for the adults. Win-win for everyone.
It didn’t matter if we were deliriously exhausted and happy with a 6-day-old or barely speaking, each holding on to one of Ethan’s pudgy toddler hands; we were bound to this sugar-fueled adventure together.
When Ethan was one, my little pumpkin hobbled down the sidewalk, clutching his York Peppermint Patty and raising his arms up every time we’d scream “Touchdown!” Two was a blur as I was the one hobbling down the sidewalk a few steps behind Spider-Man, thinking about my boxes that sat inside our house waiting to be moved out the next day.
By three, I was chasing a green dinosaur around my condo as he roared with his hands. With Adam literally around the corner, Ethan’s little feet could easily make the usual trek for candy. Years would pass. Michelle came along. Mark joined. The dinosaur became a red Power Ranger, who grew into Robin.
And yesterday I was ready to keep to the plan. At 4:30 p.m., I hopped in my car in downtown D.C., prepped for the annual mad dash by parents to make it home in time for Halloween. I failed. Nearly two hours later, Ethan was already on his way to Alexandria with his dad and I was still another hour away at my house in Arlington. A Halloween tradition broken.
Alone on the couch, I sobbed into a bowl of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Sweet Tarts and didn’t stop until the first costumed child knocked on my door.
In those few hours as kids streamed by the house, I couldn’t shake the feeling. If I weren’t divorced, I’d be shuffling door to door with Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star-Lord. If I weren’t divorced, I would be the one taking photos of him posing as a super hero instead of watching photos appear on my phone. If I weren’t divorced, I wouldn’t be listening to my son comfort me on the phone as he assures me it’s okay I missed Halloween.
Don’t confuse this. I don’t want my previous life. My blended family brings me every cheesy joy I could imagine, but sometimes I crave that normalcy. I hate that I miss holidays and lose out on time. I hate that I live out parts of Ethan’s life through photos. While these moments are fleeting, they’re there, and when they hit, it can break you.