• charleejamesauthor

It's Gonna Be Okay

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

I've said those words more over the last year than I ever have in my whole entire life and not just to my 4 kids as well. And not because of the "COVID" or all the other craziness that the year of 2020 has brought. Although, the last 6 months have been another layer of icing on top of an already, thick, messy and not so scrumptious, multi-layered cake. It's the kind of cake that really doesn't look good, it doesn't even taste good - remember that one time when a bunch of fairies tried to make a birthday cake without their wands? Yeah, it's like that kind of cake. Yeah, our life (mine and my littles) was already a disastrous, bit of a train wreck before the onset of the 2020 apocalypse.

Yesterday was iconic for us (me and my littles) in reference to the “rough year” I previously mentioned. Father’s Day. I did it. I took the littles to the store to pick out a gift for him. It wasn’t as challenging as I expected it to be. Perhaps it was the fake “happy” persona I had sported in hopes of encouraging participation from the littles. Either way, it ended up being more of a struggle for them than me. “Come on guys, help me look.” My 14 year old rolls his eyes in detest, “Can’t you just pick out something? He’s not gonna know who picked it out anyway. Yes, the sass is strong with the teenagers but I consider myself “very blessed with a lil bit of luck” because my 14 year old is a sweet kid. They loathe their father and I can’t blame them. “What about this?” I ask as I hold up a patriotic Under Armor shirt. There is nothing a vet loves more and after 20 years of being with the guy, picking out something I know he will love is like second nature. L, my 10-year-old decides to show his brother some comradery, “Can we just get this over with?” I place the shirt back on the rack and turn to face them, “Well, if you have any ideas that would help?” They all exchange looks of annoyance and I can’t blame them. You don’t get divorced for “no reason”. L, feeling confident, “Well, I don’t have any ideas cuz the stores don’t carry coal in June.” Of course, I’m laughing, BUT on the inside and they don’t know that. There isn’t even a trace of humor to be found in my big blue eyes. How is that possible you might ask? Because 17 years of training, I became a damn professional at masking my emotions.

All silliness aside, I've never had to "tell myself" not to talk bad about him the to littles and that remained true, until last year (we will get back to this later). Since then, I’ve taken to writing down reminders frequently and in the most random of places; post-it notes, book marks, mirrors and on occasion, you may or may not find some marker traces on the palm of my hand; anything to brain wash myself back to my old way of thinking. Because it's not about me anymore when it comes to him, it’s about them. He is no longer the husband but he will always be the Dad. And that was the resolve I made, even after my daughter handed me the sad, droopy plant he bought me for Mother's Day; attempting to hold back the big heavy tear drops, quickly building in her big blue eyes. I put on my biggest smile and it was half-way genuine because the truth was I honestly wasn't expecting anything from him and I even had my Mom (the littles' Gigi) was already on stand-by to take them shopping, just in case Dad didn't come through. After all, she's experienced in this department. She had come to the rescue last year, when "he" forgot my birthday for the umpteenth time (another topic we will revisit). Divorce is messy anyway, I know this. And ours was a whole new level of mess. Remember that cake we were talking about earlier...


I have a best friend and she's amazing. She's one of the good ones. The kind you can call at 2am and she will not only answer but come pick you up. Were tight, like super matching tattoos tight - okay, I feel like that emphasizes the significance of our tightness. For the sake of anonymity, we will call her C. C and her ex-husband are not just friends. They are best friends. Now, keep in mind everything I said about how much I love C but when I see how amazingly smooth she and her ex manage to negotiate all the post-divorce stuff with their daughters, it makes me want to drop her into a deep abyss. Okay, not really, I'm actually really happy for her and him but MOSTLY for their daughters!

My point is the littles are the ones who pay the price for our adult choices. And dearly. They become the strewn out, broken debris and wreckage from the passing tornado that has plowed it's way through their lives. Destroying their home and lives in a way most of them have never before experienced. Then, in a fit of rage, the same tornado, storms off and continues on to create more wreckage, destruction and chaos.

The littles are left with small little windows of peace, to try to recover, like storm survivors, stumbling through the aftermath and attempting to pick up the pieces or scavenge anything left of value and then scramble to pull it all together and hold on tight while they brace themselves for another round of terror. And most times they're left doing it alone or clinging to each other, if they have a sibling, because the tornado is too churned up to see the disaster trailing behind itself. It's too caught up in its own anger driven fury to allow any other emotion to resonate.


And back to the Father's Day gift shopping...If were going to be friends you might as well know now that I'm notorious for rabbit trails, but I always know where I'm going, wink wink! As the cashier rang up the items that would become the Dad's Father’s Day gift, my vision slightly burred as my ears tuned into the littles conversation in the background...

"Dad spent like over $100 on ???", frustration filled their voices. (I'd like to interrupt this broadcast for a Public Service Announcement Side Note to all you Dad's out there. When you decide to purchase Mother’s Day gifts for the new lady in your life, please don't do it while you're shopping with your littles that don't belong to said "new lady". They will resent you for it. You're welcome!) They continued on with their comments, oblivious to the attention their conversation was gathering from the Cashier. "He only spent $15 on that dumb plant for mom!" The cashier raised her eyebrows at me, "He only spent $15 on some plant for you and you're getting him all of this?!" She motioned her hand over the bag of items and scoffed. I smiled at her, she and I both knew, with a single shared 'look' that there was so much that could or would be said but it wasn't gonna happen. "I'm not buying it for him," I nodded over at my basketball squad and she smiled and winked at me, "Good for you!" And you know what, I thanked her because it felt good. It felt good because it was the right thing.

The right thing because...he is no longer the husband (and I'm rejoicing over this, another topic we will revisit) but he will always be the Dad...

So if it’s one of “those days” for you. You know…the kind where you’re questioning every decision you’ve ever made and you’re feeling alone. Was this right? Did I make the right choice? Can I do this on my own? And no one has the right words or knows how to help. Because sometimes, “those days” can be really dark and you can be surrounded by 100 people who truly love you but still feel like you’re being swallowed up whole by a deep, dark void of “I just can’t”. Know there are others, like me. Who get it. Who get you. And you truly aren’t alone with these feelings of emptiness and second guesses. It’s gonna be okay and I can say it because I know...

And on the days where “you just can’t!”, go and Eat Cake, Good Cake!

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