Friends, meet Kelli Martinelli. She is a bright, innovative soul who I asked to write a guest post for you. Kelli has a unique parenting and partnering style that defies social norms, and works for her family. Something that I love about Kelli is her willingness to put everything out there. She never pretends that things are perfect or easy, but there is an inspiring warmth in her tone and outlook. I’m excited to share this with you. While it is always easy to throw stones, especially when we don’t fully understand or agree, I encourage you to open your hearts and minds to Kelli’s story. She’s found a way to make her family and her life work and is brave enough to put it all out there. Honestly. Click here for Part Two and Part Three of her story.
A few years ago I read an article titled, “Why Divorce Is Good For Children.” I was married at the time. I hadn’t ever imagined myself as divorced. I was in it to win it! What the win it part was, I’m still not sure. My marriage was 10 years old and bore 2 bright-eyed, articulate children who flipped my world on its head and made me see life and relationships through a new lens. “Why Divorce Is Good For Children.” Was it? Is it? Or is it just all SEO headlines and stock photos brimming with smiling, lightly tanned models plus a sidebar of recommended articles with click-bait titles? It was a HuffPo article, so it could go either way …
I’m a child of divorce. In fact, my parents believed in divorce so strongly they divorced each other twice! When they got divorced the first time I admit I didn’t really know what was happening, and I don’t recall how it affected me. I went away to Girl Scout camp, my mom was a troop leader, and when we got back my dad was living with another woman. His girlfriend had finches. And they were really loud. It was the first time I ever hated a bird. When my folks got back together I thought it was a bad idea, and when they separated again, but this time for realsies, I was relieved. Not grief. Relief.
So here I was, in my early 30s, married, and finding myself digging in to an article on divorce. I read it several times through, and then bookmarked it. It was hitting a nerve that I didn’t realize was even there, and it stung. More than stung. It collapsed me. Scarcely unable to keep my head up after 6pm, struggling with making dinner or tending to my brood, nauseous, whispering that word to myself to see if I could even say it … “divorce”. I would read that article no less than 20 times over the course of the next year as I wrestled with the first real re-introduction to myself by way of marital detachment.
The morning that I woke up and felt an urge to lace up my shoes and run a few miles, I knew I was a changed woman. I don’t run. I am not a runner. Do not ask me to run any kind of k with you (unless there are tacos involved, and then … there’s a chance). But that morning my body told me to run, and then my heart started to wake up, and I was afraid, but my body was collaborating with my heart which were together in cahoots with my brain, and I was for once able to recognize and see beyond the fear. Running, for the brief time I was suckered in to it, helped steer me to clarity. There was openness in front of me. I needed a new place to set myself down and re-ground. I took a breath and leapt with these words to my then-husband (who I will refer to as Mr. Swayze, cause he’d like that), “I am unhappy,” I said. And the trepidation with which I said those words and the Bassett Hound grimace on my face told him this wasn’t just dissatisfaction with the living room furniture. This was life altering, and with those words, “I am unhappy” a new world opened up in front of us.
Mr. Swayze and I separated. I moved out. I handled the transition with gentle words, but rough hands, which is as sloppy and misleading as it sounds. Mr. Swayze was mad at me for the way in which I left. He had every right to be. I saw what I wanted in that new openness and then recklessly pursued it. But as the shitstorm swirled around me ~ and I truly apologize for that visual ~ I put out an intention that I vowed to fulfill: one day this divorce would show itself as being good for my children, and also good for me and good for their dad.
Mr. Swayze is now re-partnered to an incredible woman, and poof, now he’s a dad of 4! Which is great, cause my uterus wasn’t going to give him 2 more children, I enjoy sleeping on my stomach far too much to be pregnant again. And now my children have 2 older siblings who are smart and adventurous and respectful and fun, and how could that not be a wonderful thing? Divorce expanded their concept of family! I have another mom to work alongside of, to share in the kid-shuffling, the homework-managing and the Mr. Swayze corralling. Parenting is a helluva job! It’s like constantly making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, blindfolded, with one arm tied behind your back, while riding a roller coaster, in a hurricane.