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 One and Part Two of her story.
When I was younger I couldn’t fathom ever not getting married. That was just the way you did things, that’s the way life moved forward in a comfortable linear fashion. It sounded safe. When I was divorced I couldn’t fathom ever getting married again. That just wouldn’t be in-line with my shiny new “buck the status quo” mentality. Mr. Tennant and I vowed to never marry, but maybe one day to have an exchanging of vows, but with a specifically non-wedding celebration. We discussed it less and less as our magnetic selves swiveled. But being in a relationship that was so staunchly bucketed into “definitely married” or “definitely never marrying” missed the boat entirely. It’s not about the bucket you choose to put yourself in. It’s about who you’re with and what you feel is honest and true between you. It’s about valuing that person even if the nature of your relationship changes.
We are, generally speaking, social and lonely people. The draw of validation from someone can be overwhelmingly magnetic — it often keeps us near someone we would otherwise detach from were it not for the constant attention. It’s apparent evidence that we’re someone worthy of intimate love, and a distraction from ever having to hang out and get to know, truthfully, our own silly selves. We crave that connection. Even as I sit here and write, contentedly eating GORP in bed while my cat bats at my toes and I’m feeling like I’m doing this un-partnered, casual dating and split custody thing pretty well, I crave it. I dream of being swept off my feet by a kind and compassionate man with dazzling eyes and a killer smile and a SF Giants baseball cap and a tattoo of Ferdinand the gentle bull, who inspires me to create and to write and who reads what I write and doesn’t criticize my grammar or run-on sentences and who wants to dance and believes in karma and prefers to eat plants and cleans the toilet ~ around the pissy base, too ~ and who is working hard to make this world a better place and loves people and is motivated and making good shit happen. That guy. That guy who seeks adventure and shares stories and can feel at home away from home because he’s comfortable in his own skin. That guy who can stare at the stars with me for hours on end and not glance down at his phone even once. That guy who doesn’t compartmentalize himself to suit the status quo of a fickle community, he’s himself wholeheartedly, unapologetically, and gives in to whimsy and passion and only allows fear to be a fuel for a new adventure. I don’t know if Mr. Matt Damon and I have a future together, but I do believe in the fairytale, just with a different set of vows.
What if instead of “happily ever after” we vow to live “honestly ever after”? To have and to hold fiercely, passionately, and respectfully, and to honor each other even if the poles begin to reverse. We can’t anticipate what “happily” will be in any moment but right now. But we can commit to being honest, and respectful, and kind. I’m not suggesting that a vow of “honestly ever after” would result in fewer divorces, but I am suggesting it would result in fewer toxic break ups. I don’t know. I’m my own social experiment it seems, but I’d be lying if I didn’t truly believe there was truth in this approach.
My kids are currently on my favorite lake in California with Mr. Swayze and his tribe, people that I loved and laughed with when I was the wife on that annual trip. I helped them pack. Mrs. Swayze and I coordinated their gear and talked about who would purchase more size 10/12 boxer briefs. And as the kids rolled off with their dad in his truck, and I braced myself for that stupid stabbing gut feeling, my phone buzzed in my hand. I glanced down and saw a text from Mr. Swayze, which I’m assuming he sent from a safe spot pulled to the side of the road. It read, “You’re a great ex-wife and baby mama.” It’s not just a community of epic guardians that sprang up from this divorce, it’s a whole new branch of family, and from my perch in this tree, I am confident that it is good.
Thank you for taking the time to read this thought-provoking journey.