Posted by: Kate | November 8, 2008

Something to Celebrate

I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but L’s estranged and soon-to-be-ex husband?  Is kind of a schmo.  In the sense of, using up far more than his allotment of oxygen on the planet, and I hope that karma treats him appropriately because I cannot devote my time and energy to thinking up the kinds of punishments for his behavior that I think would be most appropriate.

This is a guy who psychologically, physically and sexually abused his wife, and damaged his daughter to an extent that we can’t yet measure.  Last weekend, when X was spending the night with us, she woke up early on Saturday morning in the throes of an asthma attack, wheezing and barking and panicking a little.  She had only very recently been diagnosed, and L had not yet picked up an inhaler for her, but we had an inhaler and spacer left over from Jacob’s pneumonia and were able to get her breathing under control quickly enough.

Afterward, she and I sat in the bathroom, leaning up against the wall with her in my lap, as the shower ran to help moisten the airway a bit more, and we just rocked and snuggled in the dark for a while.  She had that hitched, nervous breathing and was shaking, but she never cried.  I whispered to her that it was OK to cry if she needed to, that it was scary and hard and sometimes it feels better to cry it out a little.  And she looked at me with eyes big enough to be on a Feed the Children commercial and said, “No.  Daddy doesn’t like when I cry.”  I reminded her that Daddy wasn’t here, had never been here, and we didn’t mind a bit – but it was obvious that she has so internalized this idea that crying is bad that she simply cannot let go.  At three.

So, yeah, I’m not a fan of the soon-to-be-ex, based simply on the things that he did before the break-up.  And then, since, he has made it worse, with lies and allegations and harassment of family and friends, and a million other offenses, large and small.  There’s no reason to launch into a checklist here, but there are two that deserve a little air time, because they’re relevant to the overall post.

One happened shortly after L and X moved out of the house they all shared, first into a shelter and then into a crappy by-the-week apartment because they thought they were just packing up and finishing a few things before moving to L’s parents’ house.  Things certainly didn’t go according to plan then, but at least they were out of that house and physically safe.  Left to his own devices, this shining paragon of humanity decided to go through the items they had in storage, and either hid or destroyed – we still don’t know which – all of X’s baby clothes, keepsakes, photographs and trinkets, plus their Christmas decorations and the other sorts of memorabilia that families accumulate.  A completely devastating fire would have been easier to bear, in some ways.

The other happened a few months later, at the 20-week point of L’s pregnancy.  He knew from early on that she was pregnant – having broken into her email and then breaking a few privacy laws through the insurance company – and announced, in front of witnesses, more than once, that if she was having a boy, he would fight for custody.  But if she was having another girl, he couldn’t care less what she did with it.  We are all so thrilled and grateful that she is having another daughter, and so far he has been true to his word on that point.  (There’s a first time for everything, I suppose).

Thus it is that I’m planning a party, for the first weekend in December.  A baby shower, though L doesn’t know about that bit yet – she thinks we’re just having a pre-holiday dinner party for some friends and their families.  I am not one for structured party games and lots of pastel decorations, but a casual buffet-style meal, various forms of alcohol and music, and the opening of some baby-related gifts sounds like a decent evening to me.  And if anybody deserves a shower for the second baby, it’s L.

An unintended consequence of this whole saga has been my reminder that for every putzlike ex-husband out there, there are dozens of generous, goodhearted people trying to help balance it all out.  I’m a member of a message board, ostensibly for knitting but also involving any number of other topics, and I’ve posted about the L-and-X situation there a number of times, often in greater detail than here because sometimes the details were too much to be just thrown up on a blog intended for general readership.  People have asked after their progress, and have been quietly cheering L along, through each new phase of the process.  And when I posted about the baby shower, literally dozens of women contacted me to ask where they could send something – a gift certificate, or a hand-knitted baby blanket, or a card.  Just because they wanted to, just because they thought that L and X and the baby-to-be deserve something fun and happy.

How incredible is that?  It’s one thing to step up and help out a friend; I’m glad we did it and I know not everyone would, but I think most of us would at least try.  But it’s something else, entirely, to randomly make or buy something for a total stranger, just because her story is compelling and sad.



  1. That is wonderful…PS you can count me in. It may not be anything extravagant but it will a little something to help them welcome a new baby and be a special little family. As I have stated over and over you are wonderful and giving people who should have great karma. Also there is the kindness of strangers when life seems so bleek and horrid, most decent people will stand up and do what they can.

  2. You are a wonderful friend, Kate. L is very lucky to have you.

  3. How sweet!

    And thank god they are shed of that creep.

  4. I’m in too. Not just because their story is compelling and sad, but because she was able to reach past the situation she was in and find hope and hope is always worthy of support. And because no three year old should ever, ever have to be afraid to cry.

    Well wishes and a package coming your way soon. The world will never doubt that you are a good person, Kate.

  5. Oooo, I was wondering if you were going to have a baby shower for her. Email me your address so I can send a package your way.

  6. Yep, I’ll get a hat on needles asap.

    Any special needs? Like cotton, or easy-wash, or colors?

  7. That’s a wonderful thing for you to do for them.

    My dad did something similar when my mom finally moved out for the last time. He threw away, or hid, or sold HER computer, all of HER clothes, all of the kids’ clothes and shoes and toys, my almost-oldest-brother’s guitar, and filed a police report saying that what was stolen was “All my wife’s crap.” (His computer and HIS guitar, which were in more obvious places in the house, of course weren’t touched.)

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