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Stephanie Wilbur Ash
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By Real Brides-to-Be
By: Stephanie Wilbur Ash | Posted: 03/27/2014
We are so sorry about your divorce or conscious uncoupling or viral marketing or whatever it is you’re doing.
And by “sorry” we do mean sorry, but in that kinda judge-y way. Yuppers. This is the voice of your Minnesota mom speaking.
(“Your” is pronounced “yer,” btw. Authentic.)
It’s not that we’re judge-y about divorce, per se. Lots of us moms here are divorced, and we think it’s gosh-darned delightful! We shovel more snow, but every other Saturday we don’t freeze our rumps off at some Pee Wee hockey tournament. We go to Bachman’s instead, or get our hair highlighted, or walk around Stillwater with our gal pals, all without the kids kicking our shins because we won’t spring for premium cable.
Plus, our ex-husbands pay child support. It comes out of their 9-to-5 paychecks and is directly deposited into our checking accounts. We don’t even have to ask for it! It feels weird to take money from people we’re not married to, even if it is our children’s father's, and even if we’re doing all of the shoveling, but we pay mortgages and electric bills and rink fees with that money, and that’s good for our community and for sportsmanship. And it’s good for our kids. They like having a home to play Xbox in while waiting for us to return from our own 9-to-5s. They like sleeping in bedrooms where the temperature is above 52 degrees most of the time.
Oh we know this is not your kind of conscious uncoupling, Gwyneth. The fact that you’re in the Bahamas on a “break up moon” with your kids and soon-to-be-ex is just another brick in the wall between our lives, though we did take the kids to Fuddruckers with our ex once before the papers were signed. We’re just trying to show that we don’t judge you for the big D.
We don’t even judge your guru use of the words “conscious uncoupling.” We actually like those words. We liked them seven years ago when we paid a babysitter $10 so we could read the book Uncoupling at the bookstore—we couldn’t justify paying for the book and the babysitter, and we didn’t want our kids to see us reading it. And when we showed the book, which mentions many of the sociological themes your gurus do, to our then-husbands, they liked it too. We didn’t have gurus to explain it to our friends, family, business associates, brand managers, key demographics, or foreign markets. But we managed, in our Sears-Roebuck, double-knit, bag-your-own groceries way, to get the gist: Divorce happens. Try to learn something without beating yourself up. Stop behaving like a jackass. Think about the kids.
If we had to say specifically what we are judge-y about—and this is hard because we don’t like to say hurtful things, especially to people who are already hurting, and especially to their faces—it’s that you are kind of being a priss about it.
For instance: 2,000 words from your conscious uncoupling gurus against that little paragraph written by your team of publicists? That super reeks—either of your fear of losing your brand’s goodwill, or your fear of losing an opportunity for a business partnership with your gurus.
And that assertion that you’ll always be a family? Oh, Gwyneth, that really reeks, and in a really sad way. Not the “It’s sad when people get divorced,” way, or the “I’m afraid I’m destabilizing my kids,” way. More desperate sad, in the “Is she that dumb, or does she think we’re that dumb?” way.
We hate to break it to you (a favorite phrase of judge-y Minnesota moms), but your soon-to-be ex-husband will not be interested in being a family with your rich new beau. And you will not be interested in playing sister-wife to his hot new girlfriend.
We may be your simple Minnesota mom voice, we may be divorced and imperfect and wearing sweatpants while standing over a crockpot of sloppy joe meat, but even we know that committed co-parenting does not a family make. You will be more of a family with the people who have a financial stake in your movies than you will be with that guy from Coldplay. And he will be more of a family with the team that helps him produce and distribute his breakup album than he will be with you.
Families are about interdependence. Your uncoupling is about independence, as is your massive career and net worth and the massive career and net worth of your soon-to-be ex, all of which you both already had in varying degrees of massiveness before you even got married.
We have all kinds of empathy for you. We said, “We will always be a family,” too. And maybe we are wrong about what a ruse those words were. Maybe people like you, Gwyneth, maybe you do things differently. Maybe you do things better. Maybe we are being sarcastic when we write that. Maybe we are not.
Remember when you talked about your bushy pubic hair on national television, twice? We loved that. Remember that $1,000 shot glass you were selling on Goop? We didn’t buy it.
We are looking forward to the story of how you got drunk and screamed at your baby daddy and threw that shot glass so that it shattered against the wall and then had the sudden realization that your marriage was over and the kids would be fine and you didn’t need that $1,000 shot glass anyway. If you want to walk around Stillwater and tell us that story, give us a jingle.
We are right here, drinking a beer, eating sloppy joe meat right out of the crockpot, thinking about the cold and biting loneliness of kale.
— Your divorced mom from Minnesota
Stephanie Wilbur Ash is a senior editor at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. See bio.
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