Brave Girl Wannabe is Angry

The bravest people I know are children surviving the behavior of selfish adults.

The bravest people I know are children who try to offer forgiveness in scenarios where “adults” like me simply cannot.

The bravest people I know are children who admit they are afraid and ask for help.

The bravest people I know are children who run out of cards before they run out of things for which they’re thankful, even when their life is not what they expected or what they deserve.

Brave Girl Wannabe Thursday Truth: I got really, really, really angry today and I was a complete bitch. And I don’t even regret it.

Embrace the Mess, Brave Girl

I hate messes. I avoid them if at all possible.

I like to walk on the beach, but I have a process for doing so because I don’t like wet sand that gets on clothes and between toes and then into a car that then needs to be vacuumed.

I am not a great cook, but no matter what I do in the kitchen I wash my hands obsessively and clean up as I go because sticky fingers leave sticky spots on faucets and counters and handles.

I embrace craft and slime projects, but keep stacks of boxes and cardboard and old towels to put on any surface that could potentially get glue or glitter or paint or detergent on it.

I guess it’s probably more accurate to say that I do my best to proactively manage messes carefully.

Today, I am waaaaaaaaay outside my comfort zone, embracing a mess that I willingly purchased. The girls picked a new Christmas tree this weekend and it’s one that looks like it’s covered in snow. If you are looking at the tree in just the right way and zoning out a bit, that beautiful snow against the lights can fill you with a serene feeling…until you start to notice that the snow that covers the branches is like beet juice that destroys all the other food on your Sunday dinner plate. That snow has gotten on the floor, which then got onto socks and onto paws, and then travelled throughout the whole house.

I have fake snow everywhere.

And just as I was seriously considering a complex narrative about why the tree won’t work for our house, I overheard an exchange that melted my heart. Audrey wanted to play outside and as I was standing on a ladder grumbling to myself about the snowy mess falling all over the place, I heard her ask her grandpa if he would take her outside. My first thought was I would need to take a break and take her out – it’s Sunday, one of Papa’s favorite days because it’s filled with sports. But before I could take one step down, I heard him say “Let me turn off football and we’ll go.”

My girls are so blessed to be surrounded by people who will bend over backwards to prioritize them and who will embrace mess for them. Family and friends and helpers who I’ve watched time and time again drop everything to put a smile on their faces or to help me help them navigate something.

The thing about divorce is that so many people are impacted. It’s not just the spouses and children. It’s the parents and siblings and friends and coworkers. It’s not just my girls who have spent the last year reeling from discoveries and facing a new norm – many of the people that the girls rely on for love and comfort and consistency and care have also been hurt deeply. The thing that makes me the second angriest about the selfishness that led to where we are today is thinking about all the tears shed by our parents and family, and my beloved friends.

Recently someone asked me if I was going to have a divorce party, and I realized that I will never be friends with that person again. That person and I have absolutely nothing in common. Because anyone who can think about divorce as funny or freedom or positive when innocent children were impacted is not a person I can in any way relate to or even want to relate to. Divorce, even without children, is a tragedy. But in a divorce impacting children, the thing a good person would think about and focus on is the children.

Hillary Clinton famously noted that it takes a village to raise kids. The village surrounding my girls is pretty fantastic. Truly wonderful people who are watchful of them and who just love on them and are present for them. People who recognize I might want to privately have a glass of champagne, but who would always be respectful and private about that because of my girls. Good humans. I appreciate them more than I can ever convey. And I learn from them all the time.

It’s a fair statement that I am more-than-a-little obsessive compulsive and attached to order and neatness. And it’s also a fair statement that even at 45 years old – supposedly a real grown-up – I am still learning from my parents and my village.

Which is precisely why I am embracing the fake snow that is literally everywhere.

Mimicking Papa, let me just turn off my OCD and I’ll love it.

Life Goes On, Fite Girl

Remember that show in the 1980s called Life Goes On? Patti Lupone was the Mom, a young Kelly Martin played her daughter and a young Chris Burke played her son Corky (the first actor with Down Syndrome that I remember being on TV).

The intro to that show was a little jingle that went something like this:

Ob-la-di ob-la-da

life goes onnnnnnnn brahhhhhh

La-la how the life goes on

When the show opened each week, that jingle played to images of the family throughout the morning – children hogging the bathroom, the coffee pot, Dad deciding not to exercise. And, of course, over the years the visuals in the intro changed as the characters grew older and changed.

But one thing that stayed the same is that throughout the morning routine, their dog Arnold waited patiently for someone to feed him. As they all got dressed, as they came into the kitchen to get juice, as they greeted friends picking them up, as they had their coffee. Arnold waited with his red food dish and it seemed like his wait was never-ending.

In the very last episode, the intro was updated and at the very last second as he’s about to lay down and give up, Arnold’s big bag of food falls out of a cabinet next to him and he is no longer waiting. He has food in abundance, and can eat as much as he wants.

Life Goes On Intro

I’ve waited a whole year to get my name back. Like Arnold the dog holding my dish, watching life go on around me and just hoping at some point that my dish would be full and I’d feel…I don’t know what I thought I’d feel, really.

Yesterday, I officially got my name back. And a beloved friend reminded me of the verse I recently discovered in Joel: “I will restore or replace for you the years the locust has eaten.”

My name *restored.*

And it was kind of anti-climactic, actually. I worked, rushed to get Ella to her youth retreat, saw my Mom for a few minutes, exchanged funny messages with my sister, and then headed to Dave and Busters with Audrey.

Life Goes On.

Beth is the same core Beth, who just keeps moving and is always surrounded by family.

And God is the same faithful God, restoring something as promised. Restoring it even earlier than everyone told me to expect. And yet restoring it just when I was feeling so tired I wanted to lay down my big red dish and pout about my restoration not coming.

I have not thought about the show Life Goes On for years, and yet I woke up this morning thinking about that song and that show and that dog. I had to actually google the dog’s name because I couldn’t remember it, only to find that it was Arnold – my Dad’s middle name.

My Dad’s last name is Fite, the name now restored to me.

Here’s Your Proof, Brave Girl

Yesterday, I signed the name Beth Ranee Dembitz for the last time. And I had this crazy thought that the person with that name is a stranger to me. I am no longer her. She is no longer me.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year thinking about the fact that the person I married is not at all who I thought, but it didn’t occur to me until today that I may be different than who I thought. And I recalled this gem from Iain Thomas: “Everything has changed and yet, I am more me than I have ever been.”

I read it a few months ago, couldn’t wrap my head around it at the time, and dismissed it. I recalled it yesterday and realized that it does speak to me.

My experiences in the last 12 months have changed how I think about some things, but they haven’t changed who I actually am. I think we all often think of ourselves in relation to other people – as the wife or husband of someone, as the mom or dad of someone, as the child of someone. For 20+ years I’ve thought of myself, in part, as in connection with someone. Recently, I’ve been purposely thinking of myself more and more as just me. I’m a Mom, and that role is the most important one in my life – but it’s still only a part of who I am. What’s actually true is that I am the kind of Mom I am, and the kind of friend and daughter and sister I am, because of me and who I am. Because of who I am on my own.

Everything has changed and yet, in every period of my life I have always relied on faith.

Everything has changed and yet, in every period of my life my immediate response to challenge is to circle the wagons and prepare for a fight.

Everything has changed and yet, in every period of my life I have always project-managed whatever is happening.

Everything has changed and yet, in every period of my life I have always been able to find the funny.

Everything has changed and yet, in every period of my life that’s been filled with adversity I have always had to figure out the why and be angry as I overthought all the possible reasons.

Everything has changed and yet, in every period of my life I have always made my way back to hope. Hope in something bigger than this seemingly broken world. Hope that most people are fundamentally good. Hope that things will all work out OK in the end. Hope that everything can somehow work out for our good.

Everything has changed and yet, in every period of my life I have always been a difficult child who demanded that God show me signs that He’s really there and that I’m on the right path and that I’m doing the right things.

Everything has changed and yet, I always end up light-hearted and hopeful and happy again. That’s not entirely happened for me yet in this period of my life, but I am on my way.

Everything has changed and yet, I am more me than I have ever been.

Yesterday I signed papers that will, in just a couple of weeks, formally change my name back to Beth Fite. And you know what? She’s me. Beth Dembitz is also Beth Fite, and she always has been. Beth at 3 and Beth at 10 and Beth at 20 and Beth at 30 and Beth at 45 all have the same core characteristics – prank-playing, over-sharing, organized, somewhat superstitious while faith-filled, demanding, impatient, controlled chaotic. The only difference is that the Beth of other ages always got back to hope, and the Beth at 45 is not quite there yet.

Hope requires bravery. Hope means I trust that my daughters will grow up to be strong women who believe in love and marriage despite how their parents’ marriage worked out. Hope is expectation that my daughters will persist and have happy lives filled with people who only want the best for them. Hope is belief beyond a shadow of a doubt that those things will absolutely happen. So I guess you’d say my hope is still a work in progress.

And yet there’s absolutely no reason for my hope to still be at the work-in-progress stage. The proof that God has a sense of humor and He wants me to find the funny in all things and He is still willing to entertain my constant petulant demand for signs that I’m on the right path, is that my papers arrived for signature this week on the day of Halloween. On a day I was dressed in a costume chosen by Ella many, many weeks ago.

I signed the papers to restore my name and to formally and legally change my life while dressed as Merida, from the movie Brave.