I wonder when parenting/my life will stop feeling like something to survive, but for today I can say with confidence and a smile on my face that we survived Purim.
As I described last week, despite the fact that we are in the middle of a divorce, our sons designed a family-themed Purim costume as they have in years past. The exact character designations changed slightly in the past week and here’s how it shook down: Fred, who is 4 and Miles, who is 7, went as everyone’s favorite French vintage comic book hero Tintin. Mike (my almost ex) went as Captain Haddock, like the fish. I still went as Snowy the Dog.
For both boys, as we have in the past, we secured items for the costume which could be used as “regular clothing” throughout the year. Tintin wears a white collared shirt (we used the boys’ Shabbos shirts), a blue sweater (thank you, expensive but wonderful Hanna Andersson catalogue), brown pedal-pushers (plain brown sweatpants tucked into knee-high sport socks), and dress shoes (Fred wore his Shabbos shoes, Miles wore saddle shoes).
The most distinctive thing about Tintin is his awesome cowlick hairdo. Miles literally has the Tintin cowlick and I secured it high into the air with a combination of very not-friendly-for-the-environment mousse and super-hold hairspray. Since I have tendinitis in both hands, it was a painful three minutes getting his hair up but we did it. Fred has different cowlicks but miraculously I got his hair to stand up pretty much the same way, albeit with a bit less hair sticking up than his brother, since he has finer hair and a lower hairline.
Mike looked, if I do say so, pretty snazzy in his turtleneck, navy blazer with gold buttons, captain’s hat, and fake pipe. My costume revolved around the amazing kitty cat hat thing that Fancy Assistant Brandon hunted down (thank you Fancy Assistant Brandon!). On Friday afternoon, I bought a yard of white curly dog-like fur fabric from the local craft store with high hopes for converting amazing kitty cat hat thing into amazing puppy dog hat thing after Shabbat. With the extra fabric, I planned to craft a tail and paws as well.
My tendinitis got worse over the weekend and Purim seemed almost doomed. Then I remembered brave Esther saving the entire Jewish people with less resources and less support and more against her and I sucked it up and asked Mike to help me construct my costume since I could not do it myself. This was difficult for me because I happen to be a prideful person, sometimes to a fault. And in the middle of a divorce, being vulnerable is not always easy. Being vulnerable is actually not easy in general ever for me, so this was extra hard for me. Anyway.
Mike followed my instructions to convert kitty cat ears into puppy dog ears, construct a tail, construct paws to cover my tendinitis compression sleeves, and pin everything in place. (The fabric was curly enough to cover all safety pin sins, in case you were worried.) Mike had the bright idea to use the leftover fabric to cover my skirt since I don’t own a white skirt and Snowy the Dog is most certainly all white. Mike and I have revolved around each other for quite some time amicably for the sake of our kids, but I admit that having him pin my costume on me while the boys watched with delight was a startlingly emotional, significant, and intimate occurrence.
We went to a children’s program at a local Conservative synagogue and we partook mightily and joyfully in the awesome carnival they put on. Most people didn’t know who we were dressed as, but more than one person complimented us on our effort and execution. My parents joined us at the carnival and I think for them it was a very special and emotional Purim to see us as a family even though we will not be a married-couple-family this time next year. It’s a loss for them, too, this divorce. All in all, Purim turned out pretty fantastic with a lot of effort, a lot of humility, and a lot of appreciation for what we have, even if we can’t have everything we want.
And just to keep things interesting, Fred had a total utter and complete age-appropriate 4-year-old meltdown at the carnival, which didn’t precipitate but definitely hastened our departure from the whole event… He wanted a prize from the prize room that he didn’t have enough tokens for; you know the deal. The meltdown featured not often seen (from Fred, at least) leg kicking, shrieking, and vigorous head shaking indicating “No.” It also featured the very often seen “crying rash” which Fred gets from really any crying at all whatsoever. So he was all red and flushed, tears everywhere, snot everywhere (wish I had taken a picture to post for the “No more Facebook” phenomenon happening on Kveller!). My tendinitis-laden hands and arms picked him up and he calmed down as he played with my hair to comfort himself.
And that’s how the four of us left the carnival: perky, optimistic Tintin, a dashing Captain Haddock carrying everyone’s toys and tokens and leftover raffle tickets flowing out of every pocket, and Snowy the Dog comforting a small, more emotionally sensitive and transparent Tintin who was able to express a tremendous amount of emotion which we adults are not accustomed to displaying for any reason, not even on Purim amidst a divorce and the grief that involves.
I can’t say I felt like grieving this Purim, but something inside of me is absolutely and vigorously shaking my head “no” while facing head-on all of the “yesses” which life will continue to hurl at us. Fiercely, tragically, comically, and beautifully. Purim does reveal what is hidden, even if you don’t know to go searching for it in the first place.