Friday, February 18, 2011

The Red Dress Club: A Memoir

Today I am doing something different.  I am linking up with a site called "The Red Dress Club.  It is an absolutely brilliant site for writers, any writers, all writers!  They give prompts twice a week and then later a chance to post your blog site so that others can read how you chose to craft the prompt.  This week's memoir prompt was to write a piece about an item of forgotten clothing and what it meant to you.  I acknowledge it is different for the blog and perhaps may be difficult to read.  But I am satisfied that it goes along with the theme of the blog that sometimes motherhood can be excruciatingly difficult.

While packing a box of preschool sized hand-me-downs for a colleague the tiny tan corduroys at the bottom of the box instantly transported me to that day...that unnerving day 12 years ago when I contributed to slicing a hole in my son's soul. 

The unforgiving fluorescent lights exposed the shabby basement, highlighting the molasses colored soda stains on the tan carpet, the pulls and pills of the overused tweed couch, the dark brown of the knotty pine slatted wall laid like jail cell bars that boxed us in.    Aidan, my toe headed five year old, was cradled in the arms of the exhausted overstuffed red recliner that could have fit three of him.  His short legs were crossed at his sockless ankles just coming to the edge of the arm.  Scott nudged me from behind, his fingers like rounded daggers pressing into my spine; I planted my feet firmly on the worn carpet, trying to eke out just a little more time for my son to be oblivious to the world of divorce.

Sensing us there, Aidan turned toward his father.   Scott’s thick eyebrows were knitted together, his mouth tight and crooked resembling the haphazard bookshelf that he leaned on.  Instantly, that kilowatt smile of Aidan’s, the one that caused his eyes to squint, disappeared.   Nervous of his father’s stern face, he pressed his hands together and rocked his hips back and forth causing the ancient chair to squeak with complaints.

I knelt before him and plastered on an “everything-is-fine smile” to hide my tortured eyes.  I slid my hands up the sides of his corduroys feeling the fibers rise against the grain, pulled him forward, and wrapped his legs around my middle.  Shakily but with resignation I said, “Aidan, daddy and I want to talk to you about something.”

  His father stood above us, and loomed over the conversation as if supervising instead of participating.  Aidan barely nodded his head and searched my eyes with his.  Voice quivering, I continued.  “I know that you don’t like it when daddy and I fight.”  Again, Aidan gave a wisp of a nod which bolstered me to press forward. 

“Well we don’t like it either and we’ve decided to do something about it.”  Hopeful eyebrows raised slightly on my child’s face causing my stomach to violently roll and my voice to crack and skip.  Teary, I looked to Scott for help.  He stood, statue like, arms crossed, face in a cemented frown.  

I drew in a long breath of musty cellar air, irritating my parched throat. “What we’ve decided,”   Looking down at the shaggy carpet I focused on a stain and repeated, “What we’ve decided is that daddy is going to go live with Grandma."

 What happened next was simultaneous chaos.   Aidan’s legs shot straight out like two by fours at my sides.  His body stiffened.  He thrashed in the chair like a caught trout on a fishing boat’s deck.  Then a guttural moan, the sound of devastation, came from the depths of him.  Every maternal-nerve in my body zapped me with electrical pain and instinctively I reached out to hold him.  Upon my touch he recoiled. His low groans turned to high pitched staccato daggers “No!  No!  No!  No!”  With quaking hands, I reached out to him once more.  He kicked at me violently and then turned to face the back of the fire red chair.  He rolled himself into a tight pellet of flesh and bone.   Muffled by the upholstery, Aidan coughed out a throaty maniacal “Go! Go! Go away NOW!!”    I frantically turned to Scott once more for help, only to see his feet ascend the paint chipped stairs, pounding in time with my throbbing head.  Wanting to sooth, knowing I couldn’t, I helplessly sunk to the bedraggled carpet.  Feeling no better than the lowly stains, I listened to the grief-stricken sobs coming from Aidan, cradled in the arms of the exhausted red recliner.


  1. Wow, this is a difficult moment to read about. You wrote it wonderfully. Thanks for sharing!

  2. You are a gifted writer. I am sorry that you went through such an agonizing experience. It appears you remembered every feeling, sight, sound of it. Thanks for sharing.

  3. wow this really hits home for me. i'm a product of divorce and i remember the day i was told (at age 9) my parents were going to separate. it's been nearly 30 years since that day, and i do remember it like it was yesterday. :(
    found you and following you from mommy blogs, btw.

  4. Sooo powerful!

    I'm following and want to check out that site.
    I would love for you to read a blog post I wrote. Here's that link if you have time:

  5. I definitely related to this story. Divorce sucks. This was well written and very touching. Great job.

  6. That was a very intense story. Thank you for sharing it with us. It was very well done.

  7. A difficult subject handled with honesty and a clarity that puts you right there. Well written, and well survived.

  8. I experienced this same scene myself with my own five year old, also 12 years ago. I doubt I could capture my feelings the way you did here. Thank you for your honesty in sharing such a raw moment.

  9. My parents divorced when I was only 6 months old, so I was spared this scene. You did a great job of capturing how brutally painful divorce is for a Parent and a child. That could not have been easy emotions to relive.

  10. My heart hurt a bit reading that and it brought tears to my eyes. I have never dealt with divorce and I can't even imagine how hard it is for children & parents. Very well written! It grabbed me and I want more :)

  11. Very well written. I can't stand what divorce does to kids. I never had a similar talk with mine - rather, I let it out very gradually. But there were some devastating moments, like the time they noticed I wasn't wearing my wedding ring.
    They do learn to function, even thrive. Mine are doing well, and I'm grateful their dad has stayed involved over the 11 years since he left.

  12. My heart breaks for that poor little guy.

    There were times when my parents' fighting was too much for me to handle, and taking care of three younger siblings while it went down was no bargain either. As much as I sometimes wished they would divorce and get it over with, I'm not sure I'd be able to handle it even today.

  13. My heart broke with yours as I read this story. Your little baby boy became my baby boy, wanting to reach out to him through the computer screen and the passing years. You took the responsibility on while your husband watched. You are a strong, warrior woman. Powerful. Thank you for finding the courage to share this story!!
    I'm following!! And am gonna check out the Red Dress CLub!!

  14. Incredibly brave and honest post. If that's the kind of writing the Red Dress Club brings out of you, stick with them.

  15. Visiting from TRDC. Your piece really struck a chord with me because my own daughter had to experience her father and I separating this past summer. We've since reconciled, but I will always wonder how much that period of our lives has affected her. Thank you for baring your soul!

    Concrit wise, I found myself skimming over the first half of the piece to get to the meat. I felt there were some places where there was almost too much description and it could have been simpler and still packed a wallop. You found that sweet spot halfway through though and my heart just ached for your little boy and for you! Keep writing...I'd love to see what other gems you polish and bring out for us to see!

  16. Thank you for sharing such a difficult moment. I could really feel the tension between Scott and you, and, of course, the heartache for Aidan.

    I agree with the pp that you got caught up in description at the beginning - and I did get a smile with "toe" head, as it's spelled "tow" ;)

    I thought this line was telling: His father stood above us, and loomed over the conversation as if supervising instead of participating.

    and I liked this one too: Scott’s thick eyebrows were knitted together, his mouth tight and crooked resembling the haphazard bookshelf that he leaned on.

    Glad you linked up - I hope you will become a regular!

  17. @Cheryl Laughed out loud...toe! What an edit-miss! Thanks for the concrit. Good sugggestions. Can't wait until next time.

  18. I am following you through bloggy mom please return the follow at

  19. That was a heart-wrenching story, beautiful in your clarity. What a moment to capture. Felt I was in the room. Thank you for sharing.

    Following you from Bloggy Mom and looking forward to reading more of your writing.


  20. That was pretty intense. I divorced my ex-husband about 10 years ago, though ours was a slower process of telling the kids, this reminded me of just how much that experience hurt them and still affects them. Found you through Bloggy Moms.


  21. Your piece was very moving. Thank you.