The other day my eldest daughter had a wasp in her room. And I am NOT talking about the country club type.
Yeah, yeah, I know. She’s a teenager and pushing 15, and I really shouldn’t joke around about such matters. After all, I met the guy (not a WASP) who would one day become my ex-husband when I was just around her age.
As romantic as it sounds (insert eye roll), I have to tell you I would have preferred some blonde-haired, blue-eyed, pimply-faced future yachtsman all decked out in Vineyard Vines to what I was ultimately met with behind my daughter’s closed door. Because, let me say, the scene was disturbing. Mostly to me, even though my daughter was screeching like someone about to get axed in a horror movie.
And I blame my marriage. Not only mine but the entity in general.
Sounds harsh, right? And ridiculous. I know. I understand what you’re thinking – another bitter rant from some chick that believes all bad luck stems from her divorce.
Not true. Not true at all. But please, let me explain.
For starters, I hadn’t gone to the bathroom in hours. So naturally that‘s when all of this went down. But since my kids aren’t toddlers anymore and haven’t been for years, I thought I could go five minutes without (a) Jamie Lee Curtis-esque screams emanating from one my children the moment I disappear from sight, and (b) one of my children banging on the bathroom door while I am inside.
Surely I must have been deluded.
Because, whenever it comes time to indulge in a little “me” time, even if it’s in the form of doing my business (not quite the luxury I always dream of but, hey, I take what I can get), I am summoned for tasks I would never have before imagined all those years ago as I walked through Neiman’s picking out china for my bridal registry. Cleaning cat vomit, kid vomit, poop of all varieties, plunging toilets… You get the idea.
I learned early on it was all part of the job description. That is, except for this one little thing I simply REFUSED to take on.
Throughout my marriage, despite my being quite the independent stay-at-home wife and mom, there were still a few tasks I continued to deem the “man’s” job. At the top of that list was killing bugs. Exterminator was a title my husband begrudgingly (and I mean just short of kicking and screaming in protest) held for more than 16 years until he quit (the job and the marriage).
Circumstance (a.k.a. my divorce) has since charged me with this duty and, in my estimation, I believe I have not only taken over the job but also run with it. Except when that insect has a stinger.
Then I simply run.
Which is what I did long ago after experiencing my first sting. My friend’s dad had swatted a bee off my back with a towel and, lo and behold, I was stung.
Only three years old, I can remember like it was yesterday her mom driving me home in her station wagon from their country club, me hysterically crying in the front seat (and without a seat belt, no less!), and her trying (unsuccessfully) to console me.
My fear of bees and other stinging insects lived on through my adolescence and into my adulthood. To this day, with every buzz in earshot, I scream. (Reason #403 why I am no longer married.)
And then I got separated. No longer could I afford to be afraid.
But I was. I simply hid it better now that my kids were watching.
Believe me when I tell you, any insect within my midst paid a hefty price for my fear, enjoying a slow and painful death by suffocation as I confined each one I captured to an overturned drinking glass. Either my cleaning lady would dispose of the body on her assigned day or, if I could wait until its untimely death (untimely for the insect but not timely enough for me), I would suck it up through my central vacuum.
I managed to get through more than five years on my own without incident. And I was damn proud of myself.
All of that changed four days ago.
Enter Jamie Lee Curtis scream.
And the biggest, badass wasp I had ever seen. My daughter actually snapped a picture of it a day earlier as it hung out outside on her window screen while noshing on a bright green creepy crawler I most definitely would have deemed vacuum worthy had it been inside.
It’s all a National Geographic special until somebody loses her mind.
What to do, what to do, I wondered. Should I call an exterminator? A neighbor? Animal control?
None of those options seemed quite right. So, after rummaging around for bug spray, of which I had none, I headed out to buy a can.
As I drove home from the store I remained remarkably calm. Chill. I had this down. No fear.
Until I was standing outside the door with the spray, ready to attack.
One adult. One kid.
Guess who headed in first? Or even at all?
Embarrassing, I know. Granted, she had on a makeshift beekeeper’s uniform she put together herself. Then there was me, who stood at the door, arm’s length away, Raid in hand.
She spotted the wasp “resting comfortably” on a picture frame on her dresser. I pummeled it with brevity from a safe distance away. It fell backward, somewhere behind the furniture. However, when she went to look for it, it was not there.
That was Wednesday. Still wearing the homemade beekeeper’s uniform, my daughter proceeded to move everything she needed out of her bedroom and into mine, where she bunked until Sunday morning when she and her sister left for a month-long teen tour. My son left for sleepaway camp a day earlier.
I am now officially alone for one month. Me, Myself, and I. And, of course, the wasp, who has yet to make an encore appearance.
Until this morning towels lined the bottom of my daughter’s door so the new tenant inside could not escape. Unfortunately, when my cleaning lady arrived Monday morning, she searched high and low but found nothing.
I spent many years married to a workaholic husband who was rarely home. Out of sheer necessity, I became as independent as anyone coupled could be.
Or so I thought.
In actuality, I relied on my marriage, on my husband specifically, for protection. At the end of the day I depended on him to take care of me and make everything all better when I could not.
No one should ever have to live up that standard.
When my husband walked out, I lost his protection. And I was, for the first time in my life, on my own.
At first it was scary. No, strike that. It was petrifying.
But as I slowly recoup the independence I once willingly abdicated to him – by earning my own money, by taking full responsibility for how I feel, and by overcoming my fears – I realize marriage is about something other than being taken care of by your spouse.
Marriage is about continuing to grow as an individual with your complement by your side. It is about growing stronger, not weaker, in another person’s company. If your marriage becomes something else, it is time to make a change.
No one should be doing things for you that you cannot do for yourself. Ever.
So often I come across women who claim they cannot do this, that, or the other thing. They need their husbands to survive. In my own ways I, too, was guilty as charged.
My days of needing my ex-husband – for anything – are now happily numbered.
Married or not, remember to take care of yourself first. Be there for your partner as his added support, not his only support. Equally as important, allow your partner to be there for you by letting him do for you only what you can continue to do for yourself.
That wasp is still lurking somewhere inside my house. Which means I must face another one of my fears today. But the good news is, when I do, I know I will be that much less afraid of tomorrow.
What fears have you overcome after your marriage ended?