It was July, a month after the big divorce conversation, when I soaked my brother’s shirt with my tears.
“What about the holidays?” I stopped to blow my nose. “Did he assume we would continue celebrating together like nothing’s happened? What am I going to do about Thanksgiving?”
“Thanksgiving is months away,” he said squeezing me in a loving embrace. “You don’t have to make that decision today.”
It was such a simple and obvious answer, but for me, someone who has served as the family CEO for over twenty years, always planning a season ahead, it was a revelation.
The irony is that I’m a natural procrastinator. Back in college, when my roommate came back to the dorm to find all of our furniture in the hallway, she’d ask, “you have exams this week, don’t you?” In my early years of marriage, I learned that hard way that you need a few days to thaw a turkey. After we had toddlers, I griped when learning I had to be up at dawn to get in the line to register for the coveted nursery school morning session. On a long ago Halloween, I was mortified to find only the inedible Circus Peanuts candy on the store shelves the night before.
To this day, I still stay up half-the-night to finish a project due the next morning. I have accepted that this is my MO and I no longer beat myself up for it.
Meanwhile, the man I married was a hard-nosed traditionalist. Every year for the holidays, we had to serve the same hors d’oeuvres, set the table the same way, and squeeze in both families over the holiday weekend. It was comforting to him, and frankly, made planning a bit less stressful for me. Year-after-year, I knew exactly what to do.
On that day with my brother, as I thought of my future on my own, I found it difficult to wrap my head around the idea that my steadfast husband chose to give up these treasured customs we had taken twenty-nine years to hone.
“One thing I’ve learned…,” my brother continued, handing me another tissue, “…is that the answers will come to us when we need them. So, let’s table the Thanksgiving decisions for now, and instead, find something fun to do this weekend.”
I have taken my little brother’s words of wisdom to heart. My friends, family, and therapist had been reminding me to live in the present, but his framing of “you don’t need to decide that right now,” resonated with me more.
More recently, I thought about my daughter’s wedding. I asked myself: ‘Will my ex and I sit at different tables? What if I don’t have a partner and he does? Who will I dance with?’ I stopped myself from tailspinning down the rabbit hole of an imaginary future world. ‘Hell, she’s not even engaged,’ I reminded myself.
Another time I thought, ‘how would I share my future grandchildren with my ex and his then-partner? Will we have to split time with the grandchildren? Will they call her grandma, too? What if they like her better than me?’ Note to self: Neither of my offspring is even considering producing their own offspring at the moment.
Maybe when it’s time to make those decisions, I’ll feel differently about him or his future partner, or about life in general. It’s hard to believe now, but it COULD be all good. Either way, this time procrastination is acceptable. For once, it’s totally okay to put off ’til tomorrow what I don’t have to decide today.
Putting off ’til Tomorrow What Doesn’t Have to be Decided Today was last modified: October 31st, 2021 by