Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Marriages Go Bad Like Bananas

Because of the chaotic nature of solo parenting and life in general I haven't written much about my son, Charlie. I ran into my midwife at a party a few weeks ago. She's the pregnant one now. There was something thrilling to me about casually enjoying a beer (me, not her!) with the woman who pulled my son from my body. Empowering. Just a coupla kickass broads over here who brought a human into the world on our own, no big deal (huge deal). I pushed, you pulled, no drugs, no nothin' but you and me and here is a tiny, perfect person and that's that.


It put me in mind of Charlie's birth. I've been heavily pondering it for several days now. That magical experience was one of the most extraordinary, powerful, empowering events of my life. It completely rearranged how I view the world and drastically altered my perception of myself and what I'm capable of accomplishing. I figure ushering a human you grew from your body into the world is one of the most difficult things you can do both mentally and physically. I somehow managed it. Without angrily kicking Sarah (midwife) in the face, which had happened to her before, she explained, and became a legitimate concern of mine. This, of course, means that for the rest of his life, whenever Charlie misbehaves, I can launch into a speech about how I didn't carry his ass for nine goddamn months or labor without drugs and push him from my body without drugs only to have him acting a fool in class or whatever the hell he'll be up to in a few years. I'll yell it in front of his friends, girlfriends, I don't care. I earned that shit.

I never really wrote much about his birth because I was in the middle of a painful separation from Serge. At the time, and in the years intervening, more than a few people rudely verbalized concern that I asked for the separation that led to our eventual divorce while pregnant.

"You should wait. It's the hormones talking." Really? What if I ask for a separation when PMS-ing? Does that not count either?

Condescending but not nearly as bad as the "What kind of person intentionally brings a child into a broken marriage?" comments I also received.

The kind of person who wants to have a child, that's what kind. As if it's perfectly acceptable for a single woman to choose motherhood whenever they feel ready but a strong, capable woman who always dreamed of motherhood but languished in a sad marriage for years can't responsibly choose motherhood again with the same man who fathered her first two children? Would divorcing and having a baby with a new man have been more acceptable? Or would I get the Woman With TWO (gasp!) Baby Daddies label? And anyway, my marriage wasn't all that great when I gave birth to the first two, I was just more accepting of the disorienting confusion and sadness at that point.

What kind of person judges two people wholeheartedly devoted to parenthood for having another child, is the better question. When the sweet child already exists, no less. Thoughtless, compassionless fuckers. Besides, from what I've observed over the years, a lot of children are born into iffy marriages. It's kind of the nature of marriage. Marriages go bad like bananas. Young and green out of the gate. Naive. Bruises reveal themselves as they mature. The bruises get darker and slowly, imperceptibly blacken until the whole banana is bad. Peel back the skin and examine the inside before too much time passes and you might find some good, but wait too long and the whole thing is rotten. The only thing left to do is throw it away. Or make banana bread. I tried making banana bread for a long time. Years. But my banana was too far gone.

When Charlieboy was born my banana was obviously bruised but I guess I was still shooting for bread. Doesn't really matter now. IRRELEVANT, an attorney would shout in the courtroom of my life. Because Charlie. This exceptionally beautiful soul is a part of our family and we would be tragically different were it not for his wonderful existence.

Bottom line: I'm a grown-ass woman who tried for a long fucking time. To the point that I had to lie to myself in order to blur my perception of my marriage if I was going to stay in it. And then one day I couldn't do it anymore. SNAP. Years of muddling through and blurry vision and closing my eyes to truths and then just like that: Not another second. I happened to be pregnant when that moment occurred.

Look here, I've digressed into defensiveness, as many of you know I am wont to do here. It's been my modus operandi lo these many years. I'm getting better at it and I'll excuse it in this case because it's in regard to the existence of my son, the mischievous rascal, Charlie Max, whose home birth was, ironically, the easiest of my three births. I meant to write about that today but more on that next time.

Reader Comments (15)

Every time I feel worthless and question what married women have that I don't, I'll remember your sweet words of "Marriages go bad like bananas".
Do I like being single? Yes! Do I want to be married? Yes! Vicious cycle :)

July 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin Jean

He's a beautiful child.
You are blessed.

July 17, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermonica

But now you have 3 children who have to cope with coming from a broken home, not 2. That one of them was a conscious, deliberate choice seems crazy. Condescending is completely different from an opinion that differs, one that disagrees strongly with something that another person has not only deliberately done but put out there for comment. Or is it only total agreement and ''you are so powerful and clever, well done'' comments that are not condescending? People have babies in all kinds of situations; single, married, other, all great, but generally it's pretty rare to deliberately procreate with a person with whom you have a deeply troubled, failing marriage, where custody is a matter of contention, especially when finances are shaky and more so when there are 2 other young children involved. Now it's hard and sad when the lights get shut off, work is relentless, you're lonely and all is woeful, but really, some of this could have been avoided and foreseen. Pointing to a sweet little boy as Charlie clearly is and saying ''how terrible to say this about a sweet child'' is pointless. The fact is there are many who would look at the decision that got made to have another baby in an extremely unhappy situation (by your own description), without even much financial wherewithal to soften the edges, and think ''hmm''. It's good you don't regret your actions, but then why do you keep justifying them so? You said yourself many times that you don't want a financially-strapped, broken home for your kids as you had when growing up, but mentioning this is condescending.

July 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

I don't really see Monica and Serge as having a "broken home"... If one of them was out of the picture entirely, I could see calling it that.. But these three have two super involved parents who love the shit out of them... I think it's great she moved closer to Serge for the kids, because it's going to make the kids transitions more seamless and paying the amount of rent she was paying to live in PA is crazy! When Monica's dad left, he LEFT. No shared parenting, just uncomfortable random weekends that disrupted social lives... I had the same thing. I would have loved to have my Dad as involved in my life as Serge is in his children's' lives.

I'm bummed you and Serge didn't work out because I get bummed when people break up. It's sad. I know it hurts. It bums me out. I would be totally giddy if you guys got back together, but I have no idea what was going on inside of your marriage and you sound healthier now than you did then, so that's a good thing.

All in all, it doesn't matter what I think, what Caroline thinks, or what anyone else thinks. This is your life and you're doing your best job living it. Take care.

July 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Hi Monica, your writing is always so insightful. It's clear your marriage hadn't been working for a while and sometimes you stay because you hope. Don't we all? You try to make it work, you carry that hope until one day the bubble bursts. I've been there, ate way too much banana bread along the way :). Charlie is beautiful, I can't imagine your family without him either. I don't think you need to justify anything though. The people who say 'what kind of person intentionally brings a child into a broken marriage' can't see very far past themselves can they? And just to be even more patronising they add the term 'broken home' into their comments! Your kids aren't from a 'broken home'. They have two homes full of as much love as they can possibly get. Yes, it's sad you guys are no longer together but that's life and you just have to make the most of any situation. It seems you're doing a great job at coparenting!

July 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPolly

Isn't it great to know something with such certainty?

July 20, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersherewin

Banana bread. Profound.
I've been trying to make banana bread for almost 2 years. I think it's going to turn out, but those bananas were pretty damn neglected and overripe.
Life goes on during the baking. People buy houses, get new jobs and even have babies, thinking that damn banana bread is going to turn out.
Sometimes it doesn't. And it sucks.
Still kinda hope your banana bread comes back to life.

July 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJust a follower

That is one gorgeous boy!

July 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJen

You can totally count me among the people trying to make banana bread out of rotten bananas, to such a point that I bought a house with the husband I am now separated from two weeks before our separation because, hope. In my instance I was (I guess, am)married to a highly functioning alcoholic - I thought I had time to get him the help he needed but events spun utterly out of control and I had to make the drastic decision to leave, for our safety, sooner than later. I am fortunate because I have a good paying job and can support my two kids and own the home but it was really quite stupid of me, ultimately. You know - I had a marriage I thought would never fail. I was so confident - it wasn't until 8 years in that he became an alcoholic, and another 8 and incredible danger for me to leave. Some people see choices as linear and obvious but that couldn't be father from the truth. If there weren't people like Monica writing we would be subjected to perfect (seeming) mommy blogs and not understand that others have pain and obstacles to overcome as well. My life has been utterly turned upside down - a lot because of my own ignorance. But that's life - that's adulthood. Monica, your boy is beautiful and has a gorgeous life ahead of him.

July 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

I must admit, I first had some mixed feelings when I first read this. But one really has to do that bit of reflecting where those come from, before talking and putting any judgement out there. We all like to feel smug sometimes, don't we? I find Caroline's comment so utterly out of place. Serge and you seem like a shining example of cooperative co-parenting, and damn those kids are lucky to have you. I grew up with parents in an outwardly functional home, but they were both troubled, unhappy, cruel (each in their own way) people. How many times did I wish they had just conceived my brother (because I wouldn't want to miss him) and then split up real quick. Well, they did end up breaking up (when I was 19, my brother 14) and managed to be really shit at co-parenting even then. Badmouthing each other, and being nothing short of intrigant and nasty. Terrible. There are so many constellations in the world that can work - or not work - for the most personal and individual reasons. From what I can tell from over here (and following your writing for years), you and Serge are both incredibly good people who aren't afraid to face their issues and work hard to be the best they can. I would count myself lucky to have been one of your kids, and to learn from the example you are setting. I am sure that would have saved me decades of suffering.

July 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Yes, Monica. Yes to all of it!

July 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChris

You are a shining example of a woman who has provided a beautiful, loving, wonderful home. Siblings are the best gifts you can give your children and Charlie is the greatest gift on the planet. Everyone else can take their thoughts and suck it.

You and Serge keep rocking that co-parenting. People need to see that families are still families after divorce <3

July 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

After being in relationship with Wilson for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don't believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I meant a spell caster called Dr Zuma zuk and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: or call him +2349055637784 you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS'

May 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I'm supporting this fundraiser:

Could you please share? No disrespects posting it here, just from one mom to another.

May 26, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterp.s.

Hey Monica, I'm going through something similar. Are you available at all for personal contact?

June 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

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