I saw this quote on someone's instagram the other day:
"Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path."
Last weekend Paul and I had our 11th wedding anniversary. We planned to open a nice bottle of wine and enjoy it together. Something that we'd had laying down for a while, bought on a trip to France or Spain and tucked away for a special occasion.
It didn't happen because Paul had a cold, so instead we spent a bit of time outside, at a safe distance, while the kids played in a local splash pool. When it was time to go we smiled and said goodbye, and he hopped on his bike and went back to his home - the apartment we own together - while I herded the kids towards "mom's new apartment", the tiny but perfect place I'm renting on the other end of the same island.
In a parallel universe, one in which covid didn't happen, we'd both still be living in that apartment. In the time between January and now, I would have been to a few conferences, and Paul would have been on many business trips. I'd have taken a holiday to Mallorca to meet my mom and sister, and I would have gone to see Ali Wong in Dublin with one of my best friends. We'd have been on at least one family vacation, and we would have made our annual trip back to BC together.
And, the relentless, painful knot in my chest would be as intense as ever. I would be miserable.
Instead, covid happened. A literal shit storm. A total dumpster fire of a year in so many ways. Relentless pressure. Constant anxiety. But also, something else.
I began to see, some months ago, that perhaps the storm had come to clear my path, and I started to think of 2020 not as a write-off of a year, but as a great pause. A long exhale. And potentially, some much-needed relief.
Paul and I have been together for 17 years, since I was 24 years old. We have a lot of history, a shared ideals, and two beautiful children together. So, the decision to take some time apart was not an easy one, nor was it made with any kind of spontaneity.
I'm not going to get into the specifics of what lead to this decision because, frankly, it's none of your business. But also because it's not as simple as boiling it down to a thing that went wrong. Relationships are as complicated as the people who are in them, and I think if either of us is guilty of anything, it is of being perfectly complex human beings.
I want my boys to see me as brave, and creative, and strong. I want them to be inspired by me. I didn't want to be the angry, short-tempered, shell of a person that I was becoming. They deserve better than that. We all do.
I had a voice inside that was getting louder and louder and finally screaming at me, "what are we teaching them?" And so I made the difficult, but necessary, decision to step away. Maybe just for a little while, while we rest and heal and recalibrate, or maybe longer term. Time will tell.
These days I'm thinking of our marriage kind of like a forest fire. Sometimes you need to burn it down in order to see what's really there, and to allow for new growth. I don't know what the end result of this time apart will be. Maybe we'll end up back together. Maybe we'll be married people who choose to live apart. Maybe it'll lead to a conscious uncoupling or something like that.
What I *do* know is that what we're doing feels like the right thing to do right now.
The boys live with me half of the time, and with Paul the other half. We switch every couple of days, since they are small and we both want to see them as much as possible. Basically, whoever picks them up from school that day takes them home, and that's that.
They're too little to be emotional about this, which is a good thing. Niko told me that Dad's apartment is bigger, but Mom's apartment has better toys.
I got a tattoo the other day with their names on my arm, because I find being apart from them painful and want them to be with me always. I love how it turned out.
I commissioned the artwork from a handwriting artist in the US, and after several rounds of back and forth making tiny adjustments to N's and O's and tweaking the alignment of how the names sat together, it was perfect.
As it happened, a new tattoo studio just opened in my new neighbourhood, which is woman owned and operated. This is my fifth tattoo, and it's never even occurred to me to seek out a female tattoo artist before, but it felt important this time.
Now, I carry my babies with me wherever I go, even when they're not actually with me. It feels tiny, but profound.
Anyways, that's the life update. Some longtime followers with keen eyes have noticed the change of scenery in my Instagram stories, and I knew I was going to have to explain myself at some point. But also, I know that a lot of you are having pretty stormy 2020's in your own right, and I wanted you to know that you're not alone.
ON HEY NUTRITION LADY THIS WEEK
This week I breathed new life into an ancient, ancient recipe from the blog archives. I've been making this spicy black bean ragout in my Instant Pot for as long as I've had one - in fact, it's the recipe that convinced me to get an IP in the first place! So now it's Spicy Instant Pot Black Beans (but don't worry, stove top instructions are still there) and these beans are the BOMB!
Next, since zucchini season is upon us, one of my favourite ways to eat this delicious summer squash, Baked Zucchini Fries. So crispy! So tasty! So much fun!
WHAT’S TRENDING ON HNL
Yeah, yeah, we all know that Mung Bean and Coconut Curry is in number one. So let’s look at what else is trending.
1. How to Cook Mung Beans. Holding strong at the top!
2. Chia Fresca. It's hot outside! Gotta stay hydrated.
3. Turmeric Latte Mix. I'm drinking these iced these days.
4. Peanut Butter Oat Bars. Snackers gonna snack, yo!
5. Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burritos. Always and forever.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Lynn left the following comment and 5-star review on my No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins recipe:
Made these in smaller size, less time for cooking – absolutely delicious. Have frozen some for use when hubby gets out of hospital post back surgery. Added dried cranberries instead of the walnuts. Wonderful easy recipe and great instructions for the method.
These are a favourite of mine as well, Lynn! I hope your husband is doing well.
WHAT’S GOOD AROUND THE WEB
1. How the invention of margarine disrupted big butter.
2. You probably won't catch the coronavirus from frozen food.
4. Kids in the US are eating more fast food, the CDC reports.
5. Meet Isoamyl Acetate, the Banana-Flavored Molecule You Love to Hate.
Thank you so much for sharing. All you can ever do is what feels right for YOU!
You are courageous and strong and you are giving your boys the best example of a mother and woman. I read that mothers shouldn't be martyrs and I couldn't agree more.
Sending all the positive vibes your way!
Katie, I have long found you to be an inspiration for many reasons. You are funny, interesting, wise, compassionate, a great mom, brave, independent, and when you show up in my inbox I feel that I’m hearing from a friend. I’m also a Canadian with my heart on the west coast and a strong affiliation with Norway. Many years ago I made the difficult decision to step away from a 15 year relationship with the father of my son. Our paths eventually took us in very different directions but we have remained loving parents to our son and good friends to each other. I guess what I want you to know is that you shine in the world, and this is your gift to your boys. Thank you for your candour and sharing.
Like you I am going through a similarly big shift in my 30-year old relationship. Big year of disruptions, 2020, but giving lots of clarity and time to pause and think. I think there is a maturity needed too in being realistic, rather than dependent on those fantasies we are raised on about what constitutes a good relationship and a good life. All strength and virtual hugs to you - keep on cooking!
Thanks for sharing these parts of your life with us. 2020 is a mother f%*#er... you and Paul will figure out what’s best for you and it’s a testament to you that you are trying to figure out what that is. I agree with Sarah, very brave to explore what works for you.
It takes courage to go for change, for most odiferous us it is easier to stay with the familiar with which we are discontented rather than take a risk. Congratulations for being brave.
Should have been for ‘most of us’ !
A very sweet and mature lady once said to me, at a time I needed to hear it, “every marriage would benefit from a year off every so often”. (I met her at a church group. Different days, for sure!). Wise words, though.
While I don’t know you personally, I thought of you while mountain biking on the Sunshine Coast this week. So beautiful! Whatever arrangement you and Paul arrive at you will always be a team when it comes to your boys. I wish you both well. Love the ink. Been thinking of adding the names of my three boys (husband and two grown boys) but in their handwriting. Love the script you chose.
This made me so sad but hopefully will make everyone happy in the end.
Don't let it make you sad! I'm not sad! Of course it has been tremendously difficult at times, but I think what would be sad is soldiering on being completely miserable. Now there is hope, and change, and opportunity. It's tough for sure, but also kind of exciting.
Sarah - Sustainable Cooks
Always proud of you for your bravery, dedication, and love for your family. But I am most proud of you for trying to finally put that same effort into yourself.
There is no way to know what the right decision is, but not trying to find it is the mistake that most people make.
Exactly! Thank you for being proud 😘