fresh scratch, ring box

Today the jeweler tenderly cleaned my wedding rings for the last time while I cried right there in the middle of the shop where we had purchased them years ago. Here is the box, wrapped up with a bow and awaiting the day I pull them out and give one to each of my girls. Because this is what they wanted me to do with them.

“Here is a promise that I made. This promise gave me you,” I will tell them.

This summer my husband and I decided that not every promise should be kept.

Our invitations to this decision arrived around the same time for us both and in the form of a simple knowing. A knowing that this long season of doing life together for over fifteen years had taught us all it could.

At first, my invitation scared me – I put it in the drawers of my heart and tried to forget it. I did the hard work to show that invitation that I ALREADY HAD MY OWN PLANS, thankyouverymuch. But, like the beginning of the Harry Potter series, the invitation started to find me everywhere. It wouldn’t be ignored. That knowing – which came as a lump in my throat or a little voice deep inside – simply couldn’t UN-KNOW.

It wasn’t an invitation away from something, but rather toward the next adventure, even though we don’t know exactly what that adventure holds. And so we each decided {with tears! with not always nice words! with frustration! with all. the. feelings!} to RSVP a “yes.”


We will leave this party and make our own way to the next one.


We will let this go.


We will be honest.


We worked very hard to keep this together and – yes – our marital therapist made a gold mine off of our regularly-scheduled sessions the last two years. But we already knew: our lifeboats were coming, and we weren’t going to be sitting in the same one together.

It’s not a tragedy, so we are trying our best to not treat it as such. Was telling our girls the worst thing ever in our lives? Yes. Do I cry about it? Yes. I mean, poor Mr. Jewelry Store today, see above.

But it’s because beginnings – all beginnings – are scary. And I cry because I worry about the ways this will change me and my girls. I don’t know exactly what we will be like on the other side of this knowing. But I have hope.

And when you have hope, you don’t need to despair {much}. Cheryl Strayed said of children, “If we rise, they will rise with us every time, no matter how many times we’ve fallen.” I have to believe her.

So hope is getting me through. Honesty is getting me through. And, damn, my people are getting me through. I was pretty sure I had a tribe of keepers, but there is no denying it now. I have the best friends and have never felt so much like so many have my back. When people say yes to honesty, others see that. They want to keep you moving toward the light. They cry with me, they know when to bring me pie, and their trust in my heart makes me endless amounts of humble and grateful.

Every time I’ve met you here, I have tried to give you something: a pretty picture, a laugh, some sass, a recipe, something. A thank you for showing up. Today is no different. I wanted to tell you this news, yes, but I also wanted to share the things that are helping me through this huge transition, just in case you or someone you care about is leaving one season for the next. Really, fall is here, so aren’t we all?

This podcast.

This quote.

This amazingly brave book.

And this quote from the wonderful film Benjamin Button, which I hear in my head always always always spoken in Brad Pitt’s voice:

I hope you live a life that you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over.

Sometimes breaking the promise we have made to someone else is the biggest act of courage, because, in doing so, we are keeping a more sacred oath to ourselves.

Thanks for your patience while I’ve been trying to figure out how to share this with you, and thanks for your support as Matt and I continue our most important work together: raising our girls to be strong women.

What’s next? Cross your fingers that my offer on a new house gets accepted…it has the greatest kitchen in which to bring you some new, butter-laden recipes.


ms. fresh scratch






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21 Comments on promises: those we keep, and those we do not.

  1. Wow Kelly! How brave and honest. Thank you for being open with your journey. At 44 I feel I am reasseing life choices daily. Be true yourself. I have no doubt you will be the better for the hard decisions you make today. Chin up!

  2. Mrs. Fresh Scratch, I’m so sorry to hear your decision, but having been there many years ago, I understand your fears of the unknowns. It does get better; you both will find your way, and your girls will grow up to be strong young women. They have two great parents to help them along the way. Hugs.

  3. I also wanted to say that I’m so glad you’re a high school English teacher so you can share your gift of writing with your students. Have a good day.

  4. Sending lots of hugs, love and a few tears. You are so brave and so strong, even if you don’t always think that you are! Remember that I am here for you. I am so excited to see what amazing things you do next! With you as their mother your girls will be just fine.?

  5. From a woman who has gone through 18 years of marriage with 3 kids followed by a divorce, I’m sending the four of you strength and hope that the future will bring much love and happiness your way.

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