Divorce From The Eyes Of A Child
My parents always talked about being BEST friends. They met in their mid-20s and were friends for 5 years before they ever thought about dating. Then when my dad popped the question my mom said yes, and they got married 6 months later! We had an awesome family. Some of the best holiday traditions and always spending them together. Traveling together as a family to HS sporting events. Amazing family vacations to places like Seattle, Mexico, and Hawaii, my big brother and I always pestering each other. Then sending two kids off to college. I genuinely thought my parents were cool and loved hanging out with them. But don’t tell them I said that. Yeah, life was pretty great, my family was great. Picture perfect. I didn’t have anything to complain about!
But in the 30th year of their marriage when I was 21 and my brother was 25, my parents told us they were getting a divorce. I was shocked. My parents always talked about being best friends. Well, it turns out that’s all they were. I thought my parents had a perfect marriage. They never fought. They always seemed to get along. I was heartbroken.
I Never Saw This Coming
I didn’t have the capacity to react. I was in shock. That is until the three of us drove to Dallas to tell my brother and his wife. Then I cried. I don’t think I stopped for a couple of days. I was drowning in grief. I cried for the loss of my picture-perfect family that I would never see again. It was a dumpster fire of a situation that changed how I see marriage, long term relationships, and my parents. I studied psychology in college, stats show divorce is harder on adult children. From my experience? It totally is.
“We are still committed to being a family,” my dad said.
“Our definition of family is just changing” my mom added.
They Did Their Best
My parents mediated their separation and kept my brother and I separate from the decisions they were making. It was their stuff to work out and didn’t let my brother and I in on any ‘drama”, they were experiencing. They didn’t put the two of us in the middle of any arguments. Which I don’t know if there were any, cause I never saw, Pre and Post-divorce. My parents choosing to mediate saved my brother and I from witnessing a lot of potential drama that could have risen. They, from what I saw, remained civil. They did their best to leave space for my brother and I to ask questions. Now let me be clear, my parents are not perfect. They frustrate me like hell sometimes. But I do believe they did their best, (I mean I’m fairly well adjusted) and mediation helped them achieve whatever their individual best looked like.
We’re Still A Family
But my parents kept their promise. They were committed to my brother and I. Committed to us still being a family. That family dynamic just changed. Holidays have been an adjustment. Although divorced, the following Christmas and thanksgiving my parents spent together, as a family. My mom still cooks the turkey at Thanksgiving with my dad’s relatives. I haven’t had “two Christmases” because we still spend Christmas together, as a family. Fast Forward 3 years post-divorce and my mom is remarried. Married to a man that my dad actually introduced her to. Our family grew, now I have three step-siblings and a niece and nephew. I always wanted a big family.
Now 24, through their separation and watching them mediate, I’ve learned that family should never be perfect because that’s too much damn pressure. Our family is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. They still sometimes frustrate me, I’m sure I still annoy my big brother (which is in the job description of being a little sister) and we are still figuring out what our new holiday traditions look like. Some conversations are still awkward and hard but we do our best to do them respectfully. And those are the conversations worth having. They were able to leave room for the two of them to grow individually, which I think is pretty damn cool. They’re pretty damn cool.
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