with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
When I was contemplating the ramifications of separation from the Father of my son, I sought wisdom from my two best girlfriends. One of them, Shelly*, is a child of a nasty divorce. Her Mother left her Father when she was not quite three, and moved her and her older sister across the country to be closer to her own immediate family. She rarely saw her Father growing up.
“Do you resent your Mom?” I asked, stomach sinking,”For moving away from your Dad, I mean.”
“No,” she said quickly and I settled back to listen: she and her Father had a tentative relationship during Shelly’s childhood, but are now very close.
“I’m glad my parents separated while we were so young,”she continued,”My Mom and Dad are wholly incompatible human beings and it never would have worked. I’m glad we were spared the gory details, and we had opportunity to get to know our Father as a person separately, on our own terms. He was a much better man when my Mom wasn’t around.”
I listened carefully to everything she had to say, knowing full well that her sometimes rocky relationships with men now — her admitted trust issues — might have something to do with her Dad, with the way she grew up.
Next, I enlisted the experience and wisdom of Amy, a cherished high school friend with a markedly different experience. Unlike Shelly, she is now married with children herself and has parents who are still married after 35 years.
“I wish,” she said,”That my parents had divorced thirty years ago. They hate each other. They’re toxic.”
Amy’s Father is an alcoholic, a brutally dedicated one, and she has watched her parents fight wretchedly for decades. Now, she fears her Mom is too dependent financially to ever leave. Amy wishes her Mother had had the courage to leave years ago.
“She might have had a chance at happiness, then,” she said wistfully. And, she added, she wishes she and her sister had had the opportunity of a house free of screaming.
I pondered their cases carefully. Though my own relationship was pretty horrible at the end, I knew that a happy home with two parents was the best scenario for my child. But a breakup, despite moderation and desperate clawing, seemed inevitable. I didn’t know whether it would be better to do it now or stick it out. I wanted to do what was best for my son, for me, for all of us. But I didn’t know how.
I have several friends now who are experiencing divorces by their baby boomer parents: people who have been married for half their lives. Arguably, they are even worse off than they would have been had their parents separated in their childhoods.
One good friend recently confessed to me that he felt like his life was a lie. His parents divorced when he was in his mid-thirties and he realized they’d been living unhappily for decades for “the sake of the children”. His devastation makes me wonder whether, if divorce is inevitable, it is better to do it sooner rather than later.
My own son won’t remember a time when his home was intact, and that makes me incredibly sad. But I do hope he remembers that the times he spent with his Father and Mother were joyful separately, and that, above all, we love him more than anything in the world.
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