I once read that children of divorce that were grown sometimes had an unexplainable apprehensive type anxiety that occurred every Sunday evening; it was a feeling of dread and tension, and most never knew why.
I think I know.
My parents divorced when I was nine. I remember several family meetings, and tears and promises and harsh words. I remember figuring out that I would only get to see my dad every other weekend, and feeling totally overwhelmed by that. I remember being angry mostly at my mother, because I felt like she was the reason I couldn’t be with my dad, and I didn’t get along with her well anyway.
I remember trying to hold my breath until I could pass out so I could get out of the situation I was in. I remember being questioned about what the other parent was doing, and when and how.
I remember seeing my new house for the first time, and in the back, the previous owner had made a big flower bed in the shape of a heart, and I told my mother, “There is my dad’s heart, he is still with me.”
I was nine. When my oldest turned nine, my mind turned to thoughts of what it would be like if he had to go through what I went through.
I wonder what it would be like for me to dislike his dad so much that I could no longer live with him. I picture Weatherman’s face as he tells me or his dad goodbye for his time with the other parent, and I imagine how hard that would be. I visualize the confusion and the sadness that I felt with my parent’s divorce, and I am overwhelmed with sheer gratitude to God and the Hubs that my boys are not going through that. What if I had to do this already hard life without my life partner? And how hard it must have been for my own parents.
I will never have the memories that my boys do (at least so far… I know Hubs and I aren’t perfect, but we do have the same goals and commitment level, for now, and hopefully forever). I do not have memories of my mom and dad kissing and hugging and generally making me sick because they are being so affectionate in front of me.
I don’t have memories of both my parents there on Christmas mornings, and I don’t have memories of my parents working as a team to make decisions, balance ball and life and work and me and my brother. My parents couldn’t even be in the same room with each other until about 20 years after the divorce, and even though my mother said “I will never speak a bad word about your dad” ….she did and then some. To be fair, my dad said his share, too, and it probably didn’t help that during the divorce process, he took me and my brother to Mexico for vacation, called my mother and said he wasn’t coming home or bringing us back. Now, even then even I knew that wasn’t true but boy, the rise he got out of my mother was probably worth it to him.
Divorce definitely does not bring out the best in people.
I didn’t have just one home, or one room. I had a room in my mother’s house and I had a room at my dad’s. I had step parents, these unsuspecting people who loved my parents and married them and got way more than they bargained for in me.
I told my step dad that the “B” on the wine glasses meant Boshell and he better not be planning on staying, because that certainly wasn’t his name. I would stand by my step mother while she was painting her nails and bump her over and over to mess up her nails until my dad got involved.
I was not very lovable. Fortunately, I had better step parents than parents, in some ways, and my step dad loved me as his own until the day he died, and my step mom is my best friend and was the matron of honor in my wedding 15 years ago.
But back to those Sunday evenings…I spent every weekend I could with my dad. And he would bring me back to my mother, and the closer we got to her house, the heavier my spirit became, until my stomach hurt and I was almost sick. I didn’t want to leave my dad, and I didn’t want Sunday evening to come.
I watched Hubs play around with the 3 sons this past Sunday evening, and felt this really sharp prick in my spirit…that this was important. That as much as is possible, I have to preserve this for my sons. That I want for them what I didn’t have for myself. I want Sunday evenings of church together and home together and love together. I want their dad and I to not vie for their love but share it equally.
I want united holidays, vacations together, and one home. I never want to know which parent they would pick to live with. I don’t want to feel like a part of my heart has been ripped out if something happened between Hubs and I. I never want my boys to go through what I went through.
I know that there are people out there who wanted that too, and for reasons beyond their control, lost it, but I want to try hard to provide for my sons what I didn’t have. Two parents who love God, love each other, and love their children. I want my boys to never dread Sunday evenings. And my heart grieves for my nine year old self, who still does.