Yesterday I posted this picture of me and my parents on Facebook, but I neglected to mention how truly great this picture is – and not just because my hair looks fabulous.
What makes this picture especially great isn’t just that I’m with my parents at a family party: I’m with my DIVORCED parents at a family party. My father’s family. And this is nothing new to me.
They divorced more than 30 years ago, back when society was focusing on the ‘fall of the American family’ and worried about children from ‘broken’ homes. When mothers were just starting to be allowed to work outside of the home, and it was ‘a shame’ that single mothers ‘had to’ (thereby neglecting the kids) and ‘weekend fathers’ only took their kids to the movies.
They were among the pioneers, if you will, of the new structure of family when nobody knew how to handle it – including them.
I’ve said many things about both of them (and I’ve given them much to say about me, too!), and I’m sure I will say more, including what I want to point out now:
They may have not always agreed with each other’s decisions. They both moved on with remarriages and new lives. And they both still managed to remain our parents together. They were better than ‘just civil’ to each other, I’ve never felt like the breakdown of the marriage was my fault, they never used us kids to manipulate each other (even when their respective spouses tried to get them to), and they continued to be parents together during my highs and my lows (even when they disagreed).
They both showed up. Like real parents. Because they were real parents.
I hated the label of being a ‘child from a broken home’ – not because my home was ‘broken’, but because I was almost expected to fail, and I thought that was unfair.
A word about ‘broken’ homes: divorce doesn’t break a home; the events leading up to it do. Divorce is a remedy, like it or not. My parents did better by me by divorcing than if they forced themselves to stay together with the state their relationship was in.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for not putting me through that. That would have really made our home broken.
I got to watch them rebuild themselves – that was, has been, and is an invaluable lesson. I can only imagine how they must have felt, not just going through the end of a marriage (in their early 30s with four kids), but going through it at a time that there was such stigma attached to it. That took courage.
Thank you for supporting me, together, and for your support of each other. Thank you for always being my parents (whether I appreciated it or not).
I was a child from a broken home. I am almost 50 now, so I can say with authority that if there is anything wrong with me (heh heh heh!), it’s not the fault of their divorce.
It is never too late to say ‘thank you’ to someone. This was a long time ago, I know, but it should still be acknowledged. This was not a failure.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for getting married and having me –
But thank you more, for your divorce.