Monday, September 15, 2014

what it was like growing up "a child of divorce."

When my parents decided to divorce I was in 4th grade. I guessed it before they told me. I was not shocked, I was actually a little bit relieved. Their divorce started off pretty rocky as almost all of them do, with plenty of fights and drama. Somehow though, after not too long, they really decided to stop playing games and just move on, their only common concern being my brother's and my well-being.

My dad wasn't going to settle for the every other weekend visitations, and my mom was happy to let him share custody with her. They created a schedule for our life. Monday & Tuesday with one parent. Switch. Wednesday, Thursday Friday with the other. Switch. Saturday and Sunday back with the first. Switch. Repeat. It worked out to be exactly 50% of the time. My mom stayed living in the house we'd all shared, and my dad decided to buy one in the neighborhood directly across the street, part of the same ward boundary (aka LDS congregation - which in Utah means they were very close together!)

My dad & me when I was a bald baby.
Did he want to live in that neighborhood? Not really. People wouldn't wave at him anymore. Instead, they whispered. He didn't care. What he wanted was for us to be able to walk or ride our bikes to his house whenever we felt like it. For us to be able to attend the same ward on Sundays with our mom (he's not religious) instead of having to go to a different one or miss half the time. For our commute to school to be as it already was. Basically, they both worked to make sure our lives were as unaffected by their separation as possible. They nailed it.

After not very long, both parents were remarried to wonderful people who each also had one girl and one boy. I went from having one sibling to five in a year. BAM. I was really pumped about it. Getting used to the new family units was definitely not without its bumps and bruises, though. It's one of the hardest things people can attempt to do, and many blended families fail. We didn't fail, but some of us had an easier time than others.

Though I always had my own bedroom at each house and plenty of clothes, toiletries, etc. at both places I got super good at living out of a duffel bag. I always had to have my curling iron, flat iron, makeup, favorite jeans, and favorite CD's with me. You know, teen girl essentials that I didn't have double of. Living half the time in two different homes was actually really good for me, as a teenager, because it's hard to get along with parents when you are sure you're way smarter than them and they are way too strict. We got to see each other a lot but in smaller doses, if we were mad there was already a planned break for a few days and we could come back refreshed. I think it really made things easier!

My parents would not let us get away with anything, though. They talked to each other often about what was going on with us, making sure they were on the same page with how we were being raised, what the current discipline was, what we needed to do for school, etc. Nothing got past them. If we were mad at one parent, we were not allowed to go to the other house and start speaking ill of them. No, that was forbidden. We had to exercise the same respect for them as we would in their own homes.

My mom and stepmom got along super well, and since they both did go to church at the same place they just embraced it and were friends. The people in the ward were pretty confused by it, I think. My brother and two stepbrothers were all within 2 years of each other in age and would hang out together. They all are tall, blonde, blue-eyed kids. No one could keep straight which one belonged to which parent. A row of us in sacrament meeting looked like this: brothers, stepdad, mom, stepmom, me, sisters. All of us mixed together.

I always really loved my stepparents and got along with them. They both were really nice to me and went above and beyond helping take care of me without trying to be the parent. I have learned almost as much from them as I have from my actual parents over the years and I know I am so lucky to have them in my life. Since all of us kids were, you know, kids when we all started living together we had typical brother-sister kind of relationships. Sometimes we got along and played nice, sometimes we didn't, but in the end we had love for each other. I may not be super close with all of them, but I consider them my "real" siblings and love them as if we were blood.

Me, my husband and four out of five of my siblings.
This is what it was like for me, growing up as a 'child of divorce.' I kind of hate that term but it is an accurate way to describe the situation. Like I said in this post, I don't come from a broken home but from two fixed ones. What my family went through to find greater happiness in life was hard but I think we all came out better for it in the end.


4 comments :

  1. Wow that seems like it is a rarity and absolutely wonderful that your parents were able to get along for the sake of you and your brother. Now if all families could do the same!

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  2. wow! love how God can make beautiful things out of brokenness.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your story! I am a the mother of a recent "divorce" and I love my ex and his girl friend. I feel honored to have a "village" raise my daughter as well as see my best friend happy with someone who loves him so much. It's really a gift. Thank you for sharing your story. I told him the other day that we were the exception to the rule and it looks like your family is too. Thank you again for sharing, it brings me joy seeing more families chose love over suffering.

    Amazing!

    M
    www.meaghanfolkfreund.com

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