I had an early lunch with my mom today and we were talking about a woman I know whose husband was cheating on her with a coworker. I ran into her at the grocery store one night and she said that she had things under control in her marriage, but her husband's "girlfriend" didn't get the hint that he was trying to make his marriage work, so she wouldn't stay away. The whole time she was talking to me I kept thinking, it's not about the girl staying away, it's about your man telling this girl it was over. What was she planning on doing, babysitting her husband for the rest of his life? Needless to say, I had a few things on my mind, so I posed this question to my mother.
When did you come to the realization that your marriage was over and it was time for you to do something about it?
My parents divorced when I was seven years old. I can still remember what the atmosphere in our home felt like the weeks and months before my mom announced to me that her and my dad were getting a divorce. Every night my brother and little sister and I would sit out in the livingroom watching TV and my parents would be holed up in their room having heated discussions, with the door shut. This was unusual for them, so I understood it to mean that had alot of things to talk about. My parents never fought, they never yelled, they never bickered.
Then very suddenly, my dad was away alot. He was "away on business" or he was "out of town".
My mom plucked up great courage and decided that my dad just wasn't going to be the type of man that she would be able to raise a family with. There were other issues, of course. But she was still young enough (29 years) where she could find happiness elsewhere and go on with her life, she had family who were willing to help her, and my dad still wanted to be a part of his children's life. So she did it. She became a single mother. She returned to the workforce after seven years of being a stay at home mom. And she did was she had to do to move on with her life with a 8 year-old daughter, a 7 year-old son and a one year-old baby girl.
But even after all these years...nearly twenty-seven years to be exact, it is still rough to hear why my mom wanted a divorce. My mom has always been a discreet woman and she was never one to throw my dad's issues in our faces out of spite. And I have had many heart-to-heart talks with my mom but I have never been brave enough to ask why. To be perfectly honest, I don't think I wanted to know. In order to protect myself, in order to be able to keep looking at my dad like...he was just my dad, a separate entity from my mother. I just didn't want to know what happened between them that caused them to want to part and raise their three small children separately.
But to hear my mom actually form the words with her mouth and say it to me, it was like a punch in the gut. The kind of punch that you have braced yourself for but discover it still hurts.
When you become an adult, you get a much better understanding of just who it is your parents are, and how they dealt with their shortcomings. Who, after all, know exactly what your shortcomings are, in detail?
Your children, of course.
But I'm not a child anymore. So I have the choice of holding onto bitterness and anger at what I feel my parents should have been and I can carry that into our relationship today. Or I can just love them for who they are right now.
I have come to grips with the fact my parents are not perfect. They didn't always make the best decisions. They haven't always been shining examples. They didn't always put their children first. And yet, I still love them because I know without a doubt that they love me. And they are being the best parent they know how to be.
And that has to be enough.