As a Child Of

It’s no secret that I read a lot of blogs. Not as many mommy blogs as you’d think; I like looking at pretty pictures, so I follow a ton of design blogs. But two women that I (and tens of thousands/millions of others) have followed for years are dooce, written by Heather Armstrong and Penelope Trunk’s blog, which is allegedly a blog documenting work and life, but has veered into the land of her personal life. I admit, I sometimes feel like I have to look away when reading their work, but it keeps me coming back.

For those following either blogs, you’ll notice that both women have experienced or contemplating divorce. Both women have children. Both women make a living from their blogs.

It was Penelope’s post from yesterday, Divorce is immature and selfish. Don’t do it. that had me almost spitting mad. I mean, read it, and you might feel the same way.

But allow me to back up, because I do agree with her on some points. I agree that some people get divorced without researching and investigating themselves or all of their options, and that it can be bad for children, but let’s face it, a lot of people aren’t willing to look in the mirror and see what needs to be done. A lot of people would rather move on, with our without their spouse, with or without their children. While Penelope lays out numerous reasons for parents to stick together, what baffled me was the intense about of judgment that went into the post. And I, of course, in turn, am judging her. I see that.

As many of the comments in her post start with, I, too, Am a Child of Divorce. Let’s not mince words or feelings: it sucked. My parents managed a calm exchange in my presence and never bad-mouthed one another. They made great efforts to make sure that I was OK. Would my life have been better had my parents not divorced? I don’t know, but they might have been miserable.

Before I got married I was wracked with anxiety. I was petrified of getting divorced “one day,” and of “failing” an unknown future child. I remember with great clarity two things my mom told me: “If getting divorced one day is the worst thing that ever happens to you, consider yourself lucky,” and, “The only reason people don’t get divorced is that they don’t get divorced.” Oh, she also said, “Don’t marry someone you can’t imagine being divorced from.” People, take my mother’s advice.

Photo by Ellen Carlson.

I am not getting divorced. I have no plans on getting divorced, yet I ask my husband often how he feels about our relationship. We talk a lot about our marriage, our life, our dreams and our fears. Like, a lot. I’m not naive to think that it would never happen to us, but I feel grounded in our commitment to one another and our family.

What about you? Are you also A Child of Divorce? How did it shape your feelings about relationships or marriage or the whole family thing?

– MD

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    • Marki
    • February 29th, 2012

    I am a child of divorce and I can say with 100% certainty that my parents hated each other, while they were married and separated. They argued with intense emotion and I was often asked to take sides. There are particular arguments that I remember to this day, and go over in my mind when I have a disagreement with my husband. I don’t recall these memories because my fight resembles theirs, but instead because I constantly remind myself of how bad things can get when issues aren’t resolved right away. I am a true believer of talking about issues as they come up while my husband prefers to walk away, dwell, calm down and move on without talking about them. This is a big pain point for us, and something we have been working on. The key is to keep caring and working not only on improving yourself, but also on improving your relationship. I hope to someday have kids and raise them in our house, with both parents, however if divorce does occur, I will remember my chldhood and try to avoid repeating some of my parents separation mistakes.

      • MD
      • February 29th, 2012

      Marki,

      Thank you for sharing your memories. It’s amazing that however long ago they are, we can remember certain fights with the utmost clarity – it’s as if you can taste the electricity in the air. You are doing great work!

      – MD

    • tk
    • February 29th, 2012

    Great perspective. I love your mom’s advice and wise words.

      • MD
      • February 29th, 2012

      Thanks 🙂 She’s a keeper.

  1. My parents, remarkably, are still together, although they have had rough periods. And my husband’s parents are still together as well, though they seem to get along better when they have periods of time apart (business trips and such).

    I like your mom’s advice. I feel that if everyone will be happier after a divorce, then it’s the right thing to do. Children definitely complicate the issue. I would hate to enter the dating pool now, and sometimes I wonder if anyone would take me as I am the way my husband has. So, although love definitely keeps us together, it’s not the only factor.

      • MD
      • February 29th, 2012

      Thanks, Enid. Yes, the whole “love isn’t the only factor” is so difficult to comprehend when little, because there can be a whole lotta love, but stuff lacking in other areas. And I agree about dating again. Can you imagine?!

  2. “COD” here too. MD, I appreciate your commitment to communication! It’s something we value highly in our marriage also.

    I don’t follow PT’s advice much (or read her stuff hardly at all, to be honest) but her recommendation for “Unexpected Legacy of Divorce” is right on. Good book.

    There’s a pony in every pile of manure. Mine is that I can still see myself happy and kid-free, knowing how badly families can end, even after 9 years of trying in vain to start my own. Folks with happier families of origin just get their hearts broken later in life, which is probably harder.

      • MD
      • March 1st, 2012

      Nichole,

      Your “pony in a pile” statement is golden. Also, I am sorry that your struggle has been 9-years long. While not the same, I can relate, and it’s part of the Listen to Your Mother audition.

      xoxo,
      MD

  3. Aw, thank you – some days the road feels longer.

    And sparkle credit for “pony in a pile” goes to Shari Elf, I don’t think I’d heard that expression before I saw it on her art!

  4. This is the best blog post I’ve read in quite some time. I am a child of divorced adult parents (one was an alcoholic, so maybe that’s introducing a variable into the equation). Lately I’ve been reading some studies about the overall success of children of married parents. That said, some of the most well-adjusted kids I know are from atypical families. I think kids’ can’t really process through the psychologial complexities of divorce until they are old enough to understand human relationships. And, I don’t think that really ever stops evolving. Anyway, great topic (and thanks for the links too).

      • MD
      • March 13th, 2012

      Thank you so much, Julie!

  1. March 1st, 2012

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