I’ve been worried about my kids lately. And, I guess by lately, I mean for several years now- all through the end of a bad marriage, through separation and divorce, and even still, when the dust from all that is finally beginning to settle. I know that they are doing their best to cope with all the changes that have come their way and I know that kids are resilient. But, really, just how resilient are they? And, doesn’t it still suck that they have to tap that inherent strength as a result of something their parents did (or failed to do)? Aren’t we supposed to be the ones who do better for them?
I am a child of divorced parents. I’ve been married and divorced once before, although it was a brief, childless union. And, of course, I’m aware of the ridiculously high divorce rate in this country. But, none of that lessens my belief that a good marriage* and happy family are something for which to strive. So, knowing that my children continue to hurt as a result of their parents’ inability to work out their relationship is my greatest regret.
I try not to dwell on this stuff- life goes on and all that. And, I don’t want to spend the rest of my days mired in guilt, because, frankly, I think guilt is a useless emotion unless it’s going to actively change one’s actions before the fact. Still, I do hope that I’ve learned from all this. I hope I’ve learned that the way to work on differences is not by slinging hurtful words or withdrawing from one another. I hope I’ve learned that little pitchers really do have big ears; that charity really does begin at home; and that all the other clichés are probably true, as well.
Luckily, much like my daughter’s awesome third grade teacher, the universe seems to be big on giving us the chance to re-take the tests that we fail. So, I’m operating under the assumption that it’s not too late to show my kids that people can work out their problems; that they can make amends to those they’ve hurt; and that parents are resilient, too. I am doing my best to be a better example to them when it comes to relationships and how to handle conflict with the people you love. Despite my worry, things are looking up around here!
To those of you who may be where I was a few years ago, wondering whether you should stay in an unhappy relationship “for the kids”: I don’t have an answer for you**, except to tell you that whatever happens, you will probably be ok. In my case, I spent weeks, months, and then years trying to decide whether to get divorced and worrying about the terrible effect it would have on my children if I were to end the marriage. But, ultimately, in order to get through the task of actually separating (and because I believed it to be the best crappy decision I could make given the situation), I convinced myself that the kids would be okay. Looking back, I think all of that is both true- and a lie. I think I had to fool myself a little bit to actually make a move. Now, my job is to face the truth and go from there- doing my best to fix the two little hearts that I helped break.
I hope, if you’re stuck like I was, that you will be surrounded by love, compassion, and support. I hope that you will be blessed with strength and clear thinking. I wish you the very best!
*For the record, I believe in marriage as a legal (and sometimes religious) union between two, consenting adults- I do not believe they need to be heterosexual! (Not that you asked…)
**I will say that reading Eat, Pray, Love really helped me decide what to do, too. But, that’s not really an answer…