If you’ve ever been through a divorce or separation, or know someone who has, you know you wouldn’t wish that pain, much like a death, on anyone. So how can I be happy when I find out that other parents in my daughter’s school are getting divorced? It sounds awful, and like I said, I don’t wish divorce or the pain of getting through one on anyone. In fact, I’m actually really sad when I hear of yet another marital breakdown. But then I can’t help but think, somewhat excitedly, “I can’t wait to tell my daughter!”
You’d have to know a little of our history to understand this. In my social group, I was one of the first, at age 29, to have a baby. Then, three years later, I was one of the first to get divorced. Technically, we never got married. However under the law, we had been living together long enough for our relationship to be considered a ‘marriage.’
It wasn’t hard on my daughter, since she was just turning three and, at that point, only really cared about walking around with a Dora the Explorer Band-Aid on her at all times. But, at school, none of her friends had divorced parents. Since my ex lives in a different city, my daughter lived entirely with me. She had no friends who just lived with their mommies, but that wasn’t a problem back when she was three and was still figuring out how to use toilet paper.
For three years, she was the only one in her class with divorced parents, and the only one who didn’t see her father every day. Now that she’s nine and understands her ‘story’ – mommy and daddy got drunk, we had her, our ‘oopsie’ baby, AND the best thing that’s ever happened to us – and also understands why her father and mother aren’t together and why we live in different cities, she is constantly asking questions about marriage. The other day she asked, ‘So, if you and Jordan (my fiancé) break up does that mean that you’ll no longer be his kids’ stepmother?” She’s just trying to figure out this whole modern family thing and how truly insane it can be.
She came home excited one day, two weeks ago, after she learned from one of her earliest friends that her parents were getting divorced. “Just like me!” she said. I swear, within one day, I heard that two other sets of parents at her school are now getting a divorce. I heard this not from them, but from other mothers, and, yes, I did feel bad and sad for them, but I also couldn’t wait to tell my daughter, which I did that night. “See? It happens to a lot of people. You’re not the only one!”
The point is, we all want our kids to feel normal – whatever your normal is – and finding out that other parents of kids her age are getting divorced and their mommies and daddies won’t be living together, makes my daughter feel more normal. I knew this was going to happen, that parents were eventually going to get divorced, and that I was just about five years ahead of everyone else. (And I was exactly right.)
So, yes, on one had I know it’s wrong of me to feel a sense of happiness that my daughter’s friends parents are getting divorced. It’s not that I’m happy that individually they are going through this sort of pain, but that the concept of divorce is now an actual thing I can point to and say, “And Sally and Helen and Jane’s parents are divorced too!”
I can also say I’m not really interested in the details of these people’s divorces: if someone cheated with their 22 year old secretary, or decided they were gay, or whatever. I’m simply just interested that they are getting a divorce, so I can pass that information onto my daughter.
And, also, this is not a bad thing. Some of the children have actually opened up to my daughter, age 9, about what they feel about their parents divorce. She told me at recess one of the girls was crying and my daughter asked why and she told my daughter that it’s not fair that kids don’t get a say in divorce. My daughter actually told her, “Well, at least you get to see your mommy AND daddy every week.” She also told her about her new stepsisters and how their parents still love them. In fact, over this one divorce, my daughter became friendlier with this girl.
So, it may sound awful that I’m happy people are divorcing, but the positive is that my daughter has become the wise one in the world of divorce and feels like its perfectly normal to be a child of divorce. So, if you’re going through a divorce, I am sorry for you, but if you need to feel ‘normal,’ just look over here.