The title of this post could have been my parents’ theme. Life in our family was a yo-yo affair. Dad & Mom were at the top of their game when playing, few could out do them. And they always took us along. But this every day life befuddled them. They never could get the hang of it.
A friend recently posted a piece about marriage, divorce, staying together for the sake of the kids. Her thoughts are always well put, hit the target and make you think. She comments that staying together for the sake of the kids is a bad plan and one she and her husband will never follow.
I used to agree (and still do if there is physical or drug abuse). All through the years in my quirky dysfunctional family I dream of better. I yearn for my parents to divorce. Still we toddle on year after year. I figure that Mom knows her options and opts to finesse her cards in a way to keep things on a fairly even keel.
Then Mom tosses out a curve ball. She announces that she is throwing in the towel when my brother, the youngest, is college age. My mouth flies open. Why now? Why put us all through so much grief (Dad was classic bi-polar but few knew or used the phrase then) to now quit. Dad was philandering, but he had always been on that tack, nothing new to report there.
And so when she makes her grand announcement, I am pissed and confused for a long time. And then bingo one day it hits me. Sure we were in crappy places as a family much of the time. But we were also in some great places. Christmas and Easter were always magical times at my grandmother’s (Dad’s mother) antebellum home in Richmond. Were we split up as a family that would have never happened.
Summers spent on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in the tiny cinder block cottage my grandfather (Dad again) built. No air conditioning, no fans even. Barely a bathroom. Most of the time we peed in the woods, and took dumps at the local filling station when my uncle would drive us up there because the toilet or septic was on the blitz. A shower that never worked but for thirteen people a hot shower inside was a lost cause anyway. Slashing a new path to the broken glass and rotting trees ridden beach through the undergrowth that grew rampart around the tall pines were standards. But it was ours. My family, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and we all loved it. Divorced, it never would have happened.
I can go on. Dad and I shopping for clothes for Mom. My parents together buying my first school dance dress. Spur of the moment vacations. Sundays at the zoo. The list is endless. As is my list of not great, not great at all, to down right miserable, horrible memories. But I count those as learning experiences of what not to do. I call it reverse learning.
Sure I don’t know what perhaps better things would have been in my future as a child of divorced parents. More peace probably. But I wouldn’t trade one day of my life with two child like adults constantly spatting and picking on each other for anything else. Thanks Mom for keeping the family together for as long as you did whether it was for the sake of us kids or otherwise, it is appreciated.