My name is Carolyn and I have been thinking about starting this blog for a long time now. I was worried though. Mostly worried about what others would think. What would my family, friends and husband make of all this. But I decided to heck with it! We need a space like this. People like you. And people like me.
I became a child of divorce at three years old. At least that’s when my parent’s divorce/separation proceedings began. I accepted things pretty easily. I was never the petulant child who stomps their foot while crying for their parents to stay together, nor the cunning child who schemes ways to try and make their parents fall in love again. To be honest, I don’t even have the faintest memory of my nuclear family being intact. No whisper of a trip to the zoo together. No glimmer of a summer walk through the park. Nothing. As far as I am concerned, I have always been a child of divorce. I’ve never known anything else.
My parents both remarried when I was eight years old (strangely enough, their weddings were only a few months apart). They both married people with no children and then started families with their new spouses. My mom had two children with her husband and my dad had three children with his wife. Talk about never really fitting in! I felt like the last remaining remnant of the biggest mistake of their lives. Not that I was a mistake (for I always knew that both my parents loved me very much), but I always felt like I was a constant and ever present reminder of the life they had chosen and then rejected.
Now all of this happened before divorce was the norm. I remember teachers questioning permission slips in front of my whole class because my mom (who had signed it) had a different last name than me. I remember having to explain my family dynamic to each new friend I made as they listened; trying to understand. I remember the questions “so are any of your sisters or brothers really sisters or brothers or are they…what’s the word…step?”. But through it all I have never felt burdened by any of this. A bit of a freak, yes. But never hard done by. I had no point of reference for the nuclear family. Just as my friends couldn’t understand my family dynamic, I really couldn’t wrap my head around theirs either.
So I became the easy babysitter for my parents, which is what happens when you are ten years older than your sisters and brothers. I split up summers and holidays between my two families and I grew up. I was a model child until my teen years, when suddenly rebellion and self loathing became my dominant personality traits. I was imploding right through my early twenties; but despite my best efforts I came through it fairly unscathed. I now live a pretty normal life. Much more ‘normal’ than I could have ever thought possible.
Wife, mom, employee, daughter and sister are all terms that describe me now. But all of those roles are rooted in my status as a grown up child of divorce. You see, the way I approach my marriage, motherhood, family, household, even work is innately affected by this one characteristic. I’ve never wanted to acknowledge that, but it is undeniable. So that’s what I’m going to explore. I know I’m not alone. I know there are thousands out there just like me. But even though this must be true, there is little by way of support for us. Little research has been done on the affect our histories is having on our futures. |I can’t figure out why that is, but maybe we can change it. Until then, I’m going to share my stories and insights on being a grown up child of divorce. I’d love to read yours.