Do you want to know what I think?
I think that divorce is one of the worst things that can happen to a family. It's difficult for me to share that, because I know how much it pains my mother that she and my father divorced. And while I undoubtedly believe that my mom did the right thing leaving my dad when she did - all these years later - I've got some scar tissue that is terribly ugly.
There are five girls in my family. Of my four sisters, three of them have divorced. One of them twice. I also have two brothers. One of my brothers is married. My other brother, who is closest in age to me (and whose birthday is this weekend), has been with the same woman for almost 30 years. They have three children together. A set of twins that are nine months younger than our triplets and a little boy, who is five weeks older than Henry.
As much as my brother and this woman love each other, my brother will not marry her. I have no doubt that they'll spend the rest of their lives together, but he sees absolutely no value in the union of marriage. You can't change his mind, so don't even try. And whatever you do, don't put his decision or his family down, at least not in my presence. Because I think that out of the seven siblings, he has the best outlook on life and the happiest relationship of all.
As for me, I think that the year that my parent's divorced was the most tumultuous year of my entire life. That was the year that I was living in Massachusetts and my mother was living in South Carolina. Every weekday, I would jump on a bus after school and go to an after school program. When I think back to it now, it was really an awesome arrangement. There were arts and crafts and sports and games. But when I was a child, I didn't appreciate it.
All I wanted was to go home and play at our house, like all my friends did. But since no one was home and I was only nine, that wasn't an option. When my father would pick me up, we would drive home and have dinner. Then we'd watch a little television and I'd eventually make my way to bed after watching my father do the books for his drugstore.
Even though I had two older sisters and an older brother living there with me, and people were always coming and going, it felt lonely in that big house. And I was totally out of place.
One afternoon, instead of going to the after school program, I went home with my friend, Julie. She lived just down the road from us and we rode the bus together every morning. But on this one particular day - her mother came and picked us up from school. I remember her mom drove an AMC Pacer with faux wooden siding, which at the time, was the coolest car on the road.
(Or so I thought.)
(Clearly I was mistaken.)
We went back to Julie's house and while her older sister, Laura, showed us how to fold a dollar bill in to the shape of an accordion and letter M (a trick that I can still do to this day), their mom baked cookies. I can remember, so clearly, that the four of us were huddled in the kitchen on that cold afternoon, while trees blew outside and scratched against the windows of the house.
Soon, the girls father came home and after greeting his family and kissing his wife, he retired in to the family room to light a fire and catch the evening news. It was a warm and comfortable environment and I felt totally at peace. And also, a little envious that I wasn't a part of this intact family.
When my mother came to visit a few weeks later, I introduced her to my friend Julie and her family. When Julie and I were off playing, Julie's mom confided to my mom that it was her opinion, I was a very sad little girl and I really needed my mother.
It's funny how something someone said 30 years ago, can stick with you. I've been thinking about Julie's mom a lot during these past few months. Mostly, I've been thinking that she was totally right in her impression of me. I've always had this 'vision' of what a family should be. And since I sadly didn't obtain that 'vision' when I was a child, it was my driving force in to adulthood. Without even realizing it, I developed a plan.
First, there was finding the right husband. A good man. A kind and gentle and intelligent man that knew how to laugh and would make a wonderful father. Second, we would build a home. A warm, inviting home with good lighting and comfortable seating and lots of live plants. Third, there were the children that we would welcome in to our world. God willing, there would be a lot of children, born to me when I was young. Ideally, I would be twenty five years old, plus or minus two years.
But when that third part didn't happen, it rocked me to my core. I looked around and everywhere, people were having babies. Neighbors, siblings, friends, cousins. They were popping them out like candy. And once again, I felt so envious, desperately wanting something that I couldn't have, despite my best efforts. And while it's difficult to admit this, I think it's important to note that the challenges we faced with trying to start a family didn't just put a little stress on our marriage, it almost destroyed it.
Because I was almost destroyed.
The emotional roller coaster of fertility treatments and the mental anguish when cycle after cycle (after cycle after cycle) didn't work were bad enough. But add to that the financial desperation that came with shelling out thousands upon thousands of dollars. We had the perfect recipe for marital disaster. With a side of hurt and resentment.
But then, finally, our long awaited babies arrived and everything we had gone through to get them, was washed away. That time following their birth was the most terrifying and glorious and surreal period of my life. For the first time, I wasn't on the outside looking in on something that I wanted. My dream was being realized.
Until. It was time to go back to work full time. And since then, things have started to go topsy turvy in my world. There is no balance and everything's flying out of control.
If I can be honest (and I can because this is my blog), things aren't so good right now. Just a few days ago - they were good. But then we heard from the Realtor who told us that moving at this juncture, was a very bad idea and the best bet is to stay put until the market recovers. And then Charlie heard from a company (or two) that employment opportunities which were open are now filled. By people who actually live there.
So now I'm mad that I only intended to stay in California for six months and 19 years later, I am still here. I'm mad that our house has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity in 33 short months and we've paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in principal over the past 12 years. I'm mad that when the two of us were younger, we weren't more disciplined and instead of funneling money in to our mortgage, we funneled money in to three brand new cars.
(stupid) (stupid) (stupid!!)
I'm mad that Kindergarten is just around the corner and I have no idea where we'll be nine months from now. I'm mad that we don't have a concrete plan in place and WHY don't we have a concrete plan in place? I'm mad that I feel like the decision about what to do is on my shoulders. I'm mad that it I quit my job tomorrow, and Charlie started a job tomorrow, it would take him a few years to reach the level where I am right now. I'm mad that I'm at this level and he's not, given that he is smarter than me.
I'm mad that I might have to work forever. I'm mad that my employer forced me to return to work full-time. (I'm actually really mad about that.) I'm mad that my job has such outstanding benefits, it's very difficult to give up. I'm mad that I feel stuck. I'm mad that from this perspective, I don't see that I'll ever be able to stay home and bake cookies with my daughters on cold afternoons and show them how to make birds and the letter "M" out of dollar bills. I'm mad about what I'm missing and what I will miss if this keeps up. I'm mad that I'm not doing anything - fast enough - to fix this. I'm mad that I am immature and unable to adapt to my current life conditions.
I'm mad that I haven't picked up my camera in days. I'm mad that I'm missing out on moments with the kids. I'm mad that although I'd like to be home, I'd probably go crazy in a single afternoon and my eerily patient husband is undoubtedly the better candidate to be with the children all day. I'm mad that Charlie is such a good man and why would I ever be mad at him? I'm mad that I'm not more like him. I'm mad that my childhood wasn't perfect. I'm mad that I'm so far away and my parents are growing older and I might never be close enough to just drop in with them for an afternoon visit. I'm mad that because of the divorce, I've missed out on so much time with my parents. I'm mad that my parents aren't getting a better chance to know my children. I'm mad that I can't quit my bitching and be graciously content and abundantly thankful for what I have. Right Here. Right Now.
I'm mad that we only get one chance at life.
I'm mad that I'm mad and I can't stop being mad.
(Check it out. This is what I totally look like.)
But mostly, I'm scared.
I'm scared that my unannounced emotional eruptions are seriously harming our marriage. I'm scared that Charlie, is sick of me being an absolute pain in the ass and is starting to tune me out, completely. Because I am being an absolute pain in the ass. But he is, too. (Although I'm not really sure of that.) (It's quite possibly all me.) I'm scared that moments after leaving the tranquil environment of church, I can't even talk about 'these issues' with out getting upset. I'm scared that divorce happens every where - all the time - especially in my family and I don't want it to happen to us. I'm scared at what this stress is doing to me - to him - and to our precious children and at this point, I honestly don't know what to do.
I'm guessing a therapist is in order.
And some heavy-duty doses of Prozac.