Friday, April 15, 2005

Some insight...

My parents separated when I was 4 and my sister was 10. It was pretty amicable for a '70's divorce and they agreed on joint custody of the two of us.

The arrangement was half-week/half-week. So I spent Saturday night through Wednesday morning at my mom's and Wednesday afternoon through Saturday afternoon at my dad's. Our first few Christmases after the divorce were spent morning at one house, afternoon at the other but eventually they switched it to Christmas Eve at one house and then go to the other to wake up for Christmas morning. (Did I mention we're Jewish?)

Shortly after the separation, or so it seemed to me at 4, my step-parents came on to the scene. I don't really remember not having them in my life. I wouldn't give up my step-parents for anything, but I often wished that all my parents lived in the same house. The back-and-forth thing got me down.

Looking back on it, my sister and I were pretty lucky. A lot of our friends who had divorced parents only rarely saw their fathers or saw them only on weekends. We had 4 parents who loved us and still do.

The one thing I think they got wrong, and they know I think this, is that half-a-week is too short. We'd start getting on each others nerves and poof! my sister and I would move to the other house. By the time little annoyances got to be big aggravations they were months, even years in the making. Rather than have everyday battles most teen-agers have with their families, we'd have all out war once a year.

For 14 years I never spent more than 4 days at a time in a single place, (Except for summer camp. I LOVED summer camp. Let's give a shout-out to Camp Onas!) and aside from school, the one constant in my life was my sister. She was an anchor for me and I hope I was one for her even though I'm six years younger than she is.

Now we're both moms. She has two great kids, a girl and a boy, and I have Muffin Man. Our parents are having an easier (gentler?) time of co-grandparenting then they did as divorced parents, but there are road maps for sharing grandchildren. In-laws have done it for generations. Back in the '70's there were no road maps for joint custody, much less with step-parents. My parents were some of the first to try it. All-in-all, I give them credit for a job well done.

Nothing that a few hundred hours of therapy couldn't fix, anyway.

3 comments:

jo(e) said...

Thanks for sharing some of your personal history. I just loved the last line of this post.

My husband and I always joke about how much therapy our own kids will need. And we are only sort of joking ...

liz said...

We're already saving for the therapy bills for Muffin Man...

Mieke said...

My parents got divorced when I was in sixth grade and my sister in third. By most standards, they did a pretty good job, but it was still brutal to jockey between homes, trying not to hurt feelings, and being forgotten as they hit the dating scene again. As a result my sister and I became each other's anchor. We've been through everything together (including one husband apiece). I love her madly and need her still (I am 37). It is why when my husband balked (at age 50) at having a second child I would not listen. I wanted to give #1 a shot at having as wonderful a relationship with his sibling as I have with mine.