“But you get to have two Christmases!” Waking up to double the tacky wrapping paper doesn’t necessarily outweigh the perplexities of growing up in two different worlds: Mom’s and Dad’s. Divorce complicates life and morphs you into a Hannah Montana. If you’re a child of divorced parents, then you know the double-edged sword all too well.
You’re most likely a nomad, or a least a little nomadic.
Well, aren’t you the traveler? Always having your duffle bag ready to head to either Mom’s or Dad’s every other week or so. There’s no permanent abode; it’s always just a temporary stop before you pack your suitcase and head to house A or B. Even if your parents don’t have split custody, I bet you still hang at Mom’s some nights or stay for dinner at Dad’s on others. The constant back-and-forth gets exhausting after a while. You leave a textbook at Dad’s when you’re at Mom’s, and the next day you have to explain to your teacher why your homework isn’t done. You want to show off your brand new outfit but remember the shopping bag is in Mom's car trunk. You start to keep your belongings in your suitcase, not even bothering to deal with the hassle of unpacking when you’re just going to have to repack in a couple of days. Heading to friends’ houses is a breeze, though; you’re an expert at speedily putting together your sleepover bag and you know just what to pack.
You feel like the pawn in a game of chess.
“Your father is an absolute jerk! Don’t listen to him!”
“Your mother has no idea what she’s talking about, she’s a lunatic! Don’t let her brainwash you!”
Whose side are you on? It feels like you always have to pick: Team Mom or Team Dad. I long to just be on Team Switzerland (go read Twilight). No matter who is in the right nor who is in the wrong, picking one parent over the other seems almost impossible. You love both of them, and taking a side would inevitably upset at least one party. It’s a constant battle, mom versus dad, who can best play their child against the other parent and win over their love and affection. Please, for the love of God/Buddha/etc., don’t make us choose!
You’re often the mediator.
You are the middle ground, the referee, the judge in court, the peacemaker. Most of the time, you feel like the parental figure of the family rather than the child. You hear both sides of the argument, no matter how absurd. This morphs you into quite the listener, and also the mediator. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to keep the peace in the family? These fights can get ugly, but with your charming ability to consider both sides equally and assess them fairly, working out a solution becomes second nature. This is especially helpful when your friends strike up arguments- you can always patch up the hole.
You watch your parents deal with post-divorce struggles.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom. After the divorce, you can imagine how much of a burden certain financial obligations became for her. Adjusting to a new lifestyle is incredibly difficult, not just for the child whose parents just got a divorce, but for the divorcees who suddenly fall into the single-parent pit. Everything, and I mean everything is affected. Signatures are exhausted onto legal documents and you start to see how ink can move mountains. Financial circumstances change because bills are no longer handled with a combined income. Possession of assets vary; Dad keeps the house and Mom keeps the car, and they always resent handing over the keys. Wedding rings are pawned either to erase memories or just to grab some easy cash. Match.com notifications fill up inboxes and every Friday night Mom asks, “How do I look?” before she meets her online charmer who more than half the time turns out to be an oddball (*creates new account on Christian Mingle*).
You watch your parents heal and grow.
Aside from all the adversity divorce causes, there’s always at least a little light at the end of the tunnel. That light is seeing how every day becomes easier to handle for not only yourself but for your parents. The pain of the breakup slowly subsides and their smiles begin to become bigger and more frequent. Sometimes, they’re even lucky enough to find love again with other people. You might not always like their “sweet little honey muffin,” but the sparkle in their eyes when they tell you all about them always convinces you to reconsider. They repair themselves of the emotional breakage and become stronger having gone through such a hardship, and so do you.
I hope I could relate to my fellow children of divorce. I know it isn’t easy, not the slightest bit. However, you mustn’t forget to see the good that results from it, even if it seems miniscule and smothered by the bad. It's there, you just have to look on the other edge of the sword.