This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Separated, but Equal

My dad left the family home when I was 15. My parents’ divorce became final when I was 18. When I think back to how I thought my parents’ lives would turn out post-divorce, I have to laugh at how wrong I was. My dad, who for years I cast in the role of villain and main perpetrator of the divorce, went on to marry again and has been successfully remarried for almost 18 years. I definitely would have figured him for being alone the rest of his life, becoming more and more of a recluse. I thought he liked solitude but now I think he was just hiding from my mom. My mom, who for years I cast in the role of woman-done-wrong, has gone on to have a string of somewhat bizarre and mostly unsuccessful relationships that seem to repeat again and again the patterns she had with my dad. I figured she would re-marry within a few years, even possibly have another child, and pretty much remain a stay-at-home-mom and housewife for the rest of her life. I thought she liked having kids, now I think she was just trying to create reinforcements against my dad.

It took me several years of marriage to figure out that it’s not possible for my father to have been completely at fault and my mother an innocent bystander. I see the role I play in my own marriage, how I antagonize, compromise, criticize, complement, annoy, and love just as much as my husband does.

My parents now live completely separate lives. I would say they are separate but equal, though I doubt my mother who is not as financially successful as my father, would agree with the equal part. The equality comes from the freedom they now enjoy to be who they really are. Who they really are has certainly been a little unexpected for me: I never thought I'd have a stepmom with a tatoo or a stepdad who wasn't, um, a man. I never thought my dad would become a pilot or my mom would be a (wait for it...) marriage and family therapist. I certainly never thought I'd get along as well as I do with my dad or be as frustrated as I sometimes am with my mom.

I'm probably a little unexpected for them too. The daughter who insisted upon wearing parachute pants to Catholic school and mini skirts that left little to the imagination has settled down in a traditional wife/mother role in a small New England town. My brothers, sister, and I are spread around the U.S. making getting all of us together something that hasn't happened since my grandma's funeral 4 years ago. Maybe it's easier for them to like us, separated as we all are. I'm sure if asked they would say they love us all equally. In spite of all the unexpected changes, and maybe because of them, I like my parents too, separately, but equally.

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