She is on the bus on the way home from school and her neighbor turns around in the seat in front of her and leans over and whispers “So my Dad said your Dad is looking for apartments. What’s that about? Are your parents getting a divorce or something?” A huge, ginormous, ugly pit formed in her stomach. She laughed. “I don’t know! Crazy!” She’s only nine; she’s not sure how to respond to that.
When she gets home, it’s just her and her sister. She has time to snoop. Her Dad has an office in the basement, she’ll start there. She finds a diary. It is like a snake on fire because she does not want to touch it. She absolutely does not want to know if it’s true. But then again it’s like the golden key that’s dangling in front of her. She HAS to look. She has to. She must know.
She sees the words “divorce” and crumbles.
She doesn’t know what to do with the information. She obviously can’t tell her Mom…what if she doesn’t know? She can’t talk to her Dad. She only knows one person at her school who has divorced parents. Maybe she can talk to her. No, she can’t. She’s too afraid to say the words outloud. If she tells anyone, says anything to anyone, it will be true. Scary true. So she just keeps it to herself.
One day her parents call her and her sister into the family room. She just knows in the bottom of her heart what’s coming. She giggles nervously because she’s so uncomfortable she doesn’t know what to do. Both of her parents are crying. Her Mom is trying very hard not to, but there are tears. Her Dad is sobbing. She’s never really seen either of her parents cry like this before. She just knows the words are coming.
And they do.
And they hurt.
And she’s certain it’s somehow her fault even if she can’t pinpoint exactly how.
She must protect her little sister from all this hurt that is going to come bearing down on them now that the nasty word is hanging out there in the universe. She is only five after all. How will they make it through? What will people think? How will it work? How will she survive on the days when she doesn’t get to see her Mom?
It’s too much. Too, too much.
I remember this day all to well for my family, only I had just turned 16. It was still horrible. I know exactly what little Tiffany was going through and it’s not easy. It was rough at 16, I can’t imagine it at 9. Being the oldest sucks sometimes because of things like this, because we feel like we have to protect everyone but ourselves. I know that is what I did. I protected my younger brothers (15 and 12) and became their “mom” because my mom was the one that left. I probably still resent the fact that she gave up on her family, and on her kids to be selfish and live by herself, but honestly I don’t blame her now, because she was only 16 when she became a mom and a wife and she lasted almost 17 years. I still don’t understand exactly what she was thinking and I hope I never understand, because I don’t want to get to that point in my own marriage. Great post yet again Tiffany!
I was 20 and in college when I got “the call” from one of my sisters telling me about my parent’s divorce after 27 years of marriage. It still hurts so many years later even though they both found wonderful spouses that matched themselves so much better. Divorce is painful on kids no matter how old they are. My husband’s parents also divorced after 27 years of marriage. I’m happy to say that we’re celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary in another week. Marriage is hard work but so worth it. I so enjoy reading your blog, Tiffany.
Awww!! Divorce is such a scary thing especially when you are a kid. Did you know that our parents are divorced too? I was turning 3 when the divorce was final McCall was 5 and Brittany was 9 also. I can’t say I know what it was like. I actually never knew I had pain around it until I was 20. Brittany and I don’t talk to our real Dad and the man we call Dad is actually our step dad. But the word step is like a swear word… it does not exist in our family. I’m sure you don’t really care about our story, but I just wanted you to know that I totally understand. I totally get it and this post! So thank you for sharing! It is always nice to find someone you can relate to. I would love to hear more about this story.
I was eleven when my parents divorced. And while during the ‘talk’ they both assured us it was mutual and that there was nothing my brother (who was seven) or I had done to lead up to it, in private my dad made sure both my brother and I knew that HE didn’t want the divorce.
That behavior right there was part of what put a shadow on my relationship with my dad. His ‘blaming’ my mom. His need to try and use us to against her. It was never blatant, but it was there and that’s just so sad.
Divorce is hard, even when it’s mutual. But the kids are always the biggest victims.
OH! I am reaching through time and space and hugging you now and then.
It’s amazing the emotions and thoughts that rush when the word divorce is uttered. I was 13. Hugs to 9 year old Tiffany…