I’m in Mexico with David and the little ones, enjoying a three-day getaway. It’s so beautiful here and just what we needed.
Last night the dinner conversation with our friends was intimate, intense, and left many of us with much to think about. Everyone took their turn around the table sharing intimate childhood memories. We discussed and dissected family matters and talked about what has molded us to be who we are.
Are we a product of our parents, or do we strive to be who they were not? Are we allowing history to repeat itself or are we finding our own way? Do we hold our parents responsible for the family values that are instilled in us, or are we committed to our own beliefs? Are we bound by where we came from to be who we ought to be?
It was an amazing conversation as we each admitted the things we missed in our childhood, and we recognized the positive values that were taught at a tender age.
Then the conversation of divorce came up. We know the sad stats that in any room, the majority has failed in some way or another at their first marriage. But, the conversation was not about us or why we made the decisions we have, it was about our children and how they are affected by every decision we make. Just as we were affected by our own parents.
One friend admitted that his oldest daughter has abandonment issues and doesn’t trust men because he left her mother when she was a tween. He is an amazing father, totally devoted, and a complete product of GUILT! Unfortunately his children may never know what drove him to make the choices he did, until one day when they are adults and can think with compassion for their parents. He lives with regret everyday from what he did to survive 20 years ago.
I painfully thought of a conversation that I had with my own daughter just the other day. I overheard her asking her father whose house she would be at this Christmas. It is her Father’s turn this year as we rotate every other year. I heard her respond, “Oh YEAH!!!” I cannot deny the pain I felt as I heard the excitement in her voice knowing she would be there this year. I asked her why she felt that way and selflessly asked if she preferred to be with her Daddy for Christmas. He and I have often made adjustments when our girls have emotionally needed them and I was checking in with her to see where her heart was. She replied, “I just feel at home there Mommy, I like that feeling when I wake up at home on Christmas morning.” She didn’t see the tear steam down my face. But, I knew that to her, the home I left would always be hers. I moved out of the house when she was only 3, of course I took them with me, but time was soon split and in her eyes, “Mommy left home”. I understand that her room at her Dad’s is the only room she remembers as “home”- it’s the room that I made for her, and there is much comfort in that.
My belief has always been that “home” is where the heart is, where family is. For children of divorce, including my own, home may not always be where we are together because they have a home with their father as well. It is a painful realization. Hearing that about Christmas morning saddened me, but I compassionately understand my daughter’s position. I also take full responsibility, and through my own guilt I gently understand my children’s feelings.
It was a heavy night in Mexico, thinking about the consequences of my life. I have always said that I live with no regrets. When it comes to divorce and my children, I beg to differ. I believe that everyone in the room last night that has experienced a broken home, even from their own childhood has been deeply affected.
I asked myself before I drifted off to sleep…
Is what we want in life worth what we are willing to give up?
Do we really know what we are giving up and do we truly know what we want?
What if commitment, loyalty and obligation where born qualities? What would the American culture look like then???