The other day my daughter and her friends were talking about what they would like to be when they grew up (surgeon, teacher, geneticist, dancer, photographer), where they would live (Boston, California, England) and how many children they'd have (three was the average).
Part of growing up is imagining your future.
The girls lined up their anticipated life milestones tidily, like folding laundry. Some of them knew where they'd get married (the beach, an apple orchard, the church downtown) and the names of their children. I liked some of the names they'd chosen. I wasn't sure about some of them, but hey, I'm done naming babies. And names are so personal. I don't like names that conjure elite educations and Hanna Andersson clothing. I know, totally biased and judgmental.
The point of this piece? The girls, while mapping out their lives, repeatedly said that they'd never, ever get divorced. Not ever. Who would plan their life with a divorce slap-dab in the middle? We don't plan for upheaval. Why would they, and why did I care?
Because, when I heard the never-ever-getting-divorced declarations, I realized my attempts to normalize divorce as a changed relationship rather than the end of one, had not worked. For my daughter, my psychobabble explanations had done nothing to mask the trauma of divorce. And according to DivorceRate, things don't look so good for the picket-fence girls who daydreamed within earshot of me.
It is frequently reported that the divorce rate in America is fifty percent. That rate isn't actually accurately correct, however, it's reasonably close to actual. The Americans for Divorce Reform estimates the actual number is closer to forty or possibly fifty percent.
Confused by that quote? Me too. But basically, divorce rates are holding at fifty percent.
Also, none of the girls talked about a same-sex marriage. None of them talked about not having children. None of them talked about choosing to be single. None of them talked about living a free-loving free-range lifestyle. They all wanted a husband, a brood and a two-car garage, or a castle, or a farm with horses. I checked my calendar: still 2012.
At Femamom, we've been writing about the attack on women's reproductive rights. Other have been writing about slut shaming. Our girls, despite all the culture anger they unknowingly and knowingly deflect, continue to want a traditional wedding and babies. Weddings and babies are wonderful. They represent human connectedness and love. I'm a fan of connections and love. But the traditional American family dream is statistically unstable. What's more, there's some concern that boys are being left behind by girls, and where does that leave traditional marriage?!
We want our children's dreams to come true. We grow our children carefully, like orchids. We want joy for them. We want success and love and happiness. Peace, health and wonder. We don't want divorce court, fractured dreams, loveless unions. We don't want illness, accidents, tornadoes or financial woes to plague our children.
And we don't recite gloomy divorce statistics to a child-making lists of baby names and potential grooms. Instead we engage in hope. My friend Larisse told me that I'd eavesdropped on hope -- that the girls were brimming over with hope. And my job was to join them. This worry-filled rumination is me surrendering to hope. I swear.