I was talking to my daughter and I asked her what part of her life was the most difficult and her answer surprised me,"When you guys divorced." I know I shouldn't have been surprised and shocked, but truthfully I was. When I left a 20 year marriage I believed I was doing what was best for me and my children. After being on my own for some time, my kids seemed happy, well adjusted and content, but did I really know what was in their hearts? I felt devastated for not knowing how she felt.
I myself came from a family where my parents always got along. They talked and enjoyed each other's company and never did they argue in front of us children. They kept their arguments behind closed doors and always showed us a joint front. I am so grateful for the childhood that I had, and I now understand how difficult that must've been.
So when I got married, no matter how naive this sounds, arguments with a spouse just didn't make sense to me. I believed the relationship between a husband and a wife was a sacred thing which needed to be cherished and honored. I had no clue about arguing over small petty things -- when it did happen, sometimes I would get really frustrated or I would just shut myself up. Over the years I feel the lack of communication is what ruined my marriage. When I left the marriage, I believed my kids would be better off as they wouldn't hear the constant arguments and disagreement. Until the day my daughter said in a matter-of-fact way,"when you guys divorced."
I was lost, and pretty shattered. Did I do the right thing? Or was it my image of seeing the perfect marriage of my parents so embedded in my mind that it was all I wanted? I started to think, "Oh my God, I have a broken family, I'm giving my kids a family that's not whole, can I be right?" because I always thought that my kids were fine.
When I dug a little deeper and asked my daughter what she meant by her statement she said, "Well, I mean it has made me appreciate you more as a mother and a woman, because you work so hard for us. It also made us more mature and we had to be more understanding of the situation. The worst part was being poor." So I realized I didn't such a bad job after all.
I started to look around myself and tried to understand the concept of "family." I saw families with single moms, single dads, grandparents raising kids, two moms raising kids, two dads raising kids, families with adopted kids, etc. What held all these "not so perfect families" (including mine) together was the unconditional love and appreciation of one another.
The media constantly talks about the impact of "broken families" on children and it got me thinking, who are people around to say that a perfect family has a mom, a dad and children who never argue and love each other all the time? That's not a family, it's an image that we all have of a perfect family. When love, acceptance and kindness reside in a home that is automatically a perfect family!