It is a harsh reality when parents are heading for a divorce. And often overlooked is the negative impact arguing and bickering has on the children. The parents tend to be so consumed with who’s to blame for what, they ignore the kids. And when parents finally conclude a permanent separation is the only option, the children have become accustomed to the fighting, actually numb. They not only witnessed the gradual disunion, but have also undergone an unhealthy disconnect as well.
This has been the way of life for a fifteen year old girl, literally two years of watching the destruction of a relationship that started with “to death do us part.” So regardless of rings and promises, the divorce is finalized and living arrangements are changing. The mom chooses to move out, far away to another state. The father is keeping the house and supposedly staying with his daughter. The girl is happy not to relocate and go to a new school.
She’s an only child, with no siblings to share her pain, and in her sophomore year of high school. As alluded, the girl’s relationship with her parents has been strained significantly. She is involved in multiple school activities, and she has a steady boyfriend. She spends most of her spare time at the boyfriend’s house, becoming very close with his parents and siblings. She rarely sees her mom. And when she is home, the father is usually gone. He has gotten a girlfriend and practically lives with her, only checking in on his daughter occasionally.
Home life for the girl is virtually nonexistent. The house is simply a place to shower and sleep. There are no birthday celebrations, holidays, or movie nights with popcorn and pizza. There isn’t even dinner on the table. Her only company is a sweet old dog that neither parent wants. And it stays that way for three years.
Now it’s graduation. The girl is eighteen, and the father gives her a week after the commencement ceremony to move out. He’s selling the house, and he’s strict about the timeline. By weeks end, she comes home to an empty house, just her clothes remaining, and no dog to be found. He claims he brought the dog to a farm.
The girl has no choice but to move to another state and live with the mom, saying goodbye to her friends forever, even the boyfriend. And unfortunately, things don’t change much at the new location. She’s practically still on her own. She gets a job and a used car, and spends as little time home as possible. She even enrolls in college. Surprisingly, throughout this whole ordeal, she has maintained a high grade point average, easily being accepted and securing a student loan.
Four years later, she moves out of mom’s house. She’s twenty-two, with a degree, loan payments, an apartment with a college sweetheart, and a steady job. By all accounts, one would think hers is a success story, a living testament to never giving up in the face of adversity. However, success is relative, and feelings of abandonment aren’t easily ignored.
Her boyfriend becomes her husband, and she becomes a mother. And, as is often the case with first time moms, the stress of caring for a baby becomes overwhelming. Still, she rarely seeks advice, especially from her estranged parents. She is determined to prove she can give her child the best life possible, never letting there be a question of her love and devotion.
Sadly, her intense focus on her child leaves little time for her husband. And the husband’s role as father is limited by her need for control. After just four years of marriage, the husband wants a separation. He moves out. She understands how the relationship drifted apart and doesn’t begrudge his decision. She’s on her own again.
Her parents, who are both happily remarried, reach out to her. They’ve heard about the husband leaving, and they are concerned for their grandchild and want to be supportive. At first she is reluctant to even acknowledge them as grandparents, but then she thinks about her child. Children shouldn’t be deprived of grandparents who want to dote on them. Surprise visits, birthday presents, shoulder rides, trips to the ice cream stand, and matinee movies are rites of passage for children and grandparents alike. Also, her parents have apparently been keeping in contact with each other via social media, so a group visit is agreeable.
It’s the first get together. The grandpops build block houses on the living room floor. The grandmas make chocolate cake and let the grandkid lick the spoon. There’s talk of trips to the beach and amusement parks, and even advice about finicky eating, teething, and preschool. And there’s plenty of hugs and kisses for everyone. It’s like one big happy family. But wait…
Is the daughter missing something? Did she fall down and bang her head? Is it all some kind of practical joke? Who were these parents of hers? Where was their love and concern before? Were they showing off for their new spouses? Did they forget the last ten years? Where were they when she wanted help with homework, when the power went out in a storm, when she needed a ride to…anywhere, everywhere? Or how about when she had woman questions, sex questions? And who sat in the stands when she played sports? Who applauded when she received academic awards? She is willing to forgive, but shouldn’t there at least be an admission of guilt first, some sort of heartfelt apology?
The grandparents have gone home. The child is exhausted and sound asleep, and the daughter is left alone in the dining room, reliving her past, and eating half a chocolate cake. She becomes lost in thought, repeatedly staring at a wedding portrait on the wall and twirling her ring around her finger. Did her experience as a teenager eventually cause the failure of her marriage? Did she drive a good man away, the father of her child, the love of her life? What kind of life is in store for a single mom and a child with a weekend dad? Is her child going to create walls and end up like her? Shouldn’t her parents be held at least partly accountable for her emotional development and decision making?
Is this a time for Callemonit? Is the daughter being asked to be strong again and ignore the elephant in the room? Or should she confront her parents? Will they deny their parental neglect? Will they get mad and leave again? This time it will be her child left behind, confused and feeling unloved.
The weight of thinking about Callemonit, what she’d say and how they’d react, becomes exhausting. When she’s at work, at home, food shopping, stuck in traffic, and even caring for her child, she finds herself lost in thought. She runs through every scenario, providing both sides of the dialogue. She always tries to end the daydreams with her parents begging for forgiveness, then mutual tears, and finally big hugs, the genuine kind when you can almost feel each other’s heartbeats.
She calls her parents and invites them for a Sunday dinner. She has a girlfriend pick up her child and go to a popular restaurant/arcade. She’s nervous but determined to say her peace, and there’s no turning back. Luckily, both parents and spouses arrive on time and at the front door. They are surprised to not be greeted by their grandchild. By the pensive look on the daughter’s face, it becomes quickly evident that this visit isn’t about toy trains and making cupcakes.
She directs her parents to a bedroom and asks their spouses to head to the kitchen for some snacks and drinks. Her parents look at each other curiously but listen to her direction nonetheless. All three meet in the bedroom with door shut and awkward silence.
She takes a deep breath and then lets it flow. Fifteen minutes straight of everything from why did you get divorced and leave me, to look at me now, sad and alone and broken. When she was done, her parents reached out and grabbed her hands. They pulled her into their bodies and gently held her in their arms. Not another word was said. At that moment, the daughter felt relief and the parents absorbed her pain, the way parents should. This was the start of a whole new relationship.
The daughter experienced a difficult divorce, as most usually are. And she never quite understood how she became forgotten throughout the process. She often speculated her parents wanted a “do over,” and she was a reminder of the failed attempt at a lifelong marriage. But through finally expressing her feelings of hurt and resentment, she was on the path to inner peace. And in regards to her own separation, she hoped she could repair the damage and reunite with her husband. This was definitely a Callemonit success. Goodbye stress!
Do you have an uncomfortable relationship with your parents, based on how they raised you? Has your parents divorce become a template for failure in your own marriage? Is Callemonit an option to begin healing the pain?