When Your Parents Become Human
Like many people my age, I have divorced parents.
They split up when I was in the sixth grade, and to be completely honest, when I was put on the spot the other day, I couldn’t really recall much of their relationship before that. The whole process was treacherous and heartbreaking and something I had chosen to forget.
It’s now more than ten years later and I’ve since gotten past the pain. I’ve gotten a chance to reflect on the events that shaped me and I’ve had time to see how my parents’ split has been constructive to my life, rather than hinder it.
I never actually knew what happened between my parents; I never even thought to ask. So when my dad came to visit me a couple weekends ago, I inquired about his relationship with my mom for the first time in my life. And something about the way he talked about her took me by surprise.
He told me that although he and my mom have their differences, he will always view her as the mother of his children—the most important things to him. With his tone, I could tell that he truly respected her and (to my surprise) wouldn’t write her out of his history if given the chance. All this time, I had just assumed they hated each other because I didn’t witness them so much as hold a conversation after the divorce. And what I saw from my less-than-desirable middleman position, I chalked up to be regret and distain.
But my dad said that they were in love once; that there was a time when they genuinely wanted to be together, and that they simply grew in different directions. My mom wanted more out of life. She wanted to go back to school after my brother was born; she wanted to impress her parents.
And then it all started sounding too familiar. Thoughts of my first relationship started to surface, which I had ended for similar reasons. I loved my high school boyfriend, but ultimately, we wanted different things. And in that moment, my parents became human to me, as human as myself.
I think I always expected more from my parents. I held them high on a pedestal and when they failed me, I resented them. I wanted them to fight to stay together more than I wanted them to be truly happy. I was selfish.
But now that I’m older and have a slightly better grasp on relationships, my bitterness toward the situation has disappeared. I can finally see it as the end of a relationship, not the end of the world. And it’s changes in perspective like these that makes me realize that I’m finally growing up.
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