Over the last few weeks, i've had several things to write about. But everytime i came here, thinking i'd put down a post - another memory in the cybervoid - i wondered, "Is it really that important?" It wasn't. But then, nothing in my blog is. So why stop, eh?
The story is about Children. And Parents. And Marriage and Divorce. Coming from a 'broken family' myself, i'm a little sick and tired of the eyes that widen while hearing a story of another fallen apart marriage, another shaken foundation stone of what should have been a long-term relationship. And then there are the hushed voices that say, "But what about the child?" But i have been guilty of the same, though not for the same reasons.
I recently found myself face-to-face with this exact situation. A very close friend of mine - Damien - told me that he was separating from his wife of four years. I know they have been going through their share of ups and downs over the years, but with the arrival of their bundle of joy a year or so ago, most people assumed that things were limping back to normal.
Not. Because if they had been, he would have not cheated on his wife, he said. So, the simple decision was to end it. My immediate reaction was "You have a son. what about that?" to which he replied, "He's too young." I laughed.
Yes, the child does go through his/her share of trauma. If the kid is old enough, then he/she pretty much is certain that the reason why Mommy and Daddy are fighting is him/her. It must be because he/she asked for the cycle, or doesn't like mushrooms or got a 'can do better' remark from the schoolteacher in the last pages of the school diary. The kid vows to be the best kid ever
if the parents will not fight anymore.
If the kid is a little older, then the battle lines are drawn and he/she is forced - subtly or otherwise - to pick sides. Daddy becomes the 'asshole' or Mommy becomes the 'bitch'. There is
rage, not because the child is really upset about the divorce situation but more because the child can't understand how his parents - the people he loves the most - made him/her pick a side, without a thought to how that would tear him up. And that rage forms a big part of who he/she finally becomes.
Damien was certain that the split would not harm the psyche of his too-young son. But the reason i laughed was because Damien, in all his knowledgable naivete, had no idea what the absence of his kid would do to him. And few people actually stop to think about that.
The way i see it, the reason people go through the whole process of loving, marriage, conception, childbirth and child rearing (the last bit goes on till you die) is to have someone in your life who will never stop belonging. You will always be a parent, the child will always be your child, whom you will always worry about and always love, pretty much unconditionally. But that bond only happens over time, over fights and arguments, and laughs. You become a prototype for the child's moral compass, it imbibes your values, and through the child, you propagate all that you think is good and right in your world. It's a rare chance to shape the future.
The Kid? He'll find alternate role models, strangers who have a say simply by virtue of being around when a child's question - "what does fuck mean?" - needed an adult answer.
The divorce won't screw up the kid as much as it will screw up the parent as he helplessly watches his future become someone else's. My Father didn't know this. I hope Damien does.