Today I was loading some items I had picked up from the store into the back of my minivan when I noticed a large portion of the cargo area was already occupied. There, abandoned in the back of our van, sat a cherished, yet forgotten Christmas present that belonged to my stepdaughter. As I looked at the happy, singing girl displayed on the karaoke machine box I felt sorry for my stepdaughter. It would be two more weeks before the box was opened again.
I see so many stories circulating on my social media that display amicable adults agreeing to get along for their children’s sake, and while I too celebrate the attitude of these broken couples, I think they serve to blur our minds of the hurt that divorce can’t help but cause.
Yes, I will agree with the masses that an angry, arguing husband and wife are doing no favors for their children, but it does still sadden me that divorce seems in the end like the only answer available to make things better. Because, in the end it doesn’t. Not completely, and certainly not for the child who is a product of a broken home.
Seeing my stepdaughter’s gift was just a reminder of some of the things she must go through in life. Yea, it’s cool that she gets two Christmases and all, but what about the fact that immediately after experiencing the excitement of opening some of her presents, she has to pack her bags and leave it behind until the next scheduled visitation?
What about possible jealousy over her other biological siblings? The ones who get to have mom and dad together all the time.
As a child of divorce myself I see things in a light that others may not. I was superbly blessed with a stepfather who quickly became my adoptive dad, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t without difficulty for me.
I can recall trust issues, and being worried that my new dad would leave, or that our happy home would inevitably end in divorce.
I can recall cousins telling me I wasn’t “really” part of the family. They weren’t trying to be cruel; kids just speak without filters.
I can remember being treated differently by grandparents to which I had no blood relation. I know they didn’t mean to, but there it was, and I noticed.
I can even admit with shame that after my mother passed away I had rogue thoughts that my dad would no longer love me the same, that perhaps without the familial tie of my mom, that he would push me aside in favor of his biological children.
I sadly can’t stop the feelings of rejection that show up unannounced asking what about me made my biological father turn his back without regret.
I have been through a divorce, and so has my current husband. We didn’t plan for it to happen, and it’s not something we wanted for our lives, but it happened. Now my husband and I both live with the ramifications of our past, and while we currently strive for a marriage that pleases the Lord, we are completely aware that a young lady in our presence part-time suffers the consequences of a broken home and the struggles inherent with shuffling back and forth.
She is loved. She is loved so deeply by us, and by her other family. She is adored by her sisters in both families. But I worry for her still if it is enough. I was loved like crazy, yet I still suffered self-esteem and trust issues as a result of divorce. I desire so much for my stepchild, and while I would change nothing about my own life, and am certain of my current marriage, I sometimes wish I could erase divorce for her sake.
It’s easy to say, “well, it’s best for the children,” and to forget that despite our best efforts, a broken marriage does also break the children. Not always beyond repair, but they are negatively impacted nonetheless.
As it stands, we just keep on loving her. Sometimes I think we love her even harder in our efforts to make her feel like she belongs. Yet sometimes I see a distant look in her eyes, one that I’m personally familiar with, and my heart breaks for her all over again.