“Stop doing that, and listen!”
I wouldn’t stop, I kept singing, trying to drown out her voice.
“La, la, la, la…. i. CAN’T. hear. YOU… la, la, la, la.”
I paced around the room, bent over, so that I didn’t have to see her talking if I opened my eyes. I could feel her chasing after me, trying to get me to look at her. I kept my hands over my ears, hoping she’d leave me alone.
Opening one eye, I saw the tops of her feet off to my right, standing still. I stopped singing, and straightened up. I raised one hand to hold off any further discussion.
“Just don’t,” was all I said, shaking my hand at her, warding off her advance toward me.
“It’s important you understand,” her voice cracking with emotion, she held her hands in front of her as if in prayer, pleading.
“No, I understand, I just don’t need details,” lifting both hands in a shrug. “I don’t want to hear it, so stop talking.”
“But, he…” she started denigrating his character once more.
“La, la, la, la…, “ my hands went over my ears again, but I kept looking at her.
She stopped, and turned way from me, hands on her hips. She was getting angry now. Chewing on her lower lip to stop it from trembling, her jaw thrust out in defiance, she shook her head in defeat.
“This is between you and him,” I tried to keep my anger under control. “All I needed to know was that you guys were splitting up and where I was going to live. Beyond that was too much information. I didn’t need to know about the other women, or whatever else you think he’s going to burn in hell for.”
Finally looking at me, she made as if to speak, but swallowed her rebuff.
“I’m not taking sides,” I told her. “This is not my battle, so stop trying to make me choose.”
I wanted to hug her, to tell her everything was going to be okay, but I didn’t know that it would, so I stepped around her to finish packing my bag. Slinging the pack over my shoulder, I walked over to where she was still standing, and put my hand on her back.
“I’ll call you when I get to Dad’s,” I waited for a response, but when she didn’t answer, I picked up my purse and keys and headed out the front door, calling out, “I’ll be home Sunday night.”
As I shut the door behind me, I heard her crying. Hesitating for a moment, I breathed in deep and walked away, leaving her to fight this battle alone.
I don’t know why this memory resurfaced recently, but I also knew it wouldn’t let go until I got it out.
My parents married and divorced each other, twice. First when I was maybe six, and again finally, when I was in high school. Understandably, my mom was hurt and angry that my dad was unfaithful… many times.
For some unknown reason, they both felt obliged to share with a teenaged me what happened in their marriage, including all the sordid details. Trust me on this, knowing the details didn’t help the situation. And, despite what either expected, knowing also didn’t compel me to takes sides in their split.
I tried many ways come up with some profound lesson, offering parents sage advice from a child of divorce, but there is no cookie-cutter moral here. Simply know, kids will want some explanation for the upheaval in their lives. Age appropriate answers, and not soap-opera scripts are what they need. Unless their other parent is some complete psycho, you both are still mom and dad. Trying to get your kids to pick sides, is immensely unfair and can easily backfire on you.