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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It doesn't feel like divorce ... to me

Now that Toyin and I have moved into separate apartments, my fears about how Annika will feel and react to the separation are beginning to manifest in my head.

I've gone through a divorce and this separation feels nothing like it. To me, Toyin and I splitting into two households feels more like moving away from a roommate. When I got divorced, even though I knew it was the right move, it was still difficult. This is not difficult.

Our relationship will continue on with no hard feelings and without disruption.

When I got divorced I was uprooted from a life that I thought was going to be permanent. Marriage isn't supposed to be temporary. Neither is parenting. Neither is having two parents.

So, I'm guessing that somehow our split feels to Annika like her parents are getting divorced even though she does not have the skills to articulate that. (And she doesn't know what a divorce is.)

My biggest problem here is that I don't know what that feels like. I wonder if it will be difficult for her even though it is not hard on us.

I am unusual in that I did not deal directly with divorce much as a child. My parents are still married. Growing up, all of my closest friends had parents who were still married. (Church friends mostly in case you're wondering.)

What knowledge I do have about what it feels like to have divorced parents is based on adult friends talking about divorced parents and watching children of my adult friends deal with their parents' divorces or non-marriages.

Examples of things I've witnessed include: wanting their parents to get back together, poor self-esteem, feeling like they don't have a father, ill-conceived neuroses, and inconsistency between the two parents.

I realized that the examples I've included are mostly based on my own worries that I will be the cause of such problems simply by not being married to Annika's dad. But looking at my list I realize that most of them are either baseless in our situation or something I will have no control over.

Her reaction to the change seems pretty minimal.

The only change I've noticed in Annika this week is that she hasn't been sleeping as well as usual, but she has a history of bad sleep patterns. And there are other contributing factors like, she has a cold this week, not to mention that we haven't been eating all that well because of moving.

So far she has called out during the night for Da Da and Baltar (the dog) several times. But she has also shouted out "back," "shoes," and "move" as well.

So I wonder if our separation will be a blip on her radar or if she will be scarred for life. Likely it is something in between, and I'm hoping that it is closer on the spectrum to the blip and not the scarred-for-life.

I am doing my best to stay relaxed about the possibility that this could screw Annika up, especially since that fear is based on a general notion in our society that somehow children who come from married parents are better off than children who come from divorced parents.

But this isn't a divorce. Divorce typically comes with lots of bad feelings, fighting, judges, courts, financial disputes and immature behavior by the parents.

None of that is happening in our case.

I've think the best thing to do is relax, don't project potential problems, thereby causing them to happen, and observe.

Even though it's only been a few days since we have been staying apart, things are going well. Toyin ate dinner with us when he picked Annika up last night. He even brought cookies.

It doesn't feel like a divorce to me or Toyin, so I am telling myself that it probably doesn't feel that way to Annika either.

Keeping my fingers crossed.


  1. Best of luck to you in dealing with a potentially difficult situation. You sound like you have it together.

  2. Hey! My parents divorced when I as three and I remember being sad and missing my dad (who moved out of state) but never wanted them to get back together. Later, when we all lived in the same area I was glad to be able to see both my parents weekly. But I definitely don't feel scarred by them being apart and I bet that will also be true for Annika. --Gray

  3. Parents who stay together 'for the kids' can be much much more traumatic for the kids. That was the case with mine anyway. I was really relieved when they split up. It seems to me that having two parents who take care of themselves and behave respectfully to each other is a really great example to set for Annika.

  4. I know quite a few well-adjusted kids from divorced families. I just don't happen to be one of them. From my experience, the relationship between the parents, whether they're together or not, has a huge impact on the attitude of the kids. you and Toyin seem to be going aout it just right.

  5. Thanks for the votes of confidence ladies. When I wrote it all out and then hearing your feedback I have realized that it is certainly not the same as a divorce. Makes me feel better. :)


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