I thought everything was just fine until they got back together.
My parents officially divorced when I was four years old, so I really don’t remember them being together. We lived in Chicago when they were married and after they split, my mom took my three brothers and me with her when she got a new job out of state.
I recall us taking the drive to Nebraska and realizing that my dad wasn’t with us, but for some reason, I wasn’t upset.
I remember my mom telling us that Dad wasn’t going to be living with us anymore and I was fine with that. She said he would visit often and that he still loved us. Cool. Sounded good to me.
Yes, I was only four at the time so I probably didn’t grasp the reality of the situation, but I definitely wasn’t sad about it. I was never the kid who secretly wished my parents were together.
Maybe that’s because I don’t remember them being together or maybe it’s because everything seemed to be running pretty smoothly with them apart.
We moved to Nebraska so we were only about an hour flight or a 7.5 hour drive away from Chicago. My dad called frequently and he visited us at least once a month. He would come to our school on Fridays and surprise us with his weekend visits.
During the summer months, my brothers and I went to stay with him in Chicago. It was the best summer vacation ever. We went to barbecues and amusement parks. We played with the kids in the neighborhood and swam in the pool all day. We had a routine. It worked. I didn’t have a problem with it.
Being with Dad was like a fun escape. Out of my parents, he was definitely the disciplinarian, but because we weren’t with him every day, we usually did something fun during our time together.
Fast forward six years. We stopped going to Chicago for the summer because we started doing summer sports. During that time, it seemed like my dad made it to almost every track meet I had. He was around much more often.
At first, I didn’t notice a change between him and my mom because they had never fought in front of us. I applaud their behavior during their split. Neither one ever said a cruel or disrespectful word about the other.
Whenever they were together because of us, they always treated each other with respect. It would make you wonder why they split up in the first place.
So, the morning I went to wake up my mom early on a Sunday morning, I was shocked to find the door locked. When my mom opened the door, the last person I expected to see behind her was my dad.
He usually stayed in a hotel. The only time he slept at the house was on Christmas Eve and even then, he slept in the basement.
What was going on? Mom and Dad liked each other again? I didn’t like it. It was weird. I feel like most kids would’ve been happy, but I thought our routine was great. I never wanted Dad to come back home.
He stayed longer each time he visited from that point on. Eventually, within a few months, he was moving back in. Everything changed.
Every-day-Dad was not as fun as weekend-and-summer-Dad. He enforced his discipline more seriously. We got more spankings and he yelled at us more often. To be honest, my youngest brother was a little out of control, so my dad helped to stop his crazy tantrums with my mom.
We had a nanny who was with us every day because my mom worked full-time, but once my dad came back, I guess they didn’t need her anymore. My dad was only working part-time so he was available to drop us off at school and pick us up. He drove us to different extracurriculars.
I loved our nanny. I missed her immediately when she was let go.
The whole environment changed at the house. Dad was very hard on us, because he was raised that way. I will admit that we did become more disciplined. We did all of our chores without being asked and took on more responsibility because of him. But we were also scared of him.
I eventually realized that he and my mom only got back together for us. My mom told me years later that she believed two parents under the same roof was the best environment for kids.
However, it was obvious that they weren’t in love with each other. They both loved us and loved being parents, but they didn’t love each other.
They never held hands or kissed. They never cuddled with each other. I only noticed it and found it strange when I compared them with my friends’ parents who were romantic.
It made me wonder why they were together. It made me realize the type of relationship that I didn’t want.
My brothers and I were fortunate. We had two parents who wanted to be in our lives and loved us wholeheartedly. My dad just didn’t always express it in the best way.
Only as an adult have I realized that he did the best he could. If he could have done better, then he would have. He wanted to be there. He didn’t want to watch us grow up from another city.
He stepped up when a lot of fathers could have easily fallen back and been absent. I admire him for that. He loves being a father.
However, I really don’t think it’s necessary for parents to stay together or get back together just for the sake of their children. Kids don’t get enough credit. They observe everything. They can tell when something is off.
As long as the parents are committed to doing what’s best for their children, they don’t need to be living under the same roof. Children will feel the love no matter what, just as they can feel the absence of love.
Ever since all the kids left the house, my parents have admitted that they struggled with the empty nest. They had to rediscover their friendship and love for each other.
Even today, they aren’t romantic with each other, but they’re best friends. They’ve been together so long that they’re committed to being life partners. Of course they fight. They still bicker, but the love is apparent.
Sometimes it makes me sad, because I think everyone deserves a great romantic love. I think they could have found it if they had not reunited, but they say they’re happy and that’s all I want for them.
I am so lucky to have their love in my life. I just hope that my parents’ love for each other is enough for them for the rest of their lives.