My parents got divorced when I was in middle school.
Yeah, not quite the shocker when it comes to childhood disturbances. I realized a long time ago that it could have been a lot worse: personally, I was never beaten. I was never deprived of food or locked in the basement as punishment. I was never whipped, belted, smacked around, sexually abused, kicked into a foster care system, turned out onto the street or over medicated so the 'rents could have "quiet time".
My father figure disappeared in a silent manner, which was probably the best thing he's ever done since my parents married. As children, we were happy and blissfully ignorant. My mom made sure that we never saw my father when he was dunk, we were always taken care of at another house when he turned violent, that he never laid a hand on us in any way, that we generally stayed occupied the whole time with her side of the family, and participated in sports and activities such as music lessons. The thing is, mom did such a good job protecting us from him that he ended up not being there. During the week he was at work from early morning to late night and we often ate dinner without him. Saturday and Sunday mornings I remember him sitting at the table drinking coffee and Diet Coke and then he was off with his buddies. When I was a 7th grader in middle schooler, there was a whole week that went by where I didn't see him at all. I'm still awe-struck by the fact that none of us kids said anything because he was never around to begin with. One morning my mom kept me home from school and told me that he had moved out, he would never be coming back, and the paperwork for divorce was in transit.
I cried because I was a statistic. It upset me more that my family had fallen into the trap and could be grouped with all the other single-parents on the East coast who had their parent member walk out. I couldn't make myself cry over him, or be upset because he left, or that I would never see daddy dearest again. I had no bond or emotional attachment to him.
Since then I have been wary of relationships. The one's I've had I tried to keep light and playful but as soon as it turned into something serious, I was out. I made myself out to be a bitch just so there was an excuse to end it. I'm truly selfish, but I look at it now as self-preservation. I am terribly bitter about my position in society and I still get unruly when people ask "What does your dad do?"
Another string that ties into this is that I'm a slight feminist. Certainly not an extremist, but I think it's unfair that men get most of the credit for having healthy children and healthy families and the best jobs int he market- from my own experience, father figures suck. Mine never proved he was worth spit and I still carry that with me. My mom worked herself to exhaustion to keep us kids together, happy and unknowing. It's thanks to her that I got the encouragement and funding for college, it's thanks to her that I stayed in college even after I realized my GPA was below par. She even started her own IT Networking company several years agao and is still running the company herself. So when people ask about my dad... Well, I get snarky.
Now don't get me wrong, I can appreciate successfully marriages and happy families -Hell, many of my friends have happy parents who are still married, or got divorced but remain friends. It can happen, I realize that.
I also realize that it is a rare gift to be able to grow up with that. I stopped checking out the statistic, but the last time I looked the divorce rate in the US was something like 62%. That's a scary amount of divorce. Not everyone has a good experience from it. That is what makes me balk at having a relationship.
Let's consider a scenario. Let's say that I get over myself, find a young man -or woman (it's 2012, anything can happen)- have a healthy and happy and long relationship. We get married. Two or three years into the marriage, once we're comfortable with each other, we plan kids.
This is where I will forever keep my opinion, and where the title of this particular post comes into play.
I was a kid once. The early years were hella fun. I had a huge blast playing and running around and playing soccer and making friends.
I also lost almost every friend I ever made within a year because they decided I was fun, but not cool. I also got majorly disappointed and depressed when my childhood soccer team fell victim to prejudice. Teachers and coaches and my musical Boards became overwhelmed with picky people who had their favorites and doted on them while ignoring everyone else. I got shy, nervous, smarmy, sarcastic, biting and very defensive. My teen years were hell for everyone involved.
Even if I get the balls to force myself to find some sort of love with another human being and try to procreate, even if I talk myself into thinking that childbirth isn't that painful (another "Hell No" right there. I have cable, I see what happens and that shit is no walk in the park) there's still the fact that I will be in charge of a helpless and defenseless living creature that will one day turn out to be exactly like me.
Again, please: Hell. No.
I was there for my childhood. I saw how my mother tried to tame me and it didn't work half the time. I remember losing friends, hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting pushed around and being made fun of. I do not want to be responsible for that.
I said it before and I'll say it again: I'm selfish. I really am.
Also, I consider myself damaged goods, like a Pontiac Trans Am. I look nice and I can sure talk nice, but ask me to have the stamina to cover a road trip and I'll bottom out at end of the driveway. I don't think I'm meant to have kids because of the way I am. I'm crude, rude, selfish, quick to point out faults... I've seen parents like that. My brother has told me that's how our father was. Mom's made comments about it to, how "that must come from your father".
I don't want to be like him. If I already am, then I should be smart enough to stop before I completely follow his example. I do not want to be the reason for increasing the nation's divorce rate. I refuse to be the cause of a broken family because that hurt runs deep and it never goes away. Besides, I have the attention-span of a goldfish and I wouldn't parent the brat properly. If I were to have a child, I would want them to be polite and well-behaved and confident. I'm not any of those things, so therefore I cannot provide by example. My child would be the screaming one in the candy aisle while I light up a joint in the back because "I can't deal with it". There are better parents out there. I'll leave the child-rearing to them.
I wish I could leave this on a happy note, but seeing as how I'm incredibly bitter right now I don't think that's possible. Except, maybe to thank my mom once again, who managed to not break down under the pressure of raising three kids, keeping a house and land in one of the most expensive counties on the East coast, always having family pets, affording vacations and camps and trips... I love my mom. For as much as I gripe about family, I'm glad she's my mom and I probably would not have turned out at all if it wasn't for her.
Thank you for being so strong, mom.
|From left to right: Amy, mom holding me, Matt|