Offspring, once you have them, seem to believe that their parents married only to give birth to them. That view that the entire universe revolves around them is supported by parents’ adoring if half amused pandering to their little darlings. In a way our offspring aren’t wrong about being the centre of the milky way so that even when it came to a splintering marriage it made sense to stay together for the sake of the children.
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” (I’m sure he meant women too, he just forgot to say it) said Frederick Douglas.
Our marriage broke up when our youngest offspring was 17 years old and on the verge of going to college. We gave them plenty of time to enjoy the feeling of safety that comes from being in a cohesive home where the loudest, fiercest arguments were between the offspring themselves.
The children were our common goal and even today the ‘family’ meets on festivals and birthdays, sometimes for no occasion whatsoever just to revel in each other’s company. Occasionally I idly wonder whether things would have turned out differently if we had made each other a priority instead of the children and work with the marriage a mere crutch to help fulfil these other commitments. Hard to tell.
If only I had remembered what Maurice Sendak, writer of children’t fantasy books had said, “ Most children – I know I did when I was a kid – fantasise another set of parents. Or fantasise no parents. They don’t tell their real parents about that – you don’t want to tell Mom and Dad.” I honestly wasn’t aware that this is a common offspring fantasy – I thought it was special to me and felt quite guilty imagining all the adventures I could have if only my parents weren’t there to stop me. Well children’s fantasies should reman as fantasies rather than become a reality because, “It is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming wild things.“
I’ve been reading about a book called And Baby Makes Three although in our case it would have to be called And Babies Make Five and it gives advice to couples who become parents on how to still prioritise each other. Possibly in the desire to be wonderful parents we shortchanged ourselves but that’s never the fault of the offspring but of the parents who didn’t figure it out in time. Anyway, it is what it is and we’ll never know exactly what caused the decline and fall of our empire. The good thing is that we still have a family and our three offspring are wonderful, successful human beings who had a lovely childhood with dogs, family holidays, books, the freedom to indulge their own eccentricities which included packing seven books for an overnight trip (daughter 2), applying shades of peacock eyeshadow to go to sleep in (daughter 3), and feeling free to stroke the Dalai Lama’s bald head to see what it feels like (daughter 1).
Divorce or no divorce I’m immensely grateful for my offspring.
This is the O post for the A to Z Challenge. You can click the link in the badge above to find out more. My theme for the Challenge is the Lexicon of Leaving