Unity? You’re probably wondering what that word is doing in a theme called Lexicon of Leaving that’s all about divorce. Isn’t divorce the ultimate split? Where’s the need for unity now?
Well, there are always the children to remind you of your once-upon-a-time union that didn’t end with happily ever after. Parents have to be united in their child rearing even if they’re divorced.
Sigh – it isn’t easy to agree on how to bring up a child at the best of times, how on earth is one to navigate all the landmines after a divorce?
Max is a German friend whom I’ve known since his gangly teenage years of being a musician, so artistic and angst ridden that the advent of the internet occasioned so much discussion about how the world would never be the same again, and he didn’t think it was a happy event that was all we discussed on that particular visit to Germany. That and the red hair colour. See Laughter. Through his association with my siblings and me Max embraced India and all things Indian, turning into quite a sage, a nodding Buddha, complete with bald head and perpetual smile with his philosophical bent of mind that expanded his view but never quite eclipsed his analytical cynicism.
Falling in love (after a gap of many years), getting a girl friend from a far away city was an event met with much discourse. Of course.
The next I heard was that it wasn’t going so well. Shortly on the heels of this news came the news that they were pregnant.
Max was so overwhelmed at the thought of the responsibility of the new life coming that there was again talk of nothing but this. If you don’t count the passionate interaction on the merits and demerits of various pizzas.
“Is it right to bring a baby into this terrible world?” and “Is it right for us to have a baby since we don’t want to stay together?” he asked, no one in particular, nodding his head with worry. He moved slowly to, “We can’t use a baby as glue to stick us together.”
Their inability to agree on things ran to this too and Silke was adamant that she wanted the baby, preferably without Max. Max wanted to be part of it too, he wanted a baby, he’d decided by now, preferably without Silke.
The baby was born and the proud parents, despite their short relationship and their by now dislike of each other’s views of the world buckled down to be parents, at first in two different apartments in the same town, then eventually Silke moved away to a better job across the country and Max waited with bitten down nails for the holidays so he could see his son. Eventually he could bear it no longer and moved lock stock and barrel, to a worse job. This meant he had to share Silke’s apartment, so that he could be with his son who was by now a gangly teenager himself and Max and Silke had long ceased to be couple.
I don’t see this as a tale of hardship and suffering although there are definitely elements of that when you think of how such a short lived relationship has turned into a life long partnership thanks to their son. But neither Max nor Silke would have it any other way, and its a testament to their love for the boy that they couldn’t negotiate through their own relationship but when it came to working out all the tiny details of child rearing they were able to do so. That’s what unity of purpose does, helps you overcome your personal differences.
And here’s a wonderful ‘how to’ link – in case you have the same aspirations of co parenting despite a divorce.