Tales From Your Parents' Divorce
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
The Civilians are listening to your divorce tales.
The above audio is cartoonist Nikole Beckwith's tale of her parents split.
For each question we post each week tell us your tale and we'll showcase some of your responses at our WNYC Greene Space event on June 28th.
This is our collection of what your parents had to say about their divorce.
Like this song, Us, about Sam Bisbee parents' break-up.
Here are more of your responses:
Name: Michelle Schroeder
One Saturday afternoon - my aunt took me shopping. This was fine, if a bit unusual. She wasn't really a "shopping" kind of person. But we had a great time. When we got back to my house. There was a note in the door from my mom. "Michelle, I love you. Your dad and I have decided to separate - to get a divorce. I have taken my things and will be staying with Betty for a while. Here is some lunch money and I will see you on Wednesday. Love - Mom" It was like a MAC truck hit me. I was 11 - and while I am sure i knew there was tension in our house - I never dreamed this. It took me over 20 years to get over that day. And I don't think I forgave her until I had been married for a while and got some perspective. Marriage is hard, hard work sometimes.
My grandmother and her second husband married in their 50s and divorced in their 70s. They fought over who would keep the industrial sized container of plastic wrap that sat on their kitchen counter. Everything in their lives was wrapped in plastic, so this was a huge bone of contention. It also explains a lot.
Name: Carol R. Blucher
MY divorce: My then husband returned from a business/vacation trip early. As I entered the house with my 3 daughters, I ducked as he tried to kiss me. Immediately my oldest daughter said, "Getting a divorce, huh." Children don't have to be told. They know. He had been running around with other women for 10 years. I waited until my youngest was 7.
New York City
It was the apartment. The "thing" that my parents fought over during the divorce was the apartment. Apparently, my brother, sister, and I had said that we would live with whichever parent kept the apartment. Who would have thought that kids could have so much power! So, for 2 and a half years, we all lived in the same apartment -- parents separated, different rooms, each dating other people, and living in the same apartment. It was tight, and it was drama filled. Ultimately, both parents moved out after those 2 and a half years of living together, separated. Once the chaos subsided from the earlier years of the divorce, they have been great friends, despite their divorce over 30 years ago.
For my parents, the most contested object of the divorce was our family photo album. It was just a single album, filled with baby photos of my sister and me, along with my parents, their parents, and an awesome array of 60s clothing and hairstyles. When I was about 8 years old, my Dad stole the album from my Mom's closet, and then blamed her for losing it. The album remained hidden for more than 10 years, with my Dad claiming ignorance. It miraculously resurfaced around the time that I graduated from high school. My Mom begged for copies, and my Dad continued to promise them to her for 4 years, never delivering on the promise. I finally took matters into my own hands, secretly took the photo album myself (and by "secretly took" I really mean "stole"), and made 2 new albums for both of them. I gave my Mom her copy on Mother's Day, nearly 12 years after she supposedly lost it. It's still one of the greatest gifts I've ever given her.
Name: John Shibley
My father is an antique dealer and auctioneer, and so our home, while modest in many ways, often had extraordinary objects in it. As a child I ate my meals off a marble top table. At the time, it seemed like an enormous slab of marble - maybe 7 feet by 4, and it was white and cool, and my father remarked often enough about it's uniqueness that I noticed it then and remember it now. It became my source of familial pride - we didn't have a second house at the shore, but I ate dinner off a marble top table, so there. When the divorce happened, my father moved out. One day we came home and found that the marble top table had disappeared. In its place was a cheap kitchen set. The table was blue, and it rocked on two shiny tubular legs. It was too small for the dining room. My mother didn't fight my father for the marble top table. She didn't fight him for anything, now that I think about it. I wish she had.
New York, NY
My parents fought over no objects. When my mother left, she didn't want anything. Including the children.
Point Pleasant, NJ
My Parents were divorced when I was about 22 years old. It was, for the most part, a simple, amicable divorce. There was, however, one item that caused much grief and is still (I am 36 now) a sore subject. My dad, a die hard Miami Dolphin fan, had a fleece blanket with the team logo on it. My mother insisted that she get the blanket in the settlement! She won, my dad relented, but my brother and I still plan to steal it one day. We cannot figure out why that blanket was such a big deal!!
My parents divorced when I was 15. It was ugly. A long drawn out battle over child support that my father didn’t want to pay. They both used to tell us kids tales about how the other parent was the worse one, and how they were the victim of the other’s greed and unreasonable demands.
When my father came to pick us up for his custodial weekends, he wasn’t allowed in the house and had to wait for us on the porch. Throughout the course of this divorce, my father somehow got possession of the home movies. I could never figure out why my mother let them out of the house. When we would talk hypothetically about what we would save from the house if there was ever a fire, my mother always said, “Of course, first I would save you kids, but after that, I would get the photo albums and the home movies. Because you just can’t replace that stuff.”
Apparently, he promised her that he would have them professionally duplicated, and give copies to all of us. He did nothing for about 3 years. During this time, my mother slowly started to go mad. She would ask us to speak to our father about it, about when he was going to get the home movies copied. After 3 years of my mother’s escalating rage and nagging, my father set up the old stand-up movie screen, projected the super 8 home movies onto them, recorded them with his new VHS video camera, and gave my mother the video tape. Her head exploded. It was like watching a boot-leg copy of a movie that you buy off some blanket display on the street. You can even hear my father clearing his throat in the background. This was not the professional video duplication that she had been promised.
After this, my parents no longer spoke except for brief, seething conversations to arrange child visitation. My mother began to enlist us kids to simply steal the home movies from our father. I remember going to my father’s house and trying to secretly go through his closets while he and my brother were in the next room watching television. I never found the home movies, but I also don’t think I looked very hard. My parents went on hating each other for years, both in and out of court.
Then, inexplicably, 15 years after the divorce, my father showed up at my mother’s house with the box of home movies. He had had them professionally transferred onto DVD, of which he gave her several copies, along with the original film reels. It was a shock to all of us. And after 15 years of my parents hating each other, my mother hardly knew what to do without this particular battle to fight. Their relationship warmed, slightly. My mother even invited him to Thanksgiving last year, and when we all expressed surprise at this, my mother replied with, “Please. I haven’t hated your father in a couple of years now. You kids just love drama.