T Bo Wildhax
My parents never fought, but they didn't really know each other when they decided to get married in 1960. Two children later, we were living in Germany in 1979 where my father was stationed as an Army officer. We went on a holiday ski trip to Italy as a family and when we got home my parents sat us down to tell us they were splitting up. However, they were not divorced for another six years. I just wish that part wouldn't have taken so long.
New York, NY
My 'rents divorced when I was young, barely 3. As a result I only have one memory of them together: me standing between them saying, "stop arguing!" and them laughing and scooping me up. Really.
When I was about 20, I found a file with some old letters between my parents. According to those letters, one of my parents ran away with the other's best friend, then came back, but it was all over a few weeks later. (My folks confirmed that, but didn't say much more).
Growing up, I went back and forth every monday. I would say its pretty rough on a kid, in terms of keeping your life organized (clothing, schoolwork), and for forming steady routines. As a teacher, I now see how important it is for children- especially in their early years- to have a stable home. I certainly hope my children will.
This is more about what my children said when I announced I was divorcing their father after 37 years: Son(33):"well, now you can stay at parties longer." Daughter (26) "who's going to wash his clothes and make sure he showers?" My own parents stayed together "for the children" til death did them part. They shouldn't have. What did they fight over? Everything and nothing.
My father worked late, trying to get tenure. In the process, he fell in love with a student in his lab. In the meantime, my mother got pregnant with me. You might say, I was when the trouble started.
New York, NY
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. My parents were forever going to court, until I was well into my 20’s in fact, to argue over money, custody, who was lying about what, who deserved what and how much, on and on and on. 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.” In fact, she was so concerned that the pictures of our childhoods would be burned up in this hypothetical fire that she purchased a safe deposit box and the local bank and put all of our photo negatives there. So how my father actually was able to convince her that he should have custody of the home movies is beyond me.
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. He always would wave us away with some vague answer. She would ask him to return them so she could just get them copied herself, goddammit. He always promised he would do it himself.
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. They didn’t speak unless they absolutely had to, and spent a fair amount of time plotting against each other, both in and out of court. You couldn’t even mention the home movies to my mother without her losing her mind. The only time they exhibited anything like caring for each other is when my Father’s appendix ruptured and my mother forced him into her car so she could drive him to the hospital.
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.”
Jersey City, NJ
My parents were married in 1968; Dad was getting in grad school for mathematics, Mom was meandering through undergrad. They were total hippies, and eloped without notice to my grandparents, then backpacked through Europe, Canada, America. They lived in Hawaii, Colorado, Maryland. My brother was born in 1980, I came in 1983, and that's when it fell apart. She grew tired of asking him to grow up, he grew tired of being asked. They never legally divorced and stayed civil.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
dad did this owl sculpture in the 1960's
a funny detail... the eyes came from a leopard skin rug that was in my greet grandparents cabin in the adirondacks . the leopards head was stepped on so many times that these glass eyes came out!
anyway he used the eyes and old nails and bits of rust collected from their trips to maine ( where i was conceived) . He made it when they were dating.
they were married from 1968 to 1990 or so...not sure about that cuz it got dragged on and on
during the divorce and divide of EVERYTHING, mom claimed she didn't know where the owl was and never gave it back to my father until her house caught on fire a few years ago. the owl emerged out of the water soaked basement!
my dad says she had selective amnesia about the things she didnt want to give up but the owl is now happily back with my father and my mother often comes by for tea! they are good friends now.