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A House and A Home

A House and A Home

Immediately I prickled. My well-trained and mostly dormant Irish temper flared inside of a nanosecond. I hit delete. The comment to a blog I posted about parenting in separate households read: “Joint custody is terrible for children. They never have a home.”

I opened a new fresh document and furiously (and indignantly) filled the page with 400 words about how my daughters have a loving, cheerful, comfortable home.  A home filled with cats and memories and their old artwork on the walls. As a Taurus, my primordial instincts to stubbornly protect the home I am proud of, flexed so fast my thoughts could barely keep up with my fingers.

There. I thought, smugly closing my laptop. As the experienced lawyer I am, I had put my best case forward – my new blog read like an opening statement, a killer cross-examination, and a mic-dropping closing argument comparable to the best of the best cinematic courtroom scenes. My arrogance came off me like a bad perfume in an elevator.

At dinner that evening I sat with my daughter, her boyfriend, and her best friend – all their parents divorced. We sat at our obviously cozy dinner table in our homey dining room with a home-cooked meal I had lovingly prepared (or maybe we were eating a delivered pizza…). I told them about the outrageous comment left on my blog post and was about to launch into my triumphant response when I noticed the room had gone still.

Sophia looked at me and said simply, “Yes. That is true.” I double blinked. Wait. What?

In 1999 a wise and weathered female judge told me to never play poker because she could read every emotion on my face. Had she not gifted me that feedback I would not have learned, honed, and mastered wearing a lawyer face of neutrality. One of my long-time clients laughed when she told me I am unreadable in court a/k/a dead inside. I pulled on my worn-out lawyer mask, removed the dagger from my heart, and replied, “You feel like you don’t have a home?”

When I started blogging in the year after my divorce, I promised myself I would only tell the truth about being a divorced parent.  That meant every blog might not have a happy ending. This is one of those. 

The kids told me how it is hard because they are always moving from one place to the other. “When I am asked about my home, I think about the house from when my parents were married,” Sophia’s boyfriend shared. Sophia was too young to remember that time in her life.

It has been several weeks since this conversation and me moving my first blog on this topic to the trash bin. I have reflected, cried, and searched for the silver lining. But today I buck my bad habit of trying to assuage my guilt for being a divorced mom and just sit with this truth.

Divorce is complicated. It leaves kids feeling like they don’t have one home base because they don’t. It doesn’t mean they aren’t fiercely loved, sheltered, and the top priority in their parent’s lives. But it does mean they have worries, losses, and wishes that things had been different. And it is our job to see, allow, and soothe those feelings because that is being a parent after all.

Angela Dunne

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