Wednesday, February 27, 2008

File under "independence"

I write in my book (look for it in August!) that we children of divorce are an independent lot. Many of us had to take on adult responsibilities when we were kids, which led some of us to adopt a maturity and independence that was beyond our years.

Some things never change.

I needed a new filing cabinet at home, having outgrown the old two drawer I've had forever. So this afternoon, I headed to Office Depot and purchased a lovely ready-to-assemble light cherry four drawer filing cabinet, on sale no less. The furniture salesperson at the store used a dolly to wheel the box to the curb while I folded down the seats on my Jetta and pulled it to the front door. Admittedly, she was a bit heftier than I am, but she hoisted the box easily into my trunk and off I drove.

Arriving home, I realized the furniture lady must have a weight bench at home. There was no way I could even get the box out of the car, much less into the house and up to the second floor. No neighbors were home, so I closed the trunk and thought "Well, I can always get help later."

Then it occured to me: who said I had to carry the entire box into the house? Why, I could just open up one end and carry the pieces in a few at a time. Brilliant! Trying to corral all the bits of styrofoam that had cradled my new cabinet in its box, I slid all the drawers and side pieces and who knows what kinds of connectors out of the box, making trip after trip into the house where I piled them all onto the sofa. Where they now sit, until I get up the energy to carry them up to the second floor and into my office for assembly.

I had a few passing qualms about depriving someone of their spiritual gift of heavy lifting, but that didn't stop me. I am woman, see me carry a few pieces of pre-cut lumber at a time. All the while, though, I did roll my eyes at myself over the silliness of trying to do it all without any help. Independence can be good, but it can also be a mask for pride...and it can make our jobs a lot harder when we should be asking someone to help shoulder the burden we carry.

For now, I just need to clear off the sofa so I have a place to sit down.

Modern love

I was blessed today by this modern rendering of the Beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are you who are depressed, emotionally fragile, mentally exhausted-the whole creation, everything under God’s jurisdiction, has been given to you to delight in with your maker.

Blessed are you children of divorce, you who lost sons and daughters, fathers and mothers way too early…you who have cried until your eyes were bloodshot and your head throbbing-your comfort has come.

Blessed are you who have been compassionate, kind and gracious while everyone else around you is clamoring for power and money, stepping on you to get it…and you let it happen-God has honored your humility by giving you the world itself as a playground.

Blessed are you that have pushed back the plate, or had the plate taken from you; blessed are you who have doubled-over in ache for God…it is time to feast on His holiness and goodness until you can’t take anymore.

Blessed are you who have given too many extra chances, you who have forgiven the one who cut you the most deeply-only to be treated like hell all over again. Drink deeply of the grace of God, he has taken pleasure at your tenderness.

Blessed are you whose heart has still longed for God, even when you felt like a storm of anger and lust raged all around you-you have clung still to your vision of him. God knows you long for holiness…and his response is to let you see all of his colors and beauty with those war-torn eyes.

Blessed are you who [have] been in the middle of a fight and been smacked and punched, bruised and trampled yourself trying to bring peace into the middle of chaos, God calls you beloved sons and daughters.

Blessed are you who have had the people closest to you make fun of you for following Jesus, you who have been rejected by your own flesh and blood because of your love for God-you too are the recipients of God’s whole elegant creation, to rule and reign with him over it.

Every time you have been insulted, every time you have been tortured, every time you have been lied on and laughed about…it’s reason to break out the streamers and party hats, time to sit down for the best steak and the finest wine, your reward is exponentially greater than your suffering. Your name has been added to a prestigious list of prophets who experienced the same things, and you share in their reward!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Third time's a charm

I am a child of divorce. My mother married an abusive man, then left him when I was four. I never saw him again.

Mom remarried when I was six to the man I would call Dad, who adopted my brother and me. I barely remember the first father, and the second I idolized. He wanted me, adopted me, gave me his name.

But my adopted father was an attentive, angry, and intelligent man. His mood swings were intense, unsettling, and confusing. I never knew which personality I’d get on any given day, but it was normal for us.

Read the rest of the story and find out about the third Father this child of divorce found here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Broken from the start

In an essay in Real Simple magazine (March 2008, page 79), Jennifer Baumgardner writes of the child she had with a man she did not marry:

Still, while I believe that this coparenting arrangement is best for everyone, Skuli, now three, might not agree. The other night, after a family dinner, Gordon was heading out the door when Skuli said, "I don't want Daddy to go. He should stay." Gordon's face crumpled, and I felt like a witch. As our son gets older, I am going to hear this more, I assume, as we take on more of the contours of a traditional broken home. I feel a pang of loss that we can't all hang out in bed Saturday mornings and read the paper. I get weepy when I see that Ford Freestyle commercial where the family has a fun day at the beach and then drops the dad off at his prefab divorce apartment. The tears well for a few reasons: the sadness of Skuli's having to say good-bye so often to one of his parents, but also the reassurance of knowing there are so many once-together parents who now have joint custody (and manage just fine) that Ford is marketing to them.

Seriously wrong ideas

When I was a kid, if I complained about my arm hurting (for example) for no good reason, my mom would jokingly say, "Let's cut it off, then." No, it wasn't child abuse--just sarcasm and a way to get me to have some perspective on a minor bump or scrape.

One could hope that the author of this piece were using the same tactic. Sadly, I think he was actually serious.

What of the children in a society that is moving inexorably toward consecutive plural marriages? Under present arrangements in which marriages are ostensibly lifetime contracts and then are dissolved through hypocritical collusions or messy battles in court, the children do suffer. Marriage and divorce turn lovers into enemies, and the child is left to thread his way through the emotional wreckage of his parents' lives. Financial support of the children, mere subsistence; is not really a problem in a society as affluent as ours. Enduring emotional support of children by loving, healthy, and friendly adults is a serious problem in America, and it is a desperately urgent problem in many families where divorce is unthinkable. If the bitter and poisonous denouement of divorce could be avoided by a frank acceptance of short-term marriages, both adults and children would benefit.

By the way, this was written in 1966. There's nothing new under the sun, as Solomon once said.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Release date

I'm smack in the middle of copyedits for the book, which are due later this week, so posting may be a little delayed. But wanted to share the good news that we have an official release date for the book: August 1. I've already seen one online bookstore that has it listed in their catalog. Put it on your reading list for that late summer beach trip!