As I sit here eating these, (BEST ever, btw) my niece is sitting on the couch with her friend watching old home videos. I can’t believe it has been (at least) 10 years since we took that camping trip. My niece is sweet and tells me I have not aged one bit! (Actually, the truth is, the girl in those videos was one who was carrying her Freshman Fifteen, and thankfully that has changed.)
Dear niece has been with me since Thursday. Her dad (my brother) has come home from Iraq and right now he is on a little get away with his wife trying to re-group after having been gone for nearly a year. What a year.
And I just cannot help but think: No daughter should have to do this twice. Two deployments. Afghanistan. Iraq. Two divorces. How many times can you “lose” your dad in a lifetime?
Caught between two parents who love her dearly and her own “coming to fruition” of who she is and wants to be- what a ride. I sure love her sass, her independence and her ability to think maturely about her life and all the battles going on in it. She is really on her game, a rock star in so many ways. Beautiful, talented, witty, responsible, funny. And she reminds me of myself in so many ways. We get along.
I cannot help but remember what it was like for me. Caught in the middle. Divorce is never a pretty scene, even when parents do their best to be civil. And the children are always the ones who get the short end of the stick. Put into that equation the remarrying of parents, and you get a whole new dynamic of emotional roller coasters where you feel like if you could just throw up everything would be better. Only you cannot throw up. You must brace each day and learn new coping skills. You must press on with the faith that the ride will be over soon and you can just get off.
It took more than five years for that roller coaster ride for me to be over. Five years of adolescence Being. Ugh. (Including and not limited to: hormones, zits, bad boyfriends, shallow friendships, terrible grades, even more terrible decisions, depression, rebellion, going through the motions, long days at work on purpose, eating disorders, lying, crying, shutting down, etc…) Yeah. It was a rough time. But mostly because I made it so. It is so silly in hindsight. I am embarrassed at my behavior. But it was those tumultuous years that shaped what I have learned and who I have become. It was that time that showed me my strength (which is a grand thing), courage and my ability to be better than I was.
I often wonder, “Was that my trial in life? Being a child of Divorce?” And if not, what else is coming my way? I know we are not all issued just one hardship. I know some people who have gotten two! But in all seriousness, I am grateful that I went through all of that as a teenager just for the fact that I can relate to my niece who faces much of what I did. We all need someone to relate to. And even though I am 15 years her senior, I feel a closeness and a bond that I treasure. I just hope that she can see it too and believe that despite it all, everything will be alright.
Especially when we decide to make it alright.