I’ll be perfectly content with my life if the word “divorce” never settles in my stomach. I’m not sure I’ll ever be adequately prepared to handle the idea of it, not the way half of this nation is able to step into line with stepbrothers and halve down the middle to merge with half sisters.
Those strong souls were experts in maneuvering between houses on the Sunday nights when I settled down to watch an episode of ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ with a mug of mint chocolate chip ice cream in my lap. Fleece patterned pajama pants kept my tiny legs warm as November crept up on October.
That is what I remember. That is what I want for my children, my nonexistent little girls with wild wispy hair that looks like a hairdo Pebbles might wear on The Flintstones. I want them to stand up in front of a crowd of 60some people in 60some years and give a speech about Mommy and Daddy.
Mommy and Daddy, didn’t they love each other so much more than anyone else we knew for the last 50 years?
I want their tomorrows to be blessed by a today that taught them how to love. And I want that to be because I was taught well, because I was told that love comes in many shapes and sizes, but none of them are too small to fit inside a little apartment building in the heart of New Jersey. Or a combined annual income that doesn’t fill the perimeter of the Christmas tree. Or a box of graham crackers that breaks into fragments fit for a bowl with milk that’s breakfast.
I want them to learn about love that stretches like a rubber band, love that bends backward like a yoga pose, love that stays strong in the middle of a summer downpour or a winter blizzard when it’s easier to stay safe inside and away from all the elements.
The world doesn’t like to teach us things like that. It likes to tell us how to tie our shoes and recite our ABC’s, how to line up in height order on picture day or count to one hundred in Spanish, French and German.
We have the option to get the Dixie cup with chocolate and vanilla on our lunch trays but we can’t choose if Mommy and Daddy fall out of love and split the house right down the middle, leaving us standing in the rubble, hoping we’re smart enough to pick a side before a side picks us.
My grandparents celebrated fifty years on Friday.
“I can’t believe I’ve been married to you for half a century,” my grandpa said to my grandma.
He means it in a good way. He means it in a “it-doesn’t-feel-that-long” way, like he’d been waiting at the DMV for one too many hours and didn’t mind the bustle around him, didn’t notice the crying baby with colic in the corner or the nervous teenage boy cracking his gum over and over, waiting to take his permit test so he can drive his friends down to the local convenience store for slurpies.
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