A Child of Divorce at Midlife

A few weeks ago I went to a bridal shower for my mother. At seventy-something, she is remarrying after nearly 30 years of being single. Her fiance is a loving and warm man whom our family has welcomed with open arms, and who has brought so much to my mother’s life. To see them together is to see the true meaning of miraculous – that they have found each other at this point in their lives, that they are healthy and can enjoy being together, and that they are making this commitment to each other with the excitement of two people decades younger.

But something odd happened to me after the shower, on the long drive home. I realized that despite the fact that my father had remarried twice and he and my mother had long ago both moved on with their lives, there was still a part of me that thought they might someday get back together.

Ridiculous, I know. I mean, besides everything else, my father has been dead for four years.

This is the plight of a child of divorce at midlife. Even though I came to terms with my parents’ divorce many, many years ago. Somewhere inside of me, all these years, while my mother was still single, a teeny, tiny part of me always hoped they would someday be together again.

I guess that’s what most children of divorce would wish for, no matter how young or old they might be. I was very fortunate that my mother and father were (nearly) always comfortable being around each other, and most every family celebration included both of them. My mother showed enormous class and dignity when dealing with my father’s second – and third – wives.  My parents both always put myself, my children, and my brother and his family before their own issues.

I was surprised at this very odd thought when it popped into my head as I drove down the freeway – “Mom and Dad will never be married again.” As I mentioned, the fact that my father is dead was a big part of why this was a strange notion.  But also, I don’t remember ever considering that it was even remotely a possibility, nor was it a good idea. And yet the little girl inside of me was speaking up and this was what she was wishing for…mommy and daddy together again.

I am so happy for my mother. As everyone at the shower mentioned, there is no one in the world who deserves to be happy and in love more than she does. A psychotherapist, she has given thousands of hours of her life to helping others to feel better about their lives, and now she feels thrilled about hers. She has found love at a time of life when many people are losing their partners.

I’m not usually a “woo-woo” person, but I am convinced that my father sent my mother her soon-to-be husband, as a way of making up for a lot of mistakes that he made along the way.

Ridiculous? Most definitely. But then, so is the little girl whose voice I heard as I drove home from the shower – the little girl who wished her parents were still married. Sometimes, our hearts overrule our heads, and we have a moment of emotion that we don’t understand – or maybe we do.

Congratulations to my mother and her wonderful guy. I know they’ll be happy forever, and I’m so happy for them.  And so is the little girl, deep inside of me.

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  • A lovely article that I related to totally. Even though we grow up our emotions really don’t we just learn to put them aside or in company a bit better. Love the blog I am part of a writers group as well and have written a lot of short stories and a sit com and a children’s book must be in our deep aquarian nature… I will be back to hear more keep up the good work’


  • Kathy

    I loved reading this. Even though I am not a child of divorce I can understand and sympathize with your feelings.
    Keep writing!!! Kathy xo

  • admin

    Thank you Kathy! So good to connect with you.

  • barbara

    Hi Sharon, Very revealing comments from an adult-child of divorce, some fantasies never REALLY go away.I’ve studied this topic as a psychotherapist and .a parent who put my children through this…I feel your pain

  • Even though I am not a child of divorce, I am a mother who divorced her husband and I often wonder if my boys share some of the same fantasies of their parents getting back together. Like your mother, I always made sure to celebrate holidays and birthdays with my ex, and I like his new wife. Your post was touching and true. I guess the child inside of us is always alive.

  • Diane Kurtz

    My husband and I were friends of Judy and Harry in high school. Your article was so meaningful. I am sure my friends and their children all can relate to it. Congratulations on the upcoming nuptials…..

  • seth

    A great blog and much happiness to Judy. I feel similarly gratified with the relationship of my 85 y/o mother and her 93 y/o boyfriend. On the other hand, thoughts of my parents getting back together always brought shivers down my spine, like something out of a Stephen King novel

  • I just love this piece. From the happiness I feel for your mother, to the honesty you display. My parents have been married 56 years. But I still can relate to feeling, still, very much like their child so often. A lovely post. And congratulations to your mother. So lovely for her!

  • This is a beautifully written piece full of real emotion. Nothing trite or overly sentimental. Well-done.

  • Can relate soooo very much

  • Thoughtful and moving… I’m so glad that you and your family are comfortable with your mother’s new relationship. We were not so fortunate with my father’s choice after my mother’s death… Their marriage lasted 20 years, until he died at 82, but his wife was jealous of my father’s children and sought to keep his children and his grandchildren as far away as possible.

  • Congratulations to your mom and to you! The wedding shower is the most romantic and wonderful thing, and I wish your Mom and her fiancee many happy years together.

    For my part, I would love to see my parents married to other people. I spent the years from eight to seventeen telling them they needed to divorce, and I celebrated joyfully when it finally happened.

    They are so much happier apart than together, and our family has so much less rancor in it.

    Cheers to you, though, for taking a minute to talk to that little girl inside and say “It’s going to be OK”.

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