“In the end, your family tree is a diagram of a thousand choices, all made in your favor.”
Parenting is hardly an exact science. In fact, it is really the biggest conceivable game of roulette because virtually every decision a parent makes is fraught with uncertainty. The outcome is often unpredictable and we frequently don’t learn the consequences of our choices for many years.
I haven’t written much about the changes that have taken place in my life over the course of the past several months, although all of my friends and many of my colleagues are aware that I bought another home. And that I am living in it with my two sons, but not with my husband. He continues residing, along with our two dogs, Buddy and Sophie, in the home my parents built and in which I was raised.
The change came quickly — I began shopping for a home in June and purchased my current residence in July after it had been on the market just two days. I knew immediately that it was the home I wanted to buy. We moved on Labor Day weekend and have spent the past two months getting settled in.
The change came after many years of dreaming and planning, however.
And that is my confession: I thought I was doing the right thing for my children by continuing to reside with their father. I now realize that I was wrong. I should have taken them with me and established a new home for the three of us many years ago. If I had done so, they would not have had to endure some of the challenges and disappointments that they have experienced. But I felt that I was putting their needs ahead of my own by remaining in the marriage.
I now know that my children were victims of my good intentions. All of the choices I have made since the moment I learned I was carrying each of them have been choices made in their favor, on their behalf, with their very best interests at the forefront of my deliberative process. But they would have been better off had I chosen to be happy myself. I have now seen that much of their happiness flows from my own.
There are as many reasons why marriages do not last as there are marriages, and I have no plan to chronicle private details about the 24 years I spent with their father. What I will say is this: I believe that not everyone is meant to be or should be married, but many of us grew up believing that marriage and children were our inevitable destiny. I do not believe that marriage is conducive to my personality and habits. As I told one friend, “I don’t play well with others when it comes to my house and the way I want it maintained.” I am a very fastidious, orderly, organized person. I can’t stand clutter or chaos. I could never again cohabit with someone who is not as adamant about cleanliness as I am.
I would never presume to speak for or on behalf of BigBob. But I am happier than I have been in . . . oh, about 24 years. My boys tell me that they are much happier now and they certainly appear to be. They are flourishing in their new home with me, while maintaining, on their own terms, their relationships with their father. They bring Sophie over to our new home for what I refer to as “custodial visits,” and see Buddy when they go back to my other house where they still have their rooms.
I don’t believe in regret, so this will likely be the only “confessional” I will write. As time passes, the twinges of guilt are less frequent. The “V-8 moments” when I recall an incident or situation and know now what I didn’t know then, i.e., that it would have been an ideal time to move, are gradually becoming less intrusive and painful. My boys are confident in the fact that both of their parents love them unconditionally, but are flawed beings lacking prescience. And I am confident that all three of us are doing just fine — and will continue to thrive.