Divorce Memoirs: Maybe | Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

February 22, 2012

Divorce Memoirs: Maybe

Last week, I started a post series on the topic of Divorce.  One aspect of the discussion will be a letter I have written to a kid dealing with divorce (shared over the course of several weeks). Another aspect I am introducing today. Weekly, along with the letter, I will be sharing some narratives I've written on specific memories  I experienced over the course of my parents divorce. I hope it encourages you to tell your stories, to partake in discussion, to be apart of the conversation.  In case you missed them, you can go back and read the Intro post and Letter to a Divorced Kid, Part I.

Thanks for being apart of the journey.

~ Steph



One word.  It took only one word for my world to start to crumble.

She gave me an unexpected answer. The day, imprinted perfectly in my mind, was New Year’s Eve and I was dress shopping with my mom. The Winter Formal was only a few weeks away, and it would be my first official high school dance. I had missed the Homecoming Dance, due to a prior family engagement, and regretted it terribly. There were so many stories of what I had missed: boys I could have danced with, songs I could have swayed to, laughs I could have exchanged, the dress I could have worn.  I didn’t know I would miss so much more, only months later.

Mom put the car in park, and absently opened the door with her left hand.  Her face, vacant. Her hair, unwashed.  But she had insisted we go out and find a dress.  And after a week of barely hearing her talk, holed up in her bedroom, I obliged.

I struggled to concentrate on the myriad colors and cloth on the racks in front of me. I couldn’t stop stealing glances of Mom, who wandered aimlessly around the store.  Every once in a while, her arm would slowly raise to touch a dress, feeling the soft fabric between her fingers.  I began to worry that maybe something was really wrong.  Was she sick? I wondered. Did something terrible happen that I know nothing about?

I found a dress that met the stringent qualifications to make an appearance at a high school dance, so we paid and walked back out to the car. I let my mind wander as the ignition growled and the car jumped to life.  There was an uneasy feeling building in my stomach, a question I wanted to ask, but I couldn’t bring myself to give it voice.

Sometimes we ask questions because we know the answer. Because we need the answers to be true.  To never change. These answers are the constants in a life of variables. We have an arsenal of these questions. We hold them dear because they give us comfort, give us life.  Because we know the answers, and as long as our answers remain constant, our universe stays in place.  We are safe.

Attempts at small talk were futile at best.  I wanted to dig into whatever problem I was sensing.  Are you ok, Mom? She answered with a shrug.  Do you want to talk about it? She shook her head. Following the lead of my gut, I asked, Does it have to do with Dad? Eyes glistening, she gave me a small nod.

Asking the question was inevitable.  I mentally unearthed it from my bag of Constants.  The anxiety was building and I needed to find comfort, fast. I needed to ask so that my axis did not tilt and my world did not shift.  I needed things to be ok.  So I drew in a breath and asked.

Are you getting a divorce?



Sometimes we ask questions because we know the answer.  To find comfort. To be assured that the constants in our life were still constant. That things are under control.  That we are ok.

It started with a small piece here, followed by a larger piece there.  Slowly, my world began to crumble, right there in the car, all around me.  With one word, the biggest constant in my life became a variable.  With one word, my axis tilted, and my world began to fall apart.  




Would I be ok? Would we be ok?

The only answer I could come up with:



Read the next chapter in Divorce Memoirs: I Knew.

I hope you'll share a comment with your thoughts, questions and stories. 


  1. The thing about Maybe is it is not No. It means there is always hope. You cannot ever strip someone of hope - it may be all they have. Maybe also allows for a lot of different scenarios. You start to realize that things can and will change...some are scary, some not so much. It's part hope, part preparation, part coping. Maybe gives us an.opportunity to live questions now...because we aren't yet ready for answers we can live. It can be scary but also brave and courageous.

    1. Chrissie - that is SO TRUE - and I've never thought about it that way before. You said that really well.

  2. I wasn't going to read this, honestly, because I thought it doesn't apply to me. Even though, my parents separated and then divorced when I was a sophomore/junior in high school. Like you, I did sense something and asked the question before they came to my sister and I and talked about what they were going to do.

    Now I wonder if maybe it affected me more than I wanted to acknowledge. I need to think about that. I think my sister was affected both in her relationship to my dad and her relationships with men. While I found one guy right after college and have spent the last almost 20 years with him, my sister has been through 3 serious relationships including 1 engagement and 1 divorce.

    Thank you for writing this!

    1. I totally hear you, Barb. A post I have on the back burner in my mind is that we often don't realize how we've been affected...until we realize it. I've realized so much how it plays into insecurities I have, how I interact with my husband - but I'm choosing to make different choices. It's worth thinking about - I especially see how it has affected my sisters emotionally as well. More to come on the topic!

  3. I want to share this with you and I hope it will help you as it did for me as a parent. It was given to me during a time in my life I needed support. Gifts That Last A Life Time..
    The first gift I will give my children is the gift of EXAMPLE.
    The second gift I will give my children is the gift of HUGS.
    The third gift I will give my children is the gift of TIME.
    The fourth gift I will give my children is the gift of PRAISE.
    The fifth gift I will give my children is the gift of GUIDANCE.
    The sixth gift I will give my children is the gift of COMMUNICATION.
    The seventh gift I will give my children is the gift of LEARNING.
    The eight gift I will give my children is the gift of LAUGHTER & PLAN.
    The ninth gift I will give my children is the gift of RESPONSIBILITY.
    The tenth gift I will give my children is the gift of PERMISSION FOR THEIR FEELINGS.
    The eleventh gift I will give my children is the gift of PERMISSION FOR THEIR MISTAKES.
    The twelfth gift I will give my children is the gift of Freedom.

    I hope I lived by this writing and If I did not commit to all of them I guess I fall in the the eleventh gift.

    A parents love and gift to our children!

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Hey! Share a thought or two - I'd love to hear from you! ~ Steph

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