Column: Hail to single parents

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Column: Hail to single parents

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By Sara Tucker, Inside Columnist

My parents split in 1996. At the age of two, I became that kid with the divorced parents who spent every other weekend with her dad. My family was concerned that my parents had “set me up for failure” or that my ideas about love and healthy relationships had been forever flawed. Divorce isn’t the greatest thing you can do for a kid, but I’m here to say that it’s really not the worst thing in the world either.

There were plenty of moments when I hated being the kid whose parents were divorced, plenty of moments when I missed by dad and plenty of moments when I wished my parents had never separated. But now, at the ripe age of 20, I’m accepting of my parents’ divorce in many ways, but primarily because of its creation of an irreplaceable relationship with my mom.

When I was in school, I spent about 25 days of every month with my mom. I lived with her, ate with her, complained to her and fought with her. She was my public enemy number one more often than not, but she was also my biggest supporter. I’m forever grateful for that, and I’m also forever grateful that she’s never stopped taking care of me.

She’s absolutely my best friend. Call it cheesy if you want, but she’s usually the first person I call when I want to talk about something exciting or upsetting or annoying. While she probably wouldn’t stay up until 3 in the morning watching the Game Show Network and eating pizza with me, she would drive 900-some miles to help me move into a new dorm, to carry and unpack a disgusting number of boxes and to go grocery shopping with me (she paid, too).

She’s the one who helps me decide what to wear on the first day of work, but she’s also the one who tells me when my outfit is too scandalous to even consider leaving the house. She laughs with me when she’s not laughing at me, and she rubs aloe on my back when I forget to reapply sunscreen.

Divorce sucks for all parties involved, but maybe sometimes the kid turns out better when he or she is raised in a stable home by one parent rather than what would have been an incredibly unstable one had they stayed together. Many people’s attitudes towards divorce are that the couple should stick it out for the kids, but what kid wants parents who fight and scream and disagree? I’ve never known a life with a happy couple for parents, but I’m sure that a life with two happy separated parents is better than one with two unhappy ones who happen to live in the same house.

I’m not pro-divorce by any means, and I think the divorce rate in this country is appalling. I’d like to believe that when I get married, I’ll stay that way for the rest of my life. I’d like to believe that I’ll be happy while I’m at it. But I’d also like to believe that I wouldn’t put my kids through hell trying to make something work that just isn’t going to.

At some point during middle school, I watched my mom cry over a box of old love notes from my dad. Some of them were on post its, some on napkins, others on little scraps of paper. And while I never knew what they were like together, I caught a glimpse of the love they shared, where I was naive enough to think there had only ever been hatred.

My mom taught me to love, and she also taught me how to live, how to balance a checkbook and do laundry and make homemade pesto. She taught me how to eat healthy and take care of myself, how to work hard and never give up until I’ve done my best job. She taught me how to succeed.

Thanks, mom.

Photo courtesy dailycloudt, Creative Commons.