I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
February 21, 2011
>When I became a stepmother to eight and ten-year-old girls, one of my first new duties was serving as team mom for my eight-year-old’s soccer team.
I remember scanning the team roster with growing dismay as I noted the parents’ names:
Mr. and Mrs. Al and Maria Bernard
Ms. Jeanine Grayson
Mr. and Mrs. Steve and Abby Johnson
Ms. Catherine McGuiggan
Ms. Sue Davis
Ms. Cynthia McPherson
Dr. and Mrs. John and Sally Thompson
Ms. Eileen Boyd
Ms. Carol Parker
In this microcosm of typical suburban eight-year-olds, more than half of the girls’ parents had already divorced. As a newlywed, it didn’t make me feel very confident.
This flashback hit me five years later when my three-year-old daughter joined a soccer team of her own, and I received a roster composed entirely of kids whose parents were all still together. Based on this meticulous scientific research, I deduced that there’s a year somewhere between the time that a child is three and eight that tends to be a tipping point for a whole lot of marriages. As time went on, I realized it wasn’t happening at four. Or five.
But now, my daughter is six years old, a first grader, and it is becoming dismally clear to me that this, at last, is the Year It All Falls Apart.
Not for everyone, of course, and not all at once– Over the last few years, I’ve seen some marriages get stronger and others sputter and fail here and there like the occasional abandoned car on the interstate-
This year, though, it’s been different.
This year, I’ve watched a formerly confident friend break into pieces in the wake of learning that her husband was having an affair . This year, I’ve seen another friend struggle with anger and fear as she’s been forced to transition from married, stay-at-home mom to single, working mom. This year, today in fact, I’m feeling down after receiving an e-mail from an old friend detailing years of pain and sorrow that have led up to her decision to divorce. This year, for the first time, I can take a mental assessment of all of Punky’s friends and acquaintances and think of a sizable list of them with parents who are either newly separated or newly divorced.
This is the Year it All Falls Apart.
Or at least, the year it starts to.
We all enter marriage with that dire statistic in the backs of our minds– the one that tells us half of all marriages will end in divorce. In some ways, accepting a marriage proposal feels a little like spinning the roulette wheel. Red says we’re happy, black promises attorney fees and child support checks in our futures.
I suppose the split-ups are starting among the moms and dads of my daughter’s set because once the kids are in school, it becomes a little easier for both parents to get jobs of their own– and to visit a divorce attorney. And I’m well aware from raising older girls that from now on, we’ll see more and more couples calling it quits each year. We’ll hear a few more tales from our kids of friends’ dads sleeping in the den. Or kids moving out of state with newly-ringless moms who want to be closer to their extended families. Or kids coming to terms with a new stepparent.
For the first time, though, I’m seeing couples that I’m close to go through it- Couples who’ve laughed with us over dinner and a bottle of wine in our dining room, who’ve sat beside us at soccer games, who’ve raised their own babies alongside ours.
And while I knew from a statistical standpoint that many of the marriages around me were bound to fail, I had no idea how painful it would be to watch.
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