The Only Child Plus 8 :: A Thank You to My Divorced Parents

I think it was a few years ago I started replying “I’m an only child plus eight” when people ask me if I have any siblings. This response is always met with contemplation and confusion. But it’s true! I am an original. Today I want to share with you a little bit about MY blended family. And I say MY because no one else in my immediate family has the same immediate family as me.

My parents have been divorced since I was two years old; for thirty-five years, my parents have been divorced. My stepmom entered my life when I was eight years old. My stepdad entered my life in my early twenties. My mom has given me a brother and a sister. My dad has given me two brothers and a sister. My stepdad has given me three stepbrothers. My krewe is deep y’all!

Dear Parents, Thank You.

I grew up with five of my siblings, and I’m a big sister to all of them. This tribe prepared me for motherhood. I love being a big sister as much as I love being a mom. Meeting my stepbrothers was like meeting three new friends you knew nothing about other than they seemed pretty cool … happy to confirm the cool was real. I have a different relationship with each of my siblings, and I love them all the same. As you might know from my previous blogs, I’m a single mom to an 11-year-old boy. My six brothers each play a role in his life. He has core memories and relationships with each of them. I love that so much for him. I think my little sisters are the only two people on the planet that scare me a little bit 😉 I’m roughly 10 years older than our girl. She’s the best nanny in the world! And I’m twenty days shy of being 18 years older than our mini. She fills the unofficial big sis shoes like a pro. Before I became a mom, my siblings were my favorite people in the world. Now they all hold the title second the best.

When I tell people I’m an only child plus eight, I usually follow that up pretty quickly with I really don’t know the side of having divorced parents people talk about the most. On the surface level, I think any child of divorce will tell you having divorced parents sucks. My parents get along, and I still think having divorced parents sucks. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about why things suck a whole lot less for me. I want to talk about why I feel guilty for feeling having divorced parents sucks.

I have no memory of my parents being married or living under the same roof. My parents got divorced right before it became trendy. I definitely grew up in the era when divorce rates rose to 50%. There was a solid decade where the kids I was growing up with, in the community and within my own family, had parents getting divorced. And most of these divorces were messy and ugly. I didn’t understand why people were confused when my dad was at my mom’s house, or my mom was at my dad’s house. I didn’t understand why people said I was lucky. I didn’t understand why my parents getting along was cool.

Dear Parents, Thank You.

I don’t know what it’s like to get divorced. But I do know what it’s like to try and co-parent with someone you don’t respect or like very much. I know what it’s like to compromise. I know what it’s like to play nice. I tried for about two years, including through my pregnancy. I also know what it’s like to have TWO PARENTS who literally exampled and lived and breathed the right way to coparent, and who are still doing this today. There is no deviating from that standard. Anything less is just a waste of time. It’s been little more than ten years since we’ve had contact with my son’s other person. And I promise you, my son has never heard me speak a nasty word. Not one. My son is entitled to his own emotions and feelings. Right now, my son is pretty angry and has many things to say about it. I bite my tongue A LOT. It’s my job to support him on that journey with an unbiased and truthful heart.

My parents taught me that. Literally.

My parents have never made me feel sad because they are divorced. I’ve never felt conflicted. My parents have never made me choose between them. My parents have never made me feel fought over. My parents always supported me financially, and I don’t just mean monthly child support checks. If my parents did fight, it was NEVER in front of me. I’m completely oblivious to anything. And this doesn’t mean I’m naive and think it didn’t happen. Of course, it happened.

But it’s never happened in front of me.

I have a stepmom who chaperoned my field trips in grammar school. I have a stepdad who volunteers at my son’s school for Taco Tuesday. My stepbrother surprised our parents first with a grandgirl. I surprised them with a grandboy just a few months later. We may live cross country from one another, but our kiddos very much look forward to spending two weeks together every summer. My brother on my mom’s side has Saints season tickets with my dad. When I visit my mom or dad’s side of the family, my family ALWAYS asks how the other parent/side of the family is doing. We can all be under one roof together. We invite each other to birthday parties, graduation celebrations, and weddings.

Dear Parents, Thank You.

My parents and I have been through a lot together. We’ve survived a lot together and individually too. Life has been really messy and really hard at times. We’re all stronger and better people because of each other. I know my parents had disagreements. I know my parents had moments where they probably didn’t like each other very much. I’ve had moments where I didn’t like my parents very much, and I talked to the other parent about it, and I KNOW I didn’t have nice things to say. But it didn’t matter. I would vent, parent would listen, and parent would play Switzerland. It’s been 35 years and I have yet to hear my parents speak nasty about each other. Again, I’m not naive to think they haven’t done it.

But it’s never happened in front of me.

My family is not perfect. Truthfully, we’re a hot freaking mess! We’re all a little crazy. Some more than others 🙂 We’re overly honest most of the time. We don’t always agree. We give unsolicited opinions. We love pushing boundaries. But I truly cannot imagine my family being any other way. I love us exactly as we are. I’m grateful to have these 12 in my corner. I’m an original in a mix of many because my two perfectly imperfect parents would settle for nothing less.

Dear Parents, Thank You.

My Fab Four celebrating my birthday a few years ago!!!


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