My parents have been going through a nasty split for the past year... seems like forever now.. forever because the details are sordid, the reasons are pathetic and it is so tragically sad when one discovers that you are now wiser and more sane than your parents.
Sordid because my father left my mom after refusing for years to get her help for mental instability -- yet he is a doctor.. he chose to ignore it which has made the situation worse - oh so undeniably bad. He is also pathetically going through an "old-life" phase... which means he has taken up with his high school girlfriend -- because (wait for it) the two of them have actually been seeing each other the entire time he has been married to my mom. Yup.. the entire time.. throughout my sister's birth..... my birth, toddlerhood, scraped knees, camp drop offs...endless riding lessons, boyfriends, high school angst, marriages, the birth of my daughter.... the whole entire time. It makes me ill to think of. But there you go -- ripped from the headlines sordid (Arnold and Maria anyone!)
Pathetic because my parents can't get their shit together. And mostly pathetic because the person who suffers through all this...isn't me because I have become numb to the details.... not my sister because she has (wisely) cut off contact with my dad and is dealing with mom's antics at arm's length -- but most definitely is my daughter. It is my daughter who will lose.. she barely has any contact with either grandparent; my father is too busy trying to reclaim his lost high school years that we rarely see him.. until he makes a five minute stopover on his way from point A to Point B (Gee, thanks.. hope it wasn't too much trouble) and my mom has just been too consumed with her own misery and abandonment that she cannot literally see the forest from the trees. She chooses to stay isolated in her home.... rather than spend time with her granddaughter.
For the most part, the husband and I can laugh at it - we can laugh at the absurdity of such painfully selfish people who are my parents. If it weren't for the reminders that there are amazing grandparents out there... I might not notice my parents giant lack of empathy.
Those reminders arrive almost daily in the form of all those loving grandparents out there who have an invested interest in their grandkids. And yes.. I am jealous. I am jealous when we run into friends, their cheeks flushed with giddy excitement when they announce -- we've just dropped the kids off at grandma and grandpa's place and now we are off for a weekend of adult fun and bonding. Oh the joy of it all! While I wish my friends much fun during their weekend away sans children, I can't ignore the cloying nausea, the hurt in my heart knowing that will never be me. My husband and I give each other a knowing glance and say our usual "We're in this together - just you and I!"
The worst reminders are the times, too many to note, where we are at our boat for the weekend and we see someone's grandparents parading down the dock -- matching Tilly hats and pressed khaki shorts with two apple-cheeked kids in tow. "We are off for a sail this morning and going to take the grandkids to a drive-in this evening -- we are so happy to have them this weekend!"
Again, I fight back the tears, I fight back the hurt.... the husband and I give each other our all-too-familiar knowing glance. It sucks. Many times we have joked -- let's put an ad in the paper to hire grandparents. There must be some sort of grandparent foster program out there ... or maybe I have stumbled upon something! But first I often wonder if I can just divorce my parents. They certainly have not added anything to my life for many, many years and certainly are not going out of their way to make up for it.
Indeed, we are in this together dear husband and for the most part, I wouldn't have it any other way... yet sometimes it would be nice to have caring and invested grandparents who can laugh when Lu tells her endless knock-knock jokes, or when she earnestly tries to peddle her bike - pigtails flying, grinning ear to ear, or when she asks me to draw yet another unicorn for her growing collection. Or most importantly, when we watch her on stage at her kindergarten concert - the husband and I are beaming as we glance around the sweltering gymnasium at all the families with grandparents -- cameras flashing to capture the fleeting moment... I grab the husband's hand, look toward the stage at the gorgeous children singing their hearts out and think to myself.... "We're in this together... you and I!"