Reflecting back to my years as a child there are the memories that I predominantly remember, there are the ones that I do not remember at all & then there are the ones I wish I didn't remember.
Each of these memories are a story, & not all the stories need to be told.
Realistically this moment is one that I wish I didn't recall & it really is no story. But it did however influence my life more than I ever thought it would.
I asked my mother once many, many years ago if my parents would ever get a divorce. She replied with 'No! Never unless there was cheating involved.'
At that time & through the time that followed, I thought this answer was admirable. They are that dedicated to each other, unless a 3rd party became involved they would always be married.
But really, all I ever saw (& I must stress that this is my view as their child) was 2 people who took vows, but struggled to be a couple.
When I was 9 & we moved to Ontario.
My mother always had herself identified as a teacher. She was good at it & was not the stay at home full time type.
She needed to work.
My father was the typical boomer Dad; must provide at all times for his family.
Money, Money, Money!
In Ontario back in those days, my mother was unable to teach as her degree was not recognized from Alberta to Ontario. So she was in a new province, with a new high wired son, us 2 daughters & a husband that worked A LOT!
I know & remember it was tough on her.
All our family & friends were back west.
For me as a child, it was easier to go out to school & make friends. I was outgoing so that was never an issue for me, but for my very introverted mother, it was an issue for her.
She did not make any close relationships over the time we were there & because she was shy, the desire to seek out friends was not an option.
It was for all of us a new world.
Everything was just a smidge different than Alberta.
Weather was humid (can’t wear 5 layers under your rain jacket), grocery stores were different, people talked about the mountains when they were hills (I grew up in the West, I knew what a mountain looked like) & there were no close family to help.
I was in Grade 4 by this point & my day was usually away from the house.
The sister was off to half day kindergarten & my dear brother was just settling into our family (well kind of). So my mother had to contend with a hyper toddler & the sensitive daughter.
Again, she was not built to be a full time stay at home parent.
As I write this I realize now that she went through something similar to what I went through these last few years. A huge transition, & a loss of self identity. However, if I asked her this today; 'Mom were you depressed when we were in Ontario?' She would say NO!
But as children we sense things. We know when things are not right in the universe.
I have always been the Mom that tells her kids what is going on, & do not hold any secrets from them. Lies, & withholding will only create an atmosphere of deception. I may not have given my children the complicated truth, but I did not lie, & withhold or deceive my children from the realities of life.
As our time in the East increased, there was this tension in the air that I could feel in my heart.
My Father worked 16 hour days 6 days a week, the only time he was around was when we went to church on Sundays, & most of the time he went straight back to work.
My parents, even back then would not say shit, if shit was in their mouth but I knew at 9 years old that they were having problems. There were closed door arguments. There was no presence of my father. There was the undertone of my mother muttering her frustration when he did not come home for dinner. There was the feeling of sorrow that filled the house.
I knew the whole time we were there that there was a walking eggshell type feeling. I had to watch what I said, what I did & how I behaved. My Mother's fuse was very short.
Did they talk to each other about their personal struggles with all that was going on?
Did they take some quality time together to keep the marriage strong?
There was no communication to me, or us on how it felt like their companionship was falling apart.
There was a team, but on separate courts.
There was a marriage, but no partnership.
I do not want to take away from their difficulties in their marriage, it may have been the best possible way that they knew how to handle it.
They are their own people. But I have learned, by watching & living through it.
Eventually 9 months after moving there, we headed back to West.
As soon as that move happened, my mother was more content.
Family was back, her career, & her life.
Moving forward a few years, I mentioned to her once about how their marriage struggled through that time. She gawked at me & said, 'Never did we or have had marriage issues'.
But I knew how I felt back then.
I knew how it affected me.
I eventually find a guy & we fall in love.
We do the marriage, kids thing.
We communicate for the most part.
And then I hit the beginning of my downward spiral.
He had no clue.
He had no idea that I was feeling the immense sorrow of solitude.
We talked about the kids, we talked about work, we talked about life.
But I left out the part about my depression.
My communication to my spouse during that time was non-existent.
Was I like my mother?
Did I hold a facade that everything was okay, when it clearly wasn't?
The last thing I would ever want in the world for me is to be like her.
Although I was going through my own turmoil, it was my responsibility to share it. I was the person that wore the mask & for me to expect him to know was plain & simply wrong on my part.
As I got older & a little wiser, I went from thinking my parents were the best team to realizing that they too, were a team that struggled. Whether they wanted to share it with us or not.
I wish I didn't have to remember that time in my life as the uncertainty of 'THEM' was a lot of a 9 year old to handle. But if anything it has taught me a life lesson; don't wear a mask. The key is having the relationship grow & maintain the marriage vows you took all those years ago.
Our children would tell you that they do not doubt that we are a team.
They would also tell you that we smile, laugh & love each other.
Lastly they would tell you, that I include them in the hardships of my life; marriage, finances, & relationships with others.
All relationships struggle & to tell people anything different is nothing but a big, fat lie!
The emulating I had as a child changed dramatically over the years.
I learned that I did not want my marriage to suffer the same.
My spouse & I have had some major bumps through our years. I also anticipate that there will be many more. But, we just need to remember to talk, listen & admit that there may be difficulties ahead for us.
You can do this!
Take a day & create a lunch date.
Talk even if you don’t want to.
Tell them everything.
Make them listen.
Create yourself the best type of partnership you deserve.
The difference between us & my parents?
We are a team that tries.
They took vows, for whatever that means.
I have had that answer too.