Advocate November 2018
The holidays can be incredibly difficult in the aftermath of a divorce, especially when you share custody. As Thanksgiving approaches, my heart goes out to all the brave women we’ve had the privilege to represent over the years, and to their children. Speaking not as an attorney but as the daughter of a divorced household, I’ve seen firsthand how this particular holiday can amplify the pain, frustration, and confusion faced by separated families. For what it’s worth, my experience with the holiday has evolved and blossomed with time. Everyone heals differently after a divorce, but if it helps you find strength in this difficult time, I’d like to share my story. My childhood memories of Thanksgiving center on the Air Florida terminal of the Jacksonville Airport. My brother and I would sit with anticipation next to our gate, still young enough to be excited to fly on our own. Our father had moved to Washington, D.C., after the divorce, and every year, we made our way up to see him. Not wanting to leave us alone before the flight, our mother waited patiently beside us, studying her CPA books. Despite all that had happened, she still had the strength to put herself through school. I didn’t make things easier on her though. Every year, as Thanksgiving approached, I picked a fight with my mother. I never even recognized this pattern until she called me out on it. In the middle of one of these arguments, she calmly told me, “I know this makes it easier for you to leave me.” I immediately realized she was right. I hadn’t consciously chosen to be difficult, but being mad at her made it that much easier to march onto that plane and to hug my father when we landed.
My mom saw what I was doing and did all she could to make it clear to me that loving my father was not a betrayal to her. She wanted us to go and spend time with him on the holidays and to enjoy doing it. To their credit, neither my mom or dad tried to turn me against one another. As bitterly as things ended between them, they were determined not to let that animosity spread to my brother and me. That may be the greatest lesson our parents taught us: The human capacity for love and joy is infinite. We don’t have to pick and choose who we care about. I wish I could go back to that terminal and help my younger self understand that, despite everything, my mom just wanted my brother and me to have a good Thanksgiving. I wish I could explain to that young girl that her parents were doing the best they could with what they had. But that’s not how divorce works for kids. You can’t explain away the pain and confusion. Healing comes with time. Last year, my parents came to the same Thanksgiving dinner for the first time since their divorce. There, under the roof of my brother’s home, our families came together without barriers. It was so incredible for the kids to get to see their grandparents getting along, and for my brother and me, the experience was nothing less than surreal. It took a long time to get to this point, but some silver linings are worth the wait. Divorce will always be difficult, especially this time of year. But with time, love, and forgiveness, you never know what’s possible.
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Here’s to all the things our parents teach us,
“THAT MAY BE THE GREATEST LESSON OUR PARENTS TAUGHT US: THE HUMAN CAPACITY FOR LOVE AND JOY IS INFINITE. WE DON’T HAVE TO PICK AND CHOOSE WHO WE CARE ABOUT.”
-Heather Qu ick
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