Last week I was at my kids’ school helping with an ice cream social. After doing the awkward “who among us here-to-help moms is in charge?” dance, I decided to just put my head down and work at the banana station. Partly because we’ve been watching “Arrested Development” lately and partly because no one else wanted to open and cut bananas in half “because they would get dirty”…not joking here, folks.
There was another mom who offered to help with the very time-consuming and sticky banana station. She didn’t really talk to me unless it was to ask for more bowls or a trash bag for the peels. During the rush of kids going through the line to get their banana splits, what I think was a neighborhood acquaintance of this other mom said “hello” to her and started offering her pleasantries asking how her husband was and such. I couldn’t hear every word of other mom’s response, but I was hearing enough and filling in the blanks to realize that she was informing neighborhood acquaintance about an impending divorce.
Neighborhood acquaintance asked something to the effect of how the kids were dealing with it, and other mom’s brazen response was “oh, it’s happening right now as we speak. We haven’t told them yet, we’ll tell them as soon as it’s done”.
If my heart could have audibly gasped, you would have heard the most bewildered groan ever. It’s almost Christmas, and you’re going to “surprise” your kids (one of which I gathered was a 3rd grade boy) with this devastating news?
Neighborhood acquaintance must have offered condolences or an “I’m so sorry” of some sort, but other mom next to me simply shrugged her shoulders and nonchalantly said, “hey, that’s life”.
That nearly made me scream, it was all I could do to see straight and not lop off my own finger while slicing the bananas from then on. My soul was screaming “NO! It isn’t ‘just life’–to shrug your shoulders like it’s no big deal that you’re breaking up a family. Do you have ANY idea how damaging this is going to be for your kids? I rescued a child from a broken family, and it’s heartbreaking. A child not having a mom AND a dad is NOT how it should be, and it is not what any child wants–especially for Christmas! If there is any way, anything within you that can keep this from happening, why wouldn’t you try? Why are you giving up so easily and playing it off like your car is about to get scratched, when in reality it’s more like you are all about to be in a near-fatal accident?”
Maybe my heart is extra tender right now because my dear friend (who is from a divorced family and STILL dealing with the repercussions of the divorce more than 20 years later, and now her own kids are being affected too) shared recently that one of her neighbors was also throwing in the towel much too quickly and easily on a marriage where kids would pay the consequences, and how despondent she felt knowing what was in store for those kids. Or maybe its because I’m reading Jim Daly’s book “Finding Home” right now, where abandonment and death wreaked havoc on his young life.
I just groaned for the kids. This is going to be a ROUGH life for them. Talk about unfair, and kids having to pay for the sins of their fathers & mothers. Despite not knowing other mom’s name, her life, her situation, her husband, or her kids I was deeply troubled by the two minute exchange I witnessed.
Pouring this out to God in the van as I left the school and holding back tears, I attempted to find something good in this situation. I couldn’t think of much, but here’s what little I could come up with.
I’m thankful that the little boy whose parents are going to surprise him with the news of their divorce is in the same grade as my son. My little boy is intuitive, sensitive, and kind. And if in the future this other little boy ever needs a safe place to be, where the complications of his home life are shut outside the walls so he can just be a kid, then knowing my son is his ticket into our safe and steady home.
As I sit in church and watch baptisms and listen to the stories that led many of the kids to the deep decision they have made to profess their faith in Christ, a surprisingly large number of them stemmed from family trauma and hurt, and the willingness of friends or neighbors to come alongside these kids and fill a void or a bind wound that was dealt them unfairly in their youth.
If there is any consolation and redemption to be had, I desire and am willing for it to be in my home and on my watch. Maybe I was splitting bananas so my heart would be more open, tender, and aware of the hurts happening all around me and my kids that we can help soothe and bear in the days, weeks, and years ahead right here where God has placed us.