Over the years, I’ve read many romances where the heroine or hero had children with a divorced (or never married) spouse. I find it all interesting to see how younger authors handle the situation. It appears to be one extreme to the other. The parents get along like old distant friends to pure hate for each other. Sounds about right from what I see nowadays.
My parents divorced at the beginning of the new norm (kids living in two households) in the 1960s. Check out this chart. I thought it was interesting how there was one bump after World War II. I guess all of those misbehaving war brides got kicked out the door. (Thinking of Bridges of Madison County – I intensely dislike that book. Cheating war bride.)
Considering divorce is the lowest it’s been since pre-WII, it’s still high and there are children still dealing with a parent who isn’t there 100% and often 0% of the time, along with strange step-parents and half and step-siblings. I mean strange as in their habits are not the same ones you are used to from the first five to ten years of your life. And many children are living in poverty because don’t we know it takes two incomes to make an average living, and sadly, women make only 80% of what men do in the same job. In the state I live, it’s 74%. I believe it. Click here to read more.
Anyway, I remember how I felt when I “visited” with my dad. I wasn’t lucky enough to have room to myself. I slept either on a sofa-sleeper or in the sewing room. A few times, I had to sleep in the same bed with my step-sister. Talk about uncomfortable. I know she resented it despite how I was one of those kids who was taught to not touch anything that isn’t hers, including not to open drawers, cabinets, or closets. So I made sure to place my suitcase in an empty corner and took out what I needed and put it back when I was through. I still place my hands behind my back when I look at something that belongs to someone else.
I’ll never forget one time when my dad and his wife and her kids moved into a new home. She had white shag carpet in the living room and we were told to never walk into there. I remember standing in the foyer and just looking at the room and thinking I never want a room where I worried about messing it up.
On one of my visits, I had been roaming around the yard outside, her kids were usually somewhere else when my brother and I came to stay (maybe their father’s). I was called in for lunch and I washed my hands in the upstairs bathroom (I don’t remember one being downstairs). After we ate and I helped clear the table, I sat on the couch watching TV with my dad, my step-mom called my name, fury in her voice. “It was you who used my fancy towel. Don’t you ever put your dirty, wet hands on them again.” She chewed on me some more but that’s all I remember. I was so embarrassed. So whenever I went to her house, I wiped my wet hands on my pants. All her towels looked new and fancy.
Even as an adult, and they lived in a big house that had a guest bathroom downstair, she never had a towel in there, not even the fancy kind. Remember, I’ve been taught never to open closets or cabinets in houses that don’t belong to me. And my dad’s house was never my home. I was a guest. It wasn’t until the last couple years before she left my dad did she ever place towels in there.
Funny thing about that is she had a little long haired dog. I wouldn’t ever touch it because I wouldn’t have a towel to dry my hands after washing them and I wouldn’t let my kids touch it either. Occasionally, I would get a paper towel and take it in the bathroom with me for the kids. When she finally did place towels in the bathroom, I would pet her newest dog (the other one had died) and she’d said, “I thought you didn’t like dogs.” I said it was because I had to handle the kids at the same time. Never pointing out, I couldn’t wash my hands because I would have to dry them on my pants more often than I did at the time. I never told her the real reason.
It may all sound stupid to you. You’re probably wondering why didn’t I ever ask for a towel. Maybe part of it was because I was chewed out about the fancy towel and in the back of my mind I figured all of her towels were fancy. My mom didn’t have fancy ones. We couldn’t afford them.
By the way, my oldest daughter (she was an adult then) asked for one. I remember being worried my stepmom would jump on my daughter and I would have a fight on my hands. No one spoke ugly to my kids. But my stepmom made a big deal of finding one and then she pulled out a raggedly towel. To think of it, I believe that was when she finally started to have one in the bathroom (probably 85% of the time).
I always wondered what her kids did for one or did they go around with dirty hands? Or maybe they could use the fancy ones.