It’s not like I was scared of being alone. I had been single ’til the age of thirty-five. I knew that I could live happily and healthily without a significant other. But now I had a child and with all the things I prided myself on: doing things the right way (being educated, being married, traveling the world, giving my husband and I significant wait time to bring a child into the marriage) I was not ready to accept the fact that despite everything, I had failed. The ego boosts I had provided myself based on having done the right thing aside, the bottom line was that, throughout the marriage, both of us had changed. Neither one of us was too fond of the person the other had become. But, most importantly, we refused to work with the person the other had become.
He was not a bad person. Neither was I. We didn’t hate each other. We were simply incompatible in the most important ways. Our relationship had exploded in a mess of never-ending power struggles and finally, imploded in a ritual of continuous ultimatums and relentless stone-walling that led nowhere. After each blowout, we retreated back to our separate corners and stayed there, tiptoeing around the boxing ring only to perform the most basic functions of life, carefully avoiding eye contact or the slightest hint of our respective humanity. We had failed. I had failed.
I had to decide: Was I going to remain in a marriage that both of us had admitted we didn’t want anymore and that we were in only for the sake of our daughter? It was possible. Many couples have done it and are doing it rather successfully. My husband and I were certainly candidates for the situation. After all, we lived together quite peacefully. It’s not like my daughter would grow up around persistent arguing and fighting. We had done a good job, in my opinion, of coexisting as roommates who cooked separately, shopped separately, ate separately, slept separately, fantasized, dreamed and planned separately—only communicating for the sake of our daughter. (“Did you see what she did yesterday? She’s so funny.” “Can you pick her up from school tomorrow?” “Did she eat all of her food?” “She’s a little under the weather today.”)
So, while I barely had a marriage, at least, my daughter would still have Mommy and Daddy together. She would experience what I never had: living with both of my parents under the same roof. I remember watching a video of a popular hip hop music mogul being interviewed by a very famous British interviewer, the same interviewer who had interviewed Michael Jackson years before his death. The interviewer asked questioned him about his stated desire to be a role model to others and asked him, in the light of his having several children by several women, did he feel that he was role model material? The hip hop mogul, naturally felt a bit defensive, stated that his while he admits that his children deserved more personal time with him, that they attended excellent schools and were well-taken care of financially—to which the interviewer then interrupted by stating, “But you don’t live with them.” And I remember hearing that, and in my own little mind, trying to rationalize my shortcomings as a parent (and financially struggling was definitely one of them), I said to myself, “Wow. His kids may have all the things that money can buy, but, they don’t have what my daughter has: life under the same roof as their dad.” And I patted myself on the back and allowed myself that temporary ego boost in the midst of a life that sorely needed it!