It’s been almost five years since sixth grade me woke up to the smell of Saturday morning breakfast on a brisk and snowy January morning. I walked into the kitchen and sat at the table. The tension between my parents was thicker than the fleece pajamas my little brother was wearing.
Breakfast went on as it always did. Then my parents went into the living room and asked us to follow. “Your father and I are getting a divorce,” my mother said.
As an 11 year old, I didn’t understand the depth of those eight words as I watched my sister cry on the chair across from me. Whether or not my eight year old brother actually understood or not, I’ve always hoped he didn’t at that young of an age.
It’s been almost three months since soon to be eleventh grade me sat at the kitchen table eating Sunday dinner with my family as my mother said, “Your father and I have filed for a divorce.”
My parents went on to explain how they each had a lawyer and how my mom was going to be moving out soon. They had to write a plan for the judge. This plan would dictate where I spent certain holidays and weekends and how everything was going to work out.
At first I was really excited that it was all finally happening. Being in limbo for any longer had to be worse than anything that would come from my parents splitting up.
I started a packing list that night while lying in bed. I split the paper down the middle with my pen and titled one side “Dad’s house” and one side “Mom’s house”.
Things like toothbrush and toothpaste were on both lists along with my beloved iPhone charger. I was still uncertain about how I would divide up my clothes and everything else since I would be switching houses every couple of days.
I knew it would be hard to manage everything at first, but it was all trial and error. Everyone told me it would become easier eventually. I thought I was ready for this big transition, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t ready at all.
On September 14th, I stood in my room with a duffle bag on my bed in front of me and a laundry basket full of clothes on the floor to the right of me. I started tossing random shirts, my favorite leggings and sweatpants and other things I thought I might need while at my mom’s house into my bag.
I turned towards my door headed to the bathroom so I could grab my toothbrush and looked up to see my dad standing in my doorway with tears streaming down his face.
Nothing hurts more than trying to stay strong while watching your dad cry.
I tried to hold in the tears as I gave him a hug and said “It will be okay, Dad,” with a wavering voice. But the tears fell onto his shoulder anyways.
I continued to pack my things and then carried my bags to the car. My mom had moved the day before, but I had a volleyball tournament so I couldn’t help. I hadn’t even been inside her house yet.
I hadn’t felt the carpet between my toes in my new bedroom or figured out where the laundry soap was kept. It was all new to me as soon as I stepped through the door.
I got up to my new room and started to unpack right away, I just wanted to be alone. Hot tears rolled down my face and onto my wooden dresser as I placed my folded jeans in the drawer. My dresser was half empty and my closet had maybe ten shirts on the rod, but I couldn’t bring it all so it was always going to be that way and I’d just have to get used to it.
My room only has one outlet in it and it’s on the opposite side as my bed. At my dad’s house I have an outlet on each wall because he’s an electrician and did that in all of the rooms at his house. But we didn’t have that luxury at my mom’s house anymore. So I had to find a really long extension cord and make it work.
“We’ll make it work” seems to be the new moto for our family. There’s so much to work out, like how does my brother get to my mom’s house after school since the bus only takes him to my dad’s house and if I break my leg, who pays for it.
Or even the simple things like making sure I have all of my homework and textbooks for my classes when I switch house needs to be planned out. My whole life has to be carefully planned out now.
I know this was hard on all of my family and no one said life would be easy, but it isn’t supposed to be this hard either. It’s like one day I woke up and my whole world had flipped a 180 and each day brings a new set of curve balls. Nothing I try seems to make me able to hit them and score. I’m just out of luck and this game isn’t fun anymore.