I was only six years old when my parents got divorced. It was a difficult age to be at because I was too young to have sensed it coming and I was too old to grow up in two separates homes without knowing anything of a different lifestyle.
I remember my parents calling my and sister and I downstairs. They were both sitting on the couch by the window in the lounge, my dad on the left and my mum on the right. Both were looking very stiff and serious as they looked at their young and hopeful daughters. Dad told us that they were getting a divorce, and it was the first time that I had ever seen him cry. There’s something so terrifying when you see one of your parents cry for the first time (or any time, really) and it’s like you know that something must be very, very wrong.
I don’t remember much of Dad packing his bags and moving out so it must have happened fairly quickly afterwards. But one thing I do remember is Mum dropping me off at school the following months. She would always come right into my classroom with me to make sure I got there safety. But many of the times after the divorce, she would burst into tears as she was dropping me off. My teacher would be trying to comfort my mum, who was completely devastated by our recent home life changes. Even though I was only six years old, it broke my heart to see my mum in this way.
My sister and I ended up having to split our week between being at two houses. Monday was at Mum’s, Tuesday and Wednesday was at Dad’s, Thursday was back and Mum’s, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday was with whichever we were spending the weekend with. We alternated between their houses each weekend so that they would both get to spend equal time with us. This went on for many years. You have to admit, the routine was pretty all over the place. My sister and I were constantly having to pack an overnight (or weekend) bag and then unpack it just a day later. It’s a pretty confusing routine for anyone aged 7 – 16, anyway.
When Dad moved out, my sister and I got to spend a lot of quality time with him and I remember thinking ‘Maybe everything will be okay, even tough they aren’t together anymore. We can still have fun with both parents’. The reason why I thought this was because our dad would always find fun things for us all to do together. Sometimes we would go bike-riding around our neighbourhood and play games at a park with huge, shady leaves that we pretended was a time-travel machine and when you stepped through it was like you were being transported back in time. Other times we would have water fights in our garden or run through the sprinklers on hot, summer days. We would watch DVD’s together at night and help Dad make his delicious chocolate cake for a special dessert.
But when I was about 10 years old, I noticed that Dad’s friend was spending a lot of time at his house. Dad introduced her as his ‘friend’, who would often stay for dinner and most of the evening before he would drop her back to her flat in the city each night. I didn’t know her that well but I also didn’t mind; I wanted my dad to have friends. Except one day she moved in with us. Dad didn’t explain what was happening to either of us, assuming we would understand.
I’m pretty sure my sister knew what this meant because she was three years older than me at the time and was old enough to understand. On the other hand, I was only 10 years old and I needed it to be explained to me. I had no idea what was happening or why she was moving in. I think maybe Dad was hoping to avoid that conversation because otherwise he would have to say out loud ‘I’ve moved on since leaving your mum’.
Despite her moving in with us, it actually took me a good little while to realise that she was his new girlfriend. The only reason I knew this was because one day when we were all at the markets together, I overhead him telling someone at a food stall that she was his ‘girlfriend’. My little 10 year old ears were so shocked to hear that. How could he have moved on since Mum?
And of course, all of the fun games and activities we used to do together stopped as three became four. Even when we were staying at his house, we barely saw Dad over the weekend. Him and his girlfriend were constantly going out to do things together and my sister and I were never invited to go with them. I remember that Dad would just pop his head round my bedroom door and tell me that they were going to the markets or go to get some things…it was never accompanied by an invitation to go with them. So, my sister and I would always be left at his cold, creaky house while they were gone for most of the day. That was how a lot of our weekends went when we were at his house.
Every second weekend would be our turn at Dad’s house and I started to dread it because I knew how it would be. I think that a lot of the time, my sister and I felt quite lonely being left in the house by ourselves. We were also quite sad that we were never asked to go with them. I don’t think it was intentional, it’s just that sometimes Dad doesn’t think to offer even somewhat obvious things and probably didn’t realise how it must have seemed to us. I don’t know about my sister, but it made me feel like I wasn’t wanted at his house.
On top of that, his girlfriend would often pull childish faces at me when I did or said something she didn’t like. One time, we were both brushing our teeth in the same bathroom and she purposely turned the light off on her way out, leaving me standing there in the dark. I was only about 13 at the time, but it honestly felt like she was the child due to her behaviour. Another thing she did which I didn’t like was constantly criticising the dinner that Dad had made for all of us, and she would say what was wrong with it at the dining table when we were all eating.
It was like she never had anything nice to say, and I felt sorry for Dad having to put up with living with someone like her every day. At least my sister and I were able to get away from her every second weekend; Dad had to be with her every day. She would talk rudely about us while we were in the same room as her and not care about us hearing her and she would also pull faces at Mum when she came round to pick us up. I couldn’t believe how childish she was acting; it’s definitely not something you expect to see from a 40 year old woman.
If you follow my blog you’ll probably read a lot more posts about her in the future, simply because there’s so much to say about this woman.
Lucy Rebecca x