“This is my friend Charlie and his partner Cameron and this is Catherine who is the mother of their children”
It doesn’t strike me as a weird introduction but the person I was talking to found it “terribly modern”. I was amused and we started talking about how many divorced people were sitting round the table. I have been through divorce – my own, my parents. Many of my friends have endured their parents divorce and their own too. As adults we try to rationalise and hope the children will be as untouched as possible by divorce but they are always affected.
I remember being 10 years-old and feeling horribly torn as I loved my step-father but really wanted my mum and dad to get back together. I didn’t know how this would be possible but I dreamed of it. My favourite film was the Parent Trap where Hayley Mills met her twin-sister at summer camp and they got their parents back together. I invested so much emotionally in that film. I suppose as kids we favour films that talk to us. It used to break my heart to see my daughter watch Mrs Doubtfire over and over again, knowing that she hoped her Daddy wanted to see her as much as Robin Williams wanted to see his children in that film.
Even the most amicable divorce affects the children. You really want the two people you love most in the world to be together. It seems obvious. Divorce is way more commonplace now than it ever was before and yet, however it’s managed it affects the children.
I see more and more “unusual” families and as far as I’m concerned, if you make it work and your kids are happy then bloody well done. How can having three or even four parents be worse than having two divorced parents? We are all too quick to judge and we are all doing are best.
My friend Charlie’s kids have Mummy, Daddy and WaWa. WaWa is on exactly the same page as mummy and daddy. I know this to be true as I was pretty much brought up by my step-father and my mother. I tried really hard to forge a relationship with my own father and was closer to him as I grew older but most of the effort came from me. My step-dad did all the parent things like sit with me at the kitchen table as my poor brain tried to work out why when you move 2 to the other side of the equals sign it becomes -2. Being a parent isn’t just about biology, it’s about care.
My hope for my kids is that they are happy. I never wanted to get divorced but sometimes things don’t pan out the way you want them to. It seems a brilliant solution to have two or three parents who are friends and working it all out together. I read a great article recently about a girl who was brought up by gay parents and one thing stuck out in my head. She said that the best thing about having gay parents is that you know they really wanted you.
I often think what my hopes for my three children are. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want them to BE anything. I want them to feel loved and happy and lucky. Fortunately Neil Hannon wrote a song about what he wants for his daughter. He expresses it perfectly. He wants her to feel she has a charmed life. Whether you have a mummy, a daddy, a step-mother, a step-father or a WaaWaa, surely your kids thinking they have a charmed life is the best one could hope for.
And here is that song I’m talking about: