I never thought I would break one of the most important promises I ever made. Yet, after more than 20 years of marriage, my husband and I are separating.
The whys and the details are not important here. They are—as they should be—our business. Suffice to say, this was not arrived at lightly. There is no third party, no major drama. It is just a very difficult, very sad and very painful chapter for my whole family.
And our decision is just that—our decision. It does not reflect one way or another on the choices other people make about their marriages.
I share this with you because of the spirit of the column I have chosen to write for the past three years as editor of Chicago Parent. Most editors write columns to highlight the magazine’s stories. I believe the contents page does that very well.
So, instead, I write about parenting and life, almost always through personal stories. And I have always been painfully honest about the good and the bad in my life. To do otherwise now would be disingenuous.
Often, I take on the rough things and try to see the humor. I do that in print and in life. It’s how I survive. I am not able to do that here. For now, I see only the realities of the challenges we face.
I know our situation is not unique. Media Audit, a company that looks at the habits of various urban populations, tells us about 691,200 people living in the six-county Chicago area are divorced or separated. And we know from letters, e-mails and calls, some of those people are you, our readers, who have children.
There is no comfort or pride in these numbers. But this is reality.
Another reality: Will this affect my job? It may. But be assured, the magazine will not become Divorced Chicago Parent. Our strength is that we are a well-rounded parenting magazine, exploring all the challenges of being a parent today.
And while divorce is a parenting challenge for any family, it is one many families face. And our change of address does not change the fact that we are still a family. We are still parents to two great boys. My husband is still uncle to my sister’s girls, brother to my sisters and a son to my mother. He remains a respected colleague of mine. None of that has changed.
The other reality is some people will judge us lacking in many ways for this choice. Some for personal reasons having to do with their own choices, others for reasons of their religion.
But the reality for me is: The only two opinions I really care about are my boys’. How will they be affected? Children are affected by even the smallest changes at home and this is not small. For all of us, this is a death. It’s the death of a promise and an era.
I can only wait. And have faith in researchers such as this one, who said in a Chicago Parent article, "How kids turn out is dependent on: How they were parented before the divorce, how the parents handle the divorce ... and what parents do afterwards."
My husband and I still have a responsibility to our two sons to provide a loving, caring environment for them, one in which we can respect and communicate with one another. So, this is not an end. It is, and has to be, an evolution of our family.
And as we undergo this change, my husband and I do so with the support of a counselor, a mediator and our extended family.
So I still will write about parenting because I am still a parent, working with a partner to raise two children. And I can promise you we still will struggle—just like every parent does—with raising the children we both adore.