The other night we were watching a hockey game and at one point the network was showing re-runs of fighting in the NHL. I enjoy hockey but I can’t stand to see grown men fight. I hate it with a passion and I said to my husband “turn it off, I can’t stand to watch it.” My husband turned to me and said ” I bet you could hold your own in a fight.” He is not all wrong, I’m not a fighter but there have been a few times in my life where I have found myself defending myself with my fists! Thankfully, I’ve not used my fists as an adult. One incident came to mind which I repeated to my husband and we had a good laugh. However, the situation wasn’t really that funny, it was a frustrating time for two children suffering from the trials of their parents’ divorce.
My parents divorced when I was eight years old and eventually both parents remarried. Unfortunately, the divorce was perpetuated by my father’s affair with a woman who eventually became his second wife. When my parents first divorced my father was entitled to visit with his children once a week. Once a week I was supposed to fit into my father’s new family, find quality time with him and act like everything was normal and we were all one big happy family. After a few years my mother and her new husband decided to move across the country away from my father. The deal was that my brother and I visited my father once per year for two weeks. It was during one of those annual visits that the big fight happened.
Since my father only saw my brother and I once a year, he tended to treat me like a bit of a princess. I don’t think he wanted to be the big disciplinarian when he only saw us once a year, he wanted to enjoy our visits. One morning he took me aside and told me that to keep peace in the house that I had better start doing chores. “What chores” I asked. “Make your bed, help with the dishes, the general run of the mill stuff” he said. I guess in a way I was being a bit rebellious as the house that my father was now in with his new wife and new family, was the house where both my parents lived with their children in better times. Turns out my “stepsister” was complaining because she had to do all this stuff and I just walked away from all responsibilities. Looking back I get why she was mad but seriously, she was sleeping in my old bedroom, with my father at the helm, the life I wanted.
I just smiled at my father and said “sure I’ll do more stuff around the house.” At some point just my stepsister and I ended up downstairs watching tv and she started complaining to me about what I got away with and I can remember just hearing, blah, blah, blah. All I could think of was how she was living the life I was supposed to be living and I had to listen to all this bitching and complaining. She was tearing me a new one and she stopped for a brief second to hear what I had to say for myself. I said the first thing that came to my 15 year old mind; “That’s what you get because your mother stole my father.” Did not go over well, next thing I knew my stepsister was flying through the air like a lioness on her prey. I had no time to defend myself and it took me a few seconds to come to my senses. She was a nasty fighter, hair puller, slapper, spit in your face kind of classless fighter. I finally got my wits and threw a few good punches just as my father came down to break up the fight. Thank God because my stepsister was winning by a mile. My father wanted to know “what the hell is going on here,” and my stepsister told him what I said. He just looked at me and I know he didn’t realize I saw, but I caught the grin on his face as he walked away.
Thinking back, the situation was just as hard for my stepsister as it was for me. This was her mother’s third marriage, she had been shoved back and forth for years and she probably felt the same way I did. I couldn’t see it at that age, too busy just trying to survive the trials of divorce. Even though the situation was difficult back then, I learned so much about the kind of parent I wanted to be and the kind of household I wanted to provide for my children. Hopefully my boys will never have to have a territorial fight just be be heard.