By Julie Householder | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Monday, Tuesday, Dad’s house. Wednesday, Thursday, Mom’s house. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, switch.”
This is the statement I said to myself and others probably over a hundred times. A sentence seemingly branded onto my life and carved into my lips. It was the 50/50 ruling made by the courts after my parents separated when I was in second grade. It was the decision made by a person who I’ve never spoken to and will never meet, but would impact my entire way of life until college.
Growing up in divided households can be compared to living life as a human ping pong ball. Being hit back and forth between two sides of a table led by two different people, never settling in one place for long. Holidays began to feel like a marathon. The ticking clock indicated when I would have to leave one family gathering for another. I always felt like I didn’t have enough time.
As a child, I struggled. I grew tired of trying to explain to my classmates why my parents had two different last names. I was beyond frustrated with lugging schoolwork, textbooks and possessions between two houses. I felt defeated when teachers didn’t believe me when I didn’t turn in homework because I left it at the other parent’s house. I felt alone surrounded by my peers who could not comprehend what I was going through. I grew up split between two lives. Home was no longer a singular physical place, but within the people I loved.
I became fascinated by the “complete” families in the grocery store and other public places, constantly wondering what it must be like to live in a home with both parents. A life where I would be in one place. A life where I didn’t feel like I was constantly being uprooted and propelled to another home every couple of days.
But despite it all, growing up as a divorced kid prepared me for life in ways I never expected:
As an 8 year old facing many incomprehensible situations, I had to take charge of many aspects of my life. I had to learn how to handle complex emotions, hectic schedules and remain on top of my academics. Regardless of what was going on I found strength through my family’s love and within myself to keep moving forward.
Life is a game of balance. As a full-time college student, I balance school, working three jobs, peer mentoring, editing for two publications, my social life and somehow in between, finding time for myself. It’s not easy, but growing up with a hectic life schedule taught me how to organize and balance everything I needed to do.
The constant back and forth between houses created a sense of constant transition. During the summers I would spend one month with each of my parents, making my transition to college away from home much simpler: it was just another transition.
I am so grateful. Grateful for my family’s love and support. Grateful for the challenges I faced. Grateful for my personal history. It allows me to appreciate life as a college student where I live in one physical place. My upbringing is interwoven into my entire being and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.