They say a baby changes everything. Never was that statement truer than in the case of my family’s dynamic.
This year, like the last four years, my family surrounded me during our holiday meals. Around the table sat my mom, my brothers and daughter, and also my dad and step-mom. We joked and laughed, told stories and enjoyed each other’s company. Anyone looking at us would think we had always been this way, sharing all the special occasions with parents and stepparents alike.
Now let’s rewind the clock by five years and take a look at the same family.
The picture is a very different one. My brothers separated their time between my mom’s house and my dad’s that year, the same way we’d been doing holidays for over a decade since our parent’s divorce. I did not go out to my dad’s house that Christmas, just like I hadn’t the year before. In fact, I hadn’t spoken to my dad in almost two years.
I was young when my parents split up, too young to fully grasp what was happening. My feelings of anger and resentment for my dad over the split didn’t surface until I was in high school, not escalating until after I was in college. By that time I had bottled up a lot of animosity, all of which came boiling up at once in an eruption of emotion the way suppressed feelings are wont to do.
I broke off all communications with my dad the summer after my freshman year.
About a year later I allowed myself to admit that the anger I was holding onto was eating away a hole inside of me. Along with that admission came the realization that there was only one thing in this world that could begin to fill that hole, forgiveness.
I started seeing a therapist shortly after. The ironic part about it is, I made the decision to seek help working through my problems with my dad at almost the exact same time I got pregnant, though I wouldn’t find out for another four months. I don’t know if it was fate or a nudge from my subconscious that made me decide to bridge the gap between my dad and I right as I was about to have a child of my own, but it couldn’t have been more right.
The first time I talked to my dad again after our estrangement, I was calling to tell him I was about to make him a grandpa.
The rest, as they say, is history. Everything was different after that, even more so after Skye was born. My parents had always been civil, even right after the divorce, my mom and step-mom too. Now civility is replaced with friendship and love. The entire dynamic of my family is different now, better. My daughter brought us together. She made us a family again, in ways we hadn’t been in years.
This Christmas, Skye wasn’t even there. She was away with her dad and his family in Denver, yet my family still shared the day all together. That’s something that never, ever would have happened before Skye. We became a closer family because of her, all of us becoming better versions of ourselves for her sake.
She mended my broken family, in ways none of us would ever have dreamed possible.