When you’re an eight-year-old, you’re worried about things like whether you can go outside or whether your parents make you do homework. All I was worried about was if my parents’ marriage would last.
My parents had been married for 12 years then, and after every fight they had, my Mom would comfort me, telling me it’s all going to be ok, that their differences, their disagreements; it all wouldn’t matter– because they were in love.
As much as I wanted to believe it, I couldn’t, and, nearing my ninth birthday, that feeling reached its pinnacle.
My parents would fight all the time when I was a kid. They’d scream at each other, they would throw all kinds of things at each other; it was brutal.
But this time, it was worse; I knew this fight wouldn’t end well.
We were driving back home from the grocery store and, as simple as it might sounds, this was the time my mom and I cherished because we got to spend time with my Dad, who, for half of the year was working away from home.
I don’t remember what my Mom and Dad were fighting about, but it seemed serious. It wasn’t their usual fight. It wasn’t just shouting this time. They involved me, made me choose sides, and that’s when I knew it got serious. As an eight-year-old, to stop a fight, you only have one option, cry.
And that’s what I did.
But this time my tears didn’t work; they were still fighting. Tears dripped from my eyes, and they continued to fight. Then, when we were just about to reach home, my Mom shouted at my Dad, “Stop the car, stop the car!” My Dad had enough. He finally stopped the car near a small park about 20 blocks away from my house. I remember hearing people swearing and screaming at us to move. Then my Mom grabbed my hand and took me out of the car. I forcefully tried to pull away from her hand, but it didn’t work. My Mom slammed the door and said it was done; she said she was leaving.
And as soon as she said those dreadful words, I just thought, what now? Where were we going to live? Was my Dad going to be kicked out of the house or my Mom? Am I ever going to see my Dad again, and if so how much? I had never been angrier at my Mom. How could, after all she told me, pack up her bags and leave my Dad? How could she just give up on her marriage like that? I couldn’t stop thinking about my Dad, and what my life would be like without him.
My mom stormed away from the car. But in only a matter of seconds, she stopped. She wrapped her hands around me and just stood there, crying.
I just wished I could pull away from my Mom’s strong grip on my hand, and go give my Dad a hug and say “I love you” before my parents would separate.
Maybe my mom realized that it was all a mistake. She realized just how much she loved him, and that she wouldn’t give up on her marriage that easily, because after only sixty seconds, we walked back into the car.
Sixty seconds of absolute dread.
I looked at my mom and smiled, overwhelmed with happiness. My parents were going to stay together; they didn’t give up after all.
The scariest sixty seconds of my life was finally over.
We stepped back into the car, and my parents couldn’t have been happier. They hugged, enjoying each moment in each other’s arms.
They needed no words to express their love for each other, to express the amount of joy they had to be with each other.
It was perfect.
Sixty seconds was all it took my mom to realize her love for my dad, to realize how painful it would be to be away from him, to realize that no, it’s not over, that love pushes through.
My mom and my dad told me that this fight was just a minor setback in their marriage and that she had only said she was leaving my dad because she was in the heat of the moment.
We then drove back home; my Mom and Dad were consoling me the whole time, telling me it was all going to be ok. That they loved each other, and that unlike other couples, they were happy they had disagreements and differences.
And this time, I knew those words were true. I realized that in all of those fights, my parents weren’t fighting for who was right and who was wrong. No. They were fighting to keep their marriage together because they loved each other.
Growing up, I did see more fights with my parents, and I know they’re not going to stop, but they’re not like other couples who fight. They don’t fight about who’s taking out the trash, or whose turn it is to wash the dishes, they fight about the important stuff– they fight about time; how much time my Dad is here at home to spend time with the family. They fight about where I should go to school. They fight for each other, and not for themselves.
Those sixty seconds with my parents taught me that love isn’t perfect, and that it’s something that takes work. But most of all, it taught me that you never give up on the person you love.