My earliest memory of money is when I was eight years old. I watched my dad standing in the rain outside of our farmhouse on 4th street. He was writing a check – with blue ink and payable to my mom. They had just started the divorce proceedings (more blue ink). For whatever reason, dad-owed-mom-money.
The parental relationship that was responsible for my existence was splitting in half.
Would I be provided for?
Would there be enough for my little brother and I?
And who am I in all this?
Of course, this was not the language I was using as an eight year old. In fact, it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I actually had a language to tell this story.
This is when I read, “Children of Divorce.” It was written by a local author and seminary professor, Andrew Root, and as I read started reading I found myself wondering, are the author’s parents divorced? I wanted something grounded in actual experience. And as it turns out, the author of this book was prompted by his own story to devote time and energy to this work.
In addition to his personal experience, his work blended in brilliant philosophers, too – Heidegger anyone? These stories and philosophies gave me the powerful gift of language to describe my experience of having divorced parents. The relationship responsible for my existence was losing its identity – so was I losing my identity? Merely having the language to write that last sentence was half the battle.
This question is the answer to why I would be so concerned about my dad writing my mom a check – and how the relationship responsible for my existence would bring into question my identity (of all things!). Mom and dad made money together and provided for my brother and me together – but if their money is no longer “together,” where am I?
My parents both remarried – and divorced again (my dad twice). In the first 22 years of my life I saw my parents go through four divorces. Each time prompted the question, “Who am I?”
I’m writing all of this because I know the holidays can be difficult for families of all kinds. I didn’t need to see the movie “Four Christmases.” It’s hard enough to do two families (travel, gifts, dinner, etc) in one day. I didn’t even like Christmas until I met my wife.
I’m writing, also, because I want to do something about it.
I’ve had this idea for a while. I want to somehow bring people together to hear Andy talk about “Children of Divorce.” So a couple of months ago I reached out to Andy. I told him a bit of my story and the work we’re doing at MIDTOWN, a missional and conversational community in south Minneapolis. I also told him about this idea I had – and to do it right in the middle of the holiday season.
On Sunday, December 15th we’re hosting Andy as a guest speaker. I had lunch with Andy last week and he mentioned that this is the topic he is asked to speak the least about – but it always sparks the best conversation.
I will have the opportunity to ask Andy some questions about his work and writings – and spark a meaningful conversation. And then I will thank him for showing me why it mattered so much that dad wrote mom a check.
Are you in Minneapolis? Add Sunday, December 15th to your calendar – learn more and register here. We’ll start at 5:00p. Expect insights, stories, more questions, and conversations about family and holidays.