Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Hannah. I’m 25, I have an older brother and a younger brother and I live in Denver with my boyfriend, our cats, and our rabbit. I grew up in Colorado Springs and moved to the “big city” after I graduated from college. I now work as a manager in a fancy grocery store, make and sell art, and I’m working on a few bigger art and illustration related projects behind the scenes.
What are your parents like?
My parents are really interesting, funny, smart and unique people but they’re pretty different from each other. My dad has been an electrician my whole life and has recently started working on and selling old cars. My mom was a preschool teacher while I was growing up but eventually became a full-time vintage housewares dealer. They both grew up in the same pair of teeny tiny mountain towns here in Colorado, but they’re 10 years apart in age and they had totally different upbringings.
My dad’s family is the kind that has big family get-togethers at the local Elks club with lots of whiskey and country music. We sometimes joke that we’re the mountain version of the Corleone family from The Godfather (but without the organized crime).
My mom’s family is more soft-spoken and very culturally Scandinavian. They moved to the mountains of Colorado from Minneapolis during the Vietnam war to start living more off the grid and have been living in a log cabin since 1975, which is where my mom grew up. I often refer to those grandparents as proto-hipsters because they’ve literally been doing things like yoga and organic gardening since before it was cool.
Relationships don't have to be complicated.
Figure it out, once and for all. (Sometimes it's as simple as a checklist.)
You were 6 when your parents first divorced. Do you know their reasons for divorcing at that point? How did you feel about the divorce?
I don’t remember a lot about my life before my parents got divorced, so most of what I know comes from my parents and my older brother. I don’t know a lot of details, but I remember both of them being a lot angrier than they are now and they fought all the time. I know my mom moved out of the house without telling my dad and that my mom and I lived together just the two of us for a while.
Your parents were divorced for 18 years. What did their romantic lives look like during that time period? Did you have any reason to believe that they stilled cared about each other?
My mom had two serious relationships during that 18 years, one of which resulted in my little brother. The best thing about my family (and also probably one of the more unusual), is that my parents remained close friends during their separation and even though my little brother has a different biological dad, my own dad has always considered him a son and had a really significant hand in raising him.
I knew my dad always had feelings for my mom and it was hard for him to see her with someone else. He had a few girlfriends but they never seemed like serious relationships and I’m sure it’s because he still cared so much about my mom. Despite what I’m sure were a lot of complicated feelings they both did an amazing job keeping our family close…we even spent some Christmases together!
When did they start dating each other again? What made them think it would work this time around?
They got back together almost 2 years ago. I know that my mom confessed to my dad that she was having feelings for him again and that’s how they got started talking. I really don’t think they would have entertained the idea of getting back together unless it was something they both truly wanted to commit to because there’s kind of a lot on the line in that situation…if it didn’t work out they would essentially put their children through their parents’ divorce for a second time.
It’s not something they entered into lightly. In the end, though, I think they found themselves at a point in their lives where they both needed a partner and since they had spent two decades building a life and a family together, whether married or not, there was no one better suited to fill that role than each other.
How did you (and your siblings) react when they told you they were going to get remarried?
My older brother had secretly been rooting for this to happen for like the last ten years, so when he found out he sent me a casually excited text message that said, “mom and dad are back together…so cool!” My parents hadn’t told me yet, so I was pretty confused.
Do you notice a difference in their relationship this time? Have they changed? Are they better suited to each other now?
They absolutely seem different this time around. They’re happier and they laugh a lot, but they also have to figure out how to live together now. It’s kind of funny watching two people who have spent a lot of years living alone trying to combine their lives…even simple things like how to clean a kitchen or how to do laundry or whether to use wire or plastic hangers are things they’re having to reconfigure.
Mostly what I notice though is that they have a lot of respect for each other’s independence. I think that’s what makes them better suited to each other now…they’re just more self-possessed individuals and it makes them better partners too.
Do you think this has affected your own views on relationships?
Since I always knew/suspected that my dad still loved my mom, I never had that stereotypical child-of-divorce cynicism about love, but I can’t say that being part of something that I thought only happened in movies hasn’t shown me that relationships are pretty amazing.
My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 5 years and have gone through some of the same moving-in-together adjustments as my parents recently so it’s really interesting to see the ways in which relationships can be so similar to each other just because of the nature of committed partnerships. The lessons we all learn about compromise, putting effort into our relationships and working hard to be a good partner to the person we love are stark when you’re watching your own parents learn the same lessons.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Hannah! Does anyone have any questions for her?