Friday, December 18, 2009
It's not exactly surprising to read major news organizations confirming that Elin Nordegren, the No. 1 search name on Google of late, is planning to divorce Tiger Woods. Based on what we know (And who knows what we don't know?), any sane person would have to conclude that marriage to this guy is going to bring you a lifetime of heartache, no matter how many houses and trophies surround that heartache.
Elin is young, stunningly beautiful and from a prominent family in Sweden. Why would she want to be married to a guy who can't keep his hands off waitresses, hookers, self-styled "party girls" and who knows who else?
As for Tiger, well, he'll be just fine. Once he's single again, he can do anything he wants. Elin disappears; Tiger reemerges. Thank God Oprah is still on. And Barbara. It will all work out. Maybe he'll start dating movie stars instead of sneaking around with waitresses. By next year, he could be on everybody's list of the most eligible bachelors in the world.
It's the kids I can't help but think about. A 2-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old boy, who probably won't remember any of this, which means they won't remember living with their dad.
No one ever said divorce is good for kids. I know, it's better than a bad marriage, better than one parent getting sick, mentally or physically, and better than being abused, mentally or physically. It's better to live in a peaceful one-parent home than in a dangerous two-parent home. I know all that stuff. Besides, dads like Tiger are on the road all the time anyway, traveling much of the year, and even if the kids would go with him sometimes, once they start school, that ends.
But it's still different. We all know that, all of us who are children of divorce, all of us who are divorced parents. The kids lose something. I did. My children did. You try to minimize it, make up for it. You do what you can.
That is Tiger's next challenge.
I can probably count on one hand -- certainly two would be plenty -- the number of times I saw my father in the five years between my parents' divorce and his death. It wasn't that he lived far away. He just never called, never said let's have lunch. I don't think I ever had dinner just with him. He was busy, working, a new wife, new kids, all that. Divorce doesn't have to cost kids their father, but very, very often, it does.
The moving vans have already pulled up in front of Tiger's house. It has been reported for weeks that Elin bought a remote farmhouse in Sweden. This is not likely to be one of those cases where the parents live walking-distance apart and the kids go back and forth on their own as they get older.
Tiger will come back as a golfer. I have no doubt of that. He has shown, over and over, the talent and determination and pure genius. But will he come back as a father? Will he do what it takes to build a relationship with children who may live far, far away, who will not even remember waking in the night and having both their parents there to comfort them? Will he make as much effort to be a father as he has to be a golfer? Or will he be like one of those guys you see on Christmas Eve in the only drugstore that's open buying the last bedraggled toy for a child he barely knows?
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