Divorce within a family is not only about Mom and Dad. Kids have to deal with the repercussions as well, but actress Garcelle Beauvais found helpful literature to be seriously lacking.
“We would go to bookstores all the time and never really saw any books that celebrated diversity or had kids that looked like my kids,” says Beauvais. The realization birthed an idea: the I Am series. Beauvais’ first book in the series was called I Am Mixed, and in it, she explains what it feels like to be a child of mixed race.
Following her divorce, she struggled with her own demons. She says, “After my divorce, I really had to work hard on forgiveness and healing and being in a better place — for my sake and the kids’ sake.” As the mother of young twins, how would she explain the sudden separation to a pair of 3-year-olds?
As she’d seen, bookstores seriously lacked any help in this arena. She was inspired to continue the I Am series with the newly released I Am Living in 2 Homes, inspired by her twins, Jax and Jaid. When asked how much of the picture book was based on their experiences, she admitted, “All of it.”
I Am Living in 2 Homes tells the story of young twins Nia and Jay. They spend a week with Mommy and a week with Daddy, back and forth. Other children ask what it’s like, and sometimes, the twins feel bad about their situation. They feel guilt and doubt, but these negative emotions are quenched by the love of their parents.
Divorce is hard on everyone, but Beauvais believes it is important to make certain things clear to young kids: “One: It’s not your fault; it has nothing to do with you. Two: It’s difficult for Mommy and Daddy, too, and we’re all going to do this together.” There is a necessity to make sure children feel safe and loved, which can be difficult in the midst of divorce.
Of course, divorce isn’t just about the kids. Divorce is hard on adults, too. Beauvais admits, “It’s hard for me when they’re home and it’s all ‘Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,’ and then they leave, and the house is quiet, and I’m by myself, and I have to figure out, ‘What am I going to do so I don’t just sit here for a week until they come back? How do I put my life back in order?'”
I Am Living in 2 Homes was a positive outlet for Beauvais. The book not only helped in her own healing process but in that of her children. She hopes the book reaches children all over the world. She says, “It’s OK to have different feelings about divorce. It’s OK to talk about it. Families come in different ways. Just because you aren’t living under one roof does not mean you’re not a family.”
The I Am series is not over. There have been discussions about topics like adoption and being twins. However, Beauvais admits they might not tackle another tough topic. She likes everything she writes to be organic, and she really can’t speak from personal experience on either of these issues. “We’re still playing around,” she says, “but there will definitely be a third book.”