33 years old, two kids in junior high, a happy home and great friends….then the bottom fell out. He stopped coming home after work…every night, another ball game or just another reason to go to happy hour and drink with the guys….what happened? Where did we go wrong? Communication, lack of trust and we just fell out of love. It happens…sound familiar? I was a woman who didn’t have to work, whose job was to raise my children and to take care of the home front. I did all of that and then some. Somewhere along the line, things just fell apart. More arguing, more consuming alcohol and more anguish. I felt cornered at times….why? Everyone thought we’d fail…I was 19 and he was 20… oh and did I mention; baby on the way?…. No one thought that we could ever hold a marriage together for as long as we did and I was more concerned with the material aspect and what he could do “for me” verse how much this man actually loved me. Where was I going to go? I was so dependent on him that I was terrified and had no idea what the future would hold or entail.
Where the task then became difficult was bringing two innocent children into the equation. They were accustom to a wonderful life where we vacationed often, took the toys out onto the water and enjoyed so much time on the lakes of Michigan throughout the summer months. This was all about to disappear. My marriage was over and no one wanted to file for the divorce. He blamed me and said I was the reason he drank, and I blamed him for never being there for me and using excuses to stay away. Crying myself to sleep each night became routine and my daughter had to hear me night after night as her room was next to our master bedroom. Have you ever cried yourself to sleep sobbing? It’s not healthy, not for you and not for your family…..but how was I to tell two kids that their worlds were about to fall apart no thanks to me? I feared that they would hate me. Oh they were angry, but still remained so loving….. I honestly think that they got tired of hearing the yelling and screaming, and quite frankly, it was getting old. Those nights of asking “When is Dad coming home?” and “Why aren’t we waiting for dad to get here to eat dinner?” …..slowly diminished. We got used to eating alone, and doing a lot of things alone. Sports were his priority and we took a back seat most often to the ball games.
Divorces happen for many reasons…..My advice….Be sure that your child(ren) understand that the divorce is not their fault! Kids are quick to blame themselves for the break up of their family. Stress to them that not only are they not the cause, but there is nothing they could have done to keep the divorce from happening.
In my situation, I took them away from their friends, neighbors, schools, etc. At such a young age I worried about them and their reactions. What I did not realize and what my mother and grandmother told me was that these great kids that I raised were much stronger than I was actually giving them credit for, and that they would someday see why I chose the path that I did. Why did I…. you wonder? That’s an easy answer….I didn’t want my children to ever think that marriage was fighting, crying, and screaming at one another. Never have I felt like I couldn’t fix things….yet this, I could not fix.
I wanted my kids to see marriage and love as a wonderful thing, but I was feeling like I failed miserably. At the beginning of separation or divorce, many people often feel abandoned or sidelined by their married friends. I tend to think of it as the “third wheel bug”. Don’t worry, it’s not something you catch—but the discomfort is there. The dynamics of socializing often change upon separation and divorce. While the situation of being the odd person out in a couple’s world is not all uncommon, it can be unnerving. Suddenly single, it’s at this time in your life when you need the love and support of your friends like never before.
I not only hear about the loneliness, but experienced this first hand. Everywhere I went I saw happy couples. I went to homecoming, and prom pre-parties where parents were invited to take photos of their children and everyone was there as a couple, the moms and dads…and then there was me….single and feeling so isolated. I never let on to my kids how awful I really felt, and how I cried all the way home. There are a lot of things that they don’t need to know. This I could get past,…..holidays and birthdays were a little different, nevertheless, he was still their father and they deserved their time with dad.
Today, divorce is probably the most common cause of single parent families, and probably the one most written about; however, a few things bear repeating simply because while they are such good advice, they are also the hardest issues to deal with effectively when it comes to divorce.
The ideal situation is an amicable divorce with established visitation and support. However, it seems that an amicable divorce, especially when children are involved, is a rarity. Established visitation and support are necessary regardless of the situation and should be handled by the judge when the divorce is granted. If you do not feel that it is being adequately covered by the attorneys, then be certain to bring it up and ask for it to be dealt with directly. Should your attorneys seem to avoid the issue, then you have every right to change attorneys or to bring it up to the judge yourself. Do not let this important aspect of your future be passed over – it is critical to the future happiness of your child(ren) and yourself. Love them and they will respect you for your choices.
I never really gave single mothers enough credit until I suddenly became one myself. I went from not working at all, to working 50 hour work weeks. Now I was both the mom and dad for me that wasn’t difficult because he was never home and I got used to doing it all. That part of single life wasn’t hard. I made a lot of sacrifices but so did my children.
Have you ever sat across the room at a restaurant while you might have been alone or waiting for a friend to show up and watched other couples and how they act/react? I was and still am quite amazed at how dissatisfied and unhappy so many of these couples look. With some the tension is so thick that you can cut it with a knife. It’s sad actually. So why do they stay together? I asked woman because I’m not at all shy and I wanted to know. Their answer’s shocked me. Most women said that they stayed in their marriages for the kids, for the nice house, fancy cars, great vacations and the bank accounts. Most woman said that they were not ready to walk away from it all like I did. Most women turn their head while their husband carries on an affair because they are selfish themselves to leave the good life behind, or too weak to walk away. I had more pride. My morals outweighed the obvious and I had far too much respect for myself to stay in a marriage with a man who no longer loved me. Some women just can’t walk away, and to these woman I say, “Gosh am I sorry!” The sad situation with my marriage was that he did work hard, I just took him for granted and never said thank you. In divorces people always blame one another. It takes 2. 2 to make a marriage work and 2 to make it fail. Lesson learned, and noted.
Life playing the role of solo single mom isn’t easy ladies. Anyone that tells you it is actually is full of shit or hasn’t experienced rejection by a spouse, or has and just doesn’t care. I felt that my children deserved so much better. I felt my kids had suffered enough and needed balance and stability in their lives. I was the one to give it to them, and that became my sole responsibility.
To the single moms around the world that put their lives on hold to better their child/children’s lives I commend you and I say “WOW!” Today, my kids are grown and out of college. I watched them go from adolescent teenagers to young adults to mature individuals that I couldn’t be more proud of. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t question if I did the right thing, and the answer is always the same. Yes, I needed to divorce, for my children, and for my well being. I deserved a man who would love only me, and accept my flaws, as well as my strengths. My parents remind me of what a great job I did as a single mother as sometimes I tend to forget. My heart goes out to all single mothers who day and night put their needs, educations, and lifestyles on hold. Personally I have no regrets whatsoever, in fact, if I had to do it all again, I’d do this the same way.
Today, my kids see a strong woman who still messes up and learns from her mistakes. They see a mother who is not perfect, one who loves whole heartily and accepts responsibility. They see a mother that pushes herself to the limits, and a woman who not only takes the bull by the horns but by the balls and doesn’t stop until she gets things right. I go to bed at night asking the same thing that most of you do…..are my children proud of me, and do they ever really fully understand that what I did, was all for them? As a single mother, we never stop…we keep on going and take on a lot of roles…..we find our balance.
Single Moms…..We sure do wear a lot of hats…..
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