Monday, July 5, 2010

How I Became A Single Mom ~ the hard way out

I figured that since I’m writing this blog from the perspective of a single mom, it was appropriate to start out with a post that explains how I ended up as one.

Being a single mom isn’t a choice most women would make. I didn’t wake up one day and think, “Gee…it would be SO awesome to raise these girls all alone and have to give them up every other weekend to someone I don’t really like.” When I got married, I swore to myself, to my husband, and to God that it was a forever thing. Divorce was not something I thought I would ever consider since I was a child of divorced parents myself. My mom and dad split up when I was two and a half so I was raised being shuffled back and forth a couple times a week, every other holiday, and for weeks in the summer. That wasn’t a life I ever wanted to bestow on my children.

Unfortunately, there came a day in my marriage when I looked at my husband and no longer felt a desire to share my life with him even though we shared children. After a lot of soul-searching, praying, talking to family and friends, and marriage counseling…I decided that it was my responsibility as a mother to show my daughters what a healthy marriage looked like. If I couldn’t do that, then I shouldn’t be showing them an example of a bad marriage because I feared they would emulate that in their own lives. My husband and I talked about that at length. It really came down to what was best for our girls. We tried very hard to make things right between us but in the end, we were at opposite ends of the spectrum on too many key issues and no hope of reaching any sort of compromise about things that married people should really see eye-to-eye on. That was not what we wanted our daughters to grow up seeing and experiencing.

We wanted more for our girls so we made the mutual decision to dissolve our marriage because showing them how to have a bad marriage was the “easy way out”.

It might not sound like it…but in fact, choosing to divorce was a much harder decision to make than staying in a poorly constructed marriage. It would have been easier to endure the endless arguments than to try and find ways to compromise and agree when we were no longer accountable to each other at the end of the day. It would have been easier to bicker about who did the laundry, picked up the dirty dishes or bathed the baby than to face doing all of those things alone all the time. It would have been easier to hold grudges about who got to sleep in more on weekends than to face two weekends a month without my children. Easier….but not better. No, definitely not better.

I could tear my ex-husband to shreds and say that our divorce was his fault; that he did things I could not forgive him for. That’s just not completely true. We both contributed to the demise of our marriage. We were lazy, selfish, controlling, unbending, and unforgiving….both of us. We held grudges and complained about things that weren’t really a big deal in the scheme of things. We disrespected each other and largely, each other’s families.

I could throw stones and say he was worse than me…and (if I’m going to be really honest) some days I really think he was…but that’s not the kind of darkness I want clouding my heart. It’s hard for me to accept my part in our divorce because I was so dead-set against it from the beginning. My kids were never going to be those kids whose parents were split up. To blame my ex-husband would be the easy thing. It’s so much harder to admit my part in the whole situation. But, there it is. I did stuff wrong too.

When the damage finally outweighed any love we still held for each other, it was a simple snap of a twig. There was this clear, defined breaking point that we both felt at exactly the same moment. We were on the phone, arguing about something that has since left my usually solid memory, and we both said simultaneously, “That’s IT. I’m DONE!” Had it been about anything other than our marriage, it might have seemed comical. As it were, the moment was exclaimed and we really didn’t look back. From that point forward, we just started making plans to divide; financially, emotionally, physically.

A lifetime of battling about things we were not ever going to agree on was not something either one of us was prepared to accept. Our girls deserved better. Even though we couldn't show them a healthy marriage, being independent, self-respecting adults was something we could show them.

So, that is how I became a single mom. Now, over two years later, I don’t regret my (our) decision in the slightest. We did the right thing even though it was not the easy thing.

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