I’m very excited to be starting a new topic in my blog about my experience as a single mom and single/co-parent to my two boys. Divorce and separation is not easy, but when it happened to me, I felt I must try to make the best of it and continue being a good, stable parent to my kids. During the first six months of my separation, I wanted to hide under a rock. I live in a small community and I was worried it would be the talk of the town. I busied myself with exercising, taking care of my boys, working, and decorating and taking care of my new home, which I had bought to make sure my boys felt comfortable in their new reality.
New Life After Six Months
After six months of shock and dealing with what seemed like a perpetual family emergency, I started to come out of my shell and reach out to other people. I tried to make new friends, as many of my old friends had, unfortunately, chosen to only remain friends with my ex-husband. I joined a Divorce Care group at my church, I had coffee with a close friend once a month, I visited my sister on the weekends I didn’t have the kids, called my dad every Sunday, and I reached out to other divorced moms at work. I tried to be a good mom, a good worker, take care of my house, have a few close friends, exercise, and reconnect with my family. I felt in a lot of ways like I was starting over. A fresh start. I had to make my own decisions and everything fell on my shoulders, but after a while I realized that I could make my own decisions and show who I am in everything I do. I decided I was going to parent the way I felt comfortable, decorate my house in pink, and take up gardening. I connected with my strong, emotional, passionate side and found ways to have hope.
How the Children Coped
My primary focus was my children. They struggled, as was expected, for a good year before they came to terms with their new reality. The hardest part by far for me was missing my boys when they weren’t with me. But, I learned that when they were with me, I took full advantage of my time because I no longer took it for granted. So, we actually had more quality time, better conversations, and a deeper connection as a result. I made sure to establish routines of doing homework after school, having family dinners at night, reading a chapter in a book after dinner, having ice cream on Wednesday nights, having movies and popcorn on Saturdays, and doing something fun each weekend like going to the movies, rock climbing, going to the trampoline park, visiting our library and having hot chocolate afterwards, going sledding, swimming at the Y, or shopping. When I had the boys, I always made a dinner I knew they would like so they had something to look forward to. And when there were tears, I held them, hugged them, and told them that even though I couldn’t take the pain away, I’d be here with them the whole time. Eventually, things settled down. We all adjusted to our new normal. We have hope and look forward to things again. We feel at home in our new house.
My Son’s Thoughts
My perspective isn’t the only one out there, of course, so I’d like to introduce you to my oldest son. He’s twelve and has allowed me to ask him some questions about the divorce and how it impacted him. I felt like the perspective of a child of divorce may be helpful. My son says the worst part of divorce is not having both parents with you all the time. He said that it gets better over time, but sometimes you remember something and it makes you sad. He said that it took time, but he realized that it was for the best and he realized why it was good for his parents. He says he always knew his parents had flaws, but after the divorce, he experienced his parents as real, loving, mistake-makers.
From my perspective, my kids seem so resilient and strong. They are very well-adjusted. They do well in school. They are involved in after school activities. They are adjusted to having two homes. They talk to us about their feelings, and they are kind people. I couldn’t be more proud. I love them more than anything.
I’m not advocating for divorce, but I am advocating for being healthy after divorce. It isn’t easy. But it gets easier with time. Find ways to develop a support network, create a stable environment for the kids, exercise and eat healthy, and develop your interests. You’ll live in a cloud for a while. And then you’ll feel like the cloud lifted and it’s raining over you for a while. And then, one day, some sun will peek out through the clouds. Like adjusting to any tragic circumstance or trauma, it gets easier.
For the next few blogs, I’d like to talk about aspects of co-parenting and single parenting. I’ll talk about budgeting, family meetings, family activities, church, meal planning, dating, buying a car as a single woman, owning a home as a single woman, holidays, and other topics I now know a lot about. If you have any questions or would like to suggest a topic, please comment below! I’d love to hear from you. And I look forward to bringing you in on what has been a dark but beautiful journey for me and my boys.