I wouldn’t have chosen this, don’t get me wrong.
Divorce was not in my plan.
But life is like that. Plans don’t always hold up over time. Things change, people change, and you roll with it.
I am newly single with two boys, ages 10 and 13. And, although it is hard being on 24/7, I do get breaks when they see their dad, and when it is the three of us, I’ve found a silver lining. Well, five of them really, and I’m just getting started. I’m less than a year into this single mom gig.
1. I get to make all the decisions. It is mind-boggling how great it is to NOT have to confer with my spouse (especially when things were tense) on parenting decisions. Tonight’s bath night but you’re too tired? Fine, we can skip it. No one feels like eating an official dinner? Popcorn and lemonade it is. And it’s not just the logistics; there is something empowering about being the one. I trust myself more, and go with my mother’s instinct. There were many times I felt undermined or questioned by my ex. It was exhausting and I’m sure confusing for the kids. I know that’s not the case in all marriages, but my ex and I have different parenting styles. Now, I get to be me; the mom I am, the mom I was meant to be. And I like this mom. My boys agree.
2. I have the bed and remote to myself. I am exhausted at the end of the day. Sure, sometimes it would be nice to have someone to cuddle with or talk to (other than a teenager who knows everything about everything or a ten-year-old who wants “just one more page of Harry Potter, please, Mom”) but there is nothing like being alone. A glass of wine, a piece of fine dark chocolate, and a giant king-sized bed. What’s that you say? Scandal is DVR’d? Don’t mind if I do. Cats on the bed? Yes, please.
3. And don’t get me started on the bathroom. There is a door for a reason. I do not want to hear a grown man piss for two minutes while I’m chilling out reading on my Kindle. It sounds like an elephant gushing a giant piss-hose. The taller they are, the louder the piss. Mine was 6’2″ but I think he hid a microphone somewhere because I’d have to hold my ears and wait it out. And when he was dropping the kids off at the pool? Aside from it turning into a two hour escape-dump during which I was a single parent, there was toxicity beyond belief. Now, I get the toilet to myself. I do my own thing, it all smells like roses and lilies and no elephant piss-hose.
4. I am the whole package now. When I was married, my kids went to their dad for technical and mechanical fixes. It was instinctual. I was the nurturer, care-giver, and everything else, but when batteries needed to be changed in a remote-controlled race car, Dad was their man. Guess what kids, Mom knows how to change batteries. Not only that, I’m tech savvy. Since my ex works in technology, he’d handle the “my tablet isn’t working” or “the Wii froze again” issues. But, I have pretty mad skills in that department, and even for more complex issues like re-installing operating systems. (I know!) So, not only do I get a huge thanks and the occasional “You’re the coolest mom ever,” which seriously, who doesn’t want to hear that, I am also teaching my sons that women can do anything. Women are nurturers, care-givers, fixers, and providers. I am Mom and I can do it all.
5. But the best thing about being a single mom? Knowing that my kids will grow up with a happy mom rather than a tense, depressed, co-dependent mom. Now that I’m out, I can’t believe I was ever in. Our marriage went dysfunctional fast and there was no fixing it despite my tenacity. Therapy, patience, couples workshops, patience, and finally, losing myself and being miserable about it. Our home, my home now with my two boys and two cats and king-sized bed on which I sleep diagonally–oh yes, I take up the whole damn bed–our home is happy. And as a parent, that’s what I want to give my kids.
As time passes, I expect I’ll see more pros to being a single mom, and certainly some cons. I imagine holidays will be easier in one sense as they were a source of tension in the marriage, and also harder. I expect loneliness will hit when my kids are with their dad on Christmas, or Thanksgiving.
But, I have coping skills, I’ll be okay. And when I’m not okay I’ll cry and drink wine, and watch Scandal. The hard part won’t last forever. Divorce is awful, but it’s the right thing for our family. I’m still in recovery mode and I’ll be here awhile.
But, if I can find ways to make it easier on my kids, and I’m happier already, I’d say we’re moving in the right direction.