Being a Single Parent
One year ago my life as I had known it for seven years came crashing down around me - my marriage broke up. I cannot really say that it was a total surprise - things were steadily going from bad to worse - but it still hit me hard. I felt rejected, and so angry, and there was this overwhelming grief that I cannot fully explain. I'm sure this story is all too common to you: either you have experienced it yourself, or have seen someone close to you go through it.
All of a sudden I had to deal the trauma of a failed marriage, and with it the prospect of raising three young children on my own. My kids were grieving too: they missed their daddy and wanted him home. At times I'd just see one of the older ones crying, and when asked what the matter was, she'd reply, "I miss my Daddy" in the most sorrowful voice you can imagine. Thinking about it still gives me that grief-pain mothers everywhere get in their belly. Let me tell you, dealing with your own grief is one thing, but seeing your children hurting and knowing there is nothing you can do to stop their pain - that's totally heartwrenching.
I have to admit that I was an emotional wreck for a good few months following our separation. I'd alternate between wanting my husband back, and not wanting to see his sorry hide for the rest of my life. To top it off, my family thought I was going off the deep end, and sometimes I'd see members of my church giving me a kind of measuring look that I just knew they were wondering if I had any screws loose.
And the pity! I hated that! Even today when I tell people that my husband and I are separated, they get this very sad look in their eye and they express their deepest condolences, like if he died. I can laugh at it now, but in the beginning I could not handle that at all.
Do you know how tough it is to suddenly be responsible for everything at home, instead of just your share? And they were simple things. For example, I'd forget to take out the garbage and the yard would start to look like a forest before I'd remember to have someone cut it. I had to constantly remind myself that I had to take care of those things now.
Rising food prices made the job even harder. Raising three kids on one salary is a feat of financial wizardry. You are forced to prioritize every expense, and the stress of meeting all your commitments is almost too much to bear. This entire experience has opened up my eyes to the plight of thousands of single parents who struggle every day to make ends meet. It has forced me to think of innovative ways to save money.
Life has a way of throwing out the worst of challenges when you least expect it. But it's all about how you deal with it. Deep in my mind, I knew that the welfare of my family depended on me. In the midst of my pain, I still knew that I could not let this situation overcome me. My three girls were depending on me to be there for them. At times it seemed impossible and I wanted to give up, but I held on. The long and short of it is that bad things happen. You can either decide to deal with it or let it weaken you. I chose to deal with it.
I'm proud to say that being a single parent has made me a stronger, more determined woman. I have real friends who have stood by me. Two of them in particular seem to have some kind of cosmic talisman that tells them that I need to talk. Even now, if I feel depressed, I'd get a phone call from one of them and a visit from the other before the day is through. Uncanny.
In addition, I have a girls' night out that convenes one night a month. Meeting with friends to laugh and share has made such a difference in my life. I firmly believe that all women need that bond of sisterhood.
My daughters and I have been through a lot this past year. We lost a lot, but we have gained a whole lot too. We have not only survived the separation, we have thrived. Actually, my eldest daughter has taken it upon herself to get me a new husband. She insists she does not want me to be lonely. (Plus she says she wants some brothers!) Kids! I tell her that it will happen in the future, but not yet. She seemed so disappointed.
This past year, I've learned so much about love and friendship that I can write a book. I can sum it all up by naming the three most important things in life: family, friendship, faith.
Though we are getting divorced, I do not regret the seven years I invested in our marriage. I cherish the good memories, and maybe the not-so-good ones as well. What is even more wonderful now is that my not-quite-ex-husband and I both focus on helping the kids grow up healthy and happy. He is very much involved in their lives and he has always been a good father to them. He is also a good friend to me now. We were the best of friends before we started dating, and now we are getting back to that. What I do know for sure is that when the chips are down, he's got my back, just like I have his.
So as much as it hurt to see our marriage end, I believe we've all come out the better for it. I can say with all honesty that I am happy with my new life. Living as a single parent has its challenges, but it has numerous rewards as well.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing my daughter give a sterling performance in a play. The audience was in awe. My own heart -and my eyes - were full with joy. That was just one of those perfect moments when you know that despite everything - or maybe because of everything - your life is pretty darn good!
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Date Added: Tuesday 8th July 2008
"I love your story. I am going through pretty much the same thing right now. And your story gives me inspiration and lets me know that there is life after this. Thanks!"