I know there are plenty of naysayers on divorce. No one said it was an easy choice or that it is "easy" for kids. It's a hard choice and can be tough on kids. It doesn't mean, however, that a divorce has to ruin you and your kids' lives forever. Can it temporarily and intermittently be stressful? The answer would be yes, but like many women who chose to divorce, for a long time I felt as if I were a terrible mom and parent for deciding, along with my ex, to split. I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel for my daughter's sake until finally, there we both were, standing in the light. The relief flooded me.
You could call me a glass-half-full kind of lady but as hard as the divorce was, it has also made me a better person, a better woman, a better future partner and a better mother. It has pushed me to limits that I realized were not limits. Divorce placed me in the hardest of situations and each time, I got myself out of the slippery knot a bit stronger, a bit smarter, a bit more positive, and a lot more confident. Divorce made me:
Value the Time I Had With My Daughter
Sometimes we don't realize what we have until it is gone. I always cherished the moments with my daughter but when we started dividing her time up into sections called "His" and "Mine," I realized that those days called "Mine" were going to be so precious. Think about it: first impressions ring long after you've had the chance to make second, third, or 50th impressions on someone. I knew that with each moment I had to share with my child, I had to make the moments count because when I hand her off to dad, she may not see me for a day or a few days.
I started to value the time. I started to see that it wasn't the hours I was clocking with my girl, but the memories I made in the time I had her.
Think For Myself
Operating with a very small support staff of friends and sometimes family, I had to really think for myself unlike when I was part of a couple and had someone to confer with. I had to decide which triggers to pull or pause. From finances to health insurance and a home, everything was on my shoulders. When you first become single again after marriage, this can be rather daunting but over time, it became empowering and boosted my self-esteem. This confidence helped me feel secure in my parenting in a way that I never had felt before when unhappily married. This has been so beneficial to me and to my best girl.
Although some aspects of my life have become more stressful operating as a single self-sufficient woman, many aspects of my life have become infinitely better. I don't think people understand how a broken marriage can seep into your pores and being. You may think your kids "don't notice" your unhappiness or stress, but they do, even if they can't name why mommy or daddy is off. The ability to be free of a situation that was not working positively for my ex, my child or me allowed me to be less stressed and happier. Having a happy parent is everything! Children are not meant to bear the brunt of an adult's depression. Stepping away after numerous bouts of marriage counseling meant my ex and I could be free to start fresh. As hard as it is to be split amongst two homes, it's much better than living under the yolk of two sad parents.
Instilling the Values I Find Dear
Dad will have his time with our girl to instill what he feels is vital to our child, and me? I will have mine, thanks to divorce. Thanks to divorce, my daughter and I have time together without stress in which I can pass out values to her that I find near and dear to my heart. I, essentially, get to be my authentic self, which I was not when married towards the end. By being myself and showing my daughter what is precious to me I can parent the way my heart leads without criticism. Yes, we should be on the same page or close, but sometimes dad and I may not see everything the same. Our time together as mom and daughter gives me a chance to show her who her mother is and what I value for her and her life.
Getting a divorce is not for the weak hearted, and it certainly isn't always easy for our kids, but if we always put their interests first, they will survive and thrive after divorce! And to those parents who say, "Well you shouldn't have gotten married in the first place," or "If you really love your kids, you would stay married," you clearly are missing two very important things:
- Everyone makes mistakes. To say you shouldn't have gotten married won't help DIDDLY!
- Staying married can work for people who have certain things set in place in their marriages, but for those of us who have tried everything under the sun to make it work without any change, it is better to walk away than stay underground in the darkness of a bad marriage.
No one gets to tell you how to live your life or parent your children — minus the few basic laws and guidelines. Use your divorce has a chance to reassess and consider how you're parenting. You may find it will make you a better parent after all, like I did!