My first Mothers' Day was a gruesome train-wreck with no survivors. Just a few days before, my husband had piled all my stuff into trash bags and dumped them at my father's house and wanted a divorce. I spent the night before Mothers' Day sloshed and stumbling in stilettos, missed my train back home (which I had spent all the cash I had on hand on), and got stranded in the city, which made me abandon my visiting relatives with my infant son the next day.
With the holiday quickly approaching, as tough of a cookies as I may be, dip me in a bottle of baby formula and I still crumble. But my nervous crumbling this time around isn't from fear, but relief, elation, that I am happily settled with my man and our two little boys.
More than my own love, hate, and heartbreak of spending my Mothers' Day and the ensuing months as a single mom, the hardest part was thinking of what that would do to my son (and by June when I was pregnant again, my second spawn).
The world we live in is more single-parent friendly than its previous chapters have been, but that doesn't make it something to seek out.
Most of my friends with kids are single mamas who had their babies in high school, and against all stereotypes and struggles, are the most impressive mothers and children I know. When you have no option but to be strong for your kids (and yourself), you are
My own parents divorced when I was just starting elementary school and my younger brother was just a wee wiggler. Neither of us have any recollection of our parents together, and I remember having to explain what divorce was to kids at school.
Divorce was a labyrinth of shoots and ladders through every level of the Inferno for my parents, and even though it happened a lifetime ago, my brother and I got sucked down too as we grew older, and only now that the connections of their kids is exiting the scene are my parents finally civil and accepting of one another. This is not the case with many divorced families, but the truth behind our parenting strength and facades is that we parents, and our own parents, and theirs, are still just people.
My husband had agreed to see a marriage counselor once while we were separated, and within minutes the man suggested that we divorce and put our son up for adoption so that we would have no further connection to each other. I kept my raging mama bear in her mental cage as much as I twitched in anger to claw the counselor's eyes out, and tear the limb twiddling his pen from his body.
The philosophy behind his brash suggestion was sound though: our son deserved compassionate, communicative parents. Plural! If we couldn't give that to him, maybe someone else could while he was too young to know the difference.
Single parenting stretches you thin, even when you have a sperm donor to take over on every other weekend or whatever your custody schedule may be. Bringing in new significant others or remarrying can help, but it can also breed contempt and confusion. Before, when, and after my wedding I never considered divorce as an option save for a reaction to serious physical abuse. If you see that as your get-out-of-jail-free card, why would you get married in the first place?
I would never have had a child had I thought he wouldn't have a healthy home to grow up in, and I stood by those guns throughout it all, even my time alone while pregnant. I had faith in our (then broken) family, faith in myself, and faith in my husband. I want my children to grow up to respect and honor relationships, respect and honor marriage, and have a good example to look back on.
Yet I feel alone in this. Is divorce so accepted because it really is a good option that previous generations ignored? Is it just the times? Are people just to afraid of all the years "'til death do us part"? Are we too proud to want a "normal" family for our children after we screw up our adult relationships?
While I am not an advocate of outright "staying together for the kids," I am an advocate of putting conscious thought and action into a relationship, and keeping your nuclear family from a meltdown will make life emotionally, physically, financially easier and happier for all parties involved.What has your experience led you to conclude about marriage? What do you want your kids to know about marriage?