It’s been quite some time since I wrote about my separation, to be honest I’ve never been more uncomfortable sharing something so personal and there are still aspects I will keep to myself. But there are also some things which I wanted to share, things I’ve leant and never expected to feel. No one can truly prepare you for what lies ahead, everyone’s story is different. Yet there are things, or rather, situations which most people experience but never really tell you.
You will have to use every core of your emotions to put your children first
Right from the start I wanted to make my divorce as pain-free for my kids. They were entering a whole new lifestyle which had never been predicted. One day they were looking forward to a future with a mum & dad; A wedding day with all the family, mum and dad on the top table, not a step parents in sight and weekends doing family stuff, always in their own house. Holidays would carry on as normal and when they left home they’d come back to mum and dads for Sunday roasts.
All the things they’d taken for granted suddenly swept away.
I know how that feels, I’m a child of divorce too and that whole uncertainty of what life is going to be like is pretty scary, especially when you haven’t got a lifetime of experience and adult reasoning to rationalise things.
So one thing I had to do was put myself in their shoes, this meant sending myself right back to how I felt all those years ago, not a nice memory to try relive, I might have been 19 but divorce is hard on kids no matter what age . Yet if the boys and I were to come out of this storm unscathed, they had to come first and I had to try and remember how the whole thing felt.
You will have to learn to be fake happy
I never want to wave them off to spend time with their dad, I want them with me. I want life as normal as possible, I want a noisy house, clutter everywhere, weekends spent driving them around to friends, early wake up calls from my toddler and pizza on the sofa on a Saturday.
My boys want to see their dad.
So with a fake smile and over jolly voice I open the door, lump in my throat, and watch them leave. The silence when they go is deafening and not something you ever get use to. But my kids need and want to see their dad and so they should. That’s me, once again, using every core of my emotions to put their needs first and not be selfish. What went on between him & I is no business of theirs and who am I to dictate whether they see him or not?
You will have to encourage a good relationship with step parents & family
While we’ve not quite crossed this path yet, there have been new partners. I’ve been very careful not to ask too many questions or quiz them when they return home after a weekend with their dad. I wanted to, believe me, but I know that they’ll feel like their loyalty is being tested. My way of coping with the times away from them is to not think about it, not pry and try not to moan about what they have or haven’t done, eaten or watched.
What I don’t know what hurt me or ignorance is bliss
There are moments when I want to pick up the phone and yell what do you think you’re doing to my ex husband and his family. But truth be told, I never agreed with their ways when we were together, as if they’re going to give a stuff what I think now. I remind myself I have to beg to differ. And when a new girlfriend is on the scene I will have to be positive, sharing my kids was never something I bargained on, but if they have a good relationship with her, their dad will be happy and with any luck, together they’ll pu our kids needs first.
Put simply, I need to set an example and not bitch.
You can’t dis their other parent in front of them
Now that was and still is a hard one. Slagging off my ex, their dad, to the kids is dangerous to say the least. While I might feel better getting a few things off my chest, I’m also aware it can totally back fire and make them more protective of him, they’ll also get to see a not-so-nice side to me. On the other hand I could end up totally trashing their relationship with their father & causing some serious issues. My children have a right to a life with 2 parents, whether I like it or not, and I can’t jeopardise or control how that pans out. Friends and my family are my go to’s for a bloody good moan, not my kids.
Instead I only say good things, I don’t want my kids growing up being scared to talk about dad in front of me and luckily my family are doing exactly the same. Fake smiles and words all round, we’re getting quite good at pretending!
And the good? There’s always a silver lining
Going through a divorce makes you look for any and every inch of positivity. I’m not perfect, I’ve had my moments where it’s stressed me, upset me and battered me back and blue emotionally. It’s during those times when I’ve had to dig deep to find the positives in what I’m doing.
And there is, it’s called resilience and optimism – looking ahead to a happy future.
Our house is much calmer and my kids know it, I just need to remind them. I’m also showing them that you don’t have to accept a situation which feels wrong, you can make changes, however hard they might be and sometimes you have to do things which scare you to see the long term benefits. They’ve whitnessed me stepping into the unknown as life as a single parent and being a much more relaxed, happier person because of it. Divorce is never the easy way out, it takes a whole heap of guts to admit something isn’t right. Staying is much easier.
I came out of my parents divorce alright and I know that my boys’ll be building up resilience to any future emotional wobbles. I’m teaching them they can handle anything, they might not feel that way now, but one day, I’m hoping they’ll look back and realise they handled it pretty bloody amazingly and can take on any future emotional upheaval with the same gumption.
And Finally, I’m also teaching them that there is no normal when it comes to family, everyone is different, and in a world where difference is not getting a good rap right now, I think that’s a pretty good lesson to learn.