It has been a year since my now ex-husband left our home after I chose to end our marriage. It was a decision made after a lot of prayer and consideration. No one wants their children to come from a broken home, but it is just as harmful for them to come from a home full of strife, where there is constant arguing and issues are never resolved. It was a volatile and intolerable situation.
So what have I learned about myself and my life with our children in the past year?
My kids are awesome. I never had the time to get to enjoy them because of constant distraction and their father’s jealously over my spending any time with them over him. I was the family breadwinner, housekeeper, cook, and servant. One would think that I had less time to spend with them as a busy single mom, but that is not the case. Free of distractions, we get to do cool stuff, like watching the baby birds hatch in the nest outside the kitchen window. We play in the backyard, have Friday night dance parties in the living room, and go waterfall hunting. They have interesting views on life and are quite the thoughtful little guys.
I can manage a household by myself. I was never allowed access to our bank account before. I sometimes had no money for groceries because my husband’s addiction to computer games and habit of spending hundreds of dollars on them. Now I have my own account, can pay all my bills, feed the kids, and have a bit left over. I even learned to use Excel to make a budget spreadsheet, which is huge for me because, as anyone close to me knows, I don’t get along with math and broke up with it in college.
I can take care of me and anyone else who comes along. The first test of this came in June. Our upstairs HVAC unit stopped working. It took a few weeks and a few trips by the HVAC guy to fix it. In the meantime, it was hot. I mean really hot. The kids and I camped out on the couch. To add insult to injury, during this time my 7 year old graciously brought strep throat home from camp. The kids recovered quickly, whereas I though death was a suitable alternative. Taking care of two kids is difficult while running a fever and not being able to eat a darn thing. But I did it anyway, because that’s what parents do.
I’m not afraid to be by myself. My children have two weekends a month with their father. The first weekend was anxiety producing. A dear friend kept me busy all day the first day with a girls’ day out, but the nights were difficult. It had been years since I was alone at night. Over time, it got easier, though I would still prefer to have my children with me.
I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I thought I was strong when I walked with my ex husband on his cancer journey, which was also the beginning of my nightmare. I thought I was strong when my youngest child got diagnosed with autism and I turned into mama bear. Nothing prepared me for the strength it takes to be a single parent. Being responsible is a tough job, but my boys count on me to take care of them. In a way, their needing me has helped me be more stable mentally. Instead of feeling crushed to the point of feeling suicidal, as I had in my life pre-kids, I have found myself to be more resilient. I cannot let my anxieties become their anxieties. I have no other option than to pick myself back up, knock off the dust, and try again.
I am blessed. Wow, God has blessed me in so many ways this year. I felt condemned initially because Christians aren’t supposed to get divorced. Their spouses should cherish them, too, but that did not happen for me, so I had to seek another way. In following the new journey, I have come to realize just how many blessings I have been given by God. Foremost, He did not turn His back on me and has been ever present in all of struggles and self doubting moments. He blessed me with my two sons. My love for them is indescribable. The fact that God chose me to be their mom is just amazing. He blessed me with an ever-increasing support system of family and friends to assist me on our family’s journey into our new normal. He has blessed me with peace. Peace in knowing that I made the best decision for my family. Peace at home instead of strife. It is as peaceful as possible with two little boys and two dogs.
I am not sure what plans He has for us for the next year, next five years, ten years. What I do know is that the journey has begun and, while holding the hands of my children, we must walk down the road together.