Cheers to the divorced moms who were really always single
March 10, 2014
I might have commented on this if I had only heard it once, but honestly, I’ve heard it like three times in the past month:
“Oh, things must be so hard since the divorce”
“It seems like you’re adjusting OK to being a single mom”
“Is it hard, being alone now?”
And let me just SHOUT OUT once and for all that
#1- I was more alone BEFORE the divorce than I am now because when I was married, my social life was a source of contention; I wasn’t “allowed” to nurture the friendships I needed. I didn’t dream of having company over because our house was a hellhole of destruction and also a pot farm. I wasn’t able to visit friends very often because it took gas money to get into town. I wasn’t allowed to “like” the status or photo of anyone with a penis on Facebook because obviously that meant I was cheating and every comment I made everywhere was always seen as direct proof of my infidelity. Having close friends wasn’t an option. They’d find out how bad my marriage was and I couldn’t stand that idea. If my marriage is bad it must mean that I have failed as a wife, right?
#2- Things aren’t harder now than in the past because now I get every other weekend to myself. When I was married, I’d have to fight for a few hours of “me time” that I would have devoted to working. Now, I can more easily wedge my work time into my day because there’s not a moment wasted on stress or fighting or conflict. I’m able to spend more time working when the kids ARE home because I don’t have the false pretense of another adult who claims to be helpful and actually does more damage. If I’m not caught up, I have every other weekend to spend on work or school tasks or even cleaning the house because it’s MY TIME. When we were married, I once concocted a plan whereby I’d get every other weekend to myself and that idea wasn’t received very well. Now, I’ve met so many happy couples who have a similar setup. One of my friends is gone one weekend a month and another is gone for one entire week of every month. Their husbands manage. Just like every do-it-all mother manages just fine. Life is a hundred times better now because I get the break I need without the lie of expecting that another adult take care of the house or the kids in my absence.
#3- I’m not “adjusting” to being a single mom. In a way, I’ve always been a single mom. When I look at the happy marriages my friends are in, I see so much teamwork. I see so much sharing of responsibilities, so much of both parties giving their all to the success of a family and to the well-being and emotional wellness of their children. On one hand, I’m bitter and resentful and jealous that I’ve never had that in my life. Ever. Married life wasn’t a matter of us working together for the good of the kids. It was more like me working my ass off to bring home income and manage the children and begging for help from an adult partner who never bothered to step in unless he was specifically asked, which was more often like begging or pleading “please help me” with a face full of tears, ashamed that somehow I’ve failed in the being-three-people-department. I was recently talking to a friend about the male/female roles in a family and I was surprised to hear myself admitting how much I absolutely hated my ex for never bothering to take the initiative as a breadwinner. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my role in the family, of caring for the children and the home, was always minimized, as if parenting was trivial, as if maintaining a home was irrelevant. My financial contributions were also minimized. When I’d press him about “How will be pay the power bill?” The answer I’d get was “Relax, things will work out” and the thing that ended up working out was always me managing to wrangle together enough extra work, help from friends or something to make it happen. He never paid much attention to when the bills were due. Likewise, he never knew what textbooks the kids were working from, when anyone’s next Dr appointment was, what we’d be eating tomorrow. Life just happened around him and here I was always yelling at him for not “contributing” whatever that meant.
So think before you suggest to a divorced mom that maybe things are somehow “harder” now. Chance are, they might be a hundred times easier. There’s something horribly difficult about sharing life with a “partner” who doesn’t pull any weight in the home. Maintaining an unhealthy marriage takes a lot of time and a lot of stress and a lot of energy and it’s way easier to spend that energy making the house pretty, playing dominoes with the kids or finishing college online.
Whether or not I have the mental or emotional capacity to ever be in a serious relationship again remains to be seen. I don’t know if I will ever recover. Seriously, that’s a big deal. I feel permanently scarred. I don’t know how anyone manages to every try again after divorce. I feel like I lost 18 years of my life. I could have been a better mom, I could have finished school sooner, I could have done without so much of the stress and heartache. I’m getting old and I’m afraid I don’t have another 18 years to spare. That seems like “the chance you take” even though I know that’s irrational. Anyway… that’s all for today.