Divorce is a word with so many emotions both negative and positive attached to it that just discussing it is almost as overwhelming as the experience itself. For a woman who was abused (whether emotionally, verbally, or physically) divorce is freeing. Giving a sense of excitement or anticipation to rebuild the walls that someone so recklessly tore down. For a woman who was blindsided and never saw it coming, whose husband “fell out of love” with them it can be terrifying, leaving you unsettled and intimidated or fearful of the future.
As a single mom who is a divorcee, I have to admit saying “I’m divorced” makes me feel as though I have failed. Then add in the fact that my two children have different dads (I never married my oldest child’s father) and society shoots you a whole heck of a lot of scornful looks.
As a mother the last thing I ever want to do is fail my children, they are the fuel to my fire and the reason I rise and grind every day. For whatever reason or path brought you to this experience there is a plethora of emotions that come along for the ride, and feeling like a failure shouldn’t be one of them. In fact I beg you not to feel like a failure when it comes to a divorce.
I am a child that grew up in a “divorced home”. I had a Mom that I lived with and a Dad who I spent every other weekend with. I love my parents – I know that they did the very best they could for me and that they knew how to at the time. This is in no way a criticism of their parenting or my childhood. But more a realization of how I promised myself I would do things when my son was two years old and I left his father. After all, this beautiful baby boy we had created was just that, our creation a combination of our DNA. It took a few years but eventually we found a balance and were able to put our differences aside and successfully co-parent. Fast-forward to today and I will proudly tell you my son’s stepmom and I are friends! We confide in each other, we have gone to charity galas together, and binge watched Netflix together. And honestly because my ex-husband watched the growth process and was a step-parent through the struggles of achieving some of that co-parenting relationship, I feel as though from the beginning of our divorce we had a mutual agreement as well.
We decided that our divorce was not a “failure”. The only way to keep us from ending our marriage in failure was to refrain from putting our daughter in the middle of it.
You see, if you make your child choose a side or use them to deliver messages to your ex, you fail them. You are teaching them that love has limits, and that problem solving and communication with people you might not like isn’t important. When you give your child a bag or suitcase to take to the other parents’ house, you fail them. You show them that instead of having two homes, they are a visitor coming and going toting things that are “yours” not theirs. When you speak negatively of the other parent tearing them down and pointing out their flaws, you fail your child. You are telling your child that part of them is all of those things you so freely spew about your ex, because after all that child is equally composed of both of your genes. But most importantly when you put your child in the middle you create a divide, instead of a bridge for them to run to you on.
If my divorce can teach my children one thing that resonates with them throughout their lives, I hope it is to fight with love, to lead with love, and most importantly to heal with love. There is no obstacle that enough love cannot overcome, and no matter where you are in your divorce or co-parenting process there is never a time when love will be the wrong choice, especially if it is you and your ex choosing to love your child enough to overcome the emotions and rollercoaster ride a divorce brings.