Nine months ago I finally got up the backbone to not only ask my ex husband to leave - once again - but the power to actually follow through and make him go. Not an easy feat but it was the best decision I have made since deciding to have children.
Since then, life has just gotten better.
My confidence has risen to almost annoying levels - ask my neighbors - my self esteem has slowly recovered - not an easy task after 10 years of being told I was not good enough - and I am learning that being a single mom does not have to be scary, exhausting or a reason to solicit sympathy.
But the one major difference I have noticed is that I am a much better mother now to my three little ones than I ever was before.
I was so incredibly unhappy with my ex-husband that my children suffered the consequences. I can admit it. I had a short fuse, an exhaustion like I have never felt and I didn't take care of me, myself and I at all. I let the house get out of control - OK, that still happens today - let myself balloon up to an uncomfortable size, cried at the drop of a hat and was always trying to escape or 'take a break'.
I remember having wonderful days with my girls and cringing when I saw he was home and then changing in an instant to a short fused, grumpy, bitter mom who wanted to do nothing more than go to my room, lay down and not come out. It was horrible and it went on for years.
It was this toxic environment year after year that gave me the strength to embark on a life with my kids that did not include the negative. And it has been amazing!
I don't know if it is the same for everyone, but when in my marriage, I tended to want to 'escape' as often as I could. I wanted a 'break', wanted to get away, wanted him to step up and take care of things so that I could get away from it all. I used to complain to friends that I never got a moment of peace. I was the one with the kids all day, making dinner, doing to laundry, putting them to bed, getting up all night and then doing it again day after day. Even when I was sick, I took care of everything. In fact, I remember him telling me that mom's don't get sick days.
I was miserable, always looking for every opportunity to get away, even if it was to take a 45 minute shower in water that was cold 10 minutes in just to be by myself.
Since becoming a full time single mom, my struggle now is what to do with my time alone. I LOVE having my kids with me. I take them everywhere and only leave them for work related meetings or when he has to have them by law. They are my sunshine, my strength, my best friends and my playmates. We go everywhere together, live every moment together and I simply can not believe that I wanted to get away at one point and time.
I want to get up from my desk and play outside with them. My camera snaps all day long as I record every smile, move and laugh. And when they do leave, I feel great sadness and don't know what to do. I almost always want them back immediately and when I get them back, I am overjoyed. My life feels complete again!
Now I tell people that say I must have my hands full that I would not have it any other way. Instead of the "yes I DO!" it is "I am blessed to be so happily busy." I am finally the mom I want to be and I am so grateful.
I try to schedule things to get out and do when he has them and I have reconnected with friends I lost during the marriage and generally have plans. But my world is only truly complete again only when I have them with me.
Another thing I have noticed is that my patience is back. I think when someone is in a bad relationship, they tend to take out their frustrations on the ones around them. And I think my patience level was non existent for a long time. It seems to have miraculously reappeared. I have noticed - and friends have too - that I no longer take in deep breaths when my kids ask for something 57000 times. I simply reply and then remind them of my answer. I get down on their level now instead of towering over them. Listen to their complete sentence before cutting them off with "NO!", and try to remember that they are little kids. It has made such a change in me and my kids and for that, I am grateful.
Don't get me wrong. I wish I had listened to my head when I chose the father for my kids and picked a man who loved me and wanted to do the work it takes to make a marriage successful. My dream was to be in a happy marriage and be in it for life. I did not lightly choose to end mine. But my reasoning's for doing so were for the benefit of my children and I can honestly say that they are a LOT happier now then they were before!
I certainly have challenges I would not wish on anyone. The financial strain is huge, the doubt of whether I can handle everything is stressful and the loneliness when they are gone can be crushing. And my chores are overwhelming for sure. And, I do wish I was in a healthy marriage or relationship for them to see. I actually feel great guilt sometimes for not being in one.
But, my decision to get out of a stressful situation and go it alone seems to be the absolute best decision I have made in years. And so I thank this experience. Because in the stress of it all, I am learning to be the mother that I always wanted to be.
And that is all that matters to me!
Find more Motherhood Posts at My Recent Writings