… to watch tv with my kids, and scream ” DON’T DO IT” when people on TV are getting married? Funny? Yes. Damaging? I wish I knew.
This is something that has turned into a joke in my home. Ha Ha… mommy can make fun of her life and her bad experiences, but the truth is, I worry about if there are any long term effects of my two failed marriages, and my increasingly negative views of marriage.
Initially, I tried to use my divorce as a way to teach lessons. If you do not like the way Daddy treated me, then be mindful of how you treat your own wife, or remember what it felt like to get screamed at, even though you hit the home run. Over the years, these have indeed been valued lessons, and I can see the application with son #1 and GF.
Initially when they started to date, I warned him about being “too good”, to which he replied, I want to treat her better than you’ve been treated. To hear him say that made my heart sing. There are few times in my life that I have been so moved to tears.
I have made it my goal to never bad mouth their father, but as they get older, they see through their own eyes, and draw their own conclusions. I stopped making excuses for him, when he failed to keep up with the visitation schedule, but did so carefully. There was no eye rolling or negative words. A hug, and “I am sorry you got hurt” usually did the job.
My bigger focus these days, as I get comfortable in their ability to discern right from wrong, is related to my feelings about marriage, and how it will possibly change the experiences that they have. My concern is mostly for my daughter; my boys are men, and men seem to fare better in marriages that end, at least financially. I once read that divorced men increase their standard of living, while divorced women decrease theirs.
I want to say to my daughter- go ahead, fall in love, but do so with a little mistrust. Plan as if it won’t last, learn from my experiences, and always set yourself up to be able to take care of yourself. But in doing so, I fear I would cheat her out of what love truly is. How can you plan a marriage or a relationship with one foot out the door?
I plan my words carefully, and try to turn my excited utterances during times of entertainment into the joke that the kids want them to be. They are still innocent, in spite of the hole in my bedroom wall. They live in hope that they will live their lives and build families and have lots of money, and live in love.
Do I have a right to take their dreams? Little girls grow up wanting to be princesses, but the fact of the matter is, that just doesn’t happen. Am I failing to be a nice mother, but insisting that their lives not only be made of hopes and dreams, but that they are indeed prepared for the reality of what life truly is?
I think that I myself, was ill prepared for adulthood. I love my parents, but I think they did a poor job of teaching me about the responsibilities of money and marriage. Amazingly, theirs lasted, and mine failed. My guess is that theirs lasted due to the changes in the acceptability of divorce. They loved each other, but they live parallel lives that rarely met.
I truly believe that as a parent, my job is to shelter and protect, but it is also to teach. If I did not teach my daughter to be able to take care of herself financially, in case of divorce, I believe that I would be doing her a great disservice, and that I would have failed in that portion of my role as mother.