The upheaval of divorce creates havoc on the emotions and the budget, and just about every compartment of your life as a single mother. The process of divorce requires a good deal of planning with regards to visitation.
What no one bothers to tell you is how easy it can be when the children are little. If both parties cooperate, scheduling visitation can be as easy as any other event that you can put on the calendar. My own situation was interesting. My ex-husband didn’t seem to have a lot of interest in the kids when he lived at home. He attempted to become father of the year during the divorce process. He clearly didn’t want to be seen as the father who just didn’t have any involvement in the lives of his children. From the tiny two seat convertible he drove, to the failure to attend any school events, or parent teacher conferences, the extent of his involvement was a pat on the head when he came home. I am not exaggerating.
I was warned by his grand-mother early on that the family doesn’t hug. It was an interesting experience. She had taken us out to dinner, and had expressed how happy she was that we were getting married. Upon leaving, I leaned down to give her a hug, to hear the following words. Thank you, sweetie, but you will find out that this family really doesn’t do a lot of hugging and kissing.
Little did I know that on that day, I experienced a premonition of what my life was to be like. All these years later, if I had to qualify what killed my marriage, it would be the lack of warmth and sensory experiences related to the marriage.
It’s not that I was needy. I am certainly not needy, but not having sex on one’s wedding night, and one time on the honeymoon might tell you all you need to know. Failing in the self-esteem department prior to marriage, I spent the next decade plus trying to figure out what was wrong with me, when in retrospect maybe if I had listened to the words of his grandmother, I would have been able to accept what was missing in my marriage as something I had to live without. While this might have been difficult, it would have been easier than feeling unattractive or unloved. It would have been easier than divorce.
Would I have chosen to stay? Would I have had an affair to prove to myself that I was worthy? I don’t know. Instead, I let things fall apart, and let myself be grateful for my fertility so that the rare incidence of sex at least produced 3 beautiful children.
I worked hard to make sure that my kids knew how to express emotion. I hugged and squeezed them, and made sure that they experienced as much love as I could give. I wanted them to know that it was normal to express emotions, and that doing so is a part of normal relationships.
Back to the idea of visitation and normalcy, I had little objection when we scheduled holidays years down the line. I knew in my heart he would fail to keep up his end of the bargain anyway. I knew deep down that I would be making a lot of excuses early on, and later, I would let the chips fall where they may. When they were older, I would let them make up their own minds. I would no longer make excuses for him. They will have seen both sides. They would know what love it, and they would know how it feels to have their little hearts broken.
One holiday he never failed to keep is Father’s Day. For him, it was a time to show off what he accomplished. He knew I would dress them up nicely and style their hair. I would send them off with sad faces to join some family event, knowing full well that they would come home hungry and needing a well-earned hug.
All these years later, I sort of feel badly as they are aware of what they are walking into. He just likes to show us off…he doesn’t deserve to take us…..My throat hurt… We are sick… are just some of the feelings expressed over the years.
I warned him to love a little more. My feelings never mattered to him, but I had hoped that theirs would have mattered.
So, now the younger ones continue to go out of obligation, and the older one makes his excuses. I thought it would feel good that they don’t love him like they should. It doesn’t feel good. It feels pretty crappy, and I feel that they were cheated out of that relationship.
Whey they cry, I remind them that it is a lesson to be learned; take those experiences and wrap them up and remember them when you are a parent.
Life always gives us choices…. Always remember to be the kind of parent you want to be.