A bad marriage takes a lot of energy away from the children. As a single mother, I now have lots to spare. It took effort keeping up appearances and being an enabler in the happy family façade. I can be my authentic self and just hang out with the kids, being more light-hearted:
- I bring a sense of fun and adventure to my sons’ lives and show them that life itself is an adventure. Whether it is riding elephants in India, walking through ruins in Carthage, or meeting a quirky character in a local café, life is a blast. We no longer tip-toe around someone else’s moods or hide in our rooms, but rather enjoy our new found freedom post-divorce. Now my sons look around for fun escapades and encounters with interesting people of all ages and cultures. Serendipity is the spice of our lives.
- When asking my kids about what I do better after divorce they came up with some answers. I really listen to my sons. When one is caught up in being in a bad marriage and getting through a tumultuous divorce, just surviving is an achievement. One hears their children, drives them to activities, but may not intently listen to them. Schedule family meetings to give the kids an opportunity to be heard and nip any little problems in the bud. Ask for their input whether it is reducing expenses, or what new holiday rituals they would like to start. Taking a walk with a son is a way for him to open up at his own speed without feeling pressured.
- My sons say that I am more patient now. I used to feel like a pressure cooker ready to explode when married. Now life meanders along and I am caught up in the flow, not fighting to keep my head above water. Other mothers have mentioned being more relaxed post-divorce which leads to being more patient. If you are ready to lose it due to stress, patience is not going to be high on your list of priorities.
- We single moms can be more spontaneous. No planning meals, weekends, or entertaining our spouses’ clients with military precision. We can have impromptu picnics, activities, and guests. If I want to use frequent flier miles and go to a far flung place with my sons, we can (both are over eighteen). During my marriage, plans had to be made around my husband’s schedule and post-divorce, this freedom is liberating.
- We are more flexible. If someone cancels a coffee get-together, oh well, there is plenty more time in life for a later one. I was so stressed when married, that I either took cancellations personally or had difficulty rescheduling them. No more fitting my social life around some else’s time table. I can accommodate my sons’ last minute plans with aplomb because I am so flexible now.
- When married, my needs were put on the back burner. No more. As a single mom, I do what I want, such as going to a chick flick with the girls. When I am happy, my boys are happier. Notice how moods can be contagious?
- Post-divorce my sons have learned to pull their weight in our house. The youngest puts together shelves and does simple home repairs. The older one does landscaping and tends our houseplants. Being a single mother has forced my sons to take on more responsibilities. They have grown into responsible young men. My single mom role was stepping back and letting this maturity occur.
Life transitions provide lessons and growth. Instead of dwelling on any negatives with single parenting, step back and see the great job that you are doing. I have gotten to know my sons so much better after divorce as a single mother.