What do you do when your husband announces out of the blue that he’s miserable, falls in love with another woman, walks out on you and your two young kids with only a few dollars to his name with no means to send monetary support? And no intentions of sharing 50% custody?
In my case, you go on anti-anxiety meds (that should have happened years ago), drink a lot of wine, and spew off every emotion in the book to any family member or friend who is willing to listen.
Good thing my friends & family (and wine) are plentiful.
Speaking of wine, funny story: My ex started a wine cellar for me on my fortieth birthday. He had all of our family and good friends contribute, so there was a total of forty bottles of wine. What a sweet, thoughtful gift, eh? Then he continued to add to the cellar with each subsequent special occasion – carefully selecting a bottle and writing a poem in which he designated a future occasion on which we were to share the wine.
Let me tell you, it was mighty satisfying to drink every last one of those bottles meant for special occasions all by my damn self on the occasion of him leaving me (not all in one night!). Fiftieth birthday? Christmas 2015? Next anniversary? All gone.
But I digress.
To say being left with children to raise and no money to help is life-changing is a gross understatement. There is absolutely no way to prepare for it. Especially if your husband is (or seemed to be) the most devoted, selfless, genuine, honest person you have ever met.
I am normally a good judge of character, but this time I bombed. Or did he change? The question haunts me daily, but I’ll never know for sure. He claims he put up a front to avoid hurting me. Well, I am living proof that withholding negative feelings for fear of hurting your spouse will always backfire. The truth will come out. And it will hurt worse than if you had just been up front about it to begin with.
So, you find yourself a single parent (in my case, to a then-5-year-old and a -2-year-old ) quite unintentionally, trying to process your husband’s indiscretions and the subsequent end of your marriage, and you wonder, How the hell am I supposed to be a good mom right now?
How on earth do I muster the physical and mental energy necessary to go about life as usual; getting the kids and myself ready in the morning,
getting them dropped off at school/daycare and me to work on time,
making dinners, and, most difficult of all, engaging with them?
Well, those things you can do. Because you have no choice. You do what you have to. You will surprise yourself. People will call you strong, and you’ll come to realize you are.
But maybe you can’t be a good mom to the extent you were before. Good moms don’t berate their husbands in front of their kids (in whispers, of course), drink a little too much (after the kids are asleep, naturally), yell at their kids incessantly, slam doors, let their kids leave the house with food on their faces…the list goes on.
Or do they?
My fellow scorned sisters, we are under a tremendous amount of stress. We can’t compare our current selves to the ones before our husbands lost their minds, and as a result, so did we.
I may not be perfect right now, but if being there for my kids day and night, loving them fiercely, and managing to run their lives (and mine) is the definition of a good mom, then I’m doing just fine. If I lose my patience a little too often, let them watch TV more than usual, feed them prepared meals, it’s all okay. They know they can count on me and that’s what matters.
Perhaps we newly, unexpectedly single moms should lower our standards and not expect perfection in the parenting department. What is perfection anyway?
Divorce is one of the most traumatic events one can endure. Add infidelity to the mix and there’s just too much stacked against you. Let’s be kind to ourselves, friends. The road will be long, but we will get through it. So will our kids. And they will remember who was really there for them.
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