Don’t be fooled as a single mom, that focusing only on your kids is the right thing to do. Yes, put your children in the front row of your life of course. But don’t sit out the chance for someone else to come in and be part of it too.
“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”
What I have learned in the past twenty years as a single mother, is that by not prioritizing a personal life for myself (aka a boyfriend) my children never got to see my broken heart repair. And actually… neither did I.
I am a relatively positive person.
I always just keep pushing forward…always forward. It’s just how I naturally live my life. But for the past 20 years, I didn’t have a consistent partner who I could download to. Someone I could feel safe enough to share my life with. Someone I could allow in. Yes, it would have been great to have a special someone for sure. But I always felt that I needed to be there for my kids and show them that they were my priority and that they were always the most important people in my life.
They grew up knowing that their dad left them for another family, and I just couldn’t bring myself to ever make them feel unimportant with me too. In my mind at that time, I couldn’t bring myself to allow anyone else to come in and take my focus off of them.
If I did, how would that make them feel?
I used to think that divorce meant failure, but now I see it more as a step along the path of self-realization and growth.
What I didn’t understand then, was by they’re not experiencing that side of my personality may have put undue pressure on them. Did I put stress on them by making them feel like I was their priority too? Growing up, they knew I sacrificed for them. So maybe they felt they needed to sacrifice for me as well?
Did I put upon them a sense of guilt?
My daughter said recently that she felt that her dad left because she was born. Well, he did leave four weeks after she was born, so it’s a natural assumption to be made. But of course, her birth had nothing to do with his departure and his seeking a new family.
But because she felt this way I wanted her to always know she was number one in my book. And always would be. I have a vivid memory of my feeding her alone in the middle of the night as an infant after her father left us. As she was looking up at me I promised her that I would never leave her and that I would always take care of her. I have kept that promise to this day.
My son was 4 years old at the time and he was already very aware that something was not right. He got up from his bed in the middle of the night and took his little yellow plastic chair and put it in the middle of the room. He came in and got me and pulled me into the room and sat himself in the chair. He demanded to know where his daddy was! I tried my best to explain to a toddler where he went. I assured him that his daddy still loved him with all his heart but that he didn’t feel the same way about me any longer.
He angrily said that wasn’t very nice! Then in a soft voice he asked me, “are you gonna leave us too?” I burst into tears and grabbed him and held him tightly and said, “No way pal! The three of us are a team forever!” We have indeed been that for a long time now. I kept my promise to him too.
She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” – Elizabeth Edwards
My decision not to pursue a relationship wasn’t because I didn’t want one.
It was because I was so confused as to how my children would process it and so I didn’t even attempt one. Well, not a serious one anyway.
I went out and enjoyed surface relationships but never really invited anyone to actually walk through the doorway of my life. And I never went out with anyone when my kids were with me. I only saw people when my children were with their father on his weekends. And even then, I never really allowed anyone access to know me all that well.
A woman with many fears of being hurt again was all I really remember. I certainly wasn’t going to take a chance of my children seeing another person leaving me; leaving us.
My kids have had to cultivate their own relationships now by instinct more than by example. The best example they had was in my parents’ marriage. It was my best example too. Two people who were very different but who shared a common moral code and who allowed each other to be who they were. They epitomized unconditional love. I worry that my children not seeing me in a good relationship has made them miss out on a part of me they never knew. My fear kept them from seeing that part of me.
Their vision of a relationship was a very fractured and selfish example that their immature parents displayed to them. The wreckage they saw was of two deeply hurt and selfish people trying to navigate something they had no clue about. And then throw in a third person, aka… the other woman… who strongly influenced the dynamic and it really messed up their perspectives as they grew up I’m sure.
So… though you may feel all that I did, I urge you to decide to take a chance on love again. Just know that your children deserve it, and I would even venture to say… need to see you in a healthy relationship.
One that is of course inclusive of them and that will show them the respect they deserve too. They are indeed paramount in your life and should never be sidelined for anyone. But by showing them your healing heart, it just may result in relieving them of any guilt they may be carrying by perceiving themselves as being your one and only objective in life. They will see a happy you who is treated well. And most important of all; they will learn that there are new beginnings that can be made from tough endings.
Your mission, should you accept to take it, is to say….”And so they lived, happily ever after.”