Single parenting? Where should we begin?
I have been a single parent for five years essentially but only two years per legal documents. This was not the path I would have ever chosen for myself or for my worst enemy. But to be honest, this is an inevitable part of living in today’s society. I was fortunate to be raised in a two-parent home with a stay-at-home mom and had a pretty idyllic childhood. After marrying my high school sweetheart, I was under the assumption that the two of us would raise our children in much the same way. The decision had been made for my career to take the backseat to his. I would stay at home and care for our growing family since it seemed like the most logical decision. I settled into the routine of parenting three children essentially on my own due to the requirements of his occupation. We went on to live a pretty amazing life. Unfortunately, the amazing life ended.
Single parenting became a reality when three sets of eyes looked at me for answers that I didn’t feel qualified to give.
Their questions sent me reeling and praying someone would wake me from this very bad dream. The daily routine of three children kept me alive when everything else seemed so foreign. There were so many variables in our future but school routines and the bedtime regimen kept the kids and me on track. Many days I had no desire to get out of bed or do anything for myself. One of the best pieces of advice I was given early in the process was to take care of myself first every day. Luckily, I was already a member at a local gym and had a standing appointment with one of their trainers. This is a luxury that many going through this process don’t have, I understand. If there is any way to even meet up with a girlfriend for a daily sweat session in your own home, I strongly recommend it. Therapy is helpful, but there is nothing like sweating the frustration out and beginning to take back a portion of your life.
Once I felt more grounded with the stability that the daily routine and self-care gave me the answers for the kids started coming. Experts and books will give a million different words of wisdom regarding how to handle divorce when children are involved. The word that I found most beneficial was honesty. I was honest with both the kids and myself. Working with them to find answers gave us all something to pursue in a productive manner. I was honest with them when they asked if I was scared. No longer am I afraid to talk to the kids about my fears. I believe that showing my vulnerability has made it easier for the kids to talk to me about their own fears.
Single Parenting 101, the course that has prerequisites that no one ever wants to have earned. There isn’t a final exam because the course never ends. I have begun the course and realize with each passing day how much more I truly have to learn. This may not have been the path we as single parents would have chosen, but by making ourselves a priority and communicating with our children the learning can begin.