On my facebook wall this weekend, popped up ’17 Things Only a Divorced Mom Knows’ and ’36 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Divorce’.
Having just had my decree absolute through (today!), I thought I would give them some time and read both. I soon discovered that I don’t it into the ‘typical divorced mum’ category – if there even is one – although a few points hit home.
So, here are the top 10 against my personal story of divorce:
1. It’s nothing at all like when your husband was away on business and it was nice to have the bed to yourself. That gets old. You get lonely.
I can honestly say that I have not been lonely in the last 16 months. Having 6 children makes it difficult to get a moment to myself to even consider whether I am lonely or not. And the times that I have needed an adult to talk to, I have been very fortunate to have fabulous friends to call upon.
2. You may never feel truly sure you made the right decision particularly if you have children together.
From the moment when I found out my ex-husband had hit my daughter while being so drunk in charge of our children that he needed an ambulance, I knew that I had to divorce him. The involvement with the domestic abuse unit and social services stopped any confusion as to whether I had made the right decision or not. My reflections on our divorce are whether I should have done it sooner. Probably but at least I can say with hand on heart that I gave it everything I had to make my marriage work. And I wouldn’t have Alex if it had ended sooner.
3. There is going to be an in-law situation and you won’t know how to carry on your relationship with them.
My mother-in-law and my husband’s siblings have not contacted myself or my children since we split up. Not even a birthday or Christmas card. So I definitely don’t have this problem. And my children only have half of the family they used to but the better half!
4. When your kids are sick, you are the only one home to care for them and he’s not there to ask him for help.
This one I do agree with and we have had our fair share of colds and sickness bugs in the last 16 months. It is hard when your children are sick and you have to ring up work and explain that there is nobody else to help. Or to be up all night with a sick child and get up to the others in the morning. Worse is when you are ill and the children are ill. You still have to do the shopping, cleaning and caring. But, illnesses generally pass after a short time and life, like illnesses, gets better.
5. You may notice it feels weird to still have the gifts he’s given to you over the years even if it’s something as mundane as a toaster. And you may start having nostalgia about the toaster.
Maybe I have no sentiment, but I couldn’t wait to get rid of it all. Within two weeks of him leaving there was a huge pile of items on the driveway to go to the tip and it felt great!
6. Some of your friends and family may not understand why you are getting divorced and that can be very challenging to deal with on top of dealing with divorce itself.
I can say that this certainly didn’t happen with me. Had a lot of, “I wish you had done this years ago but it wasn’t my place to say at the time.” They have all been so happy for me. And incredibly supportive.
7. You will have so much less of a say in parenting your children. And that will frustrate you.
I am the only parent with a say in how I bring up my children. I am 100% responsible and that makes me feel both relieved and pressured – if it is possible to feel both at the same time. Relief that they are not being parented by someone who has no idea about parenting yet pressured as I have all the responsibility. If my children aren’t happy or achieve in life, that will be down to me.
8. Money will always be an issue between you and your ex-spouse.
The lack of money will always be an issue from my side. The fact that he got himself sacked due to his own behaviour – which I see as choosing to leave employment – means that he is on benefits and will be for the foreseeable future. This resulted in the £400 a month CSA payments being reduced to £7 a week from August 2013. As a consequence of his life on the dole, I had to go back to work when Alex was three months old. There is only one parent financially providing and that causes a huge amount of resentment on my part. But I also know that I am the parent setting a good example and can hold my head up that I am not milking the benefit system.
9. The sting when your child says, “I want daddy!” Ouch. It’s so much worse than when you were married.
Had this one over the last year or so. Mostly from Hannah who was 4 when it happened and has no understanding of why we are no longer living together or why she can’t see her dad. Trying to explain his mental health, abusive behaviour and addictions is not fair to her. I have tried to put it into simple terms but I am not sure what she is really thinking. My older ones certainly don’t want him around. And before anyone thinks it, I have not bad-mouthed him to them. They lived with him and knew what he was like. I have not needed to say a word. He did that himself.
10. How infuriating it is to deal with “Disneyland Dad.” Everything is more fun at dad’s. It’s no problem when your kid hangs from his ceiling fan while eating candy for breakfast.
As their dad hasn’t seen them for over a year, this hasn’t been an issue. He did ask to see them via my solicitor several months ago but when I agreed (so long as he could prove he was no longer drinking), he seemed to have second thoughts. Most recently, he says that he is not ready to see them. To be honest, he probably never will be ready or will have a long list of excuses. That is fine by me. Of course, I would love a break every now and again, but I also don’t want the issues that my children will have as a result of direct contact with their dad.
So, here I am, newly divorced with 6 children. No tears over that piece of paper that has officially ended our marriage. No regrets or confusion. Instead, I feel as though a 20 year weight of looking after someone, who was at best manipulative and at worst abusive, has lifted from my shoulders and I am finally free.
Of course, it is sometimes hard to be a single mum of 6, but it is fantastic to be a divorced mum.