It’s not very often that I read about a happily married woman wanting to have any part of a divorced mom’s life. But recently I learned on Huffington Post of a blog post by Sarah Buttenwieser on Mayim Bialik’s parenting blog, Kveller. She wrote of her feelings about a divorced friend’s freedom when her ex has their kids, and how she’d like to explore that type of freedom herself now and then.
Ms. Bialik and her friend, Sarah Tuttle-Singer published a response to Ms. Buttenwieser’s article. As a fellow divorced and not-remarried woman, I enjoyed their “wishes,” but as a member of a different generation of divorcees, I’d like to throw my perspective into the blogosphere.
I was 51 when my divorce became final so I am a “gray divorcee.” There is no question that I was pretty unhappy following the end of my relationship. I ended up surveying, interviewing and talking with thousands of women before, during and after writing my book, Living Happier After: 20 Women Talk About Life After Divorce. All that work and my own experience of being married for almost 20 years means I have a very different perspective on life after divorce than either Ms. Bialik or Ms. Tuttle-Singer. My youngest child was 10 when we separated, so I don’t have experience as a single parent of toddlers or very young children. However, I am currently custodial parent for a teenager and college student who primarily depend on me.
This is my take – the top 10 things I’m thankful for as a divorced, single mom:
1. Peace of mind
Many people choose divorce because of lies, half-truths and/or deceit they’ve experienced during their marriage. When that type of discord is present in a relationship, peace is absent.
2. A strong support system
Because I have a super-strong circle of family and friends, I always have someone to call when the occasional leaky toilet or dead animal carcass needs to be addressed.
3. The solitude of lying in bed alone
Most of the time, I’m a light sleeper. When I was married, if I woke up in the middle of the night I took care not to turn on too much light or make noise so I wouldn’t disturb my spouse’s rest. If I couldn’t fall back to sleep quickly, I’d get up and leave the room. Now, I can do whatever I’d like right there in the warmth of my bed – read, write, listen to music, whatever I need to comfortably go back to sleep without feeling stressed trying not to mess with someone’s rest.
4. Sharing our children’s special moments with their dad
Yes, we’re divorced. Yes, he broke my heart. Yes, in some ways I want to hate him. But I know better, because being bitter only hurts me. I have developed the maturity and control to be able to sit next to my ex at our son’s basketball games, graduations and other events. We are able to look into each others eyes when one son grabs an interception or the other wins a campus election, and share the realization that, “We made that!”
5. Sharing stories with my ex and our children from earlier days
I learned to love my children enough to get over myself and let them hear their dad and I really talk. Not just about the logistics of the weekend pickup, their grades or the location of the next JV basketball game. Talk like people who spent almost 20 years together. I wanted them to hear us talk about family memories from the 17+ good years we spent together. Now, this doesn’t happen all the time. But their dad even surprised me when we were all together recently by recalling a memory from a trip to the Caribbean I had totally forgotten about. It brought a smile to all of our faces.
6. Sharing our children’s tough moments with their dad
Our youngest child was very ill at one point during our separation. It was difficult for me to reach out to him consistently to make sure he was involved with our son’s care. He had the right to share in the decisions. And although I could have complained about often having to reach out to him, I chose the role as custodial parent and it comes with the territory.
7. Texting, Voice Mail and Email
Knowing that if my ex and I disagree about something regarding the kids, I don’t have to hear about it, or talk about it at home because we’ll text or email, or call and leave a voice mail message when we know the other can’t pick up the call.
8. Cell Phones
My sons have their own cell phones, so their dad can speak with them directly. No need to involve mom!
9. Confidence to know I won’t be alone forever
I date and I’ve had a couple of committed relationships since my marriage ended. I’m not actively looking for love, but if it were to happen, I would figure something out. Be that as it may, I think that moaning, complaining or pining for a man ain’t gonna make it happen any quicker. So I am all good with doing me 100% for now.
10. Understanding that life is what I make it
I don’t see my life as a glass half full, but as one overflowing with grace for myself and awesome possibilities for my future. All because I choose to look at it that way.
Divorce isn’t fun. Nobody I ever met really wanted one. Each of us has a choice following the end of a relationship. I’m choosing happiness and to be thankful. What do you think about my choices? What are your top 10?
*This article was written by Good Enough Mother contributor Wilma Jones.