When you first separate, you are a big mess but you are full of hope that you’ll just manage everything well, mostly with the father of your children.
You have thought about this many times, when you have heard about friends or acquaintances getting a divorce and fighting like mad people over this or that, without a thought for their poor children, who are completely lost between Mum and Dad, not knowing where to go, what to believe, or how to feel about all of this.
You are good at reassuring yourself. You won’t go that way and you’ll do everything in your power to protect your kids in this painful situation. You are very good at telling yourself that what happened between you and your ex-husband has nothing to do with the father he is and the relationship he has or will have with his children. You think that it’ll be easy to make the distinction between the man and the dad. Until it’s not.
After our separation and all the tears I shed, all the pain I had to overcome, I was ready to let my boy’s father have a chance to know him and develop a harmonious relationship with him. It was tough at first, tough to put aside my feelings, every memory of what we went through as a couple. But I did it considering my child’s best interests.
And I opened a door, to give us all a chance to build a brighter future for our boy, knowing that this would be quite difficult for all of us, that we’d need to give it time and that we’d have to celebrate successes without taking failures too seriously.
After a while, after many ups and downs on the road, I realised that sometimes you can’t make it easier for your little ones. Sometime there is a deeper problem.
I still try my best not to say anything bad about my boy’s father in front of him. I try my best to keep my anger away from him. But I find it difficult to make the distinction between Dad and ex-husband – maybe because he is not much of a dad, because he does not make any effort to make things go smoothly. I still find it hard to talk to my boy about his dad with joy and happiness. And when I hear my precious one saying with his innocent voice, “I miss you, Dad”, it breaks my heart.
How do you manage shared time with the father of your kid? Did you stay in good terms? Do you find it hard to let father and kids have the space they deserve?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Marie Kleber of France. Photo credit to the author.
It happened very slowly. It started when my children were small and needed so much attention. They consumed most of my day and by the end of those early days, I was completely spent. I could barely hold my eyes open to read a book before bed let alone hold a conversation with another adult.
Then he started traveling for business and would be gone for two or three weeks at a time. It was scary being alone with my two small children, but it also helped me learn that I could do many things on my own. I learned how to manage the house, fix things and take care of my children while my husband was away.
As the kids grew from babies to toddlers and then started elementary school, I volunteered to help with many of their activities: Scouts, church class, school plays, charity events. My days are consumed with getting my kids ready for school, fulfilling my volunteer obligations, helping with and checking homework, running the kids to their different after school activities, cooking dinner and getting them to bed at a decent time. At the end of the day, I still feel completely spent. That is how my life has gone on for the last few years. I thought I was doing a great job with everything… (more…)
A little over four years ago, I stood up in a church, surrounded by the warm glow of friends and family, and promised to love one man for the rest of my life. In sickness and health, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad. My husband and I knew, when we got married, that we would last the distance. We had been together for a long time, borne two children together, and endured a lot of hardship. We had survived the deaths of both of our fathers, my postpartum depression which lasted for almost two years, and my son’s autism diagnosis. I had lost a job, and we had been on the brink of financial crisis. A lot of things had happened. Big, stressful, life-changing things.
Fourteen years into our relationship and four years into our marriage, we have recently been wading through something that many people would see as a disaster: the loss of the industrial unit that my husband worked out of for fifteen years, as well as the charity youth recording studio that it housed. We had a little less than a month to move fifteen years’ worth of product, materials, tools and equipment out of the unit, with no place to move it to. We had to turn our home upside down, empty our garage and beg for favours from friends who might have a bit of storage space to spare.
We had to strip the studio bare – the studio that we put thousands of dollars and tons of love and care into – and we had to see it empty of everything but memories.
Through the heat of July, we moved load upon load of stuff. There has been heavy lifting and carrying, rearranging, decluttering and a great deal of stress and anxiety. While all of this has been going on, I have been keeping my fledgling freelance business alive – helping my husband during the day, working through the night and grabbing catnaps on the couch from time to time. For a month, I abandoned my running, ignored my friends and forgot about things I’d said I would do. My two boys spent countless hours working with us, packing boxes, carrying things into the house, helping us find space where we thought there was none.
It has been physically gruelling, mind-blowingly stressful and absolutely fantastic. It is fantastic because we have an opportunity to rebuild our charity youth studio into something bigger and better than it was before. It is fantastic because my husband gets to recreate his business, drawing from its strengths and learning from the challenges it has faced in the past. It is fantastic because we have had offers of help from friends when we’ve most needed it: someone lent us a pickup truck when our van broke down, someone else has taken on the task of putting together a crowdfunding campaign for the youth studio, and many people showed up to do heavy lifting with us.
Most of all, it is fantastic because we – my husband, my sons and myself – have experienced what it truly means to be a family. Where others might have turned against one another, we have come together as one strong, cohesive unit.
It has been an absolute joy for us all to be there for each other, working together and learning from each other’s strengths. Yes, there has been some snapping and irritation, because we are, after all, human. But there has also been a lot of laughter and fun, and most of all, respect.
To say that my kids have been amazing through all of this doesn’t do it justice. My younger son has demonstrated maturity and empathy well beyond his years, as he has tirelessly helped and constantly shown concern for the wellbeing of those around him. My older son – my autism boy for whom change is so challenging – has been immensely brave through the routine changes and the drastic alterations to the space he lives in. I am so proud of them both that I could cry.
We have emerged from the worst of the craziness. The taking apart and moving out is done, and now we can start the exciting process of rebuilding. I can resume a more humane schedule, my exhausted husband can take a break and catch his breath, and my kids can play. And we can all look at each other and smile, overflowing with happiness, because we have each other. My husband and I know that we will always be there for each other, in good times and bad. And that makes us rich in a way that money never could.
Have you and your family had to deal with adversity? How did you and your kids cope with it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle of Running for Autism. Photo credit to the author.
My husband’s affair began after he received some really bad news from his Doctor. These things happen. I had the proof! Crumpled receipts from fancy restaurants and out of the way cafes; unanswered calls; and worst of all, excessive gym workouts after a long day at work.
At first I was angry, and I wanted to confront him, but I thought it might be better to see how far he would go. It was easy, and I can’t think of how long I played his game. I do know that it took every fiber of my being to not lash out and demand the truth. Instead, I forced something – I don’t know what it was – back inside of me…smoothed it out and kept on going. (more…)
When you become a parent things change.
Saying that children turn your life turns upside down, inside out and back again is most definitely not an understatement.
Bodily changes, sleep deprivation and related mental breakdowns aside, one of the major changes is the relationship with your own parents. Because in a weird way you are suddenly equals. You are both parents.
Granted, your parents might have a bit more experience on the job, but you might consider yourselves employees of the same company now.
You are the newbie and they are the old stalwarts who will insist on explaining how the coffee machine works. Even though it has only one button. And just like in the office, you each have your own way of going about the daily job that is parenting.
It was my father who pointed this out to me when he remarked that I was a very different mother to my children than my mother was to me.
Of course this is true, mainly due to the fact that I’m NOT my mother (no, really, I’m not my mother, I might have started to look a lot more like her, use the same phrases, and have taken up some of her habits, but I AM NOT MY MOTHER).
Characterwise my mom and I are poles apart. She is one of those patient, focused, well-organized, grownup creatures we all secretly wish to be. And I am an impatient firecracker, who is working on a million things at once and who can never be bothered about matching socks.
But I have to admit that my parenting style is different too. Some of it is deliberate and some not.
For instance, I never deny my children a food or beverage using the words ‘it will make you fat’, opting instead for ‘it is not healthy’ or ‘it is bad for your teeth’. I know this is no guarantee for avoiding any body-image/food–related trouble but I like to think it gives them a better chance for avoiding the damage some of us (myself included) went through.
Neither do I use spanking as a means of punishment. My parents spanked, but I quite frankly don’t see the point. Within a few years withholding privileges and time outs will probably looked upon as barbaric and the toddler shock collar might be all the rage but for now the “Go to your room and no movie” or “Pull out all the weeds from the garden” work for us.
My girls enjoy a greater amount of freedom then I did at their age. For instance there are A LOT of unscheduled play dates. Especially during summer, it is not uncommon for me to walk into the kitchen and find myself confronted by five children. My friends were welcome to come and play, but there had to be a call and confirmation from both sets of parents in advance. Permission still has to be asked and we need to know approximately in which house they’ll be. But planning… nope.
I won’t even begin to describe the difference regarding electronics and their use. Remember I was born in a time when a phone with push–buttons instead of dial ones was considered cutting edge. The mobile phone was something straight out of a science fiction movie. Plus I lived in Africa, where there was no such thing as TV. Although we did in fact own a television the only thing it played where VHS cassettes (remember those!?) which were sent to us by friendly relatives left behind in Belgium.
The one thing we do have in common though is that we both do our best.
We do our best to ensure our children grow up happy. We try to avoid ‘mistakes’ of the past. We try our best to make sure the little humans in our care grow up to be level-headed adults and can only hope our pottering along will turn out all right in the end.
Do you ‘parent’ differently compared to your own parents? If Yes, how so?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes. Photo credit:Eric Danley. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.