Dear Advised: Since my separation from my husband I am in a therapy process and know very well why relationships are not easy for me sometimes – has to do with my childhood where basically relationships weren’t honored and nourishes and love not lived fully. However, through mindfulness and all its related topics and myself practicing for years now I found a way out of that.
Now, to my current situation: I am working on that other situation (healing my childhood experiences and its going well), still I struggle with being a single-mum now, because so many families do either things alone on weekends/holidays/bank holidays (Easter!!!) or with some families (with husband!!!) with whom they already established a ritual of going skiing, having an Easter brunch, going on the summer break etc etc. Me and my husband couldn’t quite establish these kind of rituals with other families. And now some families prefer to be with families that are with a mum and a dad.
So now, I often end up alone with the kids and while I looove that sometimes, I don’t want to have it always. You may know something that could help. Also inviting other families is really difficult at the moment because our apartment is really little now, without a garden etc. I am working hard on my income and I think my situation will change. But that’s why the advice of inviting more.. doesn’t work all too well. You may have an advice from single-mum to single-mum for generally dealing with these situations. Although I am not sure if it not completely because of the first aspect (childhood experience). Thanks, Single Mum
Dear Single Mum: I was married at twenty two, divorced at thirty eight. I never thought my life would turn out that way, but I can say now – it’s ok that it did. The hardest years teaches us what we need to know, and although it’s one of the roughest roads to take, sometimes there is no way around it. I’d like to share a story with you…
In 2010, I moved back to my home town as a divorced single mother, and a few years after that I was one hundred percent solo parenting. Everything changed for the kids and myself after the divorce; our home, schools, life, responsibilities, title Ms. not Mrs., worries, adjustments, and a lot of emotions.
It was late September the first year I moved home, I had to attend a parent only cocktail party for my eldest’s new school. Everyone was married, except a couple of us and naturally they were not at the party.
I arrived late to the party after finding the only outfit that fit and it was all wrong for a hot California day. I parked and walked up the driveway and for the first time, I did it alone. I could see everyone in the backyard talking, laughing, drinking, and ladies in their colorful summer dresses. I was wearing all black.
I knocked on the front door and no one answered. I started to overthink every single thing…
Maybe they can’t hear me? Maybe I’m too late? This door is really big, no wonder they can’t hear me. Do I open it? No, that would be rude. This outfit is hot, I feel like an idiot. Maybe I’m getting a hot flash. Should I turn around and leave? This is a sign, I should leave. Stop it, you’re being ridiculous. If the kids can start over and make new friends, so can you.
I pushed the door open. The foyer was absolutely huge, but cool and empty.
I walked into the back yard. Quickly scanned to look for the other divorced and single mothers. They were nowhere to be found. Just my luck.
I walked up to a group of women who were standing with their husbands. I said hello and introduced myself. They were very kind, said hello, and continued on with their conversation.
I asked the ladies where I could find a glass of water and they pointed to the bar. It was completely surrounded by men (I couldn’t go over there, they were all bringing their wives wine). I asked, “where is the powder room?” They pointed to the foyer.
I walked into the foyer and never stopped. I walked straight past the powder room and right out the front door. No one saw me exit.
I got to my car, blasted the AC, sobbed, and called my best friend. That was many years ago now, and the first and last time I ever let divorce and single motherhood do that to me. I was so much stronger than that and I knew it.
It’s undeniable that separation and divorce create major life changes, From that moment on, I committed to make sure my life was going to be better than that day. Soon after, I walked into rooms, alone. I helped my children make new friends, alone. I put them through school, alone. I raised them, alone. I built a business, alone. I did all the things that married women did, but alone. I didn’t wait for permission to build a new life; I just did it.
When the kids and I moved into our new home, I had to create the emotional and physical space to celebrate new things; new friendships, traditions, and outings.
We went on our own vacations. We cooked, baked, and played board games. We took walks and hikes. We went to museums, the park, and played in the yard. We made new holiday traditions, and never looked back. Was it easy? Not at all. I didn’t try to recreate the past, our present was different and we had to embrace that.
I hope you can try like it did, and let go of what was, to create what needs to be. I assure you, your new life will become beautiful again.
Since your kids are younger, I can think of a few ways to make things easier to adjust to your new situation. Here is what worked for me and now I hope for you:
- Change your mindset to give yourself permission to let go of how you ‘used to’ do things and how others still are. This will get easier over time. I wasn’t afraid of change and I didn’t let myself get stuck in a place of what used to be, which made the process of moving forward happen faster. In fact, I embraced the changes wholeheartedly. I was grateful my past was no longer my present. My present was more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.
- Yes, your space limitations are real. I’ve been through the same thing. I can assure you it ends up being unimportant in the big picture of things. My new house was half the size of my old house and I loved it. It was the perfect size to manage by myself.
- For space limitations, have each one of your children invite a friend over and tell the parents it’s a drop off play date.
- Go out instead of hosting at your place. It’s far less stressful when you are wearing all the hats as a single mom and a great way to keep in touch with your friends.
- Go on vacations with just you and the kids. I know you said you do, but I’m here to support you and confirm that I did it too. They create the best memories and it’s precious time with your kids. These ‘alone’ days won’t last forever and before you know it, your kids will grow up and vacation with friends.
- If you can’t afford big vacations, no worries, create a staycation and explore everything in your hometown. I didn’t have the money to fly off someplace so I made fun right in our hometown and drove a few hours away for mini vacations. It was better than ever!
- Your kids won’t remember how or why you couldn’t do things, just that you did it and had fun.
- For the families that only want to do things with other families, good, let them go! It creates the space for new accepting families to come into your life.
- These are simple solutions and that’s the trick, keep things simple. You have enough going on to have to worry how to navigate this all. Just let what used to be, be, and take on the mindset of simplify everything. If guilt creeps up because you aren’t doing things like other families, I want you to shrug it off and move on.
When you create the emotional and physical space for your life as it is now, it will all begin to fall into place. New friendships, traditions, outings, and even vacations; get comfortable with change and being alone. Only then, will you find the clarity to celebrate your life in ways you could never have imagined.
You’re childhood past, your separation, your current struggles, are a part of your whole story. When I was ready to release my past, a good friend said to me, “we’re not going to give ‘him’ airtime.” The person that hurt you can’t hurt you anymore, you are free. She helped me see that my past was powerless over me; we weren’t going to give it attention. I hope her words can help you release the past and focus on the future.
“Relationships that weren’t honored and nourished, love not lived fully”… You didn’t create this and it’s not yours to carry. Visualize lifting the weight of the past off your shoulders and handing it back to the person who placed it there. You, get to let it go, and you… have a beautiful new life to build. Good luck! I wish you all the best!