divorced mom guilt

Divorce, when you have children, includes a HUMONGOUS side of guilt. Especially, if you are the one that decides to divorce.

Everyone experiences it differently – some deal with it by buying everything that the kids want; some take them to every event that the kids want to go to; some ‘fight’ figuratively to be the one that is loved the most; and some fight to be the one that is the ‘most fun’. There’s no right way to deal with it unfortunately because in reality – all of it is wrong. If we excelled at this thing that we called life and marriage, we wouldn’t be divorcing and causing this pain to children that have no control over what we put them through.

Early Choices…first moments of guilt

My boys dealt with divorce when they were still in preschool. Not many can say that. There are some that make the choice to end a marriage as early as I did but the majority don’t make that choice until the kids are roughly in middle school because it just takes that long to make the decision. I’ve found all kinds of statistics online – many say that if a marriage will end in divorce, eight to twelve years is the average mark, and with many marriages not starting until people are in their late twenties or early thirties, a good majority of marriages end when the kids are in early middle school or late-elementary school.

And this is where, unfortunately, a large portion of my friends are at right now.

And ‘statistic-me’, I’m on divorce number 2 (also known as the last time I will EVER marry someone) and my friends are on number 1. Makes me sound like such a winner, right?? I promise – if you met my ex’s, you would completely understand that I let my heart guide my brain WAAAAYYY too much (aka – I have too much faith in people when I should listen to my brain more than my heart). I gravitate toward ‘big personalities’ BUT ‘big personalities’ also translates into the fact that they love attention on ONE PERSON only…and it ends up not being me or the responsibilities that they committed to.

When my oldest son and I have our ‘talks‘ it’s very common that he will mention, multiple times, that he feels the sting of the divorce because he feels like none of his friends live the same life. He hates feeling like people wonder why his mom has a different last name than him (so now I go by my boys last name at their school) and he feels like there is a spotlight on him because he has/had two dads (dad and stepdad). And he feels alone in the pain. And the guilt that engulfs me when he tells me this, is incredible but somehow I can hold it together to listen to all he has to say.

The one thing that I will say is that my #2 man was young enough, when his dad and I divorced, that the life we lead is ‘normal’ to him. My ‘Big D #2‘ is the first time that he will actually remember what happens, so if nothing else, I will strive to not repeat my mistakes with ‘Big D #1’ so that he isn’t as ‘scarred’ as my ex and I left my oldest.

Then guilt continues when my #2 man constantly asks ‘who are we with tonight’? God love him…he’s only asking because he honestly doesn’t keep track (one – because he’s seven, and two – because he forgets the schedule because we have such a weird co-parenting plan compared to most co-parentors because of my old work schedule).

And then, when they realize that hockey is starting back up again this week and they’ll possibly have to see their stepdad at the rink because he works there, they stress. So much so, that their dad and I have had to tell my scummy-soon-to-be-ex-husband that he’s not allowed to initiate contact with them because of their request, not ours.

And it’s embarrassing for them because no one else understands, at that age, what a divorce is…yet (unfortunately). And I TRULY hope none of their friends family’s have to go through this, ever.

And more guilt…

After I remarried this year, I volunteered to go on a field trip for my oldest son’s class. I was selected, and when my son’s teacher asked him what my last name was, he stumbled…because no one had asked him that question since I had remarried and because he didn’t want people to know or ask questions about why my last name was different than his. So not only was he embarrassed because of his ‘stumble’, he was embarrassed because he thought his classmates would think badly of him because my last name was different than his.

We’ve discussed this in detail and I’ve offered solutions to him and it’s fine now but these are the type of things that run through my head when my almost-ten year old asks me for a glass of apple juice. I know very well that he could take care of this, but then, because I’m ‘Mom’ I think, “he’s gone through so much and I’m standing right here, I can do it.” So I do it…for him and for all of them…because of the divorce guilt.

The guilt never ends…

I wish that I could give you the perfect advice about how to avoid this guilt. Unfortunately, the only advice that I can give is to not get divorced, to work it out. If you choose to divorce (and I’m not judging you for that choice)..but if you choose to divorce, just know that we all feel that ping of guilt and there’s not much you can do to avoid it. In reality though, parenting comes with a side of guilt, every day, for something. All you can do is roll with the punches, not diminish your children’s feelings, acknowledge their feelings, help them cope, and keep moving.

All you can do is choose to make the most sound choices for your kids as possible.

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my war paint is on

Typically, on Saturdays I post about the ‘adventure‘ of the week that I was able to experience with the kids but this week was different.

I had every intention to complete our adventure, which tied to the start of school, but something got in the way.

I was served. With divorce papers. On a Friday. Somehow my soon-to-be-cheating-abusive-scum-of-a-soon-to-be-ex-husband found the money that should have helped me pay bills, since he deserted us, to pay for an attorney instead. I shouldn’t be surprised but I was for some reason.

I’ve started my process to cope with the loss of my marriage, which is truly like dying inside…experiencing a death of an immediate family member but I guess I wasn’t as far into the grieving/acceptance process as I had thought.

My scummy-ex is lazy. Ask anyone he works with or his customers – he is never on time for appointments or work. He didn’t get the pay increase he thought he should…because he’s late all of the time and has an attitude…irresponsibility is his middle name. And unfortunately, I’m just now realizing what I’ve always known about how sleazy of a person he really is.

As an example, my father is fixing sooo many things that he said he would fix around the house, or that he had broken, for literally years, but he just didn’t ever do it because he had other things to do, like drink or work on trucks or Jeeps that are now sitting in MY garage.

So my guess was that he thought he would continue to ‘cheat’ on me with the soul-less Bethany D. and not take the time or money to actually follow through with the divorce…always knowing that he could try later to be a ‘MAN’ and own up for what he’s done and apologize. BUT…he has decided to act as immature as the trash that he is with and bail…and bail in a BIG way, without remorse.

I’m not ready to go into what he’s asking for, but I can tell you that he’s a disgusting human being and whoever his attorney is, is disgusting too, and shockingly is a woman – I have no idea how she sleeps at night because it’s insane what he’s asking for.

Pathetic is who he has become. And the sad thing is, is that I can only guess that his mom is the one paying for his issues. His mistakes. Literally the one paying for the bed that he has made and she continues to ‘threaten’ to pull back the money but yet pays for everything…all so that ultimately, she gets her way…which is to see her granddaughter, even though she lies like he does. I’m going to get punished for his mistakes, all so that SHE gets her way…all because SHE has more money. Or so they think.

Good luck. State of Florida – Grandparents have NO rights. And I can fight grandparent money with grandparent money. And guess who has no issue doing it because their kid didn’t do anything to cause this. NOT his mom! At least my parents know that they’ll get their money back because they taught their child to be able to keep a GREAT job and do well financially! It must suck to know that three of your four kids have massive issues. And the funny thing is that the three with the issues speak SOO badly of the one child that doesn’t have the ‘mommy-dependency’ issues that they have.

And then I get this text today after he knows that I’ve been served: “We can solve this outside of court by being civil with each other.” Civil??? He wants to be civil??? He wants me to compromise with him when he wouldn’t even try at our marriage?? Shocker – not happening! Another one of the examples that I was apparently married to a ‘Peter Pan’.

Grow up Erik. Grow up McDonnell family. I’ve been through this before (and maybe I should thank my ex-husband (jk)) but I know more than he does and I’m ready for this. My war paint is on.

That sucks to say. That I’m ready for battle. But in reality, that’s what will be happening soon.

I never took marriage as a joke, especially the second time around, and it’s obvious my scummy-soon-to-be-ex did. Like it’s that easy to walk away from when they realize that they have to actually be responsible…to try…to put effort into someone else other than themselves.

God help the woman that marries into this family after me. They will hate life. That’s all I have to say.

BUT after all of the emotion that I went through, God sent two things my way to shake me out of a dark moment…my dad and one of my best friends. My dad happened to be there, ironically fixing Erik’s ‘repairs’ to my house, when I was served and one of my best friends, K, texted me in the middle of my emotions asking if I wanted company, not knowing what had happened to me. God quickly saved me from melting down. I did have a moment that may have lasted 30 minutes (if that) BUT, if you have been through divorce, you know that 30 minutes to deal with the end of something that you thought would last the rest of your life is an incredible feat.

So, while the kids and I haven’t finished our ‘adventure’ for the week, I know we will tomorrow, and I know that it will be worthwhile and it makes me realize that I do have a good head on my shoulders and I really do know what I’m doing in this crazy parenting thing.

So when ‘life’ gets in the way roll with the punches and live it. Life will smile back and show you a better way, another day.

karma can be good or bad: friendship part 2

God has an amazing way to remind you how rich your life really is…even when you are broke as HE double hockey sticks.

I’m going to preach again…specifically to those going through divorce…so forgive me if my opinions come across abruptly.

Those of us going through this (divorce) feel bad…we feel bad and don’t want to burden anyone with our ‘drama’. And when we do finally open up, I promise you, we don’t tell you more than 1/3 of what is really going on…until you probe…until you ask questions…and then we open up and are so thankful that you’ve asked the questions because we need someone to open up to but don’t want to be ‘that guy’ so we wait until we think someone really cares about what we are going through, to tell our story.

And we forget…we get so lost in our life story, marriage, children time-sharing, separation, and divorce, that we forget who we were before our ‘drama’ began…who we were and the life we lead before our divorce.

Friends remind us what we are made of

Earlier this week I was reminded. I had lunch with a woman that I admire, that I look up to, that I want to be like, who hired me for my career…who ‘found’ me. And something that struck me big time and I never thought about it before, was that she was surprised that I hadn’t shared this with her before she read it in my blog. When I reflected, I understood. I mean, I’ve known this incredible woman that led me to my life-career, for over 20 years…and I didn’t stop to pick up the phone to call her to tell her what was happening in my life. But I didn’t do it purely because I have her on a pedestal and I thought my pedestal was so much lower…reality check – my pedestal isn’t lower, in her eyes.

Another reality check…she sees me as her friend. Plain and simple. She cares about me, she knows me, she has lived life with me, we’ve unfortunately sat through two friends funerals together, and I overlooked this because I was trying to diminish my drama.

What I failed to realize is that my drama is her drama. She’s invested in me. She’s my friend. She loves me and all that I am. I should have picked up the phone.

My life lesson to those going through this – lean on those that have pushed you to where you are now because they are invested. Whether that is family or friends, look for them, reach out to them, private message them. You’ll be surprised how many are invested in your success – in life, not just career.

‘Friendly’ Advice

I read an article the other day about divorce and the importance of having friends during divorce. The one thing that the article didn’t focus on was actually reaching out ourselves to these friends. The article was all about how to help those that were friends of people going through divorce, and how to recognize the warning signs of when the ‘divorcee’ needed friends/attention. As a matter of fact, I’ve even written a blog post about it called ‘friendship‘.

The difference between my first post and this one is that unfortunately, I had only been through one divorce. That sucks to say. Sucks that I’m going through my second divorce.

The first was my choice, the second is not, so I’ve been on both sides of the table. And I’ve reread my previous posts about what my recommendations were to readers about how to handle things and I’ve followed through…and if I do say so myself – I was kind of spot on. I’ve put into practice the lessons that I learned the hard way and I’m coping with this loss a lot better than the first and the first was my choice. So I’d say that I’m ahead of the curve.

The article, though, that I read the other day, giving advice to the divorcee’s friends, was missing a few things:

* we want to be invited…to anything, especially something that is typically a ‘couples’ thing but if you invite us on our own, we read that as ‘you think we’re cool on our own’ and you want us there
* we are kind of ok with being the 3rd wheel or 5th wheel
* we need to get outside of our own head so please include us
* we promise not to bring up our ex if you don’t want us to…but if you do, that’s all on you. (and in all honesty, we don’t really have a lot to say about our ex so don’t be surprised or shocked if we don’t ‘trash’ them, even though we are thinking about how stupid they have been that day.)

Divorcee’s: Listen Up – Accept the help!

To the divorcee…and this is the more important point…REACH OUT if someone has said, call us if you need ______________ (fill in the blank) then take them up on it. Put on your big girl pants and pick up the phone and text them to tell them that you are going to show up and then don’t back out with a lame excuse. I 100% promise, that there is NO downside to showing up to a party or dinner or get together because you’ll have something else to think about other than the drama you dealt with earlier that day. It gives you the chance to get out of your own head.

You’ll leave feeling loved and having enjoyed yourself. And even if you hated every second of it – what’s the worst thing that can happen from it…you hate it but are thankful that you weren’t sitting at home in silence flipping through your wedding album??

One big feeling that I experienced the first go-around that I’ve learned to accept the second time, is help. Whether that be in someone dropping groceries off at your home unexpectedly or someone paying the check at a restaurant or someone offering you a place to live while you get on your feet or someone to pass along your resume, just accept it. You won’t always be in a tough spot financially. You’ll be able to repay them one day, whether it be with kindness, an outstretched hand, or financially. So accept it – your loved ones wouldn’t offer if they couldn’t do it or didn’t want to do it. Just remember this and pay it forward and pay it back. God will give you the opportunity.

And remember – as much as those going through divorce want karma to bite our soon-to-be-ex’s on the butt and can’t wait for that day…karma will also grace our loved one’s lives too.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to grab that open hand.

Quick Update:

(And as a little update…the ridge in my bed is almost gone…I just noticed it as I was typing this. It made me smile and I thought I’d share.)

my kids are a little nutty – mid-week motivation

All I can do is laugh

I’ve said it before so forgive me for repeating myself but I love to laugh! This is the last week before school starts which means that by this point in the summer I’m driving my boys nuts and my boys are driving me nuts and my little redhead has entered the terrible two’s early. So at this point, all I can do is laugh because I’m an ugly crier so I try to choose to laugh.

Lately it seems like every time I turn around the kids are doing something that makes me question my sanity or laugh. The choices that they’ve made this week have me wondering if I’ve taught them anything or if they just decided to turn their ears off all summer.

So I thought that I would put my week to meme’s to give you a chance to laugh. Your kids may have been able to top these but I thought I that I would share so that you could commiserate with me or laugh with or at me. This stuff really happens…unfortunately on a regular basis, in my household.

The last 7 days with my kids…in meme’s

hockey sticks and pink bows: adventure #6

I loved how this weeks’ adventure started…by pure accident and prompted by the boys – kind of made me feel like I’m doing something right as a mom in creating these memories through our adventures.

Moms are guilty of doing too much sometimes and I’ll admit that I bend over backwards a lot more than I probably should, to make sure that they have what they need. For heaven’s sake, I ‘pre-open’ their water bottles that I pack in their lunch boxes because they struggle to get them open on their own and I don’t want anyone to make fun of them for not being able to open their own water bottles. Yes, you may laugh, I know I do, and yes, you are also right, I’ve coddled them…but I give myself and excuse – the divorce guilt. I’m working hard to find a balance between teaching them life skills and wanting to ‘care’ for them. But more about that in a later post.

This week was a tough week for my marriage and I deal so much better with tough times when I have friends or family around. I thank the good Lord because I think that I’ve had very few nights alone – maybe once or twice a week for the past three months where I’ve been completely on my own and when I’m not alone, it’s allowed me to focus on other things, life events and people. It’s been great to help me get through this pending divorce.

So I thought it would be nice to have family over for dinner on Sunday…just because…just to say thank you for supporting us in so many ways over the past couple of months…just because having family over for dinner is fun for me and the kids. I called everyone…they accepted and then the boys brains started rolling.

The kids have always gravitated toward the kitchen. Whether it’s to eat me out of house and home or to help me cook or to ‘create’ their own ‘recipes’, they have bugged me and my mom, to learn how to cook and bake. One of my oldests’ favorite shows is ‘The Chew’ and the chefs are rock stars to him. They are pretty darn close to the equivalent to the stars of the Descendants movies…and to an almost 10 year old, that is rock star status.

They wanted to have our family over and to cook for them. The idea evolved into creating a restaurant. And I loved it because I have struggled with them seeing the ‘need’ to serve others instead of themselves this summer so I thought it was a great way to teach this important life lesson – servanthood.

This is what we did:

* Named the restaurant, created the sign for the restaurant and hung it in the living room. My thoughtful son chose four poster boards, and used each of our favorite colors to write the name of the restaurant on the poster board.
* Put an ‘Open’ and ‘Closed’ sign on the front door.
* Created a menu with three appetizers, four main course options, three side items and three dessert items.
* Mom made all of the food…kiddos helped with the desserts.
* Set the table which the kids have become experts at.
* Divided the responsibilities – i.e. who would greet our customers, who would seat them, how to seat them if the ‘whole party’ wasn’t there, who would take the orders, who would run the food, and a few other things. They were taking this very seriously!

My oldest even put on a tie and the best we would get out of my #2, when we asked him to put on ‘nice’ clothes were gray camo pants and a green camo shirt. It was classy. 🙂 Most of everything went as planned except my #2 man decided that he’d rather sit with the ‘customers’ and eat instead of running the food…but oh well. His attention span is shorter – he lasted longer than I thought he would.

This kept me a little busier than I expected and was only able to capture pictures of the empty plates and dirty dishes after we were done but it was quite a learning experience for the boys because they were tired too after taking care of others needs. It was fun to see them really trying to pull this off and take this so seriously. The icing on the cake with this adventure is that I was able to cook all of our meals for the week in one night! It’s been great!

And once again, the beginning started as groans (mainly from my #2 man) but after our ‘customers’ left they each told me how much fun they had. My oldest has really started to join my ‘adventure movement’ because he’s been coming up with ideas on his own for our adventures.

Remember these tips for going on your own adventures:

#1: Get them excited! Excitement is contagious – if you are excited, they will get excited.

#2: Materials: I printed each of the flyers above so that we could keep them in our scrapbook.

#3: During our time together, I took pictures (even though it was after the fact) and then printed them onto a third page, in a collage form. Our next adventure will repeat this process – print out a description of the adventure, print out a collage of pictures from the adventure. Then add it to a notebook/folder so that when the year is over we can go through and relive some wonderful memories.