My separation and divorce has taken a lot out of me. Sometimes I can’t describe what hell I have gone through. Yet, it has given me so much. It has brought about a life altering change in me. One of them is that it has make me a better mom. Crazy right?! But it’s true. I know I will never have as much patience as I should. I yell more than I should or they deserve. I still spank (yes I do this, no I don’t want your take on it). However, I believe these changes in me as my boys mom is exactly what they need.
I have let go of the perfect
Hi. I’m Katie and a recovering perfectionist. And this hurt my parenting. I was so worried about keeping my marriage together, portraying the perfect behaved boys and family, and keeping the stiff face of happiness, that I was damaging myself and my sons. By letting all of this go, I am more relaxed and satisfied. If one of my children throws a fit in Target, I shake my head and laugh to myself. If I have to physically carry one of them out of the grocery store, I don’t let it eat at me for days. When I was emotionally at rock bottom, I finally relaxed in how I parent. In the early days, cartoons were on repeat and I threw whatever food at them I could. I was in survival mode. If we can survive that, we can get through anything. Motherhood isn’t perfect. Life isn’t perfect. I am not perfect.
I stopped with the mommy guilt
Survival mode. We have all been through it. Pregnancy, illness, new baby, moving, new job. We do whatever we need to do to get through the day, week, month, year. When I was in the trenches, I realized that we made it through. I wasn’t the only one having life throw up all over me. My two boys lost their family, home, and familiar in the matter of weeks. Feeling guilty over it all wasn’t going to change the facts. It wasn’t going to bring their dad home or my husband back. Feeling guilty wasn’t going to change that I had to go back to work, move us to a new home, or put them in daycare. Feeling guilty wasn’t going to make life easier on us. Sometimes it will creep up on me when I am deep in depression or processing the grief. I think it will always try to pop up. But I don’t let it suck me in anymore.
I started to take care of myself
I had too. Physically and emotionally. If I didn’t, I would never have been able to move forward. By taking care of myself and learning how to, I am a better mom. I go to counseling. I get my hair cut and colored. I go out with my girlfriends. I take a nap when I am tired. I exercise. I eat better. I take time for my hobbies and I do this in front of them I am refreshed after a weekend on my own because I used that time for me. And they see this. I am vocal on what mommy needs right now. They might not understand now but they will in the future.
I am honest with them
Towards the end of my marriage, we both were walking on eggshells. Their dad and I didn’t want to show the boys the bad. We hid it. We didn’t want to show our sons anything was wrong. Now, I don’t hide anything from them. If I am having a hard time, I cry in front of them. If I am angry, they know it. If I am happy, they know. I admit to them when I am wrong. I apologize to them when I take my grief out on them. My oldest has a lot of questions. I tell him (mostly) the truth. The truth for a 5 year old. Because this world is ugly. Life is hard. And I am trying to prepare them the best I can. I want them to be men someday. Men that won’t run away from the hard. Men that are willing to work at a relationship. They are going to learn it from me.
I don’t care anymore
I don’t care if they eat chicken nuggets and Kraft Mac n’ Cheese for the third time this week. If the bathrooms haven’t been cleaned in two weeks. If the laundry has been sitting in the dryer for three days and now the basket for two. If they eat a packet of fruit snacks every morning on the way to daycare. If cooking these days looks like the same meals over and over. If Paw Patrol is on again. If they are drinking from the garden hose, running around in their underwear, or sleeping with a lamp on. I am more relaxed. I pick my battles. I know when to wave the white flag and when to stand my ground. I gave up caring about the little things and I go to battle for the big things. They are loved. So loved. They are happy. They have me. And that is all that matters. Because tomorrow is no guarantee.
I forgave their dad
And because I did this, I am a better mother. When I continue to forgive him over and over, I am not only doing this for me but for my sons’. When I do this, I letting go of the hate and anger inside of me. I hand it over to God. My sons didn’t ask for this divorce. So I will do anything for them to never feel uncomfortable or hesitant when it comes to them loving their dad. When I forgive, I am providing them with a home full of love, kindness, and compassion. Right now I am finding it difficult to even describe how God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness I extend to their dad has changed me. Changing me into a whole different mother. A stronger one. A more compassionate one.
No this isn’t the life I imagined for my sons. A divorced home is not ideal. But my divorce made me a better woman. A better mom. The mom my T & G need.
Having children is my greatest achievement. It was my savior. It switched my focus from the outside to the inside. My children are gifts, they remind me of what’s important. -Elle Macpherson