I was one month pregnant when I left my husband.
A crazy decision you might say, but it was one that I made thinking that I had it under control. I was no different from any other woman in a marriage who had had her fill of unhappiness. But the truth is, while there was nothing special about me or my situation, I knew that my emotional state of mind was critical to the well-being of my child, and I walked away because at the time I believed that the alternative would have been better.
If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned that there are always consequences for our actions. I didn’t leave an abusive marriage, I wasn’t crying myself to sleep every night and I wasn’t burdened with regret. However, now 8 years a divorcée, I can say with certainty that I now know that I left my marriage because I was impatient. The things that needed fixing weren’t being fixed quickly enough and I walked away simply because I could.
It was already too late when it occurred to me that maybe I hadn’t thought it through carefully. Shortly after I was on my own, I craved intimacy. My daughter was 8 months old when my divorce was finalized and retreating to my ex was not an option. Yup – I definitely didn’t think this thing through all the way at all! The road ahead looked long and lonely, since being circumspect was the only expected path for a new mother to take. No?
Today, I’m raising my two children as a single mother, and when the going gets rough and tough, the instinct to walk away is quelled, because unlike a marriage, there is no eject button in motherhood.
Neither is there is an option to pause, delete, rewind or fast-forward. The only button here is real-time play, which sometimes get complicated when I try to balance my life in equal measure of what my head, heart and body want.
You see, my head is smart; it wants the structure of a disciplined life, complete with annual vacations and a pension plan. My heart is soft; it wants world peace and smiley faces all around, but my body is plain worldly. It still thinks it’s 25 and has an acute sex drive, (yes, it’s true about women in their 40’s). Fortunately, I’ve attained some of the wisdom of maturity that comes at this time.
Interestingly though, since my re-entry to the dating world (ugh), I’ve had a relatively easy time in choosing who stays and who goes. Though they don’t know it, my children are the ones who inadvertently help me to make that important decision. #KidFilters I call them. The thing is, if he won’t be able to ‘fit in’, then he won’t be able to ‘get in’. I had promised myself from the get-go, that my children would never be exposed to Uncle This or Uncle That. That’s my grown-up mommy business. If Uncle This is eventually deemed worthy of our late-night pool escapades, camp-outs in the backyard and endless rounds of playing BoyGirl and Kalooki, then there may be a chance he could be approved for a Level 1 soft introduction. If he gets a soft intro, he’ll be known as Mr. So and So. Uncle status is only achieved in the ‘friend-for-life’ category, or in dating Level 3 and higher. This is some serious stuff here and yes, there are levels to this ish!
I try to instill in my children the virtues that I believe are needed in relationships. Being thoughtful and considerate ranks pretty high for me, so when a potential interest was completely oblivious to and uninterested in a recent accomplishment of mine, (of which I was especially proud), I knew immediately that he would not pass go on my Monopoly board. #Filtered
Mr. Inconsiderate was is a hottie who exciteds me on several levels, but I don’t want to wake up one day and regret choosing the wrong influences for my children just because I want a brief moment of pleasure. (Or not so brief..)
They’re gonna make enough mistakes on their own – I definitely don’t want to contribute to that by having them see their mother date an asshole. My kids are smart and yours are too I’m sure. We’re parenting in a very different era where our children know far more than we did when we were their age, and in some cases, they know more than we do today and we are fooling ourselves if we think otherwise.
Last week, I cancelled Friday night dinner-on-the-town plans with my children due to heavy rains. On my way home, I sent my son a Whatsapp message as follows:
Me: Hey hon, I had wanted us to go out to dinner tonight but this weather is not conducive, so maybe tomorrow night
Me: Back-to-school dinner **smiley face**
Son: **Sad face**
Me: Have you eaten yet? Netflix and Chill for us tonight!
Me: Yes son?
Son: Please never use that term again. Netflix and Chill means that you have intercourse whilst a movie is playing in the background
Me: **Shocked face**
Me: Ok then…
Son: Mommy, this is not funny. This is a very serious matter. Where did you hear that term?
I was chastised by my 12-year-old child.
Up until that point, I didn’t know that my son knew the word ‘whilst’. I also thought I was a really hip mother, up-to-the-time, with a handle on all things cool.
Well… I. Got. Schooled. By my pre-teen son nonetheless, and apparently I am in the minority of adults who think that the term in question actually means to watch a movie and relax. Duuuuuuh. My mind took me back to when I was 12 and a French-kiss during spin-the-bottle meant we were living on the edge. I made a mental note to keep up, because it’s easier to revert to how I was parented than to adapt to how I should be parenting today.
As Mother’s Day approaches, I look back at my 12-year stash of Mother’s Day cards. There have been some flattering words told to me by my children over the years; Beautiful, loving, patient (hah), kind, special, inspirational and important are just a few of them that come to mind. Then it dawned on me that despite all of my perceived shortcomings, I really am all of those things, (and more) to my children. Earlier this year I committed to be more present in moments shared with my children. I’m still not 100% successful with that, because no matter how hard I try, there are sometimes when zoning them out, being completely selfish and ignoring them, is just the medicine the doctor ordered. The point is I’m trying – I’m trying not to lose sight of the fact that only yesterday I was choosing between Desitin and Vaseline, and today , in the blink of an eye, I’m absorbing my 12-year-old instructing me on proper use of urban vernacular. Let’s make the time count!
Oh by the way…I produced a short film reminding mothers just how important we are to our children. CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW.
Happy Mother’s Day!