The Good Girl

A friend sent me this truly awesome blog post about being a college-educated divorced mother.  It discusses an article from the New York Times about how the rates of divorce among educated parents are dropping.  One of the points that struck home with me from the article, and the blog post, was the idea that we’re not a hippie or a rebel generation– this generation, the children of divorced parents, has decided to “be good”… to put our families first and to make our marriages work, no matter what.

It resonated with me because I have always been such a good girl.  Straight-A student, never got detention, never got in trouble.  Went to great schools, worked hard, became a doctor.  Hell, I’ve never even been pulled over.  My entire life, I have been so good.

My one and only act of rebellion has been my divorce.

I am still not sure if I agree with the notion that divorce equals failure.  I know that I failed when I agreed to marry Tyler.  Did I fail by choosing divorce?  I don’t think so.  I think I’d have failed if I’d stayed.  To wake up every morning and wish I were somewhere else, to live in depression because “this isn’t how I wanted my life to go”, to raise my child in a house where there is nothing but conflict, that would be failure.

Failure or not, another comment from the New York Times article that struck me was that it’s not divorce itself, but the way divorce is handled, that damages children.  Now this, I wholeheartedly agree with.  Even though I sometimes want to strangle Tyler for his periodic fade-outs from Caroline’s life, getting along with him will always, always be at the top of my co-parenting priority list.  I could not, or would not, save my marriage, but I can and I will preserve civility with my daughter’s father.  I try to do that in every way, even down to referring to him in conversation as the positive “Caroline’s dad” rather than the negative “my ex-husband”.  In other words, even though I might have given society the middle finger by getting divorced, I still try to be the “good girl” by staying friendly with Tyler.  (Key word there is try.)

When it comes down to it, I can’t imagine my life still married to Tyler.  Maybe I gave up my “good girl” status when I chose divorce.  I suppose it must mean something that even if I did, I don’t care.  Some people will forever judge me for following my heart rather than a societal norm.  But I have learned that living a happy and peaceful life is far more important than living a perfectly well-behaved one.

I’d make that trade again any day.

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  1. by Berit

    On August 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Nice post, Julia. You obviously have a good head on your shoulders and are handing every bump and crossroads so thoughtfully, even considering how you refer to the ex you don’t think highly of, for your daughter’s sake. Your priorities are in order. Good girl :)

  2. by Amanda

    On August 14, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    When I began divorce proceedings, I felt like a major failure. However, I soon realized that had I stayed I would have failed my daughter….a happy marriage is not what I had and I didn’t want her thinking that was the “norm”. I would rather be a “failure” to society than let her think fighting and being unhappy is what marriage is about….thanks for another great post!!!

  3. by SingleMama

    On August 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I hate the looks I get when people find out I am a single mom…like I am much less of a person because of it.

  4. by Nicole Dorsey

    On August 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Good girl vs> bad girl? Keeping your child happy and balanced + best girl ever, keep on Julia.

  5. by stephane

    On August 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    I agree. My divorce was the best thing for me and my daughters. I can honestly care less on how the world sees a divorced single parent. Everyone has their own struggles and hardships to overcome, if you don’t make your “mistakes” than how do we learn about life and become stronger women? It can also teach our children that yes sometimes you can make the wrong decision in life and still pick up the pieces and grow and move on. Glad you are able to have a civil relationship with your ex for sake of your daughter, my heart foes out to you.