Archive for the ‘ Divorce ’ Category

For New Single Parents

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

A friend of mine recently became a single mom, in such a difficult way that I can’t even pretend to begin to understand how she is feeling.  She is scared, and I don’t blame her.

It’s been long enough for me now that single parenthood is just my way of life.  I don’t even think about it most of the time.  But I do remember how it felt in the beginning. It was nerve-wracking, earth-shattering, free-falling.  The way we got there might be different (and certainly some ways of getting there are more traumatic than others), but all of us who end up in this place could have used some words of encouragement in the beginning, when single parenthood is new and terrifying, and your entire world has shifted, and the earth even feels different under your feet.

So, these words are for you… the new single parents.

Right now you are afraid, not only of the overwhelming responsibility of raising a child (or children) on your own, but of the dizzying possibility that you may never feel normal again.  Maybe you don’t even want to feel normal– you don’t want this to be your reality.

Even the little things seem like insurmountable tasks.  Going to the grocery store on a weekend, for example.  Not just physically missing the help with the kids– you can handle that.  Watching the “complete” families, the “traditional” ones.  That’s the worst.  Feeling the unsettling void of the support of a significant other.  Having no one to share the struggles and triumphs and proud moments of parenthood with.  You’ll be jealous of the people you see who have that.  You’ll feel cheated.  You’ll be afraid that you will never have that again.  Single parenthood will feel unnatural and impossible, like trying to breathe underwater.

But remember this.

You will have something incredibly special that they will never understand.  The love shared between a single parent and their child is fierce and beautiful and overwhelming and is, in my opinion, an entirely different kind of love than anything a coupled-up parent can ever know.  Everything will be more intense for you: the challenges and stress of parenthood, yes, but also the attachment and bond to your children that develops when you are the only one they rely on, day in and day out.

You might be afraid that you can’t do it, that it’s too much to handle, but you can do it, for the simple reason that you have to… because if you don’t, no one else will.

And there will come a day, in the not-as-distant-as-you-think future, when you realize, in a quiet moment reading to your children before bed, or seeing the wild excitement in their faces as you walk through the daycare door, that you not only don’t remember how it was before, but you don’t miss it… and you truly wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  Single parenthood will feel like all you’ve ever known.  It will be happy, and peaceful, and there will be joy and laughter and more love than you ever could have imagined.

The hard times will pass, like the good ones do.  This is only one moment out of your whole life.  You will be proud of yourself and your children and how far you have come.

Everything is going to be all right.  I can promise you that– because I’ve been there, and now I am here… and someday soon, you will be too.

Add a Comment

“I Miss My Mama”

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Caroline is in Arizona for the week with Tyler, visiting his parents, because he has her for her birthday this year.  Which means, of course, that I’m on momcation… and missing her.

Whenever she’s away from me for more than a day or two, I always try to make the most of it, and this week has been no exception.  Since she left on Friday, I’ve been going nonstop, doing all the things that are impossible to do when you are a single mom to a toddler who’s in bed before 8pm.  I went shopping with friends, salsa dancing with my South American friends from work, have been out partying with friends until all hours (a more-than-semi-ridiculous night which actually ended up with me stitching up my friend’s face after she nailed herself with the car door), went on a really fun date with a very cute guy (judge me), celebrated match day out at the bars with my dental student friends, and of course enjoyed the requisite sleeping in and staying up super late, just because I can.

Clearly, I’ve been enjoying my single, childless life to the fullest.  I actually almost started to be grateful that she was gone for so long, because I was having so much fun and had really been in need of a break.  Then I was at work today, talking to Caroline in between patients via FaceTime, and she noticed my scrubs and head covering.

“Are you done being a dentist yet, Mama?” she asked.

“No, not yet,” I said, thinking she meant for the day.  ”I have awhile yet to go.”

“Oh,” she said sadly. “I thought it was time for me to come see Mama.  I asked Daddy if I could see my Mama and he said no because you were far far away.  I miss my Mama.”

SCREEEEEEEECHHHHCHUGCHUGCHUGSCREEEUUUGHHHHHH.

That was the sound of the Fun Train coming to a screeching, crashing halt– stopped in its tracks by the Divorced Mom Guilt.  I felt so guilty that I kind of wanted to cry.  Here I am, going out nonstop and having a blast, while my poor kid is 2000 miles away, missing her mom.

It’s not that I don’t miss her, of course… I keep as busy as I do because there is no point in wallowing in the sadness of her being gone.  All I can do is enjoy myself as much as I can until she gets back.

But man, that made me feel bad… as it should… I think.  What about you, fellow parents, single or otherwise– are you able to enjoy your kid-free time, or do you feel guilty about it if you do?

Add a Comment

Answering Your Questions, and Thanking You For Your Support.

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Okay, first of all I just wanted to thank everyone who sent me comments, emails, tweets, and Facebook messages supporting my big decision. I really, really appreciated every single one of them.

To answer all of your questions…

You realize you won’t actually have a lot of choice in where you are stationed, right? Yes, I do realize that. I don’t mind that, because I don’t have anywhere in particular I’d like to move, but taking Caroline too far from her father is an issue. Which I will discuss in a moment…

Who will Caroline stay with when you are deployed overseas? All branches of the military require something called a Family Care Plan before any single parent can sign up, so I had to have this figured out before even starting the process. (Side note: I was surprised to discover that being a single parent actually disqualifies you from enlisting as a soldier, though apparently not as an officer.) Caroline will stay with Tyler, since we have joint legal custody, and if he needs to travel while she is with him (which he no doubt will), she’ll visit my parents or his parents. I actually even had a good friend offer to take Caroline during my deployments after I told her of my decision… one of the most selfless and touching offers I have ever received, and proof (not that I needed any) that I have the best friends anyone could wish for.

Do you have to complete the same boot camp as everyone else? Yes and no. There is basic training for officers (the length and location varies based on the branch), but by all accounts it is a somewhat watered-down version of what enlisted soldiers go through. I’d totally do it even if it weren’t, though. I am badass like that, you guys.

How will you handle all the traveling/being away from Caroline? The Army often extends deployments months beyond what you were promised, and can even redeploy you within a year. This was concerning news to me… I had believed the recruiter when he told me that deployments were only 90 days. It may be different for a dentist than it was for the people I talked to who were pilots, etc., but is still a sticking point for me, as you can imagine. All of it sounds great until I think about being away for my daughter for as long as a year– I’m just not willing to do that, I don’t think she could handle it, and from a purely practical standpoint, I don’t think I’d be able to nail down childcare for that long. Multiple people told me I should consider the Air Force because their deployments are shorter and less frequent, so I am currently looking into that. I’ll keep you all posted!

I was surprised that no one asked if I was legally allowed or willing to move Caroline far away from Tyler, because that really is the biggest issue with my entire plan. He may not take his full visitation that he is entitled to, but he has been doing really well with seeing her often, and they’ve formed a pretty solid bond– much better than it used to be. Both of us are worried that moving Caroline far away from him will damage that bond. I do have full physical custody but I can’t imagine how I’d feel if he proposed moving Caroline out of state away from me, so we are trying to come up with a plan together. We haven’t figured out the details just yet, but I’m confident that we will.

So, this week I’ll be meeting with an Air Force recruiter to check out that avenue, and then get the process started with one of the branches once I figure out which one will work best with my single parent status. I’m incredibly excited about this new chapter. Thanks again, everyone, for all your support!

Add a Comment

Resolutions

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

 

I’m sitting here staring at a blank screen because I want to blog because that always makes me feel better, but I don’t have much that’s productive to say.  I’m way more upset over this HSD thing than I should be.  I’m not eating or sleeping well at all.  It was just too abrupt, too shocking, too upsetting, and not a great way to end 2011.  Or any year, I guess.  Caroline and I went to my parents’ for the new year because that always makes me feel better (see picture).

Although, on the plus side, if you’re looking for a quick way to lose weight for your New Year’s resolution, I’ve got a fanastic diet plan for you.  Just have your significant other dump you out of the blue, via text, for a married woman!  Bam!  10 pounds gone!  You can thank me later.

Anyway, I really do want to just shake it off and look forward to a new year and a new beginning.  So in order to do that, I will look back at all the good things that happened this year, and focus on those.

I graduated dental school, at last.  I started my residency and got a lot more confident doing dentistry.  I got this sweet gig blogging for Parents Mag, and with my writing I’ve made a lot of people laugh and made a lot of people mad.  (Both awesome.)  I got a trip to Jamaica through said sweet blogging gig.  My divorce was finalized, legally and officially freeing me from an unfulfilling marriage.  And, I suppose, I figured out that my boyfriend was a big crazy douchebag, which is better figured out sooner rather than later, and in the end, dodging a bullet early on is always a gift.

I learned a lot of lessons this year. 

I’m not really sure what all of them are, or how well I’ve learned them, but, you know, here’s hoping.

And, to look forward, my resolutions.  I never make resolutions, because I always just break them, but now seems like as good a time as any to at least set forth some good intentions:

1.  To be more careful about who I date and who I let into my daughter’s life.

2.  To find a killer first real job as an associate in an awesome practice.

3.  To spend more time with my daughter and less time “plugged in”.

4.  To be better about compartmentalizing my day, and find a more healthy balance between work and my life as a single mom.  (No phone calls to patients or pharmacies while Caro is awake, and conversely, no leaving charts undone to rush off to the grocery store!)

5.  To get my kid potty-trained again, already, for the love of God.

I think that’s enough.  Those will be ones that I will actually keep.  So here’s to the finish of 2011, and to the arrival of 2012: another year to grow, to learn, to love, to be happy, and to just be.

What happened in your life this year that was great, and what are your resolutions for 2012?

Add a Comment

Blinders, Red Flags, and One Brutal Text

Friday, December 30th, 2011

The one saving grace of my terrible luck with men… is that they sure do make it easy for me to hate them.

For those of you who read this blog for drama because my personal life is a trainwreck most of the time, this one’s for you.  Just go easy on me in the comments, okay?  I’m a little sensitive right now.

So we all know I’ve been dating HSD (Hot Single Dad) since the summertime.  We had taken a little break somewhere in the beginning of October for about two weeks, but had both decided we did want to be together, and things went really well after that.  We met each others’ families, I introduced him to Caroline (which I have never done with anyone I’ve dated since my divorce), and he introduced me to his daughter.  We were together all the time and I was really happy.

Yeah… was.  Past tense.

Yesterday, during lunch, I got a text from him, out of the blue, telling me that he was sorry but his ex-girlfriend, who was married, finally left her husband so he couldn’t continue our relationship anymore.

Yeah, a text.

Yeah, it said that.

So that’s that.  I still don’t even know what to think.  I’m more mad than sad.  Were we a perfect match?  No, but he was good to me and to my daughter and I had really liked him and trusted him.  I had felt secure enough in what we had to let him into not only my life, but my daughter’s life too.

And that’s the thing that pisses me off the most.  Not at him, but at myself.  I should have known to wait longer to bring him around her, I should have been more careful, I should have taken things slower where she was concerned.  I don’t want to be one of those single parents who brings a string of significant others in and out of Caroline’s life.  Well, she’s not even three years old and that’s already one down.  I better shape up in the future.  It was selfish of me to let them develop any kind of relationship, really.

But… how could I have known?  And even worse… in the future, how will I know?

You would think, having been crushed by a failed marriage by the young age of 26, and having a child involved, that I would be more cautious about getting attached to anyone in any way.  You would think that I would have an eagle eye out for red flags.  You would think that having a child whose father’s involvement in her life is sporadic at best would make me more protective of who I let into her life in the role of my significant other.  But I was not, and now I have to pay for my foolishness by being faced with the task of telling my daughter that he won’t be coming around here anymore… on top of having to deal with how the whole thing makes me feel.  I guess I just got caught up in the euphoria of actually really liking someone who seemed to really like me back.

In the end it is not as big of a deal as I’m making it out to be, because she did not much care for him anyway (she’s a better judge of character than I am, I suppose), and because a relationship of only a little over four months will not take me long to get over.  I am mostly disappointed that he is not the person I thought he was, that someone who I thought was wonderful would not only do something like this, but do it in the most cowardly and sh*tty way possible: with a text.  Christ, I had just left his house that morning, thinking how lucky I was to have found a great guy like him.

So.  I got the rug pulled out from under me.  It happens.  But… what do I do about it?

I pick myself up and be grateful that I learned this lesson before my daughter is old enough to be too affected by the consequences of my poor decision, that this happened sooner in our relationship rather than later, and that I can at least be secure in the knowledge that he is not the kind of person I want to be with anyway.  I allow myself to be sad and mad but place the blame squarely where it belongs… not on him, but on me, because I am the one who made the decision to introduce them.  And I look at the example he is setting for his daughter, who is twelve, and old enough to understand, and I make damn sure that I become a better relationship role model for my own daughter than he has been for his.

And in the future?  I try to take the blinders off, put my daughter’s needs before my own selfish wants, and give things time and take it slow.  What is the rush, anyway?  For now, I think that is all I can do.

It sucks, though, you guys.  I’m not feeling too great about things at the moment.

Add a Comment