Last year, my husband and I went through a divorce. Everyone knows this profoundly affects the whole family and causes significant shifts within your clan.
But change is inevitable when you go through a divorce, and there have been days I’ve felt incredibly helpless and worried for my children. It’s not just because of the situation they’ve been forced to endure, but because they are teens who are aware of their surroundings, other people’s feelings, and they know how to read into things in a way they didn’t when they were younger.
As a mom going through the end of your marriage while sharing four walls with older kids, it’s hard to keep your feelings and emotions hidden from them. While I do believe a certain amount of showing vulnerability and emotion is healthy, I don’t want my kids growing up looking at a shell of a mother who’s afraid to cry and admit she doesn’t always have the answers, lest they become scared to express themselves.
And my kids certainly have changed since their father and I have split. Some of the adjustments are hard to watch, but I know deep down it’s better than if they had two adults trying to share a home who didn’t love each other any longer.
But a lot of the changes have been positive, and it’s something I wasn’t expecting.
Mother’s Day is almost here, and I am looking forward to it in a way I didn’t when they were younger. The effort I put into getting the perfect family picture or scheduling brunch was a colossal waste of time and left me feeling depleted.
Now I’m a single mother on Mother’s Day. And now that my children are older, they get it. They know why this day is important to me.
It doesn’t mean I need anything big or extravagant, and they certainly don’t feel pressure from me, but they are keenly aware I’m doing this mom thing solo. That means something to them, which means a lot to me.
Divorce hasn’t been easy on any of us, but there is something about your kids seeing you—really seeing you—and taking a little bit of time to let you know that, especially on Mother’s Day. They listen to me without complaint, even if it is only on this one weekend of the year.
Last Mother’s Day was my first as a single mom. We did a little bit of yard work and then went out to a Chinese Buffet for dinner, and we all loved the experience. It was perfect, so I requested the exact same for the following year. My kids committed to blocking off the entire weekend so we could get a bunch of the house projects done that have been on my to-do list.
They realize I am trying to take care of them and our home by myself. Now they don’t feel it’s a burden, but instead, I’ve watched how they enjoy stepping up to the plate and helping me tackle certain jobs we weren’t sure we could handle.
They genuinely want the day to be important since they are old enough to remember all the birthdays and holidays I made special for them; they want to return the favor.
Last year, my daughter also gave me a foot rub and my son made coupons to redeem throughout the year. They even let me get a family picture without complaint — and they all smiled. That may have been one of the best gifts ever.
It’s hard to watch my kids grow up. It isn’t easy trying to cope with all of their teenage angst while our family was changing. I know it made everything harder on them.
But we’ve made it through to the other side, and I feel like my kids and I have an even more profound, meaningful layer in our relationship.
This divorce has shown them my number one priority in this world, the thing that means more to me than anything, is the fact that I’m their mother. And we have reached a point in our lives when they want to give a little something back.
And I have a feeling this year may be the best Mother’s Day yet.