There are many kinds of parents out there, many kinds of separated parents and many kinds of fathers.
Unfortunately many of the fathers are like the ones I am writing about here. Some are better and some are worse. This may sound like I am talking only out of my experience (or my mom's) and much of it is coming from that place but a lot of it are thoughts I had in the past year after talking to many single moms. It's amazing to see the older ones, those who were left years ago with young children, how they managed to brush it off, raise their kids and find new lives for themselves. And this is waiting for us as well, younger moms.
I hope for you that if you ever stand in my shoes and your husband will decide to leave you like you are a piece of trash, that he will do it better than mine did. Actually, I wish for no one the experience I had exactly a year ago today and the year that followed, but sometimes things are out of our control, so if things have to happen I wish you that it will happen different than it happened to me.
So I am not saying every divorce turn ugly and I don't say that all dads are bad, but I do say that in couples where one initiates the break up and there are children involved there is a certain pattern that evolves.
There is no recipe following this time, just me marking a year.
These are my thoughts, things I understood in the past year and I want to share them with other women out there who went through or are going through something similar. If you know someone who was left by her partner, being forced to be the sole carer for children who “belong” to two parents, please link, copy or tell about this post. There is a crack in everything, said Leonard Cohen, and maybe this post can be a crack for someone.
1.It will be hard to breathe at first.
You will stop eating or eat too much, you will not know how you are going to manage to even dress the kids. It will pass. I promise. Let yourself not breathe, let yourself feel lost, let yourself not to know how you are going to manage to do it all on your own. It's ok to believe for a while that this is the end of the world.
2.It will never be his fault.
Everything he blames himself for he has no courage to work on with himself, therefore you are the best victim to carry all the guilt!
You will hear the accusations and please know, I beg you, this is not your shit.
He can't look in the mirror anymore, he can't face the hurt he caused so instead of a mirror he is using you, but he actually talks to himself.
3.Prepare yourself – men move on fast.
It will be in no time that he will be with another woman. My ex only needed 5 months to start a relationship with a woman, a woman who probably sits now at her home and thinks she is the luckiest woman on earth. I wonder if she knows what she won indeed, a man who dumped his wife after 7 years in an email.
Your ex will also think he is the luckiest man ever. Indeed, they are happy – they got what they deserved. No good woman will go with someone 5 months after he left his wife. A wise woman will know that this guy still has a lot of shit to process especially if there are kids involved, and especially if he is leaving those kids and moving far away from them.
So she got what's good for her and he as well. He will go into a relationship not being ready and before he knows it she will either break his heart or he will start feeling miserable with her. In the meantime you have had the time to really recover, do something good with your life, pick up the pieces and get everything out of the house which reminds you of the son of a bitch. And you know what that means? It means you are now ready for a good man to come into your life. So yes, he has it all good now, but remember, it only seems that way. In a short while the wheel will turn and it will be your turn!!!
You can either build a caravan or your can build a palace.
And fuck it, only kids believe that the grass is greener over there. Do you want to be married to a grown baby?
4.You will think you can't do it all.
My mom said to me “you do because you have to do”. And it's really like that. You find strength god knows from where and you just do. And you will find out you actually manage quite good without him. You will drill, you will fill holes in the walls, you will put silicone on the kitchen surface, you will build furniture, you will change light bulbs, you will change a toilet seat, you will take the car alone to the repair shop, you will talk to the internet company when there is a problem. You will just do all those things because there is no one else to do them. And you will do them because you can. And you will do them because there is no one there anymore to doubt you can.
5.You are on your own, sister.
He will make promises, he will say he will help, don't believe a word. If he ends up doing it, great, I'd love to be wrong about it but don't forget this is a man who decided the mother of his kids is not good enough anymore. And once you leave your wife, once you start letting go of the responsibility it's getting easier and easier. From there the road is paved to let go of all responsibility, including caring for the children 50% of the time. It's only fair, isn't it? We didn't have these kids alone, they decided to care for these kids as well, so how can you walk away from that responsibility and think it's ok? How can you think calling and skyping is going to cut it?
But it doesn't matter how angry you are, let it go. Your kids will be ten-fold angrier and that is a good enough punishment for fathers in my opinion. Of course it's a shame that dads are often assholes and that the kids have to suffer from it, but what you will hear again and again from people around you (and make sure you are surrounded by those) is that your kids will be ok, THEY HAVE YOU.
6.He will never want to see you happy and will do everything in his power to make sure you don't have a moment of happiness.
As a part of the buy one get one free - you being guilty for everything that happened (it doesn't matter he is the one who left you, it's still your fault) he will also won't want to see that you move on.
We all want to feel important, we want to be acknowledged even by people we don't like. Think of a horrible boss you had, a difficult parent or sibling, a not so friendly friend – in a complicated way we still want them to value if not who we are then at least what we do.
When a woman moves on, when a man sees that she is actually capable of doing all the tasks he used to do he realizes he is not needed, he is not important anymore. And from that feeling (which we didn't plan on creating, we simply have to move on) it's very easy to slide into throwing the blame on someone else, disliking this person and unfortunately wanting to revenge this person, i.e. never want him or her to be happy.
I don't think people are conscious when they go through this process, but think of all the single moms you know who didn't initiate the break up – do their ex-husbands leave them in peace? Are there times that they are more “suffocating”? Are those times their ex-wives seem happier than ever, or worse, like they don't care about their ex anymore?
I know the answer to all those questions.
7.Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down – he is up now, but the downfall is waiting.
It's not about wanting them to suffer or be punished. Oh, wait, it is about that.
8.We know better.
My ex brought this point up from time to time “you think you know everything”, said the man who treated his wife like she's a pumpkin head.
Don't let anyone tell you different – on an emotional level we DO know better. We know more, we can look deeper and we have far more understanding than men. Which also means we can deduct. Men deduct scientific stuff (and some women do too), women deduct emotional stuff (and few men do as well). Call me a chauvinist but no one will convince me differently, I know better :)
9.This is a gift.
It won't feel like this at first (remember? The end of the world feeling) and you will feel that he is gaining a lot from the situation – his freedom, more money, perhaps a better job, a new wife, more kids. But this is a gift for you. Say this every single day to yourself and if you can't, ask a friend to remind you of this. YOU ARE FREE. You are free to be the woman you want to be, you are free to be the mother you want to be, you are free to be someone else's wife, a man who is worthy of you.
10.His stuff will always come first.
When you ask for help with the kids he will only do it if he has time, he will never MAKE time for it.
Moms are the world champions in making time, aren't they? It needs to be done, so you find the time. And it's children so they do come first before other things.
I will give you an example, two actually: the 1st of September was my first day in school (I started training to be a photographer). It's not a day one misses out, right? Ben was burning with fever during the night and he woke up every 30 minutes crying. I asked my ex if he can come and be with him for a few hours so I could go to my first day in school. No.
Last night Alon woke up and vomited all over his bed, he woke up today and vomited again. I called my ex asking if he can come be with Alon because I had to go to work. No.
Whatever your ex has on his timetable will be more important than helping you, and it doesn't matter it has to do with the kids. His work, tasks, dates, appointments will always be more important than your time. Your time is nothing to him.
11.You will still care for a while what he thinks of you.
You will still clean the flat before he comes, you will make sure everything is in the right place, make sure you look ok. After a while you won't give a shit anymore and you shouldn't! For fuck sake, the bastard left you, what do you care what he thinks?
12.It's a cliché, but it's a thin line between love and hate.
You will be surprised to see how quickly you stop loving the man you thought you will grow old with.
13.No one can take away the bond you will have with the kids.
Men are often afraid that moms will come between them and the children. As mothers spend more time with them they are afraid we will influence them to turn against their fathers.
This thought comes of course from feeling guilty. I mean, if you were a good person, if you were honest and didn't lie, if you took care of the kids, what do you have to be afraid of? What kind of weapon will we have against them, right?
What they don't understand is that we are busy women. We have a lot to do and the last thing that interests us is to spend time with our kids telling shit about their dads. What they also don't understand is that they are doing all the job themselves. Even without us saying a thing kids will know what kind of people their parents are. We all grew up to be adults who judge our parents for things they did in the past, for things they do today. Our children will be the same, they will judge him and they will judge you as well. He will be judged for choosing his career/another wife/moving away over the kids/not caring enough/not being there and you will be judged for being overprotective/not taking them to swimming lessons because you hate water/being choleric/teaching them to talk about their feelings too much so they don't turn out like their dad.
Take every step thinking whether you can stand behind it years from now when your kids are adults asking for answers.
14.You will learn to forgive yourself again and again and again.
Because being a single mom is going to mean you are going to make a lot of mistakes as a mother and generally as a person. Not only single parents make mistakes, right? But as a single mom you will learn that you just have to forgive yourself. No one will do it for you and without this forgiveness your life will be impossible.
15.The hardest, most painful thing you will have to deal with, more than him being a person you can't believe once shared your bed, more than the daily troubles, more than money worries, more than feeling hurt – the hardest of all will be the moment you realize you are the only one witnessing your children.
If you live with your kids alone and didn't go back to your parents, you will be the only one witnessing them going through the hell of feeling left behind. Their fathers will never see it, will never even give a thought to it. If they don't see it, it doesn't exist.
It will be you watching their little hearts break, it will be you who will listen to them singins and crying at the same time “daddy, please don't leave me, I love you so much, daddy, please don't go away from me”. You will sit in the other room in the darkness, feeding your other little baby and you will cry and cry because how can it be that the person you chose as a father to your children has caused them more pain than anything else?
And you will be the only one to witness the first steps and the first words, you will know their smell and the rhythm of their breathing. You will witness the laughter, oh my god, the laughter. Your kids will laugh till their belly hurts, they will laugh so hard they fall off the couch, you will witness them growing to be brothers or sisters, doing brotherly things your heart will melt. You will witness it all alone. There will be no one else next to you to appreciate these little happy (and sad) moments in their life. There won't be anyone else there but you to hear them talk about things with such wisdom you will be in awe.
You are chosen of all the people in the world to be the only one, instead of two, to witness them becoming the people they will be. That's just amazing, but at the same time it will be the loneliest thing you will have to cope with.
16.He will have to live with what he did forever, it will haunt him forever.
You on the other hand will have the benefit of not feeling guilty for breaking a family apart, being a skype parent or trying to get away from paying child support.
17.Before you go to bed you'll go in to the kids' rooms, tuck them in, whisper how much you love them, you will look at them in the dark room sleeping like little angles and you will know in that second you are the winner.