When I was in 4th grade, I was racing my friend to the playground. I remember it was the first day we hadn’t needed a windbreaker at recess in months. The sun was shining, and I was running as fast as I could! There were railroad ties forming borders around the different equipment, and we were headed for the farthest one. We had jumped over the railroad ties easily on the first few areas, and the last one was coming up. I pushed to run even faster, my hair flying out behind me. I jumped to clear them and my foot caught and I went flying through the air. I landed hard on my back. The first few seconds laying there, staring up at the clouds as they drifted above me, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My eyes filled up with tears I was too stubborn to release. When I was finally able to breathe again, the first few breaths hurt, and came in little gasps. Eventually, my friend helped me up and I was fine, but those moments made me more cautious, and I never barreled towards that playground the same way again.
This is the exact way I felt when the Wasband told me he “didn’t want to work on it anymore.” We have been divorced for almost 6 years now, and he still never said he wants a divorce. I sat on the couch, hugging myself, trying to catch my breath, and managed to calmly say “If you mean it, you have to say the words. You have to tell me you want a divorce.” He refused to make eye contact as he got up and left. I went to the shower and tried to catch my breath as the water poured down on me, and eventually, I sobbed harder than I knew was physically possible. I felt broken, scared, and alone.
I was terrified of what was coming. I was 31, and living in a city we chose because it is where he grew up. A city that happened to be halfway across the country from my family. My sweet, precious babies were sound asleep in their beds, not knowing that when they woke up, nothing would ever be the same again. They were 6 and 2 years old at the time. I was a stay at home mom who taught Gymboree classes 5 hours a week. Clearly, I couldn’t support the kids on that! My mind raced with possibilities. And my main thought was “I have to be okay for the kids. I have to get them through this with minimal scars, no matter what.”
I am very blessed that I have amazingly supportive friends and family. I was able to make it through the first few days, and then the first few weeks of single motherhood intact. I felt fragile, and didn’t realize at the time how truly strong I was. I kept the routine the same for my kids, and for myself. I researched, plotted, and planned. I talked, vented, cried and raged to my friends. I snuggled my kids every chance that I got. We did sleepovers in mommy’s room, because we all three needed it. We ate a lot of cereal for dinner, and sometimes baths waited a day or two longer than might be ideal. Somehow, we made it through, and we are closer for it.
By the grace of God, I made the transition from a married, stay at home mom to a single mom with my dignity and integrity mostly intact. I bought a business, with the help of my incredible parents; I figured out how to find joy again. I soaked up every second I could, and was determined to keep my kid’s childhood as magical as possible. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I am fiercely proud of the 2 fantastic kids I am raising. They are my purpose, and they bring me more joy (and more frustration!) than I ever dreamed was possible.
There is so much more to my story, and I look forward to sharing it with you. The growth and the beauty that came from this very broken time in my life are humbling to me, and I want to share them sometime. What I most want to say in this long winded, emotional story about how I became a single mom, is that I didn’t make it through alone. I needed my support system! I needed friends who would listen to me, and guide me when I got off track. I needed Godly friends, who kept me centered in faith even when I struggled with it. I needed people to tell me when I needed to suck it up and move on from my pity party; I needed hugs and first solo mother’s day cards. I needed someone to watch the kids while I sat in the car and cried, and I needed friends to remind me that I am very loved, when I wasn’t feeling worthy at all.
I have been blessed with a plethora of beautiful women in my life. Married, divorced, single, with kids, without kids, all ages; I have far more women in my “tribe” than I deserve, I am certain! I have been the token single mom in a sea of married friends. I am drawn to families, and always have been. My family doesn’t look the way I pictured it, but I still want all the “regular” family experiences for my kids. And with these incredible friends, I have been able to show my kids what it looks like to support others. I have been able to show them it is okay to ask for help (a humbling lesson for me for sure) and that family can mean a wide range of things.
Eventually, I felt like I could breathe again. We are a joyful family, in all circumstances; the people we have met and included in our story are key to this, and the kids and I are happier in ways I couldn’t have imagined on that first night. Getting the wind knocked out of you hurts, but only for a little while! The picture below is from our first family picture session as a family of 3. (Photo credit to Holly Austin Photography!) This picture is not of a broken family. This is a family, complete and whole in it’s own right! And we got there because I had people who helped lift me up, even through the hardest parts of my life.
There are resources out there for you if you are struggling with your new identity as a single mom. I am involved with REAL Ministries Foundation and they are getting ready to roll out a nationwide program offering support and empowerment. Many churches have divorce recovery programs as well. I want you to know there is a hand ready to help you up and support you as you catch your breath!
Blessings to you and yours,