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I wrote this for every single/divorced mum.(79 Posts)
My biggest worry, when I divorced my first husband, was the effect our split might have on our son. He was just over a year old when my ex and I separated, and although I was certain that the decision was right for us, I agonised about the effect it would have on him.
To be clear, I was in no doubt that the marriage was over and that we would both be better off apart. I was certain that, in time, my ex and I would both meet new people and perhaps even remarry. And that has proved to be the case. Between us, we have gone on to have a further 7 children.
But for many years I was burdened with guilt. Was I causing my son irreparable emotional damage by raising him alone? Had I put my own wellbeing above his?
I would listen, on a loop, to "Your Mother and I", a heartbreaking song by Loudon Wainwright III about the effects of marital breakdown on young children. (If you haven't heard it, and you're a divorcee with young kids, stop reading this and download that track right away). As I listened to the final lyrics, "Your parents are people and that's all we can be", a nagging thought pestered in my brain. Is it all I can be? Couldn't I, shouldn't I, have tried harder to avoid this?
For many years, indeed for the bulk of his childhood, I raised my son as a single parent. By the time he started primary school, his father had moved and settled abroad. And so I went on my own to parent-teacher consultations. I sat by myself in the audience when he participated in school plays. And as I watched his gangly frame awkwardly navigate the football pitch, I wondered how different he might have been, on the soccer field if nowhere else, had his dad still been around.
But while I worried and fretted, something remarkable happened.
My son grew up.
In fact, he didn't just grow up. He thrived. He worked hard at school, where it was clear pretty early on that he was exceptionally bright. He developed an interest in cricket, and politics, and Doctor Who. He learnt to be an exceptional friend, someone that his peers could rely on for support. And he developed a wicked sense of humour.
It was only when he was 16, during a random conversation with a stranger, that I was finally able to let go of the guilt. I was at a work conference, making small talk with one of the other participants, when the subject of children came up. I found myself admitting, perhaps in an inappropriate moment of over sharing, that I still had residual guilt that my son had grown up in a broken home. To which my conversation partner replied, "There's no such thing as a broken home. Only broken people."
It was a moment of revelation. I felt, in that split second, a weight of guilt lift from my shoulders. Years of worry and doubt and internalised judgement evaporated. I felt free.
I also felt unbelievably proud.
For the first time, I was able to see that my son had thrived, not in spite of his parents' divorce, but because of it. I was able to acknowledge, that he wasn't a child of divorce. He was a child of strong, determined and devoted parenting. I hadn't modelled failure. I had modelled independence, and perseverance, and tenacity.
I wouldn't have written any of this down, let alone share it, had it not been for Doria Ragland. As I watched her sitting alone in the pews, I remembered all those school concerts, and assemblies, and end-of-term plays, where I too sat alone. Smiling, bursting with pride, but nonetheless alone.
And as Meghan walked herself down the aisle, watched by a TV audience of millions, I was reminded that children of divorce are not the children of failure. They are the product of strong, independent, tenacious love.
Those of us, like Doria, who have raised our children alone, are not broken. We are amazing. And our children are amazing too.
This is amazing
Thank you for sharing
My family worried about the shame and people seeing my girl grow up with only one parent
I can only now rejoice that I am free from an abusive scumbag
I know she will thrive
What a lovely story. I think that women are sometimes portrayed as weak. Actually, if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything and everything and for your family too - be strong !
Thank you. I'm a single parent to one DC who's DF lives abroad with a new family. I feel a daily guilt that I am not enough and that her fathers absence will have a huge negative impact on her.
Your post has made me feel a lot more positive.
I'm not divorced, but I do agree with everything you have said.
I too saw the look on Doria's face...beaming with pride while she was the only family member of Meghan in attendance.
What a remarkable job she's done raising such a wonderful daughter.
I can't write more Cos I'm absolutely floored.
I've screen shot this and saved it if that's ok.
Single parent and child of a single parent here. This is me and this is my fantastic mum. Hats off to us and to you OP and all on this thread. And to Doria for doing a lovely job yesterday.
That’s a beautiful post, those ladies on here panicking about splitting up with some total scumbags in some cases, please take note.
This has made me cry.
It's like a mirror image.
Thank you. Single parent to an 8 year old boy. Slowly getting rid of the guilt.
Thank you, beautifully put. I raised my eldest son on my own until I met and eventually moved in with my now DH when my son was 8 and I can totally relate to everything you have written. I have gone on to have more children with my husband but I feel as though I will feel guilty forever about ds1. He is a wonderful teenager now, happy, responsible, clever, ambitious and my best friend. I have tears in my eyes reading your words - can so relate to all the times I went to his parent evenings alone, every single football match etc etc.
Amazing post, thank you. I too watched the wedding yesterday and the way Doria conducted herself made me cry. Such grace and dignity with the world watching her. How proud she looked, as she should, as her daughter walked herself down the aisle. Just breathtaking.
I've been a single parent to 2 children for 6 years now and will be so happy if my daughter grows up to be half as strong and independent as both Meghan and her mum.
Your post has brought me to tears again as I give myself a little credit for doing this alone.
Wonderful post. Single parent here of a very happy child and I've never felt guilty about it. His Dad wouldn't have been good for him, or me.
Growing up as a child of an unhappy marriage, I think that sets a really bad example and also creates an unhappy home and maybe all sorts of insecurities and fears for children too. I still remember how it felt hearing them argue and say mean things to each other and as an adult it still makes my skin crawl.
Doing it alone is tough! I don't think the child suffers from it though, they need strong and loving role models who teach them how to live life (beginning with not choosing an unhappy home).
Thank you for sharing a beautiful post.
This made me cry.
Thank you. I'm a single parent to two older teenagers, and the split is very recent. My head knows I have done the right thing, the heart is still working on it. Stories like yours help.
Thank you. I am a lone parent of 3dcs after I left my very advice husband. Even though he broke my bones and the police said I should leave him to save my life, I still carry residual guilt that they aren't being raised in a traditional nuclear way. But my DD will grow up knowing that staying with a man who hurts you is not something you should accept.
Your post was wonderful. Well done OP
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