Tackling resentment as a Mum

Lone parenting can be so hard.  You can often feel alone and that the entire burden of bringing the children up is your responsibility alone.

My ex husband cannot often make the children’s special events or school parents evenings.  It is so hard not to get resentful.  I will send him a diary invite in advance and he may come, or he may not.  I try not to promise the children he will be there, as I do not want them to be disappointed.

But the hardest part is the fact that I have to make sure my work and social life fits around the children regardless, but it feels like he can pick and choose what works for him.  Sometimes it clashes with his work shifts, sometimes he has an important appointment, but despite these perfectly reasonable explanations you find yourself feeling annoyed.  You remember how he opted to move further away, due to affordability, but you need to remain in the area for their school, friendships and stability. That you can’t just up sticks and go.

You have to call and pay that childminder as you can’t be in two places at once for both children. You have to work from home or make up the hours when your child is off school sick, and you have to drive them to every club and event. It’s exhausting! Your situation maybe similar but with different frustrations to mine.  It’s not easy.

But the children didn’t ask for their parents to divorce, and they love both their parents.  I have to work through the facts and the feelings here.  What are the facts?  He is a trainee paramedic and cannot easily get time off.  What are the feelings?  I’m doing it all alone because he left and I wish he helped more.  When I communicate with him I need to stick to the facts; ‘Can you make this date?’ And if he can’t I need to let it go.  The children will be fine as long as one of us is there. Telling him my feelings won’t help, it’ll actually inflame the situation.

Likewise, if he asks me something and I need time to think, it’s ok to say “let me think about that and get back to you.” It can seem strange in the early days to do this, but it gives you time to think and respond appropriately.

Some people have termly meetings to plan dates and discuss anything important.  I now have a shared calendar with my ex instead, and text him important information. Sometimes he may not reply until the day before about whether he can make it. But in order to not loose the plot I’ve had to reach a place of acceptance.  Sending him long texts about how frustrated I am simply do not help. He is who he is, I cannot change him.

I also need to ensure my frustrations do not spill out with the children.  I try and only say positive things about their Dad, this isn’t always easy but they’re half him and half me. I don’t want them to think half of them is defective.  If he was good enough to have children with and marry, I have to remember those good parts even now for my children’s sake.  This creates a more positive and loving atmosphere, and even if I have to dig deep sometimes to let go, every time I make this effort to let go of my feelings and choose to speak well of him, I am making the choice to put them above my petty frustrations.  Instead I speak to a trusted friend about how I’m feeling.  You need to choose this friend wisely so their point of view is balanced and they do not feed your resentment, but instead help lighten the load and to see both sides of things if needed.  By processing my feelings with a friend it helps me to cope better when communicating with my ex as well.

This weekend he came in for a coffee after spending the afternoon with them at the park.  I could see how much this meant to my kids to see their parents chatting like old friends.  This didn’t happen overnight, it takes time to cultivate an amicable relationship.  And it wouldn’t be appropriate if my ex was abusive.  But in my situation with good boundaries I have chosen to do this, and I can see how much my children appreciate it every time we go to an event together or he pops in.

My ultimate goal is that should they ever get married, that they do not need to worry about seating us far apart, or speaking to us separately about their plans for the day.  If that day comes, I want both my ex and I to share in their joy and not to ruin their special day.

Yes, their parents may have separated, but if their parents become successful co-parents together, and if their parents model healthy relationships in all other areas of their lives, my children will learn by experience and will have a much stronger chance of successful and meaningful relationships in their own lives. That alone is reason enough for me to keep making the hard choice to focus on the children, forgive and move on well. But also by choosing to forgive him, it has also helped my children to do the same. And one day I know my children will look back once grown and thank me for putting them first. Dig deep ladies, you’ve got this.

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