This is the second blog in our short series about the challenges of divorce when you are a parent. This post examines the hardest parts of parenting through and after divorce. (read the first post in the series here)
It’s hard to decide the most difficult aspect of raising children in a post-divorce context. Perhaps it is the loneliness and isolation or never getting a break? Not having a husband/ partner to share how your day has been at the end of the day?
It can be pretty relentless and exhausting. You give everything you can to your children emotionally and physically and you have no one to do the same for you. In fact I was guilty of trying to be this Mary Poppins character, almost to make up for the fact that they had no Dad at home. If anything didn’t go well, or if I felt I could have parented better, after an incident (there are plenty with toddlers :D) I’d feel so so guilty. I’d sit in the flat at night and re-live my day and what I could have done better, and make myself feel worse. You do have this habit of taking on a heavy burden as the resident parent, to make things right for them and at the same time you’re squashing down your own feelings of pain, rejection, worthlessness, anger, denial. A myriad of feelings. My mind was like a washing machine in the early days and I had to try and be this stable, loving Mum, despite everything inside. Very hard.
I also had this fear of being judged by other parents in the early days. I kept my wedding ring on for a long time, post separation. Real or perceived, I had this deep pervading sense that people would judge me differently if I had no wedding ring on. When I was in the supermarket with my two young children in the trolley seat and invariably one or other of them would be having a tantrum. I would see people would look at me, at my children and then at my wedding ring finger. I regularly noticed this happening. I also heard someone make a comment about me and the children. So in the end I actually switched supermarkets, to where I felt less conspicuous.
I fought against the feeling of being judged and removed my wedding ring after a while. I didn’t want it to define me anymore and wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin. To not feel ashamed or worry about what others thought of me. But it is hard, I still fight the feelings of what others think of me. Especially other Mothers at School. It’s a very middle class C of E School and there are very few single parents. It can make you self-conscious but it shouldn’t.
You also have so little time to yourself. I became much stricter on bedtime, as the evenings were my only time to stop and just be.