Divorce: Mothers and Children

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I’m on a philosophical journey to find my true path. When I was considering leaving my marriage, the biggest concern for me was my children. Their happiness, love, needs, and desires were always considered first and now I was torn with such emotional grief of what a separation/divorce would bring into their world.

My children were surprised by the idea of a separation, although deep within themselves they must have known that their dad and I were unhappy, but probably figured it would work itself out. 

For most of their life up until this point, we lived as a normal comfortable loving family and although they were seventeen and twenty-one at the time, it was not easy for them. 

Here I was trying to talk with my children to let them know how unhappy I was and that my life was dying inside of me. They could not quite comprehend that sleeping on the sofa for two years was that awful. When I tried to explain to my daughter that I didn’t want to sleep on the couch forever, she came back with “just go on up to your bed then.” Simple solution from the mouth of babes. 

I carried throughout the day a heavy darkness on my soul and then went to sleep with it at night. My happiness? For the first time in my life, I had thought about what would make me happy and if I chose my happiness, my life, my desire to not only be alive, but to live … if I chose that, I was putting myself in front of my children’s happiness, and it was almost too much for me to bear that burden.

I had friends who consoled me and most of them said that because my children were older, they would not be affected as they would, had they been younger. I never truly believed those words, but I had to believe them if I wanted to live. 

A lot of people do indeed choose to live together in an unhappy marriage and possibly stay together for the sake of their children. In today’s society, our children need to know that they come from a stable home life, with two parents who love them and who wanted them in the first place. That of course being the finest of all worlds. However, as unfortunate as it is, marriages and the vows of love, honor, and cherish for life have become as meaningless as doing the laundry. 

Today, the divorce rate is 50 percent and only one can imagine the effects it has on our children. Are we teaching our babes that it’s easier to give up when things get a little tough?

I remember finally telling both my daughter and then my son that I was the one who would be moving out. The separation did affect them. It cut deeply into their world. They cried and I cried for their pain and suffering, as I was not able to kiss this scrape and make it all better. Matter of fact, it was more like a big gouge in their heart, and I had put it there.

Divorce is life-altering just as marriage is. How many of us believed that our marriage would last forever, only to find it had fallen apart to the point that we could not put it back together (and did not even have the desire to even try?).

I myself was two years old when my parents divorced. I do not recall having my father around and although it must have even affected me at that early age, I was surrounded by the unconditional love my grandparents had for me and that in itself was enough.

My mother did remarry when I was seven years old. I can remember my mother being very happy until I was in the third grade and something happened to her. There wasn’t the happiness in our home anymore and that did have a huge affect on me.

I vividly remember the arguing between her and my step dad and that was the way their life continued until his death a few years ago. There did not seem to be any love shared between the two of them and I never understood why they stayed together.

A divorce for the two of them would have been better for me, as their arguing and lack of love for each other was so noticeable it caused me to sit in my room wishing a different life for all of us.

My mother’s words one day played a big part in my decision to leave my marriage, as we spoke one day about how unhappy I was in my marriage. She said “you will never leave, you will stay and be miserable like I have.” Those words cut deep into my heart and brought back many memories of how bad it really can be if two stay together for whatever reason. 

I could not let my children live in a house where two people only spoke when absolutely necessary. I did not want that for my children, and to me, that was far worse than getting a divorce and knowing the children would suffer somehow, someway.

I do not regret leaving the marriage; I do regret the pain it caused my children. 

I was again reminded that my decision had been the right one, when two years after I left, my family was given a sudden death sentence for my step dad. He had been misdiagnosed for three years and we were being told that he had twenty-four hours to two weeks to live.

He was in the hospital for one and a half weeks when the social worker had to inform my mother that his health insurance would not pay for anymore medical benefits for his stay in the hospital, since there was nothing more they could do for him. A decision had to be made on where my dad was going—either home or to a nursing home. 

My mother did not want to take him home, as she did not want to have to take care of him. Nor did she want to spend any money to put him in a nursing home. Here lay a man who suddenly without any warning was given a time frame on his life. He was alert, he was talking with us.

That day I asked my mom what she was going to do with dad. As she stood in front of his hospital bed, I can still hear her words, “he just won’t die!” My children heard it, I heard it, and surely my dad heard it also.

She confirmed then that day with her words that my decision to leave my marriage was the right one for me. I would never want to get to that point as she did, having no compassion, love, or respect for her husband. No child should ever have to hear those words come from their mother’s mouth.

There is no easy answer to a broken marriage and no simple solution when faced with such an emotional decision like that. We have to trust ourselves, our inner voice that tells us each individually what is right for ourselves, our children, our spouses.

Someday I hope that our children will forgive us for tearing their lives apart. I pray that they can overcome the hurt we have caused them from broken families. I trust that our children will help us reestablish damaged relationships with them; clear our souls of old wounds. 

We do not have all the answers like we should and we may not have even tried to save our marriages, but I wonder if maybe some marriages were truly meant to last for a short time so that we could learn something we needed to know.

We should all look inside our hearts, to the voice that speaks to us from within. We can learn to trust this inner guide to navigate through the rough terrain of confusion and loss. 

Remind your children that no matter what happens with a separation/divorce that in no way did it have anything to do with them. I was informed by my own mother a few years ago, that her marriage to my father was a good marriage, until I came along. Realizing that I was only two years old at the time he left, I know that I myself did nothing to break up that marriage. However, her words did indeed hurt me, as she wanted to lay blame on me instead of taking her share of the blame for whatever drove them apart.

You see, a child must have a mother to grow, as the word mother cannot be separated from the word love. Without love, we will wither and die inside. Growing up with the love of a mother, and without even knowing it, we are quite happy there. Somehow she can make every thing seem better—more secure as she tucks us into bed, kisses our foreheads before going off to school, puts her hand over our burning foreheads. A mother’s love for her children is so pure and angelic, and there is nothing that you must do for your mother except love her and that is enough. 

A mother must need her children, and her children must need their mother. If that is missing, then the word mother and child are being wasted, as the mother is not a mother, and the child is not a child. 

Life is difficult and sometimes we are faced with painful decisions. We must accept suffering as a way of growing up. And so, making choices to leave a marriage, breaking up the family, is almost the same as when our children decide to go out on their own. It is a choice that is difficult no matter who is making it and leaving someone behind. 

We need to tell our children that we love them, we need our children to remind us also that their love for us will remain as we both walk in life’s journey and make tough decision throughout our lifetime. Do not live with regrets as we all must make tough decisions throughout our lives. Be happy with your decisions and live a wonderful, peace filled life!

Look to the horizon, remembering that we shall get through this and no matter what happens and that damage done in the past can be repaired … we will one day again feel whole. 



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