So many thoughts go through your head when you realize your marriage is failing, especially when you have kids. If I leave, will it completely mess my children up? Should we stay together, even though we're miserable? Will I suck as a single parent? Fortunately, once the dust settled and I figured some things out, I realized life does, in fact, go on. In fact, in many ways my divorce made me a better mom, so while those initial fears were valid, they also weren't necessary.
Now, I'm not saying getting divorced was easy or that I didn't have moments when I royally messed up as a parent. In fact, more than a few times I totally wanted to throw in the towel, it's just that single parents don't have that luxury. Eventually, though, I realized that I was going to be OK, and my kids were, too. In fact, I actually learned quite a few parenting skills by leaving my partner, going through a divorce, and picking up the pieces afterwards.
Plus, I'm so much happier now. You have no idea. I think this happier me — a version of me who is free to parent my kids the way I think is best — is better able to help my kids to weather the change that comes with divorce. It's taken some time and experience to get there, but I am good and so are my kids. I've learned that not only does leaving your partner not make you a bad parent, it can actually make you a better one, and here's why:
I'm Not Afraid To Ask For What I Need
Before my divorce, I thought I had to stay married for my kids and at the expense of my happiness. Now, after leaving my husband, I've learned how to identify and ask for what I want and need. It has made me a way better advocate, for myself and for my kids.
I Know I'm Badass
Single parenting is definitely not for the faint of heart. Neither is co-parenting with your ex, to be honest. Divorce was humbling, and humiliating, but that experience turned me into a total badass. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that there isn't a single thing life could throw at me that I wouldn't be able to handle.
I Know How To Compromise
Before my divorce I pretty much refused to compromise. Ever. When arguing with my ex, I dug my heels in and was honestly willing to risk everything in order to win a fight. Divorce requires compromise. You have to meet in the middle (and no one wins all of the time). You do it because it's best for everyone, especially your kids, to concede once in a while. Now I know which fights are worth it and can model compromise for my kids.
I Know How To Prioritize
Divorce helps you learn to prioritize what do you really want and need. For me, my kids came first. So I prioritized what was best for them over how I felt about it. I learned to ask myself, "Do I love my kids more than I hate him?" Yep. Absolutely.
I Know When To Quit
Very few people decide to marry someone without really, truly thinking about it. It's not a decision made lightly, and the same is true when you choose to end a marriage.
In the end, going through a divorce taught me that you have to learn what your limits are. For me, violence, dishonesty, and infidelity were those limits. I honestly should have left years earlier.
When you go through a divorce, you learn to do things on your own. I became a better mom and dad, essentially fulfilling both roles for my kids. Divorce taught me how to be self-sufficient, which is a great thing to model for my kids.
I Know How To Budget
Getting married taught me nothing about how to manage finances, but getting a divorce was a crash course in budgeting, doing more with less, and learning what you need to survive (especially when child support doesn't get paid).
I'm A Great Role Model
Whenever I hear someone suggest that parents, especially moms, who get divorced are setting a bad example for their kids, it makes me so angry. There is nothing bad about ending a relationship if it's not working or it's not healthy. In fact, showing our kids how to end a bad relationship might be way better for them than teaching them to stay in a bad one for the wrong reasons.
I'm Actually Happy
I was just having a conversation with a friend the other day about how the media and literature rarely depict divorced women as happy people. I am here to tell you that they get it all wrong. Once I got over the heavy feeling of my marriage ending, I honestly felt free. I was happier than I had been in over a decade, and it showed. As a happy, divorced mom I was a way better parent than wen I was depressed and married.