Marital Mess: As the ink dries on my divorce papers, I've been able to reflect on the past six months of separation from my now-ex-husband.
I was sitting on a park bench with some friends of mine (both married with kids), updating them about my divorce. As the children frolicked, we complained about our husbands: How they never spend enough time with the family; how they don't get how hard it is to be a full-time mom, etc. Then I had an epiphany: I'd felt exactly like they did in my marriage, and I placed a lot of the blame for my unhappiness squarely on my now-ex-husband's shoulders. But it wasn't all his fault. I had created a situation wherein I was the boss and controlled almost everything. It was the very weight of that responsibility that I resented most.
The difference now (after being separated and sharing the custody of our 3-year-old) is that I've been given the gift of time to myself. My son's relationship with his father has blossomed because of their delineated time together. It has brought me tremendous comfort and happiness to get back in touch with the things I love and that make me who I am. Dance class, gourmet dining, independent cinema, travel, volunteering ... I've had the time to rekindle passions of mine that make me feel alive and vital, that I had pushed into the deep background of my married life.
I write this not to gloat and endorse divorce, but instead as a gentle reminder to moms just like I used to be. Why didn't I do these things within my marriage? I felt worn down by the day-to-day grind. I felt overwhelmed and unfulfilled by the endless laundry-folding, potty training, carpool driving, snack-making, picture-taking and career-making, not to mention trying to maintain the semblance of an intimate connection with my husband. I felt responsible for EVERYTHING. It seemed so monumental to take any time, however brief, to do the things that made me uniquely me. But looking back, I see now how totally necessary it is -- and how it ultimately makes me a better mom.
My first choice in life is still to be married with child(ren), and I wonder if my marriage would have turned out differently had I been nurturing myself with the same attention and love that I gave to my child and my husband. I'll never know the answer to that question, but I do know this: Moving forward, I will never stop making time for doing the things I love to do. Getting a sitter for just a few hours so I can reconnect with myself isn't just a luxury, it's an absolute necessity.