I started this post over a month ago, but couldn’t seem to finish it. I suppose I’m not always sure where to draw the line between sharing enough and not sharing too much. Sometimes, or in my case many times, it’s difficult to share something so personal. We’ll see how it goes.
I was a young wife and mother. Married (5 days prior to my 18th birthday), pregnant three months later, miscarried a couple of months later and pregnant again a couple of months after that. By age 19 I was a first time mother of a beautiful baby boy and 17 months after baby #1 was born, I became a mother once again to another beautiful baby boy. From the time I was a very young girl, my only real goal in life was to become a wife and mother. I accomplished both of those things before I turned 20.
Life was good and it was a struggle at the same time. Learning how to be a good wife and mother is difficult at any age, but at such a young age, it was especially challenging at times. Having a partner who is there to learn alongside you and being able to support each other thru all the ups and downs is vital in making a marriage work. I thought I had found such a partner, but when we discovered that our oldest son was not developing as most kids normally do, the struggle became very real. Eventually a diagnosis that included the word ‘autism’ was more than my husband could bear. He began to throw himself into his work even more. He would take on extra shifts saying we needed the money, which wasn’t a lie, but it also wasn’t the truth. Those extra shifts meant a lot of time sleeping when home and very little time interacting with his wife and two young sons.
During year 4 of our marriage I discovered there was a 3rd person in the relationship and that was the end. We were divorced shortly after year 5 and I officially became a single mother.
After being a stay-at-home mom, I was thrown back into the workforce and got a small apartment. The boys and I moved out of our 3-bedroom home with the big backyard, to a two-bedroom, 2nd floor apartment with a small balcony. They spent their days with a grandparent, great-grandparent or an aunt while I worked. It was exhausting, but I discovered that I was so much stronger than I knew. I began to change and grow as a person. For the first time in my life, I was learning who I was as an individual. I wasn’t being taken care of by a parent or a husband. I was now the one fully responsible for myself and my two little boys.
I was so very lucky to find love again after being so deeply hurt the first time around. I really wasn’t convinced I could ever fully trust a man again, so I didn’t see it coming. Yet, we have been happily married for 33 years now. This time I found a true partner who I am able to lean on and support thru all our ups and downs. Considering how major some of those ups and downs have been, I think it’s going to last.
Along the way though, I learned that sharing children with someone means that you are always connected to them and one of the things I had to be able to do was forgive. Not just the man who had hurt me so terribly, but I had to forgive myself as well. Marriage is two people and there are always mistakes made by each person. While it might have been easier to just place blame on him for having an affair and tearing up our family, I had to be honest and look at all sides. We both played roles in the demise of the relationship. As he dove more deeply into his work, I dove more deeply into my work as a mother. I also didn’t invest the time and attention necessary to make the relationship work. I had to take responsibility for my role, place part of the blame on me and forgive myself so I could truly forgive him. It wasn’t an over-night process and I worked very hard to blame him for everything first. After all, while I was home taking care of our children, he was out having an affair, so why not? He was an easy target and self-reflection can be a very difficult.
Eventually, forgiveness came and my relationship with my ex was okay. There were still many struggles along the way when it came to the kids and I could give many different scenarios on the differences in how we dealt with situations along the way, but that would be another
book post for another time.
Our boys are grown so for the last several years I have rarely spoken to my ex-husband. There really hasn’t been a need to, so when he called me one day late in January, I was a little surprised. That surprise turned to deep emotion when I learned the reason for his call. After 35 years, he called to ask for my forgiveness. He was making amends and I was able to honestly tell him that I had forgiven him a very long time ago and it was in that moment I realized just how important forgiveness truly is.
Ten days later, my ex-husband died. He had battled cancer for 11 years and it was a hard-fought battle.
Forgiveness brought about thankfulness in me. Thankful for the good years we spent together. Thankful for our boys. Thankful for what I learned along the way. Thankful that the divorce that lead me to my husband who gave me another son and our two (soon to be three) beautiful daughters. Thankful for the opportunity to become a foster parent. Thankful for all the things in my life, both good and bad. All these things have helped shape me into the person I am today, both the good and the bad.
Good-byes are hard and this particular good-bye closed the chapter to that part of my life while another chapter is being written. The new chapter will include a grandchild. The first grandchild my ex and I would share.
And life goes on . . .