THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Erin Silver Headshot

Newly Divorced? Advice From A Veteran Single Mom

Posted: Updated:
WOMEN CHATTING
Shutterstock / pio3
Print

I used to feel like the only person in a crowd who was divorced. Everyone else was paired off, married, whether happily or not, and I felt like an outcast. My house seemed to be the only one with one car parked on the driveway instead of two. I was the only one who couldn't contribute to a conversation involving husbands -- how he left his socks on the floor/was working too late/couldn't help put the kids to bed one night.

I couldn't even talk about what I was making for dinner. With just me and two picky little eaters, I would eat a bag of salad and they would be happy with scrambled eggs or grilled cheese.

Then one day I made a friend who was separated, and I finally had a lot in common with someone who really understood what I was going through. We could talk about dating, lawyers, custody, therapists and ex-husbands. As time went on, I met someone else and then someone else and someone else. I couldn't believe how many people were slowly being picked off, one by one, like a game of dodgeball.

It feels like there are more of us moms with one car on the driveway; more of us who make eggs for dinner; more of us with more in common than any of us could ever have wished.

It wasn't until last week I realized I was a statistic. Five other women and I were meeting for lunch. It was so nice to get together, to sit on a patio, to talk about our kids and their school and the summer. Eventually, the conversation shifted to two moms who were newly separated and we were all grateful to hear an update on how they were doing. I looked around the table at these beautiful women and suddenly understood that half of us were separated or divorced. We were a perfect population sample.

In just four years since my separation, it feels like there are more of us moms with one car on the driveway; more of us who make eggs for dinner; more of us with more in common than any of us could ever have wished.

In a way, it's nice to be the veteran divorcee; the mom who can reassure all the others at the start of their journey that everything will be OK. That they just have to get through the first month, and the month after that and learn to take things one step at a time because everything else is out of their control. That their kids will probably fret and falter before they can thrive. That they will have to answer their childrens' questions and that they must be prepared with answers that are kind and loving while also vague and appropriate.

Before they know it, they will be the veterans reassuring the next group of newly separated moms that they, too, will make it through to the other end of divorce in one piece. If only I had known things didn't end there.

Before they know it, they will be the veterans reassuring the next group of newly separated moms that they, too, will make it through to the other end of divorce in one piece. If only I had known things didn't end there.

It's funny because once you get to the end, once you have your divorce papers in hand; you assume the marathon is over. You feel a sense of relief, and then as life continues, you realize that you haven't been running a marathon at all; it's more like a triathlon and you must still stay the course and get through every other obstacle, bandage your weary, bloody feet, because even if you are officially single, you're still co-parents. You still have an ex whom you will need to see or speak to or coordinate with several times a week because your kids bind you together for life.

You will have to manage disagreements, learn to communicate, and parent your kids together. Chances are you will have different ideas on how to do this. Chances are you won't agree. In fact, you may disagree vehemently. It's why you're divorced in the first place. Then you'll begin to wonder how you were even so dumb as to marry your ex all those years ago anyway. Then you'll still decide it was worth it because otherwise you wouldn't have your kids, and you wouldn't trade your kids for the world. You would still make the same choices. You wouldn't have done a thing differently.

Without your ex, no matter how difficult or stubborn or mean or self-centred he is, you wouldn't have any little people running around your house asking you heartfelt questions; little people who gladly eat your eggs for dinner each night.

Getting divorced isn't the end goal. It's the start of being divorced. There's a bigger picture, a longer race.

As hard as it is to be divorced, as painful as it still is sometimes to see other houses with two cars parked on the driveway by 6 p.m., as poignant as it is to realize that too many of us are meeting the statistic, I couldn't change it and I wouldn't. This is life, such as it is.

If there is any advice I could offer now as a veteran single mom, it's that getting divorced isn't the end goal. It's the start of being divorced. There's a bigger picture, a longer race. It's an art we strive to master and it takes so much work. So pace yourself, my friends. It seems more and more like at least half of us are in it together.

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook