I don’t really write about my ex-husband or my divorce on this blog. I rarely even mention either of them, and that has been a conscious decision. There are some things that I just don’t feel are appropriate for me to discuss on such a public venue for a variety of reasons – the most important of which is that my daughter might read this someday.
I’m deviating from that general rule a little bit tonight so that I can express a few of the things that brought me to where I am today . . . a few of the reasons I have taken on the role of a single mother.
Since I was in my early teens, I fully believed that I would never get married. I never wanted to get married. I thought it was archaic and unnecessary. I thought if you loved someone and wanted to spend your life with that someone, you didn’t need a piece of paper and a ring in order to do it. And I thought if you wanted to no longer be with someone, a piece of paper and a ring wouldn’t keep you around. I’m sure my mom’s three marriages contributed to that philosophy.
But in my early 20s, I found myself in love. I found myself with a man I believed I would spend the rest of my life with. And I found my biological clock going out of control. I wanted to be a mom and there I was with the man I wanted to grow old with . . . and that piece of paper and ring were important to him. So, I got married. And six months later, I was pregnant.
Things were great for a while, but by the time my daughter was 2 ½ years old, she rarely saw her father and me happy together (unless, of course, we were in public). I won’t go into the details . . . they’re not important for this. Quite simply, life had changed each of us. Saying we were no longer the same people we were when we met, when we fell in love, when we got married would be a gross understatement.
I fought for a long time to make things work, but we were both miserable . . . all the time. I came to believe that the best thing for us and for our daughter would be to end the marriage. Later he came to believe the same. I thought it would be better for her to be raised by two happy parents who were not together than by two miserable parents who were.
Of course, it all came with a ton of guilt. I felt like a failure. I felt like the worst mom in the world. I felt like I did everything wrong and it was all my fault. I think that’s a normal reaction when a major relationship ends . . . especially when a child is involved.
Still, I stand by that decision and I know that all three of us are happier than we would have been.
I don’t think I’m the world’s best mom. Most of the time, I don’t think I’m a great mom. Sometimes, I don’t even think I’m a very good mom. If you’re a mom (or a dad), you can probably relate to that. What I know is that I do the absolute best I can for my daughter every single day. I know that she is the number one priority behind every decision I make. I know I love her more than anything else in this life. And I know that even though she can drive me crazy at times, she’s a really great kid and I’m at least partially responsible for that.
So, when I read this article tonight about a Wisconsin state senator who has introduced a bill that would require “the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect,” I got pissed off. In fact, I got completely fucking livid.
Glen Grothman believes the Left discourages people from getting married and encourages them to have children out of wedlock so that those children will then become dependent on the government. In fact, he wrote all about “How The United States and the State of Wisconsin are Working to Encourage Single-Motherhood and Discouraging Children in 2-Parent Families.”
I could probably write an entire book on the issues I have with Grothman’s theories about family. To think for one second that most single parents choose this for financial gain isn’t just ridiculous, it’s completely fucking stupid.
After my separation, I had to move in with a friend and rent a couple of bedrooms from her house because I could no longer afford my tiny 2-bedroom apartment. I worked every second of over time I could . . . sacrificing time with my daughter . . . so I could keep myself above water. The only “social program” I used was WIC . . . and thank heavens for that because the milk for my lactose-intolerant daughter was $9 a gallon.
I could go on, but the point is that being a single parent is not easy. And while I know there are people who “abuse the system,” you’re completely bat-shit insane if you think most of us want this!
Oh, and I love how Grothman emphasizes single mothers . . . as if fathers don’t factor in to single parenting . . . but I digress . . .
So single parenting as a contributing factor to child abuse? Dave Riley, a Human Development and Family Studies professor summed up most of my thoughts – This is from another article about Grothman’s bill:
“Research has found that leaving a conflictual marriage actually improves parent-child relationships, particularly if the co-parents get along better after separating. . . . Regardless of what kind of family you live in, the important thing is the quality of the relationships within that family.”
To get back to my personal perspective, my daughter is happy, healthy, well cared for, and loved as much as any child could possibly be loved. She spends her time between two homes that are chock full of smiles and laughter instead of arguments and tears.
And I am the parent I am today not despite being a single mom but because of it.