There were a lot of things about my marriage that didn’t add up. The one thing I regret most (if I regret anything), is not leaving decades before I did. Of course, it would have been hard. And I would have financially struggled forever. The worst part would have been knowing that I would likely not find another partner who was willing to take on four kiddos. That would have been a challenge.
Those of you who have read my blogs know that I much prefer being with someone as opposed to being alone. I do not shame myself for this. I grew up in a big family. Relationships are natural for me. Working hard is second nature. And I love people.
Yes, I might love too easily and too quickly. That’s a thing I am working on .
All that aside, becoming a “single” mom was something that felt as natural as it possibly could. Because, well, to tell you the truth, I had essentially always been single.
I had always worked at least three part-time jobs and done weekend gigs as a musician. I had homeschooled the kids alone and run the farm alone (with help from my brothers and dad at times). I had never had a willing partner anyway.
As I walked through my empty home today with a couple looking to rent it, I recalled all of the hair-brained ideas that I had pulled off over the years.
- I had raised, transported for butcher (or butchered), and sold thousands of broilers (meat chickens) over 16 years time.
- I had raised almost a half-acre of flowers to sell at the farmer’s market and at local festivals.
- I had enormous gardens to store food for us for winter and fresh eating.
- I had baked for farmer’s markets for almost 2 decades, gluten-free stuff before it was cool, and all sorts of allergen-free wares.
- I cared for up to 5 gorgeous Nubian goats, which were milked morning and night (in the dark) and had to be bred, birthed, dehorned, given shots, etc. (all of which was new to me)
- I had cared for numerous laying hens and sold their eggs to community and church peeps.
- I had bartered for the tilling of the gardens, the planting of green manure in the back acre, mowing of the yard, tools, grating of the long lane (driveway), and for snow removal.
- That bartering looked like free music lesson for people’s kids, homemade baked goods, dinners, childcare, and so much more.
- I nannied two children, full-time, for several years.
As I thought about it, it was overwhelming. I have nothing like that energy anymore. Nothing like it!
But, once upon a time, I was dedicated enough to pull it all off, along with caring for my own children and homeschooling for 14 years. It was a lot.
The funny part, however, was that so few of these ideas had been mine. They were either his ideas or came out of thin air because of desperation.
At the moment I took on extra kids to nanny, he was making plenty of money to care for us (along with what I made). However, he decided that he would, unbeknownst to me, save a pretty large chunk of his paycheck, bi-weekly. The monthly “allowance” he gave me lasted about a week. And, friends, I am not a spender (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Other things that I seemed to pull off alone (before the divorce), were things I usually saw couples work on together.
- Making decisions on kids healthcare and educations (which is why I got custody so easily…he had nothing to do with this.)
- Planning and pulling off all events, holidays, celebrations, and family trips.
- Skimping and saving and writing scholarships for all of the kids’ activities that were beyond our income level (which was ALL of them).
- Getting state help when needed, including WIC, food stamps and insurance (because he was always underemployed…until he moved out, of course).
So, all that being said, going it alone has not been a challenge in some big ways. I never had anyone to back me up with regard to disciplining the kids. I didn’t really need it. I still don’t. I have my family and they help as much as I need help. But to have their dad…I can’t imagine what that would have been like.
I expect it would have been nice. It would have been especially nice not having someone undercut me, making sure the kids were clear on all of my weaknesses. It would have been nice to have someone to help them learn tools to deal with hardship, not learn to “blame it all on the Mama” like he did.
It wasn’t helpful. And it has taken these past few years to detox the kids of his stories…I mean his lies. It has been exhausting, yet rewarding, work. Many people have shown up to help.
Being a “real” single mom has a lot of benefits. People are usually happy to help. They will happily reach out to one of the kids who is struggling. They will happily bring the tools to help fix things. I didn’t even have to barter to get my snow removed last years. The guys in the farm shop were happy to do it;)
Life is not better in some ways. But life makes sense. What I am up against is clear. It is not some ambiguous, ethereal monster with no name. I can see where I am going and that there is nothing, nor anyone in the way for the first time.
My children are old enough to know who I am, and getting to know who they are as well. They are growing and maturing and becoming amazing humans. I am super, super blessed.
I have a wonderful man at my side who does help me with the kids…for the first time. I can even see leaving them home with him for a weekend or so, and not worrying about if they will get what they need. I won’t have to worry about him going totally MIA on them. He might even make sure they have dinner. Crazy, right?
A taste of the single life taught me a lot about the marriage I was in. I am grateful for everything I learned during that time. I am glad to be done with most of it, however.
If I never pluck a chicken or dehorn a goat again, it will be too soon;)
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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