Hello all! I’ve decided to write a guest post for Hannah’s recent blog on divorce and children. Hannah briefly mentioned me in her blog post as the friend with her own family that still holds resentment toward her mother. As a child of divorce, I decided it would be great to share my story. If I can change one bitter heart or angry parent, then my blog post has been successful. Here is my story…
First I would like to mention, I am currently trying to mend fences with my mom, so in an effort not to destroy this work in progress, I will remain anonymous here. I am 33 years old, I have 2 beautiful children and I have been married for 10 years. I have a sister, whom thankfully lives nearby. She has been my constant through the years, my rock, and we have been through the challenges together. She is the ONLY one who can truly relate to my experiences.
When I was 13, my mother attempted suicide. She was unsuccessful and changed her life and ours forever. I distinctly remember my dad taking us into a room and telling us this news. It was devastating. From that point forward, I felt like I became an adult. Things were never the same. My mom suffered greatly as a result of this. The details don’t matter, but divorce came soon after. My mom was so bitter. She constantly talked bad about my dad. Anytime I asked to spend more time with him, she would take a stab at him and talk negatively about him. I am not sure what she felt like she was accomplishing by doing so. I wonder if her thought process was “they will love me more”. It was a twisted way to think. As I became further into my teenage years, I constantly heard comments like “look what your dad did to us”, “your daddy needs to pay for that”, and some private details of their marriage that had NOTHING to do with him being my father, and a great one at that. We were restricted to 5pm every other weekend, and wednesday’s from 5 until church time. Not one minute later. Not one single minute. If my dad asked to spend a family birthday or certain holiday with us, the answer was always no, and some comment similar to “that’s not in the papers”. I can’t tell you how many times those stupid divorce papers were thrown in there. My dad never bad-mouthed my mom. The only time I ever heard anything negative about her from him was when I was reduced to tears, uncontrollable crying about how my life at home was playing out. I was scared to leave my mom and live with my dad. After the above mentioned incident, I was constantly worried I would be the reason should that happen again. My dad was always a listening ear, never saying ugly, hurtful things.
To spare you the long details, fast forward to year 18. My dad encouraged me to leave for college. He insisted that this was the only way for me to get out of my current situation. So off I went, 3 hours from home, when there was a perfectly good college at home. My dad paid all of my expenses to make sure I didn’t end up back home. I never got a dime from my mom while I was in school. She constantly told me “that was your daddy’s choice to send you there, not mine”. My mom genuinely didn’t have a lot of money, but she never told me that. She was taking stabs at my dad every time she had the opportunity. Looking back, I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for my dad to make that decision for me. Force me to move away knowing I may never come back. He was right. I still live 3 hours away from home, because I don’t want to deal with it.
What have I learned? Well, for one thing, what happened with my mom and I is not MY children’s fault. Therefore, I felt the need after my first born, to mend the fences. I want them to have a relationship with her. Kids need their grandparents, and I am thankful they have them. She spoils them as much as she can, and I secretly love it. She wants to be a part of their lives, and she has truly made the effort to change her attitude. She never talks bad to me about dad anymore. She comes to family functions at my house knowing he is going to be there and acts like a mature adult. She is not the same woman. It did not come without a fight. We fought for years and years before I had my children. We have such a broken relationship. We would go months at a time without talking, and it didn’t bother me at all. Not talking to her was honestly so much less stress to me. Every conversation we had somehow revolved around how I spent more time with my dad, how I didn’t come home to visit or some other argument that solidified the reason why I did those things. It was a constant, never ending battle. It wasn’t until I actually became pregnant that I put my foot down and told her the only way she could be a part of my child’s life is to change her ways, that I never ever wanted to hear one negative word about my child’s grandfather (her ex) come out of her mouth or that would be the end of it. It’s sad to me that I ever talked to my mother like that. I was not raised that way. I’m respectful to adults, and people in general. I have never talked to anyone else the way I have talked to my mom.
I’ll leave with this thought: Keep it all in (when it comes to the kids). No matter what, and to what extent it hurts you as a parent. Whatever you say, I promise, is doing more harm to your kids, and damaging your relationship. If the kids want more time with the other parent, indulge them. They have the right to see them. Spend that time getting some things done that you need to do for yourself! An extra workout, shopping without kids, cooking, having an adult beverage with friends! If it bothers you or angers you THAT much, then please consider speaking with a counselor. Your kids shouldn’t have to trade this time for that time, because you are bitter about your situation. And hypothetically speaking, if there ever was a true battle of who won the parenting war, it would obviously be my dad. He wasn’t husband of the year to one person, but he was the dad of the century to my sister and I. To this day, my sister and I both call my dad first with good news, sad news, bad news or any news. He has always been the ‘silent winner’ of the divorce war. I’ve told him before it’s because he never made us feel bad for our thoughts or feelings and we never had to listen to his ugly marriage side of the story. Hope I didn’t bore you with this extremely long blog post, and that I can give a little insight from the child’s side.
Still scarred—20 years later.
Disclaimer: This post is in no way meant to offend or insult, but simply to provide some insight on the other side. It is not meant for any one particular person. This is truly the first time I’ve typed out my story and ‘put it all out there’. It was hard for me to do, so please be mindful of that. With that being said, I encourage your feedback and comments!