This weekend, I went to a meetup group for newly single moms. You know, trying to meet people in my same situation and all.
While I was there, I realized three things:
1) I do not feel emotionally damaged;
2) I have no doubt that, with the exception of things I cannot control, my future is very bright;
3) being a single mom is hard and people judge you.
One of the moms at the group confessed that she judged single moms before she became one. She said to herself, "wow, you couldn't make it work, huh?" and "just didn't try hard enough, did ya? Couldn't keep your man?" At first I was a little shocked, as I have never judged single mothers. People who voted for Prop 8, yes, but single moms? Never.
By contrast, I always had a deep respect for single mothers. I felt that their lives must be extremely hard, and always visualized a woman who had to work two jobs for her child(ren). Sacrifice. That's what I thought of.
But then I started thinking about some of the comments I've heard from strangers: "well, it always takes two to tango," and "XYZ probably happened because he was feeling ABC," and "well, isn't that true of ALL men?" The answer, strangers-who-think-they-know-
So yes, people judge single moms. Why, I'm not sure. In some ways, this goes back to my last post -- perhaps people are insecure or hold a strong opinion about the effects of divorce. As I've gotten older (and ostensibly more mature), I've come to realize that most people have a good reason for being in the situation they're in. It's never as black and white as it may appear, and there are always parts to the story that you haven't heard. I just don't think it's wise to judge others.
I don't spend a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. I try not to consume myself with thoughts of who might be judging me. And I don't tell people how hard it is to be a single mom, which it is (what I wouldn't give for a dishwasher! And I would be willing to give up many things for a cleaning lady. And could someone please tell C that she can go ahead and like daycare already, so I don't cry every morning before work?). I simply don't see a point in dwelling on all the negatives.
Instead, let's focus on the positives: I have a comfortable apartment in a nice neighborhood. My baby sleeps with me every night. And I feel free.
What about you? Do you or have you judged single moms? How do you feel about being judged yourself?Comment
When sharing the news of my divorce with people, I feel very awkward. People usually have the same look of shock on their faces, and I can tell it makes them uncomfortable – especially if we aren’t very close. They want to ask what happened. They want to ask what happened really, really badly. But they don’t, because they don’t want to be nosy. And I appreciate not having to talk about it in detail – but I still feel awkward: should I tell them? Should I keep it to myself? What is the protocol in this situation?
In the very beginning, I really didn’t want to tell people I was getting a divorce at all, let alone the reasons why. My emotional state was a super healthy combination of fear, shame, and embarrassment. When you get married, you check off a certain box on the Success Worksheet, and unchecking that box feels like a huge step backward. And announcing it? It’s like saying to the world, "hey world! I have failed! Look at me!"
It’s especially difficult when you don't know many other divorced people. From the outside, everyone else’s "Marriage" box is checked off in permanent marker. It remains to be seen how many of my friends are actually happy in their marriages, and how many are serving themselves up a big ole plate of denial for breakfast every morning. In short, I’m the first one to get a divorce, and being first sucks. It’s embarrassing.
But, as my mom predicted, I got over the embarrassment pretty quickly. Now I’m just sort of matter-of-fact about it: “Yep, I’m getting a divorce. No, no one cheated.”
People have different reactions. Mostly they want to know what happened, because they never saw us having any problems. Sometimes they want to know simply because they’re curious…but mostly I think they want reassurances: did you always know it wouldn't work out? Did you guys mean "forever" when you said, "I do"? Marriages are hard – are you just quitters? Basically, they want to hear that our relationship was fundamentally different than theirs is. They want to know that nothing is lurking in their marriages, ready to jump out and cause the D-word. They want to know that divorce isn’t contagious.
I can’t give them any of those reassurances, though, because I have no idea what is lurking inside their marriages, just like they didn’t know Divorce was lurking in mine. All we see of one another’s lives is what we choose to share – and most people only share the good stuff. After all, marriages are made up of good, bad, and mundane, and it’s hard to paint an accurate picture of what your marriage really looks like when you can’t share every little detail. I think people are afraid to talk about anything negative because they worry they’ll regret it the next day when the fight is over. Or they’re afraid their friends will judge them. Or that everyone else’s relationship actually is as perfect as it seems, and they’re the only one with major (or not-so-major) problems.
Plus, talking about marital problems can ruin friendships - everyone has a different opinion about what’s acceptable and what isn’t, and you might get a whole lot of unsolicited advice that you don’t agree with if you do choose to open up. And of course, most people only want to hear what they’re willing to confront – and some people will get angry if they hear anything beyond that.
I wasn’t ready to confront the issues that led to the end of our marriage, so I didn’t tell a single soul about them. Sometimes I worry that my friends and family feel betrayed because I was so silent.
I could end this post with a call to action: “let’s not be quiet anymore! Let’s tell the world every little detail, in the name of empowerment! Let’s blog about it!” But I’m not going to. I actually think it’s a good thing that people aren’t sharing every single detail of their married lives on the Internet. In an online world where people can tweet faster than it takes to second-guess themselves, it’s good to know that some things are still sacred. Or if not sacred – at least private. Because too much honesty can come back and bite you in the butt.
Happy Sunday, folks!
I accidentally made a mistake recently when having the Wish Tree Poster printed - I formatted it so the tree is too close to the edge of the poster paper. OOPS. I don't want to sell them at full price, so I'm offering them to you guys at nearly 50% off (plus free shipping within the US).
Normally priced at $55, I have three Wish Tree Posters I'm offering at $30, including shipping. There are only three, though - so order it quickly if the misprint doesn't bother you! Check out the photos above to see the problem. :) Here's the link to the sale posters - get 'em while they're hot!
Here are the deets:
This poster-size wish tree is perfect as a guestbook at a baby shower, rehearsal dinner or intimate wedding. It also makes a great art print for a child's bedroom.
This tree is composed of 31 large circles (~1.5" diameter), 31 medium circles (~1" diameter) and 24 small circles (~3/4" diameter), for a total of 86. The small circles are large enough for guests to sign their names, and the large circles are the perfect size for a short message (or "wish" as the case may be!).
The wish tree poster is a plain tree with no animals or people, and is a standard poster size at 18" x 24". It is printed on beautiful luster gloss poster paper.Comment
I may have taken a very long time to get back to you. Here’s why.
I’m not one for airing my dirty laundry in public, so I am going to be short & sweet about this:
- I won’t be talking in great detail about what happened here. I don’t think it’s particularly mature and it’s not good for C. But no, no one cheated.
- C and I have moved into a small apartment and are sharing a room. I bought a twin bed for the first time ever. I’m not sure whether I’ll be sharing photos of our space or not, as I am feeling much more private about my life right now. I’m trying to create as relaxing a space as possible for us.
- Being a single mom is harder than I ever thought it would be, but not in the way I thought it would be. I feel such an intense need to protect C from this awful situation, and the knowledge that she is now from a “broken home” kills me. But it is better than the alternative, so that brings me some solace. She is doing well and seems relaxed (despite FOUR MOLARS coming in at once, people!).
Please be patient with me as I try to get the details of my new life worked out in the coming months - I will be slower to respond to emails than usual. Thank you.
2: Haiku Baby - I'm not a big poetry fan, but C adores this cute little book's bright illustrations. Each page includes a haiku about a different season.
3: Olivia - I LOVE Olivia, and it didn't take much convincing to get C on board too. She's a sassy gal with a big personality and her own strong opinions. A good role model for a little girl, I think.
4: Llama Llama Misses Mama - Ironically C doesn't like me to read this book to her, only Y. I love the Llama Llama books because the illustrations are adorable and they're fun to read. My personal favorite is Llama Llama Red Pajama, but C doesn't like that one (yet).
5: One Moose, Twenty Mice - We borrowed this book from C's best baby friend, and C immediately only wanted to read this and Somewhere So Sleepy (#9 below). This book is great for identifying animals and C has a great time searching for the cat on each page. It's kinda like Where's Waldo for babies.
6: Baby Einstein's First Alphabet - Our friend K gave us this book and C has loved it from day one. It's a simple book with photos of various objects and animals, and has made teaching her different words much easier.
7: Winnie-the-Pooh's Opposites - I actually have no idea why C loves this book so much. To Y and I, the drawings are kind of confusing and it's hard to tell what's happening. But she loves it! (Note: I can't find this one on Amazon to link to it - we got our copy used)
9: Somewhere So Sleepy - Another book borrowed from C's best baby friend and immediately ordered from Amazon so we could have our own copy! C calls this book "night night" and likes to flip to the end where she can pull a paper window shade up and down. This is a lift-the-flap book, which are usually a hit.
Stay tuned, more books will come later - we have quite a few favorites! And of course, I'd love to hear yours!Comment
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