We all know a single mother like this. She and her children are “buddies”. They dress alike, share adventures and giggles about their dates and live like roommates with everyone having an opinion and no one making a decision. This is about how to move beyond the “children as roommates” mentality and become a “mother in charge”.
Ordinarily, when the reality sets in that you really are “it”, the normal response is to get into bed and pull the covers over your head and comfort yourself with chocolate chip cookies. I have a personal theory that there is no life crisis not made a bit more bearable by chocolate in some form. Once you have eaten all the chocolate chip cookies you can stand and the crumbs are driving you from the bed, take an honest look at yourself and see which of the following syndromes you might have (perhaps a combination) and begin the real work of becoming a responsible single mother. By the way, along the road of life a day in bed with cookies from time to time is allowed.
The Rose Garden Syndrome
A wonderful friend of mine, sadly deceased, gave life to the Rose garden Syndrome. She was in a graduate school class and a student commented on a plight of working women raising children along and the professor came back with, “Well, no one ever promised you a rose garden!”
My friend rose, calling upon the warm southern access she acquired growing in a small Georgia town, and said, “Well, I do declare everyone did promise me a rose garden; if I was a good girl and did everything right, things would work out – they lied.”
She had married young, had three boys, and when they were 5,6 and 8, her husband left her for someone else. She was never able to get past how unfair it all was. She had never pictured herself in any role but homemaker, despite the fact that she was a gifted speaker and writer.
She refused to work from an office and mostly worked on her bed, developing seminars. Somehow her being home made all the changes seem less real. Everyone around her was aware of this”unfair thing”, especially her children.
The truth is that we did not discover the world was unfair when we were divorced, but much earlier. I discovered it when I was 8 and had my third baby brother and not a sister. Or maybe the day in second grade when the boy in back of me was pulling my hair and I got in trouble for yelling at him. We have always known about unfair, not just on the magnitude of divorce. In the world of unfair, this is “major,” as my children used to say.
If you are prone to over indulging in self-pity, try something that I used in my divorce adjustment classes. The class was three hours long and the potential for hours of blood curdling divorce horrors was plentiful. To counter this, for the first 15 minutes of class, everyone could wallow in self-pity as much as they liked. They were free to bring wedding pictures, describe the perfect (young) body of the wife who replaced them, and on and on. You get the idea – basically a group wallow. But, at the end of 15 minutes, the wallow was over and for the next two hours and 45 minutes we worked on their future.
Maybe a good wallow before you start the day will get it behind you. Motivate yourself by thinking about how little you like being around people who feel sorry for themselves – poor helpless victim in a cruel world. You don’t want to become that bitter person and you surely you don’t want to raise your children to be like that. At the end of the six months divorce class, the wallow time was almost non-existent. Remember, you are not a victim of divorce. You are a woman who has had a divorce as a part of her life experience – big difference.
This is an excerpt from “You’re It! Successful Single Mothering after Divorce.” Chapter One, Part One
Article by Jeanne L. Ward