Facebook reminded me that today marks the 8th anniversary of MissGuidedmom.com, an online magazine to help women in transitional stages of their lives. The site originally started as a fictional blog, inspired by one major life event—my divorce in 2010. So as I was driving to work I reflected on five lessons I have learned from my divorce.
We are still family. I choose to acknowledge this because when my oldest son was five years old he was talking to his father who said I was not his family anymore. Perhaps hurt from what had transpired, my ex-husband expressed what he thought was correct. Each time my sons would speak with their father on speaker setting, I would debrief with them. Inevitably there was a comment that they did not like and I felt needed some explaining. In this case, I explained that their father was upset from the situation and was hurt himself. So I emphasized, no matter what happens, their family is comprised of their dad, each other, and me. No matter what situation arises that separates our family unit, my sons still have the same members in their family. We are a family of four, and our children will always be loved, supported, and nurtured.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
Compassion is contagious. We all have a story we carry in our mind and when someone hints that something is wrong or out of sync, showing compassion is the way to go. Being kind and asking what happened or how you can help goes along way. And exes are no different. There are times when we may need support from our exes so being understanding of one another’s circumstances will go a long way. When we can be kind and compassionate towards our exes, our children see that behavior. We show them how to be kind and help others.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Situations are temporary. While divorce can be an overwhelming experience because our life is turned upside down, this period in our life is temporary. Yes, I know some of us feel like our life, as we know it, has ended because let’s face it, what we once thought was going to be our future has now ended. Yet this situation is temporary just like moments and experiences. Situations are what they are at face value and we don’t have to create meaning behind them. I try to teach my children that things will work out in the end. I’m a strong believer in God’s plan. I put on a smile, take steps to find resolution to the challenge, and keep moving forward.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Listen to children. I learned growing up to not question authority, to not talk back to my parents, and to not ask questions. I asked “Why” a lot, which meant I was the disobedient child in my family. I vowed never to do that to my children. I listen to my sons, and they have things to say. Throughout these eight years since my divorce they have shared their opinions, insight, and observations. Here are some of my favorite words of wisdom from my sons.
“Can we go to the park? We need goof off time.” Children need to let their energy out.
“Where is the love?” by the Black Eyed Peas was playing on the radio and my son said pointing to his heart, “The love is in here, your heart.” Simply put, he knows love is in his heart. He feels it. He recently told me that figuring things out in my head isn’t always a good thing. Go with your heart. That is where love lies.
Not knowing whether I would be able to attend the school’s spring fling because of work, my son said, “Can’t you just tell your boss that you and Michael need to go? If you don’t go, I’m gonna be sad.” Being present at their school functions or their activities is so important to them. It shows them that they matter. And you know what, work will be there but they won’t always be around. I’ll take my chances and spend more time with them whenever I can. After all, we only have 18 summers when they are born before they take off on their own and make the choice to hang out with us.
One day when my son was seven years old he saw someone asking for money. He said, “Just give him money.” I replied, “Can you imagine if I gave money to everyone who asked?” He asked, “Can you imagine if you were homeless and I didn’t give you any money?” I said, “I would feel sad.” Then he said, “So now you know how he feels.” Be kind and help others in need. If you have been blessed, give blessings to others.
When my son was little I said, “Come on, let’s cuddle for five minutes.” He replied, “Last time you said that it took a long time. Why don’t you just sit there and watch me play?” So perhaps they don’t always want to be the recipients of our affection yet being present represented quality time. He asked for what he wanted and I listened to him and watched him play.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
Three words: recover, rest, restore. These three are essential as a single person, or a person in marriage or after divorce, or as a parent. I found that after my divorce I required spiritual recovery. For others this can mean emotional recovery, refilling the well inside of what has been depleted. For others it can be mental recovery, exhausted from the divorce proceedings, negotiations, and roller coaster ride. Whatever recovery you feel you need, take it. Whether you choose to stay at home and binge watch movies or go on a vacation, take time to rest. After a transitional stage of life, we might feel broken. Finding time to restore ourselves to a balanced state is essential. I remember feeling like I had lost my identity during my marriage. I took time to accept what had happened, embrace where I was, and move on. I rediscovered myself. A new chapter was waiting to be written.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
My heart is full of gratitude. I am truly blessed for everything that I have. Although my life has not turned out how I had planned, (does it ever?) I am fortunate to have two wonderful sons, my health (I know, trite, yet true), my family, beautiful friends, and faith. There are many more blessings like the chirping of birds, trees everywhere, blue skies, fluffy clouds, the smell of a new day, the sun shining down, and so many daily wonders. No matter what transition in life I am in, there is much to be grateful for and I know God will see me through it as well as my children’s words of wisdom, for it is in their innocence and untainted viewpoints that truth prevails.