Issa Mas of Single Mama NYC got many of us single moms on Twitter thinking when she tweeted:
“Such a strange thing, to have the best thing that ever happened to you come out of the most mind-boggling mistake of your life.”
It’s a thought I’ve had often, trying to reconcile the incredible mistake that was my marriage, with the amazing blessing of the kids that came out of it. I can’t regret my marriage because I’ll never regret my kids. But I’m often torn. When I think of the moments I should have left before the moment I finally did, I’m reminded that if I had, I would have my daughter but not my son. When I think of how foolish I was to have unprotected sex with him so early in our relationship, I remind myself that my reckless choice resulted in the girl who made me into the fighter I am today.
Even now, I’m torn by how to feel about my ex-husband’s lack of involvement in our children’s lives. On the one hand, I’m relieved. When he’s around, he stirs up anger and anxiety. My son can’t stand his father, and my daughter deals with him by keeping her iPod on and tuning him out. But when he’s not around, I feel badly that there’s no parenting balance in their lives. I worry about my teenage daughter not having that relationship with her father to anchor her so she won’t seek out love from random boys and strange men. I worry that my son doesn’t have a role model to assist him with the transition from boy to tween.
Yet, despite how often I beat up on myself for not being perfect at this motherhood thing, I recognize by the only standard that matters that I’ve somehow done pretty well. That standard is – the kids truly are alright. My daughter is motivated and driven. She isn’t a high achiever because I demand that of her, but because she demands it of herself. The standards I set for her in elementary and middle school helped, but as she prepares to enter high school next year, she has an even better handle on what she needs to do to prepare herself for the next level – whatever that is for her – than I do.
My son is probably more confident than he has any business being. His self-assuredness is sometimes dangerous. As one of his teachers told me, “Randy thinks he doesn’t have to study and can just figure it out, which just doesn’t work when learning a foreign language.” Well, sometimes it does, but not consistently. Everything my son loves about himself – his bookishness, his nerdiness, his love of Harry Potter, his hatred of haircuts – makes his father uncomfortable. Not surprisingly, my son wants nothing to do with someone who can’t appreciate his greatness.
I’ve learned tenacity and the power of demanding what you want from my daughter. I’ve learned the power of self-confidence from my son. Time will tell what it is they’ve learned from me, but I know they both know how much I believe in them.
So yes, it is strange how such incredible blessings came from such a terrible mistake. And no matter how crazy it gets sometimes, I wouldn’t have it any other way.