We are not a broken family

I have been heading a single-parent family for nearly six years now. I am a teacher, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in meetings and conferences while others lamented the fact that we have to deal with “broken families.” I think it’s a hurtful phrase and one that I’ve had to work hard to overcome. My family is not broken. While maintaining our family’s privacy, I will just say divorce was not a decision that was taken lightly.

My ex-husband and I have made many compromises and more importantly, made peace with each other, in order to be the best co-parents possible for our kids. Yes, there are differences in our parenting styles, but we discuss all major decisions and are in general agreement on the important things. We face the same issues we would have been dealing with if we were still married.

Just because a children’s parents are divorced, it doesn’t have necessarily mean the family is broken. Broken to me means deficient in a way that is beyond repair. We may not have two parents living together in the same house, but I still consider my ex and his family my family and I always will.

We are bound together for the rest of our lives by our two children, and I want to make the best of it. I am happy that it’s not awkward or painful to sit together at recitals or meet up to go trick-or-treating. We will not have to sit in separate rows when our children graduate or get married.

Although it’s a sad statement about our society that the divorce rate is so high, the most practical way to help children is to give them a sense of family no matter what its makeup. I support the institution of marriage. When it works, it’s a beautiful partnership. But there are other types of families that work too. We may not look like the Pajamagram picture above, but we’re still a whole, beautiful family!

 

Please check out my first novel, Giving Myself Away, about a divorced mom making tough choices.

cropped-givingmyselfawaycover.jpg

Amazon |  Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks |

Kobo Books | BAM | IndieBound | Powell’s

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Gaining confidence as a single parent

Adriennes blog 18 suitcase picI did not sign up to be a single parent.  I expected I was going to have a partner with me to see through the raising of our children.  Yes, their father is actively part of their lives, but we don’t do our job of parenting together anymore.

At first, it was overwhelming.  Parents with partners can tag-team so that when one is wiped out, he or she can step out of the ring for a few minutes to regain energy and composure.  When you’re a single parent, you’re on all the time.  You might be able to hand off kids to a grandparent for a few hours, but you’re still the chief decision-maker.

Early after Drew moved out, I decided to take Tyler and Nicky out for dinner, just the three of us.  It was a disaster.  Nicky was sulking about something and didn’t want to order, so I picked macaroni and cheese from the kids’ menu for him, which I figured he probably would have ordered anyway.  Just to be contrary, he said he didn’t want macaroni and cheese (after the waitress had already taken our order and walked away).  I said, “tough, you’re having macaroni and cheese.”

Tyler, the peacemaker, was upset that we were arguing, burst into tears, and knocked over his juice trying to hug me across the table.  This led to even more tears.  By the end of the meal, all of us had cried at least once.  I can only imagine that our waitress and the people at nearby tables looked at us with either pity or scorn:  Look at that pathetic single mom.  She can’t handle her kids (her life!).

Since those early days, we’ve developed a partnership that works.  Nicky and Tyler and I are now a family that feels complete.  There are plenty of families where the parents are married, but a spouse has to work long hours away from home or serve overseas in the military.  There are stay-at-home moms and dads who have to take three kids to the grocery store and clean the house and cook, all while keeping an eye on little ones.  I’m not alone and I’m not a pity case.

Our latest adventure was an overnight trip on our own to an unfamiliar city.  This was a big step for me, the person who couldn’t even handle a night at a restaurant on my own.  I took lots of time to plan our route (no navigator to help me in the car), packed our bags (no one to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything), and prepared for missteps (there were a few).  But we had a great time and it built my confidence as a parent.  I’m a parent, not a single parent.  And we are a family, not a one-parent family.

You can read more about my life after divorce in Giving Myself Away, available now.

GivingMyselfAwayCover

Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

Available at Barnes and Noble in paperback and Nook format

Best Advice for the Newly Divorced

Adriennes blog 4 pillow pic

Hi, I’m Adrienne.  I’ve been divorced a few years, and I’m starting to come to terms with my new life.  I’d like to share with you the best advice I ever got from an acquaintance who tread the path to singledom a few years before I did.

We were at a picnic and she pulled me aside.

“How are you doing?” she asked.

“Fine,” I said, trying not to notice all the intact families around me.

“No, really, how are you doing?” she asked again.

“It’s hard,” I said, my voice cracking.

“Listen.  You need to get new sheets.”

“Really?  It makes that much of a difference?”

“Trust me.  You’ll see,” she said, before walking off to find her son and her new husband.

When I left the picnic, I asked my sister to babysit so that I could go shopping.  I held back the part of me saying “This is a waste of money and you can’t afford it anyway.”  I bought really soft, 400-thread count sheets (in a muted shade my ex hates, but I always loved) and I went home and washed them and put them on my bed fresh out of the dryer.

I washed the old sheets too and put them in a bag for Goodwill.  Goodbye to the sheets my husband and I cuddled under to plan our future and dream big before it all fell apart.  Goodbye to the sheets where our children were conceived.  Goodbye to the pillowcases I cried countless tears upon.

I slept that night between my new sheets and I slept so well.  The sheets were nicer than any other sheets I had before, but more importantly, I was refeathering my nest.  I was accepting that this is “my” bed now, not “our” bed anymore.

Everyone has advice when you’re getting married, but no one tells you how to get divorced.  What’s the best advice you ever got?

You can find out why I needed new sheets in Giving Myself Away, coming out this fall from Assent Publishing.  Thanks for reading!

Adriennes blog 4 bed pic