Cari Wegner writes the blog Bubblegum On My Shoe where she chronicles her adventures as a single mother of two children, one of which is diagnosed with Autism. Her blog is her escape from the stress and pressures of every day life and is filled with funny, sweet, and random anecdotes. This is the first time she discusses her single parent story.
Before I throw all my dirty laundry in your direction, I have to thank the Supermodel herself for letting me air it all on her blog. This post is probably the most vulnerable article I have written about my personal journey through divorce and single parenting. I use my blog as an escape from the crazy life I call “my reality”, so I haven’t even revealed my entire story to my own readers. Lucky kids you, let’s begin.
When they say love is blind, I fully understand the meaning and am here to share my full testimony to such. So to say I didn’t see it coming isn’t a cop-out, it is truth. In hindsight the warning signs were all there, but life in suburbia with picket fences shields you from a case of the, “that’ll never happen to me(s)”. I was a stay-at-home Mom with a workaholic husband. A husband I had been married to for 9 years and built a business with and had two young children, 4 and 2. Things weren’t all roses, show me a marriage that is, but it wasn’t bad. There was definitely a disconnect between us, but I thought that was because my husband worked a crazy amount of hours; hours that he reminded me were for us and our family.
Our lives had just been turned upside down when my 2 year old son was diagnosed with Autism. My perfect vision of what life would be, the dreams I had for my child were slowly crumbling before me. I felt helpless to help my son, uneducated about his disorder and relieved. Yes, relieved, because now I had answers, and could move forward and do what was best for my son. And so I did, and still do. (And he is amazing!)
Two short months later, the abyss deepened and widened. My husband was in a terrible car accident which left him in a coma for 2 days and almost claimed his life. Only by what I can say is a miracle did he leave the hospital 2 weeks later with only a broken leg and some fractures. The 2 days he was in a coma were the most terrible of my life. Without him to cover up the lies, I discovered his accident was a suicide attempt. He had been driven to such by the guilt of his 5 year prescription drug addiction and gambling addiction which had left us and his business bankrupt. Within two weeks I lost almost every material possession I owned, house, cars, jewelry, even my diamond wedding ring.
Eventually my Ex was forced to treatment, he never fully committed himself to treatment and was kicked out of various programs and now lives in another state with no custody of the children. I was left to figure out what parts of our ten years together were truths and which were lies. I found myself dependent on other people not because I wanted to be, because I needed to be. I went to therapy to help me as I redefined myself and my life.
Divorce is like death in a way. You grieve the death of a love that once was, dreams that once were, and guilt for things left unsaid and done. But you can either become a prisoner to the lost or a warrior of a new life, a new beginning.
I’m not going to sugar coat this, single parenting sucks. Hard. It will mentally exhaust you, it’s lonely and it may drive you to drink. Here is some of my advice:
- Shut down the guilt: Your divorce might be for the best, it doesn’t mean you still aren’t going to self-blame and feel like a loser for many days. LET IT GO! What is done is done, reliving the anguish, picking scenarios apart and wondering if you did the right thing for the children will be your eternal hell on Earth otherwise. I can’t say I have a 5 step plan to letting it go, just breathe in and out every day to start, once you have that down, you can move on to bigger things like showering and before you know you won’t be crying yourself to sleep. You can do this.
- You are a great Parent because you try: So divorce and single incomes bring financial strain, not to mention less time to spend with your kids, especially if you are in a joint custody situation. But when your children are grown, they won’t remember that they didn’t have the coolest new trendy so-and-so, but that you took time out of your life to just listen to them. No matter how busy we get, show them that they are the most important thing in your life by talking to them, playing with them, for 5 minutes or 50 minutes.
- Put the brakes on getting back out there: Before the divorce papers are even signed everyone you know will try to set you up with the “other” single friend they have. Don’t feel like you have to jump back into the dating game right away. Come to terms with being alone for a little while. Learn to feel good in your own skin again. Know that you are enough even without someone else.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “I don’t know how you do it”, I could offset the back child support I’m owed. But we do it because what other choice is there? We do it because we are capable, beautiful, and love our children. My divorce brought great pain and great upheaval in my life. But it was a chance at a new beginning, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. In times of great pain, there is amazing grace.
If you enjoyed this story as much as I did, I hope you’ll read past contributions to this series. I also hope you will be bold and contribute your voice to this series. Please contact me to share your single parent story. Single parents can, and do, create loving and healthy environments to raise wonderful, happy, and loved children in. Single parent households are also created in a myriad of ways. Here are the past contributions to this series:
- Single Parent Story: Tech Savvy Butterfly
- Single Parent Story: The Brainy Babe
- Single Parent Story: Getting Us There
- Single Parent Story: Not Your Average Mama
- Single Parent Story: Mama and Her Drill