Let’s get down to brass tacks: I’m 33 years old. I got married, got pregnant, moved four states away from my family, had my child, got divorced, and got remarried. All in 9 years.
And did I mention I did all of these things with the same man? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
I can hear you over there whispering, Say what now? Divorced and remarried the SAME guy? This lady is a dingbat.
I don’t disagree. I can be a bit of a flibbertigibbet. But who the hell makes good, lifelong decisions at 24?
Plus, the love of my life was about to be deported. To France. Because: expiring visa.
Wait, now you’re all, like, France?? As in Paris, France?? As in, the most romantic city on earth?? As in, doesn’t this guy’s accent make you completely swoon?? Clearly, you are the luckiest girl EVER.
I used to think that. But let me tell you a little secret.
Are you listening? Lean in close now…
That whole concept of marrying a foreigner with a sexy accent and living happily ever after? It’s bullshit. The accent and charm eventually wear off, especially when the shit hits the fan with a newborn. In other words, French men pretty much just morph into normal men when life gets crazy.
Let’s fast forward a bit.
Our sweet girl starts growing and exhibiting normal baby-to-toddler behaviors. The hubs works all the time, leaving me to deal with the terrible two’s and harrowing three’s ALONE. (Did I mention my family lives 650 miles away?)
It was all kinds of awesome.
Eventually, I had enough.
What’s the point of being married when I am basically a single mom?
We separated. And fought. Over custody and money and everything else under the damn sun for two years. Then we finalized our divorce.
I sold “our” house and bought my own and split my daughter 50/50. Life doesn’t seem too horrible, right?
Being a true single mom is a lot different than being a married “single mom.”
Finances are non-existent, the desire to be the perfect mother is even stronger and the fatigue from constantly being “on” is overwhelming.
I started having trouble sleeping and my health declined. Anxiety took over my body and my IBS was out of control. I had such horrible stomach cramps after eating that I stopped eating.
Luckily, I had a therapist who made me go to Urgent Care. Because, no joke, she was afraid my organs might shut down. I was already a thin woman, but became a HAGGARDLY, thin woman. Like, step onto a grate in the street and fall through it kind of thin.
My organs were fine, but my bones were another story. Dude, SHIT! I was 31 at the time, with the bones of some 65-year-old!
The bone density scan – where they put you on this table and make you tilt your pelvis in awkward positions while taking x-rays – was soul crushing. I had osteopenia on one side of my pelvis. Which meant I was actually beginning to lose bone… And full blown, you’re-going-to-freaking-break-something osteoporosis on the other side.
Not going to lie, that was a wake-up call. Well, that and I had to go on disability at work because I couldn’t work more than 4 hours a day without feeling like I had the plague or something. In short, I was a HOT MESS.
Let’s get on to the good part and away from this pity party.
I pulled myself together (a little bit) and dragged my ass to a nutritionist to fix my food aversion. Months later, I started to feel human again.
Things were still on the iffy side with the ex-husband, but we were getting along for the most part. Then something happened.
His car died when he was taking our daughter to school.
I rushed over to pick them up and to figure out what to do about the car. He was also supposed to chaperone her class field trip that day – and needed a car. (Yes, you read that right. French accent AND field trip chaperone. Redeeming qualities, sure, sure.)
I loaned him my car. This turned into weeks of loaning-him-my-car. Til he decided to buy a new one.
The local dealership didn’t have what he wanted, so he found one in a city 5 HOURS AWAY. I told him I’d drive him there to pick it up. Because I’m selfless (or maybe a dingbat.)
Ladies, those 5 hours were sublime. We relaxed together, we chatted and laughed together. Just like the old days. (Without the bitching-at-each-other part.)
Those 5 hours turned into family dinners every day, talking all night and making up for a 4-year hiatus.
He’d grown up! This was not the man I married at 24.
And, uh, I’d grown up, too.
Petty, little things no longer bothered me. I didn’t need to prove that I was a great mom anymore – or a strong woman who didn’t need a man. Because, I discovered, life isn’t about needs: it’s about making choices.
You don’t need a man in your life. But you can choose to have one – or not – in your life.
He and I discussed the wrongs from the past. We cried. We anguished over our daughter. And we did all of this together.
This past July, we said “I do” AGAIN – 9 years later. In front of a waterfall, surrounded by family.
We gave our lovely daughter a necklace, symbolizing our promise to her to CHOOSE to be a family forever. To CHOOSE to love each other through sickness and health. To CHOOSE until death do us part.
We choose together, as seasoned adults, to love our little family and to make it stronger than ever. Us. The 2.0 version.
Life is already hard and full of battles. Like illness and family disputes and work angst. For us, we choose to face these together – as partners.
I know the grass isn’t greener on the other side. Because I’ve wrestled through tight, tangled green weeds.
So, dear reader, keep the faith, stay true to yourself and remember to CHOOSE love – unconditionally.
What are your tips to keep your marriage strong? Comment below or on Facebook at MothersRest.
About the guest blogger:
Sarah, my amazing friend, is a classically-trained singer, dog aficionado and mom of a red-haired, French beauty.
You can read her thoughts for how to survive the holidays as a single mom. And also the excitement of visiting the gynecologist – in this post: Time for a little (woohoo!) fun at the lady-doctor.
Photo credit, featured image: Ben Rosett from Unsplash.com
Love this comment shared on Facebook:
Loved reading your story! Your last sentence sums it up for all of us no matter what our circumstances –“keep the faith, be true to yourself and remember to choose love-unconditionally.”
–Gail, author of the post, Savor the moment: it’s back to school time!