There have been some changes in my life over the course of the last year or so (#understatement). One of the biggest changes has been my ability to be a mother to my children. Trying to define what being a “bad mom” means isn’t easy and is highly subjective. My kids have always been loved and cared for, but when I was still married I wasn’t winning any Mom of the Year awards. I knew it, my ex made sure I knew it, and that only made things worse. The feelings of inadequacy, knowing that you are being judged by your spouse, the stress and anxiety of dealing with a bad marriage, it all combined to make me less than present for my children. I knew I wasn’t doing the best I could, but I also couldn’t bring myself to fix it. I hid from it, from them. Everything had me on edge and I couldn’t handle the little things. I know now that a very big part of it was that I wasn’t allowed to have “me” time. I was made to feel guilty about liking different things or wanting to do something that didn’t involve them. I knew in my heart it was ok to want to take care of me, but that didn’t help the guilt (I was raised Catholic after all!) when I was constantly told I must not love them if I didn’t want to be with them at all times. That’s all pieces of why I ended my marriage. I couldn’t be the person/mother/wife I knew I could be. I wasn’t allowed to be the person/mother/wife I knew I could be. I felt like I was always gasping for air.
I am a new person. Or, rather, I’m finally the person I knew I could be. Happiness is a powerful state of being. Not only can I BE THERE for my children, I WANT to be there for them. I can actually enjoy them and revel in those “their only small once” moments. I am able to step back in those stressful moments and smile and joke and ease the tension. I can show my kids how to deal with stress and how to love each other whole-heartedly. They are learning to love by example and it’s because I’m present now to show them.
A lot of my happiness stems from being with a person who respects me, appreciates me, and encourages me to be myself, with all my faults...and he loves me anyway. He does not ask me, nor expects me, to define myself in relation to him. It’s such a simple thing, but it has completely changed my life.
I finally feel like I am acceptable the way I am, I can mother the way I know is best for me and my kids, I can explore new avenues of myself without fear of judgment or backlash, and I am becoming a role model for my kids. That one is the most important to me. I can show my kids that happiness is the norm, acceptance is good, narrow-mindedness is not a virtue, and finding yourself is the most important thing you can do.
There is one more change that is coming down the pipe. I am finally going to be settled in a way I haven’t been for over 14 years. I’m finally going to have a home that I will live in for a very long time! I don’t want to say anything about the house specifically because things are still in the beginning stages, but I need to comment on the significance of this next step.
Shortly after my sister died we moved to a new house, and very shortly after that (two weeks) I went away to college. Looking back, I can see I have never felt settled from that point on. I’ve owned two homes and rented numerous places in the last 14 years, but none of them have felt like home. I was never fully invested in any of those places. I never fully unpacked in any of them. One place in particular, I never even hung a single thing on the walls and boxes remained in almost every room. I couldn’t bring myself to invest in furniture or décor or do anything to make it feel like something other than temporary. I got close in my last house. We renovated it from top to bottom, and there were a few stamps of ownership there, but it was still lacking something. It was lacking happiness.
I haven’t even closed on this new house yet, but I already feel settled. I feel ready to let go of all the things I’ve schlepped from one place to the next, always hanging on because I didn’t know if I’d need it in the next place. Nothing has happened yet but I already feel lighter. I know this will be where I live and where I raise my children to be well-adjusted, happy adults. This is the last step to pass into the next chapter in my life. I can close the door on the transient lifestyle I somehow found myself in. I can put down roots, finish the things I’ve wanted to accomplish, and really invest in my future.
I am so excited for this next chapter, to close the door on the transition phase and finally live in the present. It’s so simple, yet has been such a long journey. It’s been quite the journey, but I’ve made the right changes to get onto the path that’s meant for me. **Deep exhale**