While content with my new status as divorced and a single mother of two….in 2013 I learned some real life lessons as a divorcee. Lessons I have learned this year have helped shape me into becoming a stronger and more optimistic woman for the upcoming new year. Transitioning from a married woman to an independent, strong-minded and optimistic single mother is a journey. I am still a work-in-progress. One-step at a time. While the struggle is real, I am more proud of myself of gaining my independence and standing for what I believe in and rightfully deserve. Lessons learned in 2013:
1) Adjusting Financially Without A Plus-One- Despite how much I re-calculated the figures it would take to support myself and kids, I realized I still need to scale back. Exiting the divorce, I thought I can maintain the exact lifestyle I had as married. But I realize that no matter how much you recalculate expenses, child support and your income….all the extra stuff the kids need and want is on you. Afterall, the smoothed out monthly child support payments is all I receive. I have to budget for those windfall expenses that come up a few times a year. Have to save up for securing your child for school placement, Christmas gifts, entertainment, extracurriculars, vacations and summer camp. Disposable income is not as in abundance prior to divorce when both parents are paying for their own house expenses.
2) Dating..Requires Kissing Many Ugly Frogs– As a married woman I was warned of the snakes out there. In fact, when married I came across a few men that tried to test my marriage union. However, I came out of marriage approaching dating life optimistically. I was and still am open-minded to love. However, I have come across plenty of ugly frogs this year. Maybe initially masked as Prince Charmings….but with surprise antics of an ugly frog. My encounters include men who are not really ready to be in a relationship…but talk and act as if they are from the initial meeting then do a switch up; gents who are heavy in their pursuit of my heart and once I give an opening, they get back with their ex-girlfriend or there was a secret girlfriend all along or they are just players at heart and then there are the guys who care but just are emotionally unavailable. Meeting these ugly frogs tugs at your self-esteem, you wonder is there a Prince Charming there for you. You reminisce on some of the great qualities your ex-husband possessed and the benefits of marriage…such as exclusivity, always a plus one at social events, a date to an anticipated movie release, a claim that you are his woman. You realize the single life, while exciting at first… date night becomes tiring and routine. Dates do not thrive to the next level, the most memorable moments of the year are still shared alone. You realize the grass isn’t greener. You start to doubt your original judgment leading to your divorce…Should I just forgave my ex and settle for mediocrity and compromise my values and wants in life? But I shake my head no. I knew dating as a single-mom would not be easy….everything worthy in value takes time. So I remain patient and am optimistic for the new year. Round 2 for new dating prospects.
3) Love yourself first and don’t wait on anyone to do what your heart desires– Now I see myself as a pretty confident, self-sufficient and happy woman. However, I realize that before pursuing a relationship, I have to make sure I am loving myself first. At times I take care of everyone else before tending to myself, the “mommy instinct”. I really don’t expect anything in return but someone’s appreciation. I have progressed in this area through my adulthood. However, I adjust my schedule when maybe I shouldn’t be so accommodating, as it is not reciprocated. So in 2014 I plan to make loving myself and pursuing my interests my number one priority…well second only to my care for my children.
4) A Perfect Man Does Not Exist– Well I knew this, maybe it was just reinforced a bit in 2013. I have been married for over seven years after all so I should know. As I begin dating and despite some larger issues regarding timing of when someone is ready to pursue a relationship; there are certain common quirks that most men have. I reflect on some of the arguments my ex-husband and I would have deriving from our pet peeves with each other. Such common themes in men that I have encountered include: forgetfulness, workaholic ethic that at times supersedes “boo” time, unkempt or overly casual dress at times when you aim to look a winner for a date (albeit a casual date), a bit overindulged with their boys time (not an issue if I felt us women were more like this too), and/or not always great in keeping the phone charged and just-in-time responsive to my calls and texts especially after a long night of bonding with the boys. That is just mannish stuff that men do. I don’t even sweat the small stuff unless there is a underlying reason beyond being a man who is resulting in these common missteps. However, I also came across a few surprises. For instance more of these older single men, living independently for so long are often times a better chef than me…or maybe just better meat cookers. So in 2014 I plan to be less picky on small matters and focus on the larger issues.
Despite the few blows to the ego, adjustments to finances and jabs at my heart, I remain optimistic for the new year. While it may start a bit rough as 2013 events spill into 2014….I look forward to the path becoming smoother soon. All I hope for in the near future is continued blessings for my children, good health and strength to pursue my aspirations in life and remain open to love. I am proud that I have persevered and overcame 2013 challenges. I press on and continue my pursuit in becoming a happily divorcee. The grass isn’t always greener…..but sometimes, when you wait and seek what you rightfully deserve a beautiful garden awaits.