It wasn't in my original life plan to ever get divorced. I got married later than all of my friends and thought I knew what I was doing. But then parenthood happened and everything changed.
When it became clear that my marriage was coming to an end, I had already been parenting solo for several years. My ex-husband served a long career in the military, which meant he wasn't often home in those first few years of parenthood.
As such, the bond between me and my son was so strong I couldn't imagine having to spend days without him post-divorce co-parenting in separate homes. So I stayed. And I stayed unhappily married. Until I couldn't any longer.
We made the divorce as amicable and family-friendly as possible, opting for mediation rather than each of us hiring our own attorneys to battle it out in court. The process was fairly pain-free and we both moved on with our lives in two different homes.
I spent the first five years of my son's life as a stay-at-home mom. We filled our days with Stroller Strides workouts, food blogging, and satisfying curiosities around us. Those first five years were the longest days of my life as I parented alone for months at a time. They were also some of the loneliest before I found my supportive group of mom friends.
As my son started school, I went back to work in order to afford my new life as a single parent. The newfound freedom of work from an office was an unexpected change that brought on a lot of feelings. Overnight our lives went from casually moving at our own pace throughout the day to rushing around for school drop off and pick up during the workday.
It took getting a divorce to create a more equal parenting plan with my son's dad.
After divorce, I felt happiness and comfort that I hadn't been able to experience since my son's birth. Almost immediately, I could see that co-parenting with my ex-husband had made me a better mom:
- More engaged - I was a better listener and easily entertained by our conversations
- Eager - I looked forward to spending more time together
- Appreciation - I no longer took our mother-son relationship for granted
- More attentive - I paid better attention to who he was and we did activities that satisfied him and built our bond
It's unfortunate that it took a divorce for my life to improve as a mom, but I hope that it also gave my ex-husband the opportunity to be a better dad to our son as well.