I was pregnant when my marriage fell apart.
Divorce papers were filed when I was six months along, and the divorce was final when my son was one year old.
I was devastated. I was embarrassed. I was terrified.
I mourned for the life I envisioned for myself, my family, and most of all, my child. I wasn’t meant to be divorced. The innocent being inside me wasn’t meant to come into a broken life. He wasn’t meant to have a mom and a dad that lived in separate homes. I had followed the plan… love, marriage, baby in the baby carriage. It was all just too unfair.
I struggled for a long time to understand why this was my journey, why my lot in life was complicated and messy instead of simple and unruffled. It took me a long time to realize that perhaps my marriage wasn’t my destiny, but rather the beautiful, remarkable little boy that came out of that marriage.
If my experience taught me anything, it taught me that there isn’t just one way to do anything. Whether it’s divorce or something else, life is full of shifts. Your trajectory can change in an instant, hurling you down a path you never knew existed. I encourage you to embrace this path, lean into its sharp turns and bumps. Keep going when thoughts of the path you were thrown from creep in and make you want to run backwards. The new scenery might actually be better.
My journey into parenthood didn’t go as I had always imagined, but it was always, always worth it. I went to many appointments alone or with my mother, gave birth with my parents and brother in the delivery room instead of a husband, welcomed the miracle my ex-husband and I created without him holding my hand. There were many moments I never could have seen coming that felt bittersweet, but looking back I realize those moments were just as they were supposed to be.
Life is oftentimes hard, but parenting is too, and there is no one way to do that either. Dad, Mom and baby (one big happy family) used to be the only way I saw it. Now, I refuse to think that just because my son is primarily being raised by a single mother that his life has to be any less wonderful than if his parents were together. No matter your life situation, there will be someone or something telling you about “the right way” or “the only way.” I am living proof that neither of those things are reality. There is always another way.
Sometimes I feel the pressure of those voices, or my own voice, but then I look at my son and see all of the courage, kindness and resilience he already has, and I realize, we are doing this. We are rewriting the story I wrote years ago, creating our own narrative and learning so much along the way.
I can teach him so much by myself. I have no doubt I can teach him how to read and write, say please and thank you, and be kind. I have no doubt I can teach him how to throw a baseball, skate backwards, and ride a bike. I have no doubt I can teach him how to bake cookies, prepare a meal and fold laundry. I have no doubt I can teach him how to mow the lawn, shovel snow, and probably even pee standing up. There are so many things I can teach him, and so many things he will teach me, but life will teach us so much more.
Everyone has a path. Life’s unexpected shifts need not define those paths, but rather offer perspective and opportunity to write your own unique, beautiful story.