One of our readers commented on ‘Part 2’ of our article from our ‘Solo Mum 20 Years After Betrayal and Divorce’, asking questions that we hadn’t covered in the first two articles, and so we asked our solo mum if she’d be willing to answer, and she said yes…
Dear Solo Mum
Can I ask, What are your daughters’ relationships with their father and his wife like now? He sounds very similar to my ex and I’m still at the beginning of this journey. I’m worried they will take his denigration of me as gospel. When you say the kids worked it all out, When? How? Did they stand up to him? Did you ever speak to her again? I wish they’d gotten their karma!
Newly Single Mum
Dear Newly Single Mum,
We all come out the other end of this sort of treacherous journey braver. In fact it is one of the most difficult and paralysing journeys I think a person can endure. Over the next few months and years, you will learn to overcome, improvise and adapt to just about any situation life can throw at you. Your resolve will be completely different. If it helps you at all, my divorce gave me the strength I needed and taught me how to cope with and overcome the death of my Dad and the tragic death of my brother.
To try to answer your questions… Firstly, avoid worrying about the denigration your children may take on. If your children come home from your ex-husband and their behaviour is different, don’t second-guess and become fixated that they may have been poisoned. It may be a simple case of them readjusting to their other home as they take it all back in; the different smells environment and culture. And above all being back at home with their adoring Mum. Just let them be and enjoy them.
There are many mental demons that come with being a solo mum and most of them are brought on with our natural primal instinct to protect our children at all costs, but in reality, we ceremonially hand our children over to society when they start daycare and school. We have to accept that there will be others who are influencing our children in our absence – it will happen throughout their lives in so many different situations. It’s terrifying and liberating at the same time. Just as we have done, they will also learn to decide who makes them feel good and who doesn’t. Children have a built-in trust core which they monitor constantly.
There was no defining point that my daughters “worked out” what happened. I simply let them evolve in their own relationships with human-kind which matured as they did. It was probably in their teens, when they started seeing their own relations beyond simple friendships that I think they may have started to get an inkling — when they began seeing their own friends being betrayed by others in innocent puberty. It’s in the little milestones in life that you must let your children go and let them discover who they are and what defines them. Just because you are worried doesn’t mean that they are. Let your concerns go and trust that you are doing the right thing. The more your worry about them the more they will feel your tension, which in its own form can become its own form of “gaslighting”.
My children haven’t stood up to their father as far as I know but I don’t know that they have to. As I learned early after my divorce, it’s important to set your own boundaries and stick to them, but there is just no point standing up to some people – they won’t get it, so you just continue on your own path and minimize the impact of the unwanted behaviour, as I’m sure my daughters are doing if they need to.
Just keep moving forward and don’t give a shit about what anybody thinks. Don’t second-guess yourself, trust yourself and simply focus on being a brilliant mum. Unless there is actual violence and you fear your children are in imminent danger which would warrant contacting authorities, simply accept what is and know that whatever ups and downs, challenges, falls and triumphs you come up against, you will be fine.
One of the sayings that I have come to know is true over the last twenty years is that ‘Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’. You just have to let it go, focus on you, work on making yourself stronger, more confident and braver, and trust that your strength, love and calmness will give your children direction as they go out into the world as the individuals they were born to be.
Yours in motherly confidence,
Solo Mum 20 Years On xx