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Jewish Journal

Divorce & the Single Mother

by Ilana Angel

September 5, 2011 | 11:28 pm

I have two friends, both with young children, who are currently going through divorces.  It is sad for the kids, and sad for my friends.  I met with one of these friends for dinner on Sunday night and we talked about all the things she is going through.  It was a trip down memory lane for me.

She is experiencing so many of the same things I did and it’s heartbreaking. She wants so much to have reassurance that she will be okay, and I am proud that she can look at my life, and my relationship with my son, and see that it will be.  That said, they are in for years of stress as a single parent.

God willing they will marry again, to wonderful men who will love and respect them and their children.  As their friend I want to comfort them and tell them it will all be okay and there is light at the end of the tunnel.  The kids will be fine and they will be happy, which is a gift to their children.

The truth is, it’s going to be hard.  No matter how great the men they meet are, they will always have an ex-husband who may or may not be kind.  Their ex-husbands will also meet new people and they will have to deal with not only them, but the new women who will love their children.

This weekend would have been my 19th wedding anniversary.  I cannot imagine what that would be like.  To commemorate the occasion, my ex-husband decided he would go back on his word, and not pay for something he promised he would pay for.  He changed his mind.

I paid for it of course because I did not want my son to be disappointed that he would not be able to have something that he was promised and is important to him.  The backing out is annoying and frustrating to me, but after 15 years of this type of behavior, not at all surprising.

I will be attached to this man for the rest of my life because we share a child together, and it does not end when my boy turns 18.  There will be a college graduation, a wedding, grandchildren, an Oscar or two for my boy.  I will always be connected to him and to be honest, it’s stressful.

I used to be able to remember a time when I loved him, and now I can barely remember a time when I liked him.  We have a remarkable child together and for that I am grateful everyday.  I am also thankful that he has a relationship with our child, even if it’s sometimes hard for me.

Being a mother is the greatest joy of my life and the job I am best at.  It would have been wonderful if my son had grown up with parents in a loving marriage, but those are not the cards he was dealt.  I think if you asked him, my boy would say he was sad about the cards he got.

If motherhood is my greatest accomplishment, them divorce is my greatest failure.  My son is 15, and I have been divorced for 15 years.  His whole life has been wrapped up in my heart and I’ve done it alone.  Regardless of what his dad has done, I have done it alone, and the pride is mine.

It’s been a day of reflection for me, with just a dash of bitterness thrown in for flavor.  My friends are going to be fine.  Divorce does not kill you. Hopefully it makes you stronger and happier for your kids.  I will be there for my friends through this transition as others were there for me.

Women must believe we are strong enough to survive the end of our marriages, and be the best mothers we can be.  I have been a wonderful mother to my child, and as he creeps towards going off and living his own life, I take comfort in knowing he will be a remarkable man.

I hope he learns from my mistakes and has a better marriage than I did.  I look forward to loving the woman that he marries, and spoiling his children rotten.  I pray that he thinks of himself as having two loving parents, not divorced parents.  For that prayer, I am keeping the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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