I’m your stereotypical first child — type A, perfectionist and slightly obsessive. So as you can imagine, a divorce really screws with all of that. I had plans — plans for my marriage, my children, the next fifty years. And then, just like that, I didn’t. I don’t even like to alter my plans, nonetheless watch them catch on fire and the ashes float away before my eyes. But it happened. There’s no denying that, and there’s no changing it. I could try to chase and hold on to all of those dreams, those scattered ashes. But what is the point in that? All I would get is burned.
Don’t get me wrong. I shed some tears over my pretty plans. I lamented the fact that people would now label my children as “coming from a broken home” (Can we come up with another term for that?). I mourned the loss of a parenting partner, companion and friend. And I could have probably spent even longer focusing on everything I had lost. But I know people like that — people who are so busy looking back that they can’t take two steps forward without stumbling. They should have been promoted; they should have “gone pro”; life was supposed to be different. I hear ya, people. I feel your pain, I really do. Life was supposed to look much different for this thirty-year-old. But that’s the de jure — I have to live de facto. Keeping that in mind, I’ve shifted my focus. Instead of mulling over that which my children and I have lost, I’ve turned my attention to the bright and shiny opportunities starting over offers.
Instead of thinking about how my children don’t have two parents in the same house, I think of how much love they receive from all sides.
Instead of complaining about never getting to be a stay-at-home mom like I planned, I consider the positive example that I’m setting by working full-time, writing as a hobby, and still making meaningful memories with my kids.
Instead of focusing on how tight of a budget we have to keep, I remind myself that my children are more likely to remember our time together than toys or name brand clothes.
Instead of stewing over how hard single parenthood can be, I remember back to a time where all I wanted was a child, and I thank God for the two healthy, beautiful ones I’ve been given.
Instead of wondering how the divorce will affect my kids in the future, I try to be present in the moment (this is my biggest challenge, by far).
Instead of asking if I’ll ever find love again, I remember that I already have the purest love when those two sets of blue eyes look up at me.
While I think this approach will benefit anyone who has encountered difficult times, I must warn you that it doesn’t work like a can of fix-a-flat. The results might not be immediate, and you can’t just do it once and forget about it. In my experience, I’ve had to make a conscious commitment to embrace this way of positive thinking. Some days, it’s still a struggle, but I’m a better parent and a happier human being when I choose to focus on “what is” and “what could be,” instead of “what should have been.” Sure, my life doesn’t look the way I thought it would, but in some ways, it’s even more beautiful than I could have imagined.
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