Saturday, November 28, 2015

Of Family And Expectations

When I was still young and impressionable, I used to dream about the one perfect relationship that was meant for just me. My own parents had a good, solid marriage, and I just assumed that I would also be able to find the love of my life and raise a family together with this soulmate. That just didn't happen. I ended up divorced and alone with three very small children after a little over ten years of marriage.

I struggled with that for a very long time. It was difficult accepting I had failed--both for myself and my children. I hated knowing that I might not ever give my kids the home I had dreamed about with the white picket fence and two parents that loved them unconditionally. What tore me up even more is that my ex had already moved on. He could give my children something I considered more normal when they were with him and his new wife.

What I came to realize was that, even though I could not give my children what society considered "normal", I could still give them a good life. I managed to find myself a job that not only payed the bills, but allowed me to spend large quantities of time with my children. My kids had very full lives of school, church and activities, but we also spent time watching movies and enjoying each others' company. I could support them in the things they wanted to do but also help them hone in on their individual talents so their confidence and self esteem grew. Most of all, I loved them as much as another person could possibly love them. These things did not require two parents.

I also learned a great deal about myself along the way. I had become very dependent on my ex-husband, so much so that my identity had transformed into being his wife and the mother of his children. It's taken me years to appreciate that was not a healthy state to be in. The struggle of being a single mom helped me learn that I am important and that I am more than what I provide for others. I have my own talents. I have my own goals. I have my own contributions to make to the world besides being a mom.

There really is no such thing as "normal" (except perhaps as a washer setting). What is appropriate for one life may be totally inappropriate for another. What is important to understand is that life is about learning and growth and that we each have our own personalized lesson plan.

Families come in many forms. Sometimes families are biological. Sometimes families find each other. Sometimes they consist of two parents and children. Sometimes it might be one parent (or parent figure). What is important is that we not compare ourselves with others because what they need to learn may not be anything like what you need to learn.

When it comes to family, drop your expectations and enjoy what you have. The journey will be much more amazing when you accept what comes and allow yourself to find happiness on that particular path.


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