May 14, 2010
Focus on what's right
The poem below was published in 2001 following my appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. I wrote it to sum up my parents' relationship as I was growing up.
Dad always dances with me
But I never see my mother dancing
"I don't like this song," he says
Even though he hummed it
As we drove to the mall last week
She sits, a flower by the wall
Mesmerized with dancing couples
Or wondering why she hadn't married
That nice guy, Bob
"Dance with Mom," I plead
"Wanna dance?" he yawns
Her eyes brighten -
A school girl's first dance smile
They brush the dance floor together
With empty arms
Although this pretty much sums up the loneliness and emptiness between my mom and dad throughout their 23-year marriage, it doesn't include the anger, bitterness and lack of respect. But hey, they stayed together for the sake of the kids. That's something, right?
As a divorced, single mom I've often wondered which situation is preferable for kids. Two parents constantly at each other or living in a single-parent household. When I asked my son, he quickly said the single-parent household. Having come from the former myself, I'd have to agree.
Yet many times, we single moms beat ourselves up for not having worked harder on our marriages, as if we could have saved it all by ourselves. Why do we do that? It all goes back to that "mother guilt." We take the world on our shoulders. No matter what the reason for our divorce (or even if we weren't married to the father of our children) we sometimes think "If only I had loved him more" or "If I had just put up with _________" or "If only I had been better at _________" we would still be together and our children would be better off.
Let's face it, it takes two to make a marriage work and it takes vigilance to make it work well. But sometimes it just doesn't work and you have to cut your losses. That doesn't mean our children have to suffer. Living with a single mom is so much more beneficial to them than living in a household where they're constantly walking on eggshells. And when dad is co-parenting, even better. Sometimes it's just easier to get along when you're not together on a daily basis.
I've found that my days are better spent focusing on the things I'm doing right for my kids than on wishing for what should have been. And as a solo mama, I'm doing a lot right.