Divorced and... selfish?

BlogHer Original Post

Yesterday I read this post about divorce by BlogHer contributing editor La Shawn Barber and was left reeling. I felt kicked in the gut right from her opening lines:

The prevalence of divorce is sad. Once-intact families are split up, the father leaves the home (typically), and the children's lives are shattered.

Shortly after, she continues:

[...] people continue to leave marriages and enter into new ones with little regard for how their selfish actions may affect children.

As a divorced custodial parent, I felt my blood boil.

I did leave a comment for La Shawn, but I realized I have more to say about this. A lot more. And so do many others.

Setting aside what would be ideal--because I don't think many will argue against a loving home with two healthy, attentive parents being the best scenario--I think most of us can agree that the majority of parents are trying to do the best they can by their offspring. Sometimes, that "best" necessitates a split.

Are there selfish parents? Of course. Are some divorces about a vague sense of unhappiness rather than an issue of basic safety and well-being? I'm sure. Do some folks walk away from their marriages without regard for the trauma it may cause the children? Absolutely. Is this the norm? I'm sorry, but I don't believe it is.

Why, look... here's a happy and carefree divorced mom living it up, right now:

I was wandering around my house two weekends ago, just overwhelmed by the emptiness of it all.

It spiraled out of control from there. The bottom line... I began to question whether or not it's fair to subject my boys to a non-traditional family. Especially because their father and I no longer fight the way we used to.

Don't get me wrong. The boys are extremely happy, well adjusted; everything a parent could want. My oldest hasn't asked in at least two years "can daddy come home now?"

[...] guilt is a funny thing.

Wow. Stephanie sounds pretty conflicted. Not exactly the picture of a hedonist.

Or we can take a peek at the Chronicles of a Single Mom, and maybe she'll have some footloose tales to share about how things have changed:

I opened the packages and saw 2 gifts for the baby. A look at the card showed that it was from the ex's stepfamily. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but I'm not sure they know the ex left me. I've only met them once and the ex isn't even that close to them. So what's the etiquitte?

Should I send the gifts back? If they knew the ex wasn't in love with me anymore, would they have sent the gifts? Suddenly everything is so much more complicated than I thought it would be. What should be simple and happy now breaks my heart.

Hmmm. Maybe she gets a pass for being the one who was left.

I always adore reading The Adventures of a Snowball in Hell, primarily because she's interesting and witty, but also because she is navigating an acrimonious relationship with her controlling ex and doing her level best to shield her son from the fallout. This post contains only a few agonizing mentions of what she deals with on a constant basis:

It sometimes amazes me that B should find my estrogen-soaked house preferable to his father's. The fact that B doesn't want to go to his dad's only speaks for what a gaping asshole X is, not what witty charmers we are at my house, I assure you.
[...]
Speaking of X, he sent me an email, saying that he'd like to meet me for the Hostage Exchange tomorrow evening. Except that the court order clearly states he only gets him if he's taking the time off and B does not want to go down there and stay with them for any extra time. So I emailed him back and reminded him as politely as I could that he'd insisted on adding that provision when we were in court, and it we should stick with it. He then wrote back assuring me that he would be taking Friday off work [...] B is furious, but if his dad is actually taking the time off, I can't refuse him that extra day during spring break, which would have been two and a half days in other circumstances. The poor kid still doesn't like this arrangement.

Oblivious to her child's feelings? Living it up and leaving Junior to his own defenses? Not exactly.

Let's not forget that we women aren't the only single parents struggling with life after divorce. Jim of Patriside must not have gotten the memo that now that he's "free" he should be out on the town and neglecting his kids. I dunno; judge for yourself:

My poor little man seems to have come down with whatever had Lilly laid out during Marni's birthday party; we were 5 miles out from my parent's house and 10 miles from home when his crying and whining was interupted by the unmistakable sound of a child upchucking.
[...]
So nothing's worked out the way I wanted, at least tonight. I'll pour myself another glass of merlot and then set about scrubbing and disinfecting the carseat, cleaning the toilet, waiting for the dryer to finish so I can set about bringing some order to this chaos.
[...]
That's the lesson of a single dad: count your blessings, keep your eyes on what needs to be done immediately, and remember, what's awry now will be alright tomorrow.

Call me crazy, but when I look around the blogosphere (and, indeed, my world), I see a lot of single parents agonizing over each and every aspect of their kids' lives.

(image: kidshealth.org)

--
Mir from WCS
(BlogHer Mommy & Family contributing editor)

Personal: Woulda Coulda Shoulda

At Ty's Toy Box: Listen to your Mommy!

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