How Divorce Made Me A Better Mommy

by Amber Pittman
Originally Published: 
A mother and her son sitting in a meadow, blowing dandelions as divorce has made her a better mommy
© Shutterstock

When my ex-husband first told me he wanted a divorce, I thought my life was over. I was terrified. Not just of being single for the first time in more than a decade, but because I had a toddler. How was I supposed to navigate an busy career as a reporter, single mom and general human all on my own? That divorce request was the end of my life four years ago, but what it really became was the beginning of a more fulfilling and awesome life than I ever could have imagined, and the beginning of me going from being a good Mom to an amazing one.

It made me stronger.

Most people would have wallowed, and believe me, I did my share, but I had a 3-year-old little boy at home, who was confused and having nightmares and wondering where the hell his Daddy was. He didn’t know what a divorce was. He didn’t know why things were different. So I didn’t have the luxury of breaking the fuck down. I worked close, so for a couple of weeks I would come home at lunch every day and take an hour-long nap. Me, of the perpetual insomnia, who could not fall asleep without watching television, would lie on the couch and give in to my depression. That way, when it was time to turn on Mom mode, I was ON. My son might have been confused and missing his Daddy, but Mommy was home and better than ever.

It made me more confident.

Not at first, of course. I struggled with why I was unloveable, what was wrong with me, what I was LACKING that made me so easy to walk away from. I had always been the girl, and then the woman, who craved for my husband to tell me I looked nice. Who craved that desire. And he was a man of few words and fewer actions. I didn’t really realize it, but while he was busy falling out of love with me, I was busy doing the same thing. I just wasn’t confident enough to admit it. And when I was alone, I was finally able to realize that I didn’t need anyone to tell me when I looked good, when I was good, what I felt and what I wanted. I was cool doing that on my own. I was cute with a head cold wearing yoga pants. I turned some heads despite the few pounds of baby weight that had settled in. I didn’t need to depend on anyone else for my sense of worth. That in itself was a fucking epiphany.

It made me more aware.

I became hyper aware of what I didn’t want. Before, I wanted so much to raise my son in a home with a Mommy and a Daddy and all of the love that I had lacked living without my Dad around as I grew up. But having my hand forced made me realize what I was and was not going to tolerate – from anyone. When my ex-husband got snippy with me, I put his ass in his place. When I went on a date and was bored out of my mind, I declined to accept a second one, or to give anyone a good-night kiss just because he bought my dinner. I became aware of how smoking hot I was. I was a MILF, and it was glorious. Still is.

It made me a better Mom.

I was a good Mom, but I became an even better one – probably to make up for the fact that I was partly to blame for the divorce. There were two of us in the marriage, and I was guilty in my own ways for letting it fall apart. I cherished every moment with my son. We played games, we went on adventure walks, we had long (ridiculous) conversations about how to tell an evil squirrel from a good one (evil ones have red eyes, according to my child), and we slowly began to mold our life into one that worked for us. It made me cherish him more because he was the best thing to come from my marriage, and I am sure it made him cherish me more, because it was always me. The 3 a.m. ER visit for an ear infection, the doctor’s appointments, the class projects, the school recitals, the homework – Mom was always right there, not a phone call away, but right there.

It showed me what was important in life.

You know what doesn’t matter? All the extra drama and bullshit that we put up with because that’s what we are “supposed” to do. We get the things done we need to get done. We make sure we’re doing homework and piano practice and flash cards. I make sure the bills are paid with a lackluster job, but it showed me that what’s important is living the life YOU want to live.

I freelance now because I am a good writer and I love it. Just because I can’t be a court reporter and cover executions as a single mom doesn’t mean I can’t write or express myself creatively. I date, but I walk away from people who are toxic or just plain boring. I make sure that I play Mario with my son on a (typically) daily basis, because Mario is important to him. So is baking cupcakes and talking about boogers and why girls are mean. We do that too. I invest time in my friends, because if you don’t take care of those relationships, they will wither like any other. And I make time for ME. I am a better mother, a better friend, a better ME when I take some time to do what feeds my soul. And I am teaching my son the same thing.

I thought divorce would break me. That it would ruin my life totally. It certainly turned my life upside down, but when things settled I realized what a blessing in disguise it was. Because it put me and my son exactly where we were meant to be.

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