The Choice


I have been a single parent for four months now. Since September 16th, 2013 to be exact. One of the hardest parts of this transition for me has been to field the never-ending questions from my four-year-old daughter, Minka. Fortunately, my one-year-old son, Cooper, is still little enough that he doesn’t ask questions; the extent of his confusion so far can be calmed with some extra hugs and a consistent nap routine.

One night, Minka was up crying for her dad and I was trying to hold myself together as I hugged her, quietly wiping my own tears away, and trying to explain that he still loves her gobs… he just made a bad choice not to be in our family anymore. I often don’t know how to explain to such a little person the issues that we as adults can’t even understand ourselves.

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It has been four months since my marriage ended and I still cry almost every night and find myself going over her questions and trying to come up with answers to them. It is so hard to hold my kids together when I feel like I am broken into a million pieces myself. How do I hold my family, my job, my schooling, my friends, my social life… how do I hold it all together when I can’t even summon the strength some days to take a single step? It’s so hard to have patience, speak in a calm voice, give gentle warnings and do the mommy duties of the days when all I want to do it scream or hideout from reality.

It’s what I struggle with the most…

Taking it one day at a time.

Taking it one hour at a time.

One. Minute. At. A. Time.

When I look at my kids, especially Cooper, I see their dad. The way his and my Cooper’s eyes turn from blue to a dark grey when they are catching a cold, the shape of Coop and Minka’s ears that are identical to their father’s, and the sweet tooth that he passed down to Minka due to many nights watching cartoons and eating candy together. His blood runs through them. And so does mine.

Someday, they will ask questions and they will be mature enough to hear the answers. And when that day comes, I want to be able to speak truth to them in love. The only way I can do that is if I speak love and truth to them now. Show them love in my actions, speak love to them with my words, and demonstrate love to them in the way that I speak of their Dad. This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life… not letting anger cement itself into the cracks of my broken heart.

Loving my kids more than I love holding onto bitterness is a choice.

It’s a choice I choose – and many days I fail – to make everyday.  Every hour.  Every minute.

There are so many times when they are sick, when they are grumpy, when they are whining in the middle of the night… so many opportunities to speak anger because I am tired, exhausted, and angry that their dad doesn’t have to pull any long days or nights with two toddlers. But then I look at them and remember that they feel the same confusion, sadness, and anger that I feel.  I try and acknowledge the anger and crap of the situation while embracing the overwhelming grace in the knowledge that they are the most beautiful part of my world.

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So, I love them. I say nothing and just simply hold them when they cry. Hold them when there are dishes stacked in the sink because I haven’t had the motivation to clean up from the day, hold them when they are crying and it’s an hour past bedtime and all you want to do is go chill in front of the TV, hold them when I don’t know what else to hang on to. Hold on, and let the anger, the bitterness, the fear, and the anxiety go.

My prayer is that I take the time to open my fists, let my anger and hurt hit the floor, and wrap my arms around my kids in a love so strong that it soaks all the way into their being.

That’s all I can do.

About the writer

Sue is the author of "Crazy Tuesdays" and blogger at Crazy Tuesdays. She has two children (4 and 1 years old) and is a single mom. She loves to make messes with her kids, go on adventures, be free-spirited, and live one day at a time.

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Allison 2 years ago

This so resonated with me.
Mine were 6 and 3. I was so overwhelmed with my own feelings and the guilt of carrying theirs. Validate and redirect were the two best words I heard to get me through their questions. Don’t defend. Don’t speak negatively. Just validate…. “I know this must be do hard and confusing. It is for me too. Daddy loves you the best thst he can. I’m here”. Beautifully written.

Andrea 2 years ago

Oh wow! Big hugs and stay the course. Good for you. Your choice is tough and will help your children turn into beautiful kind humans. Make sure though you get time for you to let your frustrations out and do what you can to help yourself as well, you matter too! Take care.

Anj 2 years ago

They might not ask! Don’t stress about that so much. Mine were 3.5 daughter and 2 days before our sons first birthday. They are now 9 and 6.5, have never asked to see their father or much more than why he doesn’t live with us. They know he is unreliable and barely turned up when he said he would – now he lives in another country. Not saying anything has been the best policy for me, even though I was devastated and some days could barely function I let them figure out on their own what their father was like.

Tina 2 years ago

Cold blooded. I don’t care what the excuse is, your wife sets you on fire every other weekend? Too bad, get her help…a real man NEVER abandons (cheating is emotional abandonment) his family. You decided to bring kinds in to this world, suck it up!

Tina 2 years ago

I have no major problems in my life other than the affars my husband has had. The bitterness consumes me. If you’re telling the truth about not holding on to bitterness you have achieved what I consider impossible and makes you super human in my eyes *hugs*

Some1confused 2 years ago

I don’t know people can have divorce after having kids, I don’t know how a father can leave his kids like that. It’s really sad, I can never be a father like that if I ever get married, in fact, I strongly believe kids will make me fall in more love with their mother.

Heather Bessent 2 years ago

This is so absolutely beautifully said ! We all have that choice; maybe different circumstances, but the same opportunity to either love beyond it, or let or negative feelings take control. Thank you so much for this amazing reminder. You’re an incredible mom and example of our faith.

Susan Cooper Stearns 2 years ago

Thank you!

Susan Cooper Stearns 2 years ago

Thanks Leesa. I agree, even with a committed partner… parenting is still hard! But so good :)

Susan Cooper Stearns 2 years ago

Back at you Laura! Sometimes it just really helps to know that others are going through the same struggle, right?! :)

Laura 2 years ago

I feel the same way, and I only have one, and it has been over a year now. My beautiful two year old gives me the strength to keep moving forward. There is no other choice, really. You definitely are not alone! Big hugs

Leesa Arr 2 years ago

Sending big hugs…it’s so hard being a mommy even with a committed partner. Having the added stress you have is so unfair. I’m sure one day your kids will show you how much they appreciate what a strong mommy you are. Hang in there!

ByGrace 2 years ago

I cannot begin to tell you how much I admire and commend your decision to reject the bitterness – this is the ESSENCE of a great Mom! I wish I could do more than offer my own prayers and a cyberhug — just know that you are not alone…