I think once you become a parent, your automatic default emotion is guilt. Pure guilt. Before you had kids, the only person you were screwing up was yourself. You'd dust yourself off and keep moving. Yet, now you have to not only keep yourself alive and fed you have to do the same for these other little people who can NOT do it themselves. If I'm hungry, I eat. If they're hungry, I feed them. If I don't.... you know.. they like, get taken from you and given to people who WILL feed them.
That's a lot of pressure.
From the moment your children are brought forth into this world, you have to put yourself on the back burner and focus on them. Some people are great at this, some aren't. The majority of us I think, float somewhere in the middle. We do some things right, we do some things wrong. No matter what we do, right or wrong, we still feel guilty.
This doubles I think once you become a single parent. There are a whole slew of extra things that other married parents don't have to think about. This isn't a "Yeah single moms rock!" kind of thing I'm getting at. All moms rock. Most dads do, too. I just find myself thinking about things to worry with the kids that I've never worried about before. Is Jonathan afraid of everything because his dad isn't around as much as he was before? Is Aislinn going to hook up with some grease ball asshole when she goes to high school because I wasn't there for her like I should have been during her teen years? Will they end up on a therapists couch saying things like "My mom did the best she could, but it wasn't enough. She wasn't THERE for me."
This all came about because last night, during MY weekend with the kids, I went to dinner. Not even with a guy. I went to an adult only dinner with my family. I felt terrible the whole time. I felt like I ripping them off of quality time with mom, even though they live with me and spend most their time with me anyway, even though I never plan things when they're with me usually, even though had I stayed home, we wouldn't have done much of anything anyway.
I don't know what I'm really trying to say here. I think I'm trying to say that I'm trying and I hope the kids can see that. I also see that sometimes, I could probably cut myself some slack. Today, we didn't go anywhere or do anything special. We all just did our own thing. I did some cleaning, some reading and they did whatever. It was quiet, it was peaceful. I felt like shit. This is something I never worried about being a married stay at home mom. I never worried about spending every free moment doing fun stuff. Realistically, I know that it's impossible to keep them entertained 24-7, if anything because of the amount of energy this would take and lets not even talk about the impact it would have on my wallet.
I have really great kids. I'm still trying to find my bearings in life and I'm trying to keep them from being collateral damage in what me and my ex screwed up, yet they take all this in stride like champs. It's been two years and with each passing month, life seems to even itself out. I'm still trying to figure out what I want out of life and what I need to do for myself to be a better person, woman and mom. I try to focus on the good things I've managed to accomplish with the help of family and friends. Yet, I still walk around, waiting for the other shoe to drop and the floor to come out from under my feet. It's an awful way to feel and I know the kids feel it, too.
Without them though, I'd be nothing. I'd have nothing. I love them more than words can express and I want them to know that. Our divorce has changed them for the positive, too. Both of them thank me profusely for taking them to the pool yesterday despite my rules before going. (If you ask for food, we're leaving. If you ask for a soda, we're leaving. If you say you're bored and there is no one to play with, we're leaving!) They now appreciate the small things like going to Five Guys Burger and Fries for dinner for great report cards, when in the past fast food was expected anytime we left the house. A trip to the library is cause for great excitment!
I know that no matter what life throws at me, I'll get through it, because I have to for them. I may not get through it gracefully, but even if I get through it kicking and screaming and crying, I did it.