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I Was Afraid Divorce Would Damage My Relationship with My Kids — Instead, It Got Stronger

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Image Source: Katie Bingham Smith

On New Year’s Eve, my kids and I sat around all day in our pajamas, watching movies and making sushi. They were so excited, and it ended up being one of my favorite days of the year. It surprised me, since having two tweens and a teen can make family time a challenge. After all, they want to be with their friends — because let’s face it, mom is boring. But I wanted to be with them on the last day of the year, especially this year.

That night, as I watched the ball drop with them, I realized something: Our relationship has shifted since their father and I split up. Our dynamic is different. The bond between my kids and I is stronger — something I wasn’t anticipating.

I think it’s because of all the different emotions we have been through. During the good moments, I’d think, It’s going to be all right, we are going to make it through this. And it was during those times that I wanted to try even harder. I was filled with hope and joy. And when we’d hit a hard spot, I’d think, This is horrible, what have I done? Are we ever going to feel like “us” again? That, too, made me want to try and redouble my efforts to keep us on the right path.

Yes, single mothers are allowed to struggle, but they play double-duty all the time. They want to be strong for their kids. They set the tone for the household, because they are the only adult there and it’s a huge job. Sometimes I felt I was failing them.

It’s taken a year, and we are all a little more comfortable with our new life.

Some experts say that kids, especially older ones, tend to side with one parent or the other during a divorce. I thought we would dodge this, since my ex and I are on very good terms and there is no badmouthing going on, but it still happened.

In the beginning, my older son always wanted to stay with his father, while my youngest hated leaving me alone. He’d always offer to stay with me when he was supposed to be going to his father’s house, which hurt my ex’s feelings.

My daughter misses her dad a lot, and gets very sad when we do things we used to do as a family without him.

But through this change, our pain has done something for us: A new relationship has blossomed. It’s like we are our own tribe now. My sons are very protective of me and help out around the house a lot. There is a deep sense of appreciation, and I think it’s because we all realize how important family is, and how we need to be kind and appreciate each other more after going through this year.

When things don’t feel safe and are different, you develop a new, stronger bond when the dust settles. It took a lot of hard work for us to get here — for me and for for them.

And we’ve all realized we can get through this together. We’ve seen each other have some of our lowest moments; we’ve helped each other heal; we’ve all taken on a few new roles. When life changes, people change. There have been many days with tough conversations, lots of tears, and my kids acting out because their father and I aren’t married anymore. And I know those days aren’t over.

I’ve had to pay close attention to all of that. It’s made me a better mother — a better woman — in many ways.

It will never be glorious all the time. That’s not realistic for any family. But my children seem to really appreciate their life with their father, as well as their life here with me. I have to have faith that we are all going to be okay.

There are times when something beautiful can come out of a hard situation, and this new relationship we’ve formed is proof of that.

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