Throughout the past twelve months, life has thrown a lot of lessons my way. Whether positive or negative, every experience has included a hefty amount of learning. This is what I know today:
1. Marital separation and divorce don’t always happen like you see in films, where one person says, “Get out,” and the other person leaves. It’s a process, and it involves more than the loss of a life partner. You are not alone. Lean on close friends, and if you don’t have any, find a support group.
2. Realizations come in waves, and setbacks are inevitable, especially during certain milestones. But everything is transitory, and the days you want to crawl under a blanket and hide from the world will pass.
3. Kids are resilient, but their emotions are just as complex and powerful as yours. Remember: they are losing their family as they knew it. The rug has been pulled out from under their feet, and they’re off-balance and scared. Give them time, patience, and tons of reassurance to get them through the panic. Expect setbacks and most importantly, never badmouth your ex. Your kids need to know it’s okay for them to love both parents.
4. On a similar note, you may not feel friendly toward your ex for a long while, but you can act like an adult and fake it. Seeing their parents act like decent human beings around each other goes a long way to helping kids feel more at ease. And the most surprising thing is that one day, you won’t need to pretend anymore.
5. You can transition from a SAHM to a working mom, but you need access to resources. Look into online classes. Buy a few interview outfits, even if you get them secondhand. Find a career counselor or ask a savvy friend already in the workforce to help you put together your resume. You have a lot of work ahead of you, but you’re more than capable.
6. You can work and homeschool at the same time. It’s tough, but not impossible.
7. Apartment living isn’t just for college kids anymore. You’ll be surprised how many families choose this lifestyle and how friendly they are. Let the guilt go! Your kids need you, not an expensive house.
8. The people who are there to support you through your toughest transitions aren’t always the people you expect. Conversely, the people who go silent will surprise you. Sometimes they just don’t know what to say.
9. Even if you’ve always felt comfortable alone, you will still experience times of intense loneliness. Allow yourself some time to wallow, then get out and get moving. Or get a dog.
10. You will regain your sense of humor.
11. Stay the hell away from Adele! At least for the first few months . . .