If I Would Have Stayed
My ex and I have nearly completed mediation. While it has been exhausting, I remind myself that dividing up equity in a house and a pension plan are first world problems. When my first marriage ended, there was nothing to divide because we did not own a home, nor did we have any savings; we each left the marriage with our respective student loans.
My fear with separation was the impact it would have on our two younger daughters. It was difficult for a while: Olivia had moments of irritability while Sophia, my little rebel child, decided to be horrible at bed time.
We have seemed to move past all that, and both girls seem a lot happier now. On Friday morning, I overheard them talking to one another about whose place they were at this weekend. What struck me was how normal their conversation seemed, and for the first time since the separation, I fully felt like they were okay. Then I dropped them off at after school care, I gave them hugs, we all smiled, and they said, “We’ll see you on Wednesday, Mom.” I was happy to see them in good cheer.
I know their father cares for them, and he does a lot of activities with them. I appreciate that, and I know the younger girls love him a lot.
And, their father has told me that he is a lot happier since moving out and his health has improved due to leaving a stressful household.
So, good for him.
Our marriage broke down for a number of reasons, and he would give one story while I would give another. From my perspective, we had two completely different ways of handling stress. His way was to get angry and let it out of his system, so he could feel better, not realizing the impact it had on everyone around him. My way was to not let everything get to me, remain calm, and maybe shed a few tears now and then.
He adopted the older girls not long after we got married, and they are girls who have not caused any problems. They were all honors students, two were valedictorians, they all had part-time jobs and contributed half their pay cheques to their university funds, they have all gone to university, they did chores on the weekends, and they were never lippy or rebellious. Instead of showing appreciation for what they were doing right, he always focused on little things they were doing wrong.
Simple things, like chores and car rides, became a battle. He believed that kids should just be expected to do chores without being told and without any extrinsic motivation. I believe that the best way to motivate kids to do chores is to set a good example by doing chores the same time they are, and to take them out for a hot chocolate or lunch afterwards.
When the kids were in junior high, he believed that they should be taking the bus everywhere and not getting any rides from parents. I explained to him that having that time in a vehicle with a child is a great time to bond, and if I feel like driving them somewhere, I will do so. It became a battle every time, leading to stress for both of us.
Birthdays and special occasions were also stressful. I feel it is important to celebrate, and he never felt that way. While I was in good cheer during those times, he was always grumpy, and I felt like I had to be a mediator within my own family.
Those are just a few issues, and I know they seem kind of trivial. We were in counselling for a long time, and it did not seem like we could get anywhere. In the end, I wanted a home that was peaceful. Also, I knew that the older girls would be moving out in a few years, and I wanted them to feel comfortable coming home for visits. I did not see that happening if I would have stayed with him. So, like the mama bear that I am, I chose my kids over my husband.