A lot of people said “wow!” when I said I was taking a four year old overseas for several weeks, by myself, but I’m fairly certain they had another W word in mind – WHY? Or maybe WTF.
Much of it actually comes down to one sentence. “There are so many things I still want to do in life.” No, I didn’t hear these words whispered from someone’s lips as they lay dying on their deathbed, but rather, this was someone’s rationale for breaking up with me (and I didn’t hear them of course, I read them because it was 2017 so he broke up with me via SMS). What a time to be alive!
I’ve thought of those darn words every day since.
It stuck in my mind because as well as being heartbroken, I was furious. The insinuation that having children somehow prohibits parents from leading a full and rewarding life, or at the very least, from doing all these “things” in life really riled me. Particularly with a son as charming and hilarious as mine (if I do say so myself).
But, it was also the kick up the butt I desperately needed. Sure, I wish I’d never met him. Worse than that – I asked my police officer brother (“just out of curiosity”) what the potential jail time would be for burning down someone’s house. But I also somewhat subscribe to the theory that people come into our lives for a reason and all that jazz. [Also for the record I could have got life in jail if he’d been inside at the time and died a tremendously awful death. I know some of you might have been curious about that.]
In my experience it’s actually easy to rest on your laurels as a single parent, to play the victim card and fall into the mindset that you’re hamstrung, you’re alone and you’re struggling. Even if you have a supportive ex/co-parent and things are working well and your child so far isn’t maiming small animals or setting fires. My first psychologist called me out by asking me that if I saw someone else in my position, would I judge them negatively? I said no of course not, but I still couldn’t figure out why ‘single mum’ felt like a dirty phrase. Something to be shamed or pitied.
Those words made me resent my life. How would I ever find love if dating a divorced mother of one is such a drag, such a heavy burden weighing you down, you couldn’t possibly date one if you also wanted to ‘live life to the full’? I actually felt quite proud of myself up until that point: I’d made some pretty serious life changes and was coming through the other side (and I weighed like, heaps less). Isn’t that admirable? Doesn’t that show someone that I have courage and self-respect? In fact, doesn’t it actually demonstrate my commitment to living a good life, if I chose to lead a different one?
Yes, it does. I am all of those things and more. And less haha. I’ve come to learn this sad story is actually a story about a boy who didn’t know what to say to break up with a girl, particularly one who had a bad case of the feels. I doubt he thought about the consequences of his SMS. But I certainly did.
I’m not saying that when a douche breaks up with you it’s your cue to drop $20k and fly to Italy (but, like, you probably should – it does have a nice Eat Pray Love ring to it, doesn’t it?) But I took that experience as a catalyst to stop taking shit (including my own) and letting people determine what I was or was not capable of. I got on with it, determined to prove just how good I’ve got it. Because I do – I’m incredibly lucky. And also, revenge is sweet and I can be pretty petty.
So this trip is part of me “living my best life” (as well as a happy marrying of timing and circumstances to go with my ‘come what may’ attitude).
Cheers to that x