A mother battling a bitter divorce reached out to me.
Sitting across the table and hear her pain, the sense of failing as a parent, was heartbreaking.
Being a parent is tough as is. Most women I know have to manage as single parents and juggle through various tasks as their husbands travel on work.
But then doing it as you battle on your own at different fronts, internally and externally, is excruciating. To top it, legal proceedings leave you dirty and disgusted. While you are feeling horribly cheated, dirty and naive; while all you want to do is get away — you are forced to stay. Asked to stay by random strangers, protectors of law, even the lawyers whom you pay pretend to know better. Sometimes they even make you believe they know better. Questioning you and condemning you for things beyond your control, blaming you for things you didn’t even know… judging you for your hair, your clothes, your education or lack of it — Like somehow, WE ASKED FOR IT.
And in between all this, as you somehow feel like you are sinking to depths you have never known before, you have to chin up, smile and pretend like nothing happened to the child asking you questions as you get home.
When all you want to do is curl up and disappear, you have to pull some shred of energy and make up for the time lost in court amongst prying eyes.
Feeding a child, teaching them, entertaining them and getting them to do things at the pace that is expected by school is tough even when all is well. And then, dealing with them, as you battle abuse, loneliness, harassment and deceit. How do I say it enough, it is hard!
It is hard enough without you making them feel like they are not doing a good job with their kids, with their life. If you really care, have a random conversation, make the kid feel safe while she is gone. Don’t pry about their home and their folks, instead lend a quiet ear, so they are not alone. Ignore the homework that has been missed. Excuse the crumpled pajamas and the untrimmed nails. Whatever you do, do it with empathy. Do it with kindness.
And to the woman who went to court today and came back feeling miserable, all I want to tell you is, HOLD ON. Just a little longer.
It seems impossible right now, but it will soon be over.
No one can give you back the time you have lost or the years you have suffered.
No one can undo those.
Yes, the yelling, the screaming, the raised hand, the harsh words to your child, the blame you put on your child — those are all yours too.
No one can undo those either.
We have all made our mistakes and we will carry it till we do.
But for a better tomorrow, and the day after, the power is within you.
Put down the weight you carry. Let go of that burden of regret.
Fight the bitterness that wants to take charge.
Instead, trust in the love of the child in front of you, trust his resilience and yours.
I give you a prayer, my dad always gives us,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.