Everyone knows that the “ideal” way to raise a child is with both parents together. Two parents, one family unit, one home. It offers stability and continuity, and avoids the pain of relationships ending and not seeing one or both parents every day. It’s the “ideal” that we are told all the time is best, and it is the “ideal” that I intended to raise my children in.
But it didn’t work out like that. We separated when Miss Rose was one, and now she is two we are divorced. I have been raising her as a single mother and whilst she still has contact with her father and his family, it is not in any way as frequent or reliable as it was. She is missing people from her life that were once important.
Part of me feels guilty about this. I don’t know why, I know it’s illogical, but I do. I didn’t choose this, Miss Rose is happy, healthy and loved, and, in my opinion, the broken family offers a multitude of ways it can mend and actually be better than the “ideal”.
Obviously, for many, if staying together and raising your children as a single family unit brings happiness, love and comfort then that is best, but equally so I do not in any way subscribe to the idea that “staying together for the kids” is healthy or right. Two happy parents apart is surely better than two miserable parents together. Two parents who get on around the child, even if it is only on occasions, must be healthier than two parents who are together all the time but fighting and crying.
If you accept this premise then it’s possible to see that if these two adults are living apart then both have the opportunity to find love again, find a new partner to be happy with. So what does that mean for the child?
In my situation, which is the only one I can go off and know I am speaking 100% truth, it has proven remarkably positive. The Boy came into my life and it wasn’t long after that he came into Miss Rose’s life. He is now a permanent feature and sees her almost every day. He gives input to things we do, routines we try. He speaks firmly to her when she plays up, cuddles her when she cries, and rolls around on the floor laughing with her when she’s playing. The Boy sees her more than her biological father and, accepting he is a new addition to our little family, he is a significant part of her life.
With The Boy comes attachments, his family, his son. Miss Rose has met nearly all of them, adores his mother and is besotted with his son. She charmed his brother by “boo-ing” at Wayne Rooney, and bonded with his step-father over dancing snowmen. I was accepted as a newbie to their world, and, more importantly, so was Miss Rose. Miss Rose hasn’t seen her “real” grandmother in months, but sees The Boy’s mum every week. Hasn’t seen her step-brother in years, but sees The Boy’s son frequently. Miss Rose has been accepted and embraced by a new collection of people. New people from whom she feels nothing but love and kindness.
The “ideal” did not work for us, but what is working for us is this new thing. New system. A patchwork family with pieces all over the place which, in the name of a beautiful little girl, can all come together. A collection of people who just add love to her world and when they don’t have to. My ex-husband’s family bring love, my family bring love, and now The Boy’s family bring love.
Perhaps this set up isn’t “ideal”, but to imagine it is anything except precious and beautiful would be a disservice to something clearly magical. Miss Rose is not being raised by angry, unhappy parents and their respective families. She has more than that. She, until my ex-husband finds love, got effectively three parents. Three parents, three families, and three safe, loving units. Miss Rose is not lacking in love from anywhere. She is surrounded by it.
Raising a child after divorce can be full of complications and difficulties, but if you can put your differences aside and move forwards, you may find that it is also a beautiful thing. Miss Rose has grown into an amazing little girl in the year since my husband left, and by the looks of things will continue on the same path now The Boy has arrived.
Life and love aren’t always easy, but patch things together and you’ll find they can still be pretty awesome.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!