Updated: Apr 16, 2022
I turned 40 in 2013. So far, 2013 wins as the worst year in my life, so not a great start. In October of 2012, my divorce from my first husband was finalized. In February of 2013, I was told my position from my 15-year employer was being "eliminated," as they pushed a severance agreement across the table and kindly asked for my keys and laptop. Wow. Wasn't expecting that one. Meanwhile, my mom was very ill after two years of suffering from a recurrence of breast cancer that was now stage 4 - i.e., terminal. In May of 2013, my mom passed away, and my life changed forever.
An only child, I was extremely close to my parents. My dad was deep in his own grief, and I was left to keep it all together as a single, unemployed mom, looking for a job that was in the same salary range so I could afford to keep my house. You see, women's lib sometimes backfires. When you're the breadwinner in your marriage, and you have 50/50 custody, you're on your own. I got to keep the house because I could afford to do so - and then suddenly, no job. The kids were reeling from the divorce, at 6 and 10. My daughter took it the hardest, as she was younger. Not that it was easy on either of them, yet her anxiety (you're welcome for those genes) really escalated and she struggled (outwardly) the most.
Ten months later, I found a job, a couple months shy of my severance and unemployment ending. I was lucky in hindsight. I had time to grieve the loss of my marriage, my mom and my job while not having to juggle work, which was a true blessing. I could focus more on the kids and help them heal. I could take walks, sob, sleep - whatever I needed to do while they were at school so I could try to put on the happy face by the time they got home.
So yeah, not a great way to enter my 40s. And yet, we move on. We prevail. We learn. We grow. I can look back at this time in my life and say with 100% certainty that I have never been the same. My life hasn't been the same. My kids haven't been the same. My inner-being isn't the same. And all of that is okay. I've stopped beating myself up for my failed marriage and having "children of divorce," who are "statistics." Their dad and I are friends. We are united in our love for them and make it a point to try to back each other up when necessary. Do we sometimes slip up and say shit we shouldn't? Yep. Yet, I'm a big believer in not shielding my kids from reality. Sometimes stuff doesn't work out. Sometimes people are not meant for the long haul. They get it, now at almost 17 and 21, and they've learned and grown from adversity. My dad once told me when I was lamenting getting a divorce and "ruining my children's lives," ........ "It's not your job to create a perfect life for your kids. It's your job to teach them how to handle adversity, and this is just the first in many lessons for them."
I've held onto those words ever since when things get bad or when I want to protect them from failing or suffering. This was the beginning of what's been eight more years of growing.... painful, joyful, happy, sad... all the things. Stay tuned for the trials and tribulations of the eight years that have followed.