Transitioning from married life to divorced life is a challenge. Doing this with children at home can takes that challenge to the next level. It can be difficult, but it can also be an exciting time if you will it to be.
You can choose to make this an opportunity to create a new life or you can moan and groan about starting over. Your divorce handed you a blank slate, and you alone are responsible for creating what your new life looks like.
How to embrace this time as an opportunity?
When I divorced, I got full custody of my daughter and my ex moved out of state. I no family in the area, a daughter in preschool and a job that required occasional travel. I had the perfect opportunity to complain. But I didn't; I chose to view my situation as a gift.
This gift was that I alone had the opportunity to provide guidance and be a role model for my daughter as she grew up. It was empowering, and I embraced being single mom with her as my focus. I asked myself, what I can do to best equip my daughter for her life once she leaves my home and goes off to college? I decided that I wanted her to be a self-confident, independent woman who knows she can do anything she sets her mind to.
When she was a preschooler, my aim was to expand her circle of friends and activities. I was committed to having her try a variety of different activities in order for her to figure out what resonates with her heart. Because I had full custody and it was just the two of us, I didn't need to negotiate how I spent my time with her, or what activities we chose. We Just did it!
For me, it is important for my daughter to grow into being her own authentic woman. I want her to love the young woman she is becoming and have self-confidence in her values and the choices that she makes.
I also wanted her to have a sense of adventure and be able to handle new situations with ease. To this end we travel; except for vacations to see family, we rarely revisit the same destination.
I love teaching her about airports, subways and reading maps. When we traveled to Washington D.C. for the first time this past spring break, my daughter -- now a teenager -- was responsible for getting us from the airplane to our hotel via the subway.
It was such a delight to watch her scan the airport for the baggage claim signs and directions to the subway and to navigate with a map. I couldn't help but smile to know that the first map she learned to read was at the zoo when I was teaching her how to get from where we were to where the penguins lived -- how that kid loved penguins!
After scanning the map and figuring out our subway route to the hotel, she said confidently "Come on Mom, this way." I tagged along behind her as she did with me not so many years ago.
On the plane ride home from our vacation, I was reflecting on how my daughter is growing. She embraces life and is her own person. She is also fun-loving, energetic and a spiritual, thoughtful young woman. I couldn't help but smile while I was reflecting that she indeed has exceeded the hopes I had set out for us so many years ago.
I am blessed and life is good.