I've spent the last four years trying to be a champion for divorced single moms. I've written about my heartache and pain, how tough it can be to raise kids, co-parent and date, but also how important it is to persevere.
If I could do it, anyone could. I was even in the middle of writing a memoir about my experience.
Now, my story has a surprising twist: I'm engaged.
I have imagined this day from the moment my fiancé and I began dating. I thought I'd either laugh in my ex's face or break the news to him in person because it was so significant an announcement. I thought sharing my news with him might be emotional; that it would officially, officially end our marriage.
But when I got engaged, I was completely surprised by how my imagination had ill-prepared me for what I actually felt and thought. For one, I didn't want to stick it to my ex, nor did I feel emotional when I broke the news. I told him by text message. He wrote back right away and said, "Congratulations, I’m really happy for you."
It meant a lot to have his support. It's not that I needed his blessing, but I wanted him to be genuinely happy for me so that my kids know they can be happy, too. I don't want my boys being confused, or thinking that in getting re-married I'm somehow betraying their dad. I want them to understand it's a good thing that I've found someone to love, and someone who loves me in return.
Perhaps I needn't have worried. My kids were actually thrilled with the news. "Congratulations! I love you, Mommy! I knew it! When can we get a dog?" is how they responded. My oldest son said he had a feeling we would get engaged soon, and he was happy to have been right. They were also excited to talk about the dog I promised we could have when there were more adults in the house. They were eagerly awaiting an engagement to bring them a step closer to getting a puppy.
Seeing my fiancé and ex-husband shake hands the next time they saw each other was vomit-inducing, as was seeing my ex-father-in law. He was kind and congratulated me, but the exchange made me sad. I'm sure my divorce was hard on them—I was a good daughter-in-law and ensured they had lots of access to my kids. My engagement ring symbolizes the fact that they are part of a previous life; that I'm really moving on.
I also didn't expect to feel like a traitor to all the single moms I've been writing for during these last several years. Announcing my engagement to some of my single-mom friends made me feel embarrassed. They are at a different stage than I am, and many are going through hell. I don't want anyone—readers and friends—to think I can no longer relate; that I get to be happy while they suffer. It never occurred to me that I might feel this way, but I was overwhelmed with guilt initially. They have all been so supportive and excited for me. I know we will continue to be friends even if my marital status differs from theirs.
Now that my new circumstance is sinking in and my imagination has settled down, I've had time to digest my thoughts. I'm happy that my good news has made others happy, too—from my kids, parents and siblings, to my friends (divorced and married), my ex-husband and ex-in-laws.
This is a new chapter in my life. It won't be all roses and rainbows, but it's an exciting new phase. I'll have new things to write about and new experiences to share. Just as I was interested in writing about babies when my kids were little, I moved on to writing about bigger-kid issues when my boys got older. As my mom pointed out to me, I didn't suddenly have nothing to say. I didn't somehow betray my readers and friends when my kids grew up.
So now, I get to grow up again, too. I get a second chance at a marriage and family. I get to bring my life's experiences along as I navigate this new path. I hope I can do a good job and be successful in this marriage in a way I wasn't before. Perhaps divorce prepared me for this road. Perhaps writing about it provided me with the reflection I'd need to do things differently this time around.
The truth is, I'm happy, I'm scared, I'm hopeful. And I should probably get back to my computer and start rewriting my book. This version is going to have a happier ending.
Written by Erin Silver
Erin Silver is a freelance writer and blogger with more than 15 years experience writing for major magazines and newspapers in Canada and the United States. A single mom to two rambunctious young boys, she is inspired to share her experiences on everything from divorce and single parenting to dating and blending families. Visit her at ErinSilver.ca.