Fairy tales aren’t supposed to happen in the real world. But we can always create our own version of it.
Going through a broken marriage can be one of the most traumatizing life experiences. Not only is a sacred bond broken, but the spirit and dreams of a spouse come to a seeming end. The road ahead can be a long journey filled with failures we can learn from.
It becomes even more challenging when children are involved, because the single parent has to do a balancing act of being both father and mother.
But being a single parent is also a blessing. You have the opportunity to make your own decisions and learn to be accountable for them. You get to view responsibility in a different light, making you realize how truly independent you can be, and not be lonely even when alone.
In this month of hearts, we wish to share with you a story of hope for everyone, especially single parents who have either found love again or have given up chasing their own fairy tale.
“Mamma, they said we are not a family,” said Mark, who was still very young then.
“Oh, is that so?” I asked. “Why did they say that?”
He looked sadly at me and continued: “Because we are not complete— there is me, Joshua, and then just you.”
“That’s what they think because they are looking at it only from their side,” I explained. “Let’s try to think of it from our side, okay?”
“What is your idea of a family, Mark?”
“I thought that’s what we were this whole time, Mamma.”
“How do you describe our family then?”
“Well, I know you love and take care of us. You gave us a nice place to live, we have toys to play with, we go to school and you protect us from the spiders and cockroaches.”
I laughed and embraced my son.
“And that, Mark, is why we are already a family. Even if they say we’re not complete, what is sure is that we are happy together because we love each other.”
Mark has always been the curious and open-minded son, which I appreciate. My youngest, Joshua, rarely asks questions. He absorbs the love that he gets from us and gives it back wholeheartedly.
My favorite memory of Joshua as a child is him lying on his back, hands behind his head. He’d then say with a big smile, “Mamma, this is the life.” Maybe he’d seen it on television, but it worked, and he developed a positive outlook in life.
I have reminded myself over and over that children react best to love. They learn more from what you are than what you or others teach. Along with my personal and professional challenges, they are the reason I continue to learn and grow.
I was perfectly comfortable being a single working mom, and quite prepared to live a blissfully single life, until that day in 2011 when Richard and I saw each other again.
My marriage was annulled about 10 years ago. I received advice to either get back into dating as soon as possible, or to take it slow. I chose the latter. My two daughters were my priority, so I did not rush into dating.
You do not need a partner to make you whole again, or a good father. Many men jump from one relationship to the next, thinking they need it to be capable of fatherhood. Researchers say you should spend plenty of time thinking about what you want from a new relationship, and why you want it.
Recognize that your relationship will somehow affect your other relationships with friends, relatives and especially your children.
Singlehood is a blessing. At this time you honestly face your emotions and beliefs. You are a better parent to your kids if you get a grip on your emotions first.
Improve yourself by seeking advice and reading books by experts. A better dad, a better worker, a better person—at any age, you can learn to become the best you.
When you are comfortable with yourself, Dr. Joe Vitale (“The Secret”) advises making a list of all the traits you want in your perfect woman, and focus on it. Many people can be attractive to you in one or more ways that may not even be on your list, but you may not be suitable as a couple. You could be better off as friends.
So don’t run around searching for anyone to be a partner. Be content and patient in singleness. If you have a concrete idea of the spectrum of what you are looking for, you will recognize it in that someone when (or if) she comes along. You may even “suddenly” see it in someone you knew from long ago.
In late 2011, Marina came along—again.
And our lives were never the same again.
We are just as bewildered as any of our friends, who said, “Should this have happened 26 years ago?!?”
Our paths had crossed more than once between, but nothing ever came to mind but a friendship. Many called it serendipity. Why not? We may have been in the right place, at the right time.
We both see life as “a box of chocolates”; we’re both self-professed food critics, we both love reading, we both work best in the morning, we finish each other’s sentences, we have similar nuances and mannerisms, we’re not ashamed to look ridiculous at any point, laugh at each other’s silly jokes and respect each other’s work time.
Despite these, we are different in many ways, too. But we accept each other’s individuality, valuing the fact that we both have our own mountains to conquer and issues to resolve.
Richard has two daughters, Samantha and Sachi. Marina has two sons, Mark and Joshua. All in their late teens, they wish only happiness for their parents. It was awkward for them at first, but they quickly got along.
Samantha and Sachi’s calm, rational commentaries meshed well with Mark and Joshua’s candid remarks. The girls live with their mother, but we get to see them any time they want to visit and during weekends.
We both continue to be responsible for our respective children. Nevertheless, there is a lot of shared activities, moral support, good communication, and involvement in the children’s growth.
It takes a certain amount of maturity and understanding not only from parents, but from children from both sides, as well, to achieve a comfortable setup in blended families. We are not perfect, but it sure turned out to be better than we all expected.
So, to us who have stopped believing in fairy tales, know that we can all create our own version in the real world. It’s one that can prepare us for that second chance; one that shows how we bravely fight the dragons in our lives, climbing the towers in the way of our growth, building a peaceful and harmonious kingdom for our children, resolving to come out victorious.
Finally, you might realize that second chances are not always about finding Prince or Princess Charming. It’s about you saving yourself and coming out more content with who you are. And that would absolutely be the greatest happy ending.