Another heart-felt post on what it means to “put children first” I know many parents will relate to the task of doing so “with an air of self-confidence that has been eroded.” This is brave writing, and hats off to Beki for offering us her story:
I have thought long and hard before writing this, mainly because it is incredibly personal and has made me face some harsh realities of what I have been through the last 3 years.
However I have already been privileged enough to read some others stories and their courage in sharing has pushed me into sharing my story too.
So you can understand my reasoning for feeling I can contribute to this title, here is a quick summary:
– I found out my husband was having an affair on our honeymoon (12 year relationship, he wanted to get married). It wasn’t the first he had, but having been through 6 months of relate etc ……..
– His girlfriend knew we were getting married, she even sent him explicit texts on our wedding day
– My husband spent 7 days trying me to convince me we could get through this. Once he realised not, he became very nasty, aggressive & I was turned into the devil woman.
– He refused to speak to any family or friends about what he had done – it was as if the last 12 months never happened. He now had a new life, new friends and family.
– You can’t get divorced for 12months – so there then came a lengthy financial battle – he refused to move out of the house, she sent me emails stating I had to take into account her financial needs & what furniture she would like from the house (as it matched hers) you can fill in the rest
– She then started blogging about me, she posted my CV online with her version of my career; my financial information; how I regularly threatened to harm myself & my son to gain attention; how my son would turn up at their house dirty & hungry crying about how awful his home life was; they wanted to take my son away from me and cut me out of their life; my husband had only married me because I had threatened to harm my son if he didn’t – she has saved him from his terrible life with me.
– She became pregnant 5 weeks after our wedding.
There’s alot more but that gives you a flavour.
Despite the above (& a lot more), my son has a fantastic relationship with his Daddy. Him having the best relationship with his Daddy is the most important thing in all of this. We talk about him all the time; his room is covered with pictures of the 2 of them together; they skype regularly; he calls him whenever he wants to; he spends quality time with him; he knows that his Daddy loves him & is secure in that knowledge. We have a toy box in the house for toys he has grown out of that go to his brother; we regularly talk about how to be a great big brother; we make little presents for him & buy him gifts wherever we go.
Overnight I became a single parent – I didn’t sign up for that. I am not wired to be a stay at home Mum – I passionately wish I was, but I am not. Daddy does all the fun stuff, but doesn’t want to deal with any of the tough stuff and there is a lot of tough stuff.
There have been constant times when I have wanted to scream; hit; cry; rant; disappear; hide under my duvet – but I haven’t, because my son has to come first. The first 18months, having my ex anywhere physically near me, made me physically vomit – however he still came into our house to put our son to bed and read him stories. I’ve always known my son was hyperactive and would have some learning challenges in the school environment. I gave up work when he started school to try and support that transition and spend the time with school and the support services to give him the best start. A large part of who I am has always been defined by my successful career – giving that up and moving to benefits was one of the most demoralising things I have ever done. But my son benefitted from me being there most evenings and most mornings. I have always had my own car – that went, my nails / waxing / facials every month – stopped; new outfits; nights out – all of which defined who I was, and slowly any confidence I had left was slowly eroded. It was energy sapping, being bright bubbly, positive and enthusiastic for him, whilst dying inside, was one of the toughest things I have ever done.
My sons’ frustrations have frequently been taken out on me physically, particularly after spending time with his Daddy. The easy answer was to stop visits. But that wasn’t putting my son first, so I fought for help, researched on the net and continued to support him in anyway I could. His fathers view is that I make it all up – even witnessing the violence and expert reports did nothing to change his view.
Running alongside my personal demons I was constantly battling over money and what was fair. The girlfriend’s view was clear, I was not entitled to any financial support, it was now hers! I still have yet to receive any kind of consistent financial contribution. But my son still kept seeing his Daddy spending time with him and maintaining a positive relationship with him.
I also had to let the thing that is most precious to me in the world go into the care of someone who had such different values to me, talk about her in a positive way and answer questions to benefit my son, not respond to my gut feeling. My son has to feel wanted and loved in their home environment and I have to send him the right messages about that. That is very tough! There are a catalogue of stories I could pen, no end of difficult questions I have had to answer but I can hand on heart say, I have always put my sons needs first. The joy on his face when he sees his Daddy makes it all worthwhile.
I will continue to put those needs of my son first, whatever the sacrifice – I have learnt how to and get through it. That learning curve has been huge and tougher than any business environment I have entered into; it is also a curve that will be never ending and not something I can put on a power-point presentation; but I will continue, now, to embrace it.
There is one big thing though that I will not be able to protect my son from – one day he will realise what his Daddy did & his illusions about his Daddy shattered – I have had to accept that there is nothing I can do to prevent that from happening. However I will make damn sure I am there for him in whatever capacity he needs.
However if there is one thing I would wish this tale leaves you with – sometimes putting them first is about making sure you are happy in your life – because you are allowed one. For me it has been going back into my career, which I have welcomed with open arms. I have been careful in my choice – the company I work for is very pro-family, their culture enables you to be there for sports day. I have also had to change my approach to work, working more effectively, turning my phone off for quality time, communication with those I work with & explaining to my son. However I am so much happier in myself and consequently he is more settled. He knows that I always put him first, but I do it with an air of self-confidence that had been eroded.
Putting your children first – it is an essential part of parenting, but something we have to constantly learn how to do whatever your circumstances.