Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Madness of an Unhappy Marriage

Tween is Y6 and is being subjected to SATs (Stuffitupyour Arse Tests) next week. But after that, the class will go on a five-day residential to what looks like a glorious 4 * hotel in the middle of Devon. The hotel has a pool and wonderful grounds, and they only share two to a room (not the normal 34 squeezed into ranks of bunks, dorm-stylee).

How do I know about the hotel? Because the school organised a meeting for parents about it.  But here's the thing: I almost didn't go, because as Teen had done the same trip two years before, I thought I knew all about it.

It was only when I sat in the meeting, I realised I knew nothing. That I'd missed Teen's meeting. That I hadn't known anything about where he was going. That I hadn't really cared.

Because he went two years ago, when the unhappiness of my marriage was tightening round my neck.

At the time, I thought I was functioning pretty well. That I was holding things together, getting kids to school on time, filling in paperwork -I was on it. I knew that I was struggling internally, that things were coming to a head, and that I couldn't seem to concentrate properly on the smallest thing, but I thought that I was still a caring mother, and that my boys were coming first.

They weren't. I don't suffer from depression, but I guess this is the closest I've ever got. With the clarity of hindsight, I can see that a sort of madness had taken over; a new logical order (that was never really logical). The priority for me was to find a way to make my own life liveable again. I became very selfish. And shamefully, my own children took a back seat.

I was shocked when I realised all this, in a lightbulb moment, the other day. Ashamed that I can't remember the Teen doing his SATs tests at all. Hopeful that I was sympathetic and encouraging. Teen did extraordinarily well in the tests, but now I'm wondering - was that despite me, rather than with my help?

And this train of thought led me on to my own experiences as the child of a broken marriage. My parents split up when I was 14 and, although I always felt loved by them both, the sense of direction that they had given me up to that point immediately vanished. They were taken up with trying to make a success of their own lives, and I was left to find my own way in the world.

It's taken me two years to work this out (I don't have a therapist but boy, if our cat could talk...) and I feel that I'm almost back on track to being a proper parent again. Priorities have changed; finding a man to lavish me with pretty things (and buy me a plane) will have to take a back seat - for now. I was offered more hours at work recently and, although I could really do with the money, I think it's right that I should work shorter days so I'm there for the boys at the end of the day.

I feel I've wasted that precious time with them. I won't make the same mistake again.


  1. Don't beat yourself up.If you hadn't made making your life liveable a priority, you would still be in the same situation - holding it together on the outside but not so much on the inside. But you were brave enough to make that choice and see it through which is a huge thing in itself; now you seem to be so present for them, and making all your time precious again x

    1. Thanks lovely. It was definitely the right thing to do; especially as I now see how properly bonkers I was back then :-)

  2. I think a lot of separated parents will identify with this. Surviving a marriage breakdown can consume all of your emotional and mental energy. At least now you have the space and time to focus on your children. Love that your cat is your therapist - the mental image of it made me smile! A bit like that talking cat that Sabrina the teenage witch had!


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