Social Media


Dear Husband’s Ex-Wife, I Know It’s Hard To Be A Single Mother, I Have Been There Too

Dear Husband's Ex-Wife
Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life

But your bitterness at being a “divorcée” in midlife is poisoning your daughters’ childhood. Their experience of love is that it is conditional on them knowing how to “please” people who have power over their decisions.

Dear Husband’s Ex-Wife,

You and I are bound by a common surname. You kept your married name so that the four of you – my husband, you, and your two lovely girls – would remain sentimentally and symbolically a family, even after the legal and geographic disintegration of that family. Meanwhile, I added that same name to mine so that all of our children can grow up knowing that they are family (no “half-sibling” about it, thank you very much!) regardless of where and with whom they spent most of their childhood.

You and I, we share a name. We share custody of your daughters (but we have never thought to take them away from you). Even though the decision to divorce many years ago was yours (before I had even come into the picture), I do understand that in the divorce aftermath, it may have felt like you might lose everything that previously defined you. You will not lose everything; you have not lost everything. Although he may be persona non grata in your books now, I know how hard he tried to make the marriage and its aftermath work. You might not have seen him in his vulnerability, but I have. I have heard him say, “I would never take the girls away from their mother, even though Lottie wants to come live with me.” I have watched helplessly as this tall unshakeable man, your ex-husband who is now my pillar of strength, wept about the sins of being a parent. “We marry the wrong person in our youth, but these children, they’re innocent, caught in the middle.”

You and I, we share a name and we share in the children’s lives. Yet, we have never spoken in person. The cordial emails I sent you to coordinate the children’s summer vacation quickly descended into snappy sarcasm. The photos the girls asked me to print and frame for their bedside tables were rudely returned, and the children sternly reprimanded for bringing these things into ”your house.” The joy of each reunion when we pick up the girls, and pain of each parting when we drop them off, is overshadowed by the coldness of your gestures. Kids out on front steps, bags on driveway, no “Hello, how are you,” much less an invitation to come in for a cup of tea (into the very house bought for you before he even thought of where he would live after the divorce).

I see all this, and I wish I had the courage to say this to you in person…

Dear Husband’s ex-Wife, I know you feel alone, angry, sad, and perhaps a little envious that even though it was your decision to divorce, he has moved on to create a new family. I know it is hard to be a single mother – I have been there too, and my ex-husband was nowhere near as responsible and generous to me. I know you say, and probably genuinely believe, that “Everything I do, I do for my children.”

    Read More: Dear Husband, You Might Not Know This But All Mothers Bear An Invisible Workload

Yet, I see the light go out of the children’s eyes after the initial excitement of receiving clothes and gifts from me. That is when they remember, “I can only wear these at Daddy’s house. Mummy wouldn’t like it if I brought them home.” I hear the nervousness in their voices as they sift through their words, even though we assure them, “It is ok to talk about Mummy. We think it’s great that you have a good time with Mum.” I sense the fear and sadness in their little bodies when they yearn to show Daddy how they decorated their bedrooms, but they know, “Mummy would be angry if you came into the house.”

Dear Husband’s ex-Wife, your bitterness at being a “divorcée” in midlife is poisoning your daughters’ childhood. While the decision to split was yours, you still harbour resentment that this is where life has taken you, and this is rubbing off on your kids. Their young minds are constantly working to censor what they say to you, to us. They do not feel free to express themselves to the adults whose job it is to nurture them. They sometimes witness the most important adult in their lives as an inconsistent and volatile being (and we are all that sometimes). Their experience of love is that it is conditional on them knowing how to “please” people who have power over their decisions. They are struggling with the pushes and pulls of wanting to grow into a bigger blended family while being loyal to your definition of family being “Mummy and the kids.” And I worry.

I worry about the lessons on Girlhood and Womanhood that they are absorbing in their everyday lives. It pains me to see these children deprived of the joys of growing into a blended family; the freedom of embracing their new siblings without being reminded that “They’re half-brothers, not brothers”; the pleasure of seeing a happily married couple and a happily divorced couple as the norm rather than the exception; and the choice of exploring the world, even if it’s for an internship or semester abroad, without feeling like the very act of embracing something new is a betrayal of you.

For the children’s sake and for your own peace of mind, I hope that we can stop being Wife and ex-Wife, and just start being co-Parents, being Women, joined by the ties that bind. Thank you for reading and our door is always open when you want to come in.

Best wishes,

The author is known to Sassy Mama but she wishes to remain anonymous. All names have been changed to protect the privacy of the author and her family.

Lead Image via Pexels by Katya Wolf

more sassy mama

What's New

We're social

We're social

What we're up to and what inspires us