I have a little bluetooth speaker in my shower that I love. The other day, I had on Apple’s “Country Faith” playlist and the Florida Georgia Line song “Blessings” came on.
I love that song; I do. But after going through my divorce, I no longer believe that rings true for me—I just couldn’t be without you. Don’t give me wrong; I absolutely count my blessings for my husband today, and he is the greatest thing I’ve been given a very long time. However it’s the idea of all or nothing that bothers me—like you don’t know where you would be without that person. Life would end.
And if there is anything I learned after my first divorce and his passing, it is that life does not end. The chapter ends. A new one begins. But my life certainly did not end when I lost my first love.
In fact, the more I thought about it, it made me reflect on where I would be today if I had never met Josh and I was still a single mom to my two kids, who are now 8 and 11.
We would likely still be living in our old house. Most of those we had relationships with still live in the neighborhood, and I don’t see any reason why we would have ever needed to move. I had already cleansed any sign of him from the house when we got divorced, so the place had an entirely different vibe and felt like mine.
If I hadn’t dated and remarried and it was just me and the kids, I would be cutting my grass on the weekends more often, but I would also still have a fantastic neighbor who volunteers to help pick up the load for me. I would still have the neighbor who fixes the kids’ bikes when the chain falls off. My village would still be coming through for us.
The kids would have support. They would still have my dad, who would step up and attend all the dad events. Life is crazy with sports and shuttling people around where they need to be, so my parents helping with that wouldn’t have changed. I do sometimes wonder if we would be closer to my brother’s family. They moved back several years ago and are deep in the trenches of young parenting so we don’t see them often, especially with the pandemic. But my parents have been a constant—and continue to help with whatever they can.
If it was just me and the kids, I would have probably still been able to get my first book published. As they have gotten older, they need less supervision. I would have still been able to make time to write and edit in the evenings, especially after they went to bed. With just me as the adult in the home, I would be in full control of how I spent that time. And I am pretty good at getting lost in front of a computer when I want to.
There are of course some incredible gifts that I have because Josh is in our lives today. He’s been more than I could have hoped for in a partner, and my kids have no idea how lucky they are to have him love them as his own, to have him advocate for them, discipline them, guide them, and give them another set of adults to love them as family too.
Because I have a partner, and we were both financially secure and in our 30s when we married, we both kept our old homes and bought a new one together several years ago. That has allowed us to begin building wealth through investment properties, obviously never something I thought I would do.
Because I have a partner, I have someone to back me up at school meetings while we’re battling for better accommodations for our kids. Someone to take over when one of us is losing our patience or simply cannot take one more second of teaching how to borrow in subtraction.
Because I have a partner, I am able to take greater risks at work. I’m able to entertain the idea of not working—because sometimes (lots of time), life with 3 kids feels like a full-time job by itself. I’m able to think about fulfillment and not just working to make a living.
So what I can acknowledge is that a partner (a good one anyway!) can make life a lot easier—even when it feels hard and exhausting. Having done this both ways, I know for certain that a good, solid partner makes this whole parenting thing a lot easier.
But what I also know is this—single moms are the most adaptable and remarkable cohort out there. We always find a way, and we adapt to our circumstances whether we want to or not. A bad partner certainly didn’t make my life easier, and doing it on own was often much easier than doing it with him. I know for certain that my life would be wonderful and beautiful if it was just me raising two little preteens today, but I am beyond grateful for the man who made his way into our hearts to make this next chapter a beautiful one too.
You can follow along with our family journey over on Instagram at theothersideofmotherhood