I recently had a family member tell me, “Bari, you could make friends with a tree.” And I laughed it off, until a week later I found myself out on a run and spending a whopping 30 minutes walking and talking with a complete stranger out on the same running trail as me.
In these 30 minutes I managed to feel deeply connected with this lady, where I shared my story on being a single mom. It was her reply that left me feeling so heartbroken for her and all of the other moms who feel this way.
“Wow. Getting to be single and alone and working on yourself. I wish I could do that.”
Complete strangers. Didn’t even catch each other’s names. Her secret was safe with me, right? She had explained to me issues she was having, and how miserable and toxic the relationship was. She wanted out of her marriage, but insisted she was “stuck.” Oh, mama, I feel for you.
Let me begin with this: I fully encourage numerous approaches and time to try to patch things up in your rocky relationship. I truly believe so many of us get caught up in the “fairytale” we see on Instagram, and forget that marriage takes work and effort. Likewise, because of this, so many young couples are trying to rush into a relationship and marriage, while lowering their standards and settling on the bare minimum. I can fully attest to this, as I, too, once rushed and forced a relationship together for the wrong reasons.
It seems all too common nowadays that conversations with others consist of them wishing they had something better or what someone else has. Primarily, this pertains to relationships. I’ve now been approached by seven women within the past nine months, asking me, “How do you do it?” or “I’m too scared to leave because I will have nothing.” Following this, they spill gut-wrenching stories about their abusive, toxic relationship.
Mama, your children deserve to
have a happy mom.
The thought of failing your dream of a perfect marriage and family life, while ripping that mediocre “stability” out from under you is not an easy thing to give up. You wonder if you’ll ever be able to find someone to love you and your babies. Fear crosses your mind because you don’t want to hurt your children for having divorced parents or have them potentially “hating” you for breaking up the family. Mama, I feel for you.
There are so many ifs, ands, or buts when we’re unsure of making any decision. Some key points that I like to focus on is your general well-being. As mothers, we automatically resort to putting our kids first and ourselves last. When you are stressed, sad, sick, or depressed, how are you treating your kids? Be honest. What is your tone, mood, and actions towards them? I’m going to take a guess and assume you aren’t frolicking around the backyard chasing bubbles, with true genuine happiness and not a care in your mind. You’re probably losing your temper faster when the Legos box dumps out, the empty cereal box is still in the pantry, or your daughter finds your lipstick and paints her face and the counters with it.
It is absolutely normal to be overwhelmed and have days with a shorter fuse. But mama, are these days starting to outweigh the good ones? Is it impossible for you to be “happy” in even the obvious moments?
Mama, it starts with you. You have to come first. In order to be the best mama you can be for your babies, you have to be happy. Whether your abusive relationship be emotional or physical, “if mama ain’t happy, nobody is happy.”
According to an article from IFStudies, “Conflict between parents harms kids in part because of the spillover effect: parents in high-conflict relationships tend to be worse parents, engaging in more criticism, aggression, making threats, shouting, and hitting. High-conflict relationships can also produce lax and inconsistent parenting: parents who simply don’t pay much attention to their children. In either case, children may fail to form a secure attachment to parents as a result.” That last line hit hard right in the gut.
I know you want to “stick it out” or you have the fear of being alone, or you fear being on your own because maybe your spouse was your financial supporter, but you have to think of your happiness, and the effects of these feelings on your children. If you’ve been looking for a sign to leave, here’s your sign, mama. Thirteen percent of children have anxiety due to being in an unhealthy environment. That’s approximately 1 in every 7 kids, and there’s a chance yours could be one of them.
Life is not a walk in the park, but sometimes we are presented these challenges in life to learn and grow from, and to help us gain more strength than we thought we had. Every storm runs out, and the days will get better. But mama, in order to get there, it starts with you. Love yourself enough to want better for you and your kids. Your babies deserve the happiest version of a mama you can be.