Decisions and paths… by Meng Fong

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I didn’t become a single mom.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ever wish my life to be any different than what it has been.

One of my biggest consideration to end my crumbling marriage was the effect it would have on The Boy (aka my kid). My fears were that it could have dire effects on his personality, behavior and social skills. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be fully responsible for effecting them – on him. In the end I made the decision so that I could remain sane and alive at-heart as opposed to bitter and always disappointed. Granted, though I was in a 23 year relationship, we were only married for about 5 years before the edges started to fray.

Now, more than 8 years after that tough decision was made, I am happy to report that The Boy and I have come out on the other side – pretty much intact and much stronger. Sounds cliche – too right! But I haven’t found the house with the white picket fences – though, not for want of trying. I can say that I am still navigating the bumps in life and for some reason I seem to encounter more than my fair share of them.

The 2012 AMERICA’S CHILDREN: KEY NATIONAL INDICATORS OF WELL-BEING reports that only 64% of children below 18, live in dual-married-parent homes. Just click down to the Family and Social Environment to see this number. Does it mean that 36% of American children under the age of 18, are living in single parent or an unmarried parent’s home? A closer look at this number at the Census Bureau Fact-Finder Census Bureau Fact-Finder showed a similar statistic for 2013. They estimate that 24.9 million kids (under 18) are living in single parent households. This means that 34% of kids below 18 are living with a single parent. Out of this 24.9 million – 78% (19.3 million) are living with their moms and the rest (5.6 million) living with their dads. And these numbers are growing…so maybe instead of being an anomaly, it is slowly becoming a norm – heavens no – say the religious leaders and conservatives.

Statistics aside, there are pros and cons to the decision. Being an optimist, I would like to think that there are more pros and cons for me. I remember being relieved that I could make all these small decisions myself – like which school would he attend, what extra classes could I enrol him – music, gymnastics, swimming (yes, shades of tiger mommy here – I am still Asian).

It may seem like a small thing but after having been Independent Working Woman for 14years before I was The Kid’s Mom, it was just soooo much easier to make these decisions without having to have a drawn out discussion or come to some sort of compromise. So I made those decisions and I would take full responsibility for them.

Discipline is another good one, Mommy Meng is the first and last word on all things discipline. There was none of this Mom said no and Dad said OK tricks to wall into. The flip side is that, it is very tiring to be the Bad Cop all the time.

I look back and I think I was lucky that he was a lot younger when it happened, it did mean a lot more hard work to bring up a kid on your own. But times passes by incredibly quickly when you are busy.

He seemed well adjusted enough as he grew older. At 10, whenever the conversation turned to talking about home, he would loudly and nonchalantly ask his friends, “Are your parents divorced?”. He thought it was the norm since I was always first to tell people that I was a single mom.

I know for the longest time The Kid wished for another sibling – so much so that when I started to date and when The Then-BoyFriend appeared in the picture, he would poignantly ask, “Does this mean that you will get married and I will have a baby sister?”. My answer would always be the same, I would say that I was way past the age to be doing that – apologies to all the later moms out there.

The fact of the matter is, these are very personal decisions. You just have to know that you did the best you could with the information that you had at the time. And yes, there is more to talk about in a different post.

Everyone that has been through the divorce ringer goes through different paths. My decisions were based on my choice to not stay in a love-less marriage. My personal philosophy is never look back once the decision is made. I always push forward.

And as cliché as it sounds – “whatever don’t kill ya – just makes ya stronger”.

Happy Rest of the Week..