Article by Wendy McCance
I have often wondered what goes on behind closed doors. When I was young and just beginning my adult life, I had this vision of what it would be like to be married and have kids. Boy was my image of what my life would be like different from how things turned out. I learned that marriage is not always the fairy tale I had envisioned. Even more surprising was the difficulty I had in raising my kids. There were so many significant challenges.
I started dating a guy when I was eighteen who I would marry at age twenty-seven. I had ignored dozens of clues that marrying this person wouldn’t be anything but wonderful. The short story is that he ended up being a liar, controller, cheater and abuser. A restraining order and divorce were in my future.
The years of pain that I saw my children go through having a father like that has been horrible. I love my kids, but I have spent several years riddled with guilt bringing them into this world with the challenges they would have to endure.
As the years went by, some areas of my life improved dramatically. Better job, better home in a better community and a new husband who is kind, loving and treats the kids as though they are his own have helped to heal some of the wounds.
Two of my three kids were diagnosed with ADD and the struggle of finding the right medicine and the right dosage, struggles with grades and the loneliness they faced trying to find friends that they could relate to and who could relate to them was painful to witness. This is not the way I saw my life and it is definitely not the way I had hoped my kids would grow up.
All of our cousins, aunts and uncles live out-of-town. I grew up seeing relatives several times a year, but as an adult, I haven’t seen relatives in over twenty years. My cousins have had their own children who are now grown and who I have never met. My kids only know relatives on their dad’s side of the family, but thankfully they know them well and have developed some good relationships with them.
What throws us off track to such an extent? How did all of my plans as a kid turn out so differently than what I envisioned?
I have lived and I have learned and although I have experienced tragic times in my life, I have also had the pleasure of developing an unusually close bond to my kids. It is the one thing I could have never predicted, after all, I wasn’t close to my own parents. It is one of the surprisingly good things that has happened along the way.
When I was growing up, I never had a close relationship with my parents or sibling. Things were bad enough that I almost left my home my junior year of high school. As it turned out, the moment I graduated from high school, I moved out on my own and never looked back.
Years later, I have an acceptable relationship with my parents and my sibling, but it is nothing like what I have at home. I am grateful that besides the fact that I am close to my own kids, they have close, loving relationships with their siblings.
So I wonder about other families. I wonder about the stay-at-home wives who get to enjoy their kids without stressing about compromising home life for a work life. I wonder about the close bonds between the kids and the parents. I think about how the relationship is between the parents themselves. Does anyone live that fairy tale life that I had envisioned?
It’s hard to know when I drop off a child of mine at a big, fabulous house of a friend of theirs. The mom seems pleasant and content in her role. The kids seem happy and at peace with their life. But what is really going on behind the scenes? I know that unless you are in my inner circle, there are many things about our family that are hidden away. The closest anyone can get to figuring out that life hasn’t been perfect is knowing that I am remarried and that a few years back we lived in a big, fabulous house as well.
So here I am years later. I married and divorced. I had a great paying job for seven years but the cost was seeing my own family seldom. I lived in the big grand house and then lost it when I lost my job. Several years were spent struggling with worries about finding enough money for groceries, school supplies and gas for our cars. I have seen my kids struggle with the hope that they could have a decent relationship with their father. I have also seen my kids struggle with grades, medication and endless counseling appointments meant to fix broken hearts.
What goes on behind my closed door hasn’t always been picture perfect. Actually, much of what went on was nightmarish. Somehow, I have seen the worst, but found the best in life. I now have the job of my dreams. I can work from home and put my kids first instead of picking between money or family. I have a terrific husband and wonderful kids with sweet. caring hearts. It’s been a long, rough road, but I made it through. Maybe now I will finally have that storybook life I have always dreamed of.
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