Friday, September 20, 2013

explaining singlehood to kids

I have brought a new type of person to into my nieces and nephews world.  The single adult woman.

The kids have been fortunate to live in a happy bubble.  They didn't know many divorced couples, maybe a few single mom's of their friends but for the most part my extended family and friends have all been in long lasting relationships.  All the married couples had children, and the children were still young enough to live at home.

And then I found myself single at 26 and had to move back home until I figured things out.  The kids were little and couldn't comprehend this concept.  Why was an adult living with their parents?

Every time they saw me, which was often, they would ask me why I wasn't married? Why was I living with my parents? What happened to that guy that I used to live with and came over for holidays?  Why was I an adult but didn't have children?

For a long time these questions would make me cry.  I didn't have answers for them.  I didn't want to be a single adult living with my parents. I wanted children.  I wanted to be married.  I was constantly in a position when I had to explain things to them, how not everyone is lucky enough to find love, that not everyone has children, that not everyone is happily married, and that not everyone who has children is married.  It didn't stop the questions, and all the other questions from my responses. And so every time I saw them, I was left explaining that life isn't perfect.  All the explanations would make me more sad because the feelings were still so raw they hurt.  How can you move on and be happy when you are constantly answering questions about why someone left you and didn't love you anymore, about what was wrong with you, and how come you can't find another boyfriend/husband.

Most of these conversations took place in front of my sisters and they never chimed in.  They allowed their children to ask me questions and continue to torment me for about a year, maybe more.  Eventually my cousin got divorced and the kids continued asking me questions as well as asking my cousin what happened to her husband. It wasn't fair for my cousin; I could handle the kids asking me, since I was more related to them, but she shouldn't have been subjected to that line of inquisition and neither should her small child.  Finally I asked my sisters to have a conversation with their kids to explain that not all adults are in these 'normal' relationships and to be accepting of these new kids of relationships, and to not ask the person going through a transition so many questions.

The questions did start to slow down, but they never went away.  Even now, 7 years later, they are still mystified that I do not have a husband or children.  They constantly ask me why I can't just get one.  If they see me talking to a guy, they assume he is my boyfriend and won't drop it for months.  They tease me about being single and how I can't get a husband.

But, one niece last year said she wanted to be just like me, not having parents or a husband to listen to, to be free to do whatever I want.  I was happy that she was starting to understand that women can be independent and have a single life.

The constant reminder of my relationship failure has been a very difficult struggle, but I guess that I grew from it.  All the explanations and justifications for the way I lived helped to remind me that it is OK, even if it wasn't the life I planned on.  All things happen for a reason and having faith is important.

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