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How I Empowered My Daughters After Becoming a Single Mom

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By Stacey Freeman
 

“Could I be that woman?”

 

As in the woman who forgave her husband after he admitted cheating on her. In all honesty, I never thought I could be and told my husband so from time to time during our 16-year marriage. However, when push came to shove and I faced deciding whether to fight for my marriage or let it and my husband go, I became willing to do what I had at one time believed unthinkable. After all, we had time in, 24 years, in fact, a home, three children, and a cat. Why would I want to give all of that up without a fight?

 

For months I pleaded with my husband to stay, even as he told me he needed to see his new relationship through. He did just that, while I waited at home for him to come to his senses and return to the life we once shared, the one I believed I still wanted.

 
15 Reasons to Sell Your Diamond Jewelry After Divorce
15 Reasons to Sell Your Diamond Jewelry After Divorce
 

Three months passed, and my husband did agree to come back and give marriage counseling a try. For nearly one week, he returned to our bedroom, attended a family holiday, and went on a “date” with me to the movies. It was like old times. Except, the more I thought about it, I recognized it wasn’t. Not only was I living with the knowledge that my husband had disrespected me, so, too, were our young children who, unfortunately, saw and heard too much during those early days after my husband announced he was leaving me for someone else.

 
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It was then I knew I was sending my children, particularly my daughters, a message. And it wasn’t necessarily a positive one.

 
 

Even though my kids were young when we decided to reconcile, 11, 10, and 7 to be exact, my daughters looked at me questioningly as their father returned home. It was then I knew I was sending my children, particularly my daughters, a message. And it wasn’t necessarily a positive one.

 

Though I desperately wanted to forgive their father, I couldn’t. At least not yet. So, there was no way I could legitimately point to forgiveness as the reason for my decision. As time would eventually tell, I wouldn’t be able to forgive him until many years later. When I did, it had nothing to do with any change or gesture on his part, only my willingness to move on, which I did.

 

What troubled me most about taking my husband back was the risk I ran of communicating to my two daughters and my son that cheating or being cheated on was in any way acceptable behavior from them or their spouses. That was not a message I ever wanted to send.

 
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For that reason, among a few others, I quickly reconsidered my decision, after five days to be exact, and requested my husband retain an attorney, which I had already done the same week I had learned he had been unfaithful to me. And I began the process of rebuilding my life, alone, as a single parent of three.

 

Divorced life has not been easy, and it continues to be a struggle. Loneliness, financial concerns, and stress are constant combatants. But with every day, including the bad ones, I make progress – with my career, financial stability, relationships, and, most of all, outlook.

 

My children have been along for the ride the entire time, watching and learning. In many instances, I have been a case study in what not to do. There have also been the times when I decided just right. And, of course, there were those moments when I haven’t always been quite sure. Opting for single life fell into this last category, until relatively recently.

 
 
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No longer do I question the choice I made. I hope my children would make the same decision for themselves if ever in a similar position.

 
 

A few months ago, my eldest child was working on a school project at our house with a classmate. When this girl saw me working at my desk, she asked my daughter what I was doing. My daughter explained I was a writer and had started a business. The girl remarked how she thought that was cool. What was even cooler is that my daughter told me the story after the girl went home, adding how proud that made her feel and how proud she was of me.

 

No longer do I question the choice I made. I hope my children would make the same decision for themselves if ever in a similar position. However, if they did choose to stay and work on their marriage, I would support them. My only hope is that if they made such a choice, it would be for a reason other than a fear of being alone. Being with someone who doesn’t value you is far, far worse.

 

I consider myself lucky. Something told me early on that lecturing my girls about how to be confident women was not going to be enough. I needed to show my daughters instead, empowering them in that way. Five years after my separation, my daughter gave me a sign she had been watching and learning all along. At that moment, I was never more sure of my decision to pursue a divorce. And there was no better feeling.

 

About the author
 

Stacey Freeman is a writer and blogger from the New York City area, a divorced single mom, lifestyle editor at Worthy.com, and the founder and managing director of Write On Track, LLC, a full-service consultancy dedicated to providing high-quality content to individuals and businesses. A respected voice for divorce issues affecting both women and men, Stacey has been published in The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, Town & Country, The Huffington Post, xoJane, Scary Mommy, The Stir, MariaShriver.com, The Good Men Project, and various well-known platforms worldwide. Stacey is frequently called upon for her expertise and insights on the divorce experience and has repeatedly been quoted in The Huffington Post’s divorce vertical. Stacey holds her B.A. in English, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University at Albany and her J.D. from Boston University School of Law. Email Stacey today at Stacey.Freeman@WriteOnTrackLLC.com or call 800-203-1946 for a free consultation and proposal. For more information, visit www.WriteOnTrackLLC.com.

 

How I Empowered My Daughters After Becoming a Single Mom
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  1. Casey Arce says:

    I wanted to say thank you for this article. I am a single mom of two kids and this has inspired me more to know that it is never too late to pursue your dreams and set a good example to your children.

    I have a 12 year old daughter and 17 year old son. I can relate to your story and thank you for writing this article and empowering women after divorce.

  2. Maria Romano says:

    I have been through the same scenario. I chose divorce for the same reason as you: the example I was going to be for my 2 daughters; teaching them to choose someone who values them. Through the process I did learn to find my voice, to request the honesty and respect my daughters and I deserved. It’s been almost 4 years and my 11 year old recently told me she was proud of my decision. She also told me she found her voice requesting dignity and respect in a difficult situation at school as a result. Infidelity is not easy when it perpetrated by the person you loved the most in the world but you must first love yourself to see the other side. Beautiful of you to share your story. Thank you.

  3. Laura says:

    I too went through this. I have 5 daughters. At the time they were 18,16,9,4,& 1yrs old.
    Hardest thing I’ve EVER done was to divorce him after 23yrs of marriage being a stay st home mom ! No support -parents gone. I see why some woman stay because they have no $ or they stay fort he kids. But , when he became violent and screaming at me and cutting me down in front of our daughters , I knew if I didn’t leave him , they would think it’s ok to be treated like that. And it’s ok to be cheated on . I’m not talking about just 1 affair , I’m talking out ENTIRE marriage !
    I know it sounds ridiculous that I didn’t have a clue but truly I did not . How I found out started w/ a horrifying confession from my FATHER !
    People say I could write a book about this. No , I say because it’s so common betrayal happens all the time. Mines no different. EXCEPT that my parents and brother knew and NEVER told me !! Apparently it was my moms death bed wish to not tell me . My ex had worked with them in the family business for 20 yrs. so I’m not sure if mom didn’t want to lose him because she needed him when my dad got too sick to help w/ the business , or she didn’t want my life to be turned upside down ( w/ 3 kids at the time this happened ) but I’ve forgiven her. I found this out from my father when he thought he was in his deathbed but ended up living several more years. Lol . I was holding my baby in the hospital when he began to tell me in great DETAIL how they saw my ex in a security tape ( they had just put in and apparently he didn’t get the memo they had put it
    In ) . He was “ WITH “ another woman in the office that he works in with my family !!
    Words can never describe what I felt after hearing this. I honestly thought the morphin had made my dad delirious. I just could not phathun that this could be real. Long story sorta short. After finding this out , more people “ friends “ started confiding in me of how they knew he had been cheating on me our whole marriage. ! But no one wanted to break up a family. …
    it’s been 9 yrs. now. I have 2 daughters still at home.
    Still struggle financially.
    Moved out of our home the only home my girls ever knew. Lived there 30 yrs. just this last year could not afford to live there anymore. Moved into Gov. apartments. But they are really nice apartments ! Thank God !
    I am happier than my girls were to leave the memories. I feel like it’s a new beginning . I still struggle w/ bitterness for him.
    I know I need to forgive him for my own health. My kids of coarse forgave him and liove his wife that’s 25 yrs younger.
    ( one of the many woman he was with while we were married ). They live close and the girls are all close and see both of us frequently. I can’t help but be slightly resentful that they forgave him. But on the other hand I have already seen how me leaving that kind of life has taught them ALL not to take that kind of abuse from a man !
    They have all been cheated on even my baby who’s 11 now lol. They ALL get rid of the losers and never look back. !
    They did have their world rocked by finding out about their dad they always thought was their hero. They do not trust guys as easily . Which I think is a good thing. And they have learned to not depend on anyone to take care of them !
    Get an education and job and never have 5 kids . Haha 🙂

    • Laura, you are a strong woman to stand up for yourself the way you did. You are a role model for your children and have given them a gift they will take with them for the rest of their lives. We teach others what it means to have self-respect through our actions, not only our words. Wishing you and your children much peace and happiness for the years to come 🙂

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