(WOMENSENEWS)–Sometimes, I really think I have this single mom thing under control. Not perfect, but nicely managed. I feel confident that my children are adjusting and that our routines matter.
But the other week a troubling thing happened. While eating a very lovely dinner of roast chicken (stuffed with rosemary, sage and thyme) and macaroni and cheese, my children and I found a wishbone. They decided to make a wish.
Of all the things that could be running through a child’s mind to wish for, my 6-year-old son whispered this: "I wish my parents would get back together."
I was somewhat shocked and a little sad.
My husband left July 2006 and since then I’ve worked tirelessly to keep a stable home environment for my children. I left my demanding and lucrative career to work for myself and be more present for them. I am there at nearly every drop off and pick up, every school performance and book fair. We have family dinners every night, fun weekend activities and I have worked every day to maintain a good co-parenting relationship with the "wasband" for the good of the children.
I tell my kids that we are still a family, just a different kind of family, and I make sure they include their dad in their nightly prayers. But I’ve also tried to make it abundantly clear to them that their father and I are happier apart and this is how things will be.
So, where have I gone wrong? Should I take it personally that my children are still holding on to a dream that will never (and I do mean never) happen? Or is this what children do for years and years after divorce? Will they ever get it and be okay?
My parents have been married 51 years and I feel blessed that I don’t know what my children are experiencing. But that also leaves me clueless as to what is "normal" for this situation and what is not. You can only read so many books.
As mothers, we want to make sure our children are emotionally well-rounded, stable and sure in their sense of self. As black mothers, we know the latter is most important because the world will try to tell them who they are. It is our job to make sure they know the truth. And much of that, in my opinion, begins at home with a strong family, regardless of what your "family" looks like.
I thought (well, hoped) that my efforts would make my children feel normal. Complete. That they would accept their new reality and be OK with it. I thought that they were happy and settled in their new life, but as it turns out, they are still yearning for their old one–and I’m concerned.
Am I doing something wrong? Or are they exactly where they are meant to be?
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Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning journalist and editorial director of the Black Maternal Health project at Women’s eNews. A former senior editor at Essence and writer at Fortune, she is the founder of www.MochaManual.com, a parenting destination for African Americans, and author of "The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy" (Amistad/HarperCollins) and two other Mocha Manual books.