You are not a failure - encouragement for moms going through a separation

Recently, my 11-year-old son and I left the venue where we watched the epic Super Bowl with a few of his closest buddies. We then went to retrieve my older son at his friend’s house. I was simply the chauffeur, the only one in several years’ worth of recollection, without exciting Super Bowl plans.

As we drove together in the late-night, chilly February air, we chatted about the big game and the moments of fear where it appeared our favored team might not win. Followed by the exciting moments that they proved our unfaithful wavering wrong by pulling out one of the greatest wins in Super Bowl history. It was an exciting night, and both of my sons were able to enjoy it with their friends. I was happy for them.

As for me, I was feeling less than stoked about my current life situation. Divorced from my sons’ father and now, several years later, finding myself in a second marriage on life support (that’s being optimistic).

We haven’t been married all that long, and I won’t share details of our issues, as every marriage has them. Those that stay together have a unified desire to work through inevitable struggles. For those who do not stay together, it’s usually because one member of the union stopped trying to make it work and the relationship simply died.

You are not a failure

During the big game, the mother of one of my son’s friends mentioned my non-existent husband. She clearly didn’t know the situation I’m currently facing. I didn’t have the heart or emotional capacity to explain.

So I simply smiled and went on as if everything were honkey-dory. ‘I’m fine; it’s fine, everything is fine!’ (Where can I purchase that shirt to avoid pesky questions?)

Concerned that this would be another difficult milestone inflicted upon my children, I asked if my son had mentioned our family’s situation to any of his friends. He said he had not. I asked if he was embarrassed or felt like they wouldn’t understand. His response completely took me by surprise.

“Honestly, mom, I don’t care all that much. I mean, I want to see you happy and all. But if ________ is not around, that just allows me to have you all to myself.”

I nearly broke down in tears at his precious comment. It truly touched something deep down in my soul. All this time, I assumed I was a failure for having not one, but two failed marriages. I assumed those failed marriages somehow defined me as a spouse, a mother, and a person. But the reality is, I didn’t step away from either union.

Sure, I made mistakes, as all humans do, but in my humble opinion, there was nothing monumental enough that warranted this treatment for the past seven months, nearly 10 years after my first marriage.

Still, I felt like a failure. I felt like I was letting my children down. Not only from having a loving stepfather, but from daily witnessing an example of healthy and growing love. The type of love described in 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. The type of love my own parents have modeled for me my whole life. The type of love I hope and pray for my own sons—even if it has seemingly skipped a generation with their mother.

There’s always an upside

Despite feeling broken, beaten, and emotionally tossed about like the waves religiously lapping the ocean shore, my son shed some very illuminating light on this season I’m currently facing. He is not heartbroken that his mother’s second marriage has seemingly failed. He is simply happy to have more time with me. To ‘have me all to himself’, as he so beautifully and wholeheartedly stated.

My son reminded me, in his simple statement, that no matter what happens, there is always an ‘upside’. There are positives that abound, even in the company of a very disheartening season.

I may no longer have the spouse who promised to love and cherish me till death do us part. But I have something even greater… I have my two sons all to myself. For the swiftly moving hands of time that they will live under my roof.

My oldest is 13, and my youngest son is 11. That doesn’t leave many years until they go away to college, meet that special woman of their dreams, and begin a life of their very own. As rich and bountiful as the love between a mother and son, I know that once my sons have a family of their own, my relationship with each child must take a sacrificial backseat.

Rather than see this season through the lens of recurring punishment and deep disappointment, I’m choosing to look at it with the rose-colored, beyond-his-years insight of my 11-year-old son.

The time we have together is a gift, and I plan to take full advantage of every single magical moment we are allowed.

Time spent is more about quality than quantity. Both are in high demand and short supply. Yet, when life is unpredictably cleared of excess that doesn’t seem to belong, we are given a rare opportunity to hold tight to that which remains.

The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3:1-8 (NIV), talks about ‘seasons of life’.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Could it be that this season, with certain elements that are undeniably painful, is also a blessing in disguise?

Perhaps my Holy Father is allowing my focus during this time to be solely centered on the two humans that need me most in this world. The love of my sons and our close relationship are the most important things on earth to this momma’s heart.

I may be sad about yet another failed romance. But the lifelong, deep, and abiding love of God is with me, and I’m reminded of it every day as I enjoy every second with the two greatest loves of my life. My sons.