I Put My Kids Before My Husband, Now We Are Divorced

Two months after I walked down the aisle with my husband, we started trying to have a child.

“I’m not ready to have kids yet,” he said.

“I read it takes at least 6-months of trying. By the time we actually get pregnant, and have the baby, it will be almost a year and a half from now, I bet.” He agreed that he would be ready by that point and placed his right hand on my left thigh as we drove down the road.

We tried exactly one time, and I found out a few weeks later I was pregnant. I was over the moon and in the months that followed I burst into every room and told everyone I knew. My husband was excited too, but nowhere near as excited as I was.

mom and daughter
After I had my children, things were different; I was different.

I Couldn’t Wait to Become a Mom

In high school, I couldn’t wait to be a mom. In college, my roommate and I had serious goals about getting married, settling down, and becoming mothers by a certain age. I wanted to stay home and care for my kids and make pies and sew them matching outfits.

While my friends talked about moving to Boston, becoming lawyers, and getting their Master’s degree, I wanted to keep chickens and host dinner parties. I couldn’t wait to have kids and take them trick-or-treating for Halloween, and make cupcakes to take to school on their birthday.

And when my kids came to me, I felt like I’d met them before. They became such a part of my soul, I ate, slept, and breathed them and I had no head space for anything else. Not even my husband. After I became a mom, I started giving him a sliver of what I used to.

A friend of me told me while I was pregnant with my first that after he was born I wouldn’t like my husband as much. I told her there was no way I could imagine that. She said to trust her on this one. “I couldn’t stand the sight of my husband after Miranda was born. It goes away though.”

Then, it happened. The first day my husband went back to work. I sat all day staring at my child. I’m not sure I even put him down once. His face was small and smooth and oink. His lips were perfect, his eyes the bluest blue I’d ever seen. I gave him a million kisses and smelled him a million times, it was intoxicating.

After several hours of that, my husband walked in the door ready to see his wife and his new child. His head looked huge and hairy. He leaned in because he wanted a kiss from his wife, something I always did after greeting him at the door.

His face was prickly, and he didn’t smell like he used to.

As the months passed, he wanted more alone time with me. He wanted to go on dates. He wanted our sex life to go back to what it used to be.

But it was different; I was different. And it never went away like my friend said it would.

I didn’t want to leave my child to go to dinner. I was worried he wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t put him to bed. What if he cried the whole time I was gone? What if something happened to him? There was no way I could live with myself if there was an accident while I’d been having a carefree dinner with his father. I waited for the feeling to leave me. I wanted to relax enough to enjoy a dinner out with my husband.

We had two more kids, and my feelings never changed. I sunk deeper into motherhood, giving my kids all of me, all the time. I was touched out. I was maxed out. I never took breaks because I thought my kids couldn’t survive without me being by their side all the time. We’d go out to dinner, and have dates and I couldn’t wait to get home. Thinking about taking a trip with just my husband gave me so much anxiety, he stopped bring it up.

He stopped trying, and before long, our worlds were divided.

It sounds ridiculous now. I’m still not sure what I was so worried about. Looking back, I not only put my kids first, I stopped making my relationship with their father a priority. Now, we are divorced.

Of course, there is always more to the story, and I don’t take all the blame. I wanted him to notice my mothering skills, but he never did. I wanted him to tell me to take a break every once in a while and just take over, but he told me time and time again he couldn’t handle it. “I’ll take one to the park, or to Home Depot, but I can’t do more than that,” he’d say and then add, “Can you get them ready for me?”

But maybe he didn’t want to take on more because I didn’t make him feel as important as I did before we had kids. Perhaps my anxiety about being a good mom was unattractive and he didn’t understand the woman I’d become, the woman who was always afraid to leave them. It’s hard to know exactly what broke us because there were so many situations, experiences, and differences between us. We clearly had different ideas about how we wanted to be as a family.

I know I did the best I could in the moment– it felt unnatural to me to leave my kids and not give them one hundred percent of me. And he suffered because of it; we suffered because of it and there have been many days I’ve wished I could have a do-over. But I can’t, what’s done is done and I have to believe we took the path we were supposed to take. I’ve told him that I have regrets. I’ve apologized. We both decided to move on from one another.

Every time we are together and I look at my children, I know we were meant to have kids together. Even now that we aren’t married, we co-parent really well together and this situation somehow feels right. That’s what I have to focus on now.

But, if I ever find love again, and I sure hope I do, I will learn from my past mistakes.

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

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About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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