Mother of two and primary school teacher Sarah Brown shares her thoughts on parenting after divorce and life as a single mother…
The hardest thing about divorce? I think it is letting go of the dream of what you thought being a family is. It has taken me five years to really get my head around that fact. We are a great family just the way we are now. One of the first things I did after my ex-husband Andy and I separated was to get this family portrait done of just the girls and me. I needed that visual confirmation that this was us now and we were going to be ok. I am a visual person and to look at the portrait of the three of us really helped to cement the new reality of this new family dynamic. My father also asked me, “What can I do to make you happy?” and I cheekily replied, “A Kitchen Aid would make me really happy”. And as I am blessed with the most supportive and loving family, the lavish investment of a pink Kitchen Aid did indeed make me very happy (and has kept me happy for over five years!). Creating memories through baking beautiful things has really been one of our family pleasures. I really do appreciate now it is about the little things you do together as a family, such as baking and cooking together, that is important. Creating rich memories, making new traditions are life’s treasures. The best advice I got was to keep busy and distracted in that first year after separating. I seemed to take that advice to the extreme by training for the New York Marathon while retraining to be a primary school teacher. I was too busy to dwell in the sadness of it all, life went on in a whirl of busyness. Now five years down the track, this is our new normal and I no longer need to be distracted. I have learnt to embrace this chapter. The girls and I are content and happy and thriving. We love each other’s company and value being together.
The family portrait Brown had taken after she separated
Shared custody definitely requires some pretty tolerant communication and a willingness to get along not only for the children but also for your own wellbeing. I am lucky that my ex-husband Andy is a great father and although our marriage didn’t survive we have made our new family dynamic work for our girls and also for us the best we can. Over the years I have tried to date but it is hard when you have children and ex’s to juggle. I have learnt to be relaxed about the future. I have no idea if someone else will cross my path that I will want to blend with, creating a new family dynamic. I only know now my focus is on the ‘today’. The girls and I are happy and content and to me that is priceless. Family is family is family, whatever shape or size or dynamic you come in. Life always brings changes and learning to make those changes work for you is one of the keys to happiness I now believe. A wise lady once told me that life is about chapters. This is one chapter, maybe even several, but it isn’t how the story ends. I am happy. The girls are happy. I am embracing this stage and forever hopeful for some lovely new chapters to come.