True Fears

MomsGetReal™ Poet Extraordinaire Tammy Bartholomew

True fears

Locked deep inside

Some days

Run and hide

Stand for what we believe

Afraid to be put in our place

A deep scar

Left upon our face

Fear of being alone

Not knowing what to do

Someone not there to hold you

Your whole life through

Jealousy

You might have been replaced

Not knowing where you stand

In a moment you’re erased

Trust you have built

In the face of another

Knowing it to be broken

Crushed and uncovered

Your soul

Torn apart

When he said I have

No more love in my heart

Death

From the day were born

Knowing when we leave

Our loved ones left to morn

Sit in silence

Waiting the next move

Who’s will it be

Don’t know what to do

Overwhelmed

How this will end

This chapter over

How to live again

Change and Transition After Divorce – Survival Tips

Getting Real With Tammy Bartholomew

It’s amazing how one conversation over instant messaging makes you realize how much you could help someone else by sharing.  As the dust started to settle since my divorce in 2009, and yes it does take years to settle, it’s amazing the change and transition my teenagers and I have went through. We, as mothers have to go through so many changes sometimes we forget so do our kids and do we slow down to try an understand?

Often, I don’t think we do. It takes our kids acting out, going into depressions, having anxiety attacked, failing in school, throwing fits for us to wake up and see we are not the only ones affected. They say kids are resilient and will bounce back like a rubber band but holy crap watch out when then rubber band breaks!  While we are dealing with our mental disaster trying to maintain a life we once had they are too.

When I was applying for jobs, I was encouraged to read a book called Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges. You can find it at your local library or on Amazon for around $15 for the hard copy. It gives a lot of examples about adults changing, the work place and how we change and deal with transition. As I read on, I realized my kids where stuck in this transition as I was. It said change is situational which we can all deal daily, but transition is psychological. Ding, ding, ding…was that my kids and I? Change is easy for us, we move, we go do new schools, we meet new people, but the transition is all in our heads. We are comfortable with the past, get stuck in LaLa Land and afraid of the future. Our goal is how do we go forward?

Trying different ingredients, because we know not all kids are the same, here are a couple solutions I tried with my teenagers: Counseling is definitely needed through the process. I went for two years, why would I not put my kids in it? They need someone to talk to just like I did. And, no I don’t care if you’re sons say they don’t need it; in time they will. You don’t want them to be your age carrying around all this unprocessed information. Girls play it out in emotion and drama. My daughter has been an roller coaster for a while like since 4th grade. She is a 7th grader now. Love her to death but we have dealt with so much drama I have declared it as really over-exaggeration now. She has gone several time and now she is empowered herself and tells me when she needs to go to counseling. Also, I am not a doctor but meds might be necessary. Your kid may not think so but for your sanity, you might want to consider it. Take notes of what and how they are feeling because when you take them to the doctor they clam up and look like angels, even when they are hurting so badly inside. There are some natural remedies also that work. It definitely made a different as my son hated school and went from A’s and B’s to D’s and F’s. Exercise is a great, a bike ride, game of tennis,  or an evening walk with the dogs. We have three, Mikey, our Chaweinie, Bear, the Pomeranian and Brownie Girl, my rat terrier. See when the mental is good, it is all good!

Keep Smiling! Tammy

The Venomous Side of Divorce – Healing through Poetry

We are  privileged to have in our midst a contributor who is willing to share the deepest moments of her painful experience of lost love, divorce, and reclaiming her life. Thank you, Tammy, for sharing with us!! MomsGetReal™ is happy to share your creative efforts with our readers. Contact Shadra for more information about how you can contribute.

Poet Extraordinaire Tammy Bartholomew

A Snake

What explanation
My hero for life
Warrior and protector
Stabbing with a knife

Except you
Felt like a guest
Thinking our home
Your head a place to rest

Not the case

Stranger in our home

Not wanting to be

Left all alone
The perfect couple
Communication and all
We had problems
Never an order this tall

What the hell happened
Embarrassed by you
Our family and friends
What do I do

Pictures on the wall
Of people and places
Was believable
Now all empty faces

People ask me
Is he screwing around
Just kept denying it
You never making a sound

Covering your ass
Through the investigation
Knowing all along
The military implications

Fight for our country
Stand to the enemy
But you couldn’t even
Stand to tell me

I’m sure
Qatar was a joy
That’s when it started
You acted so coy
When did you
Have feelings for her
The ones you didn’t have
She being be a better lure

Was it after

The investigation

You got heavy

About our separation

Know what
Pisses me off the most
The idea you thought
This situation you could coast

Continue lying
To our family and friends
You didn’t care
If they trusted you again

It’s an excuse
A game not played well
At this moment
You can go straight to hell

Trying to save face
Probably my mistake
Lessons I’ve learned
Never trust a slimy snake

Spell From Hell

MomsGetReal™ Poet Extraordinaire Tammy Bartholomew

My makeup goes on
Over my swollen eyes
Can’t you see
It’s just a disguise
Hide the pain
This evil spell
Trying to get out of
This living hell
Smiling friends
They think I’m alright
Know something is wrong
From the pain I fight
Makeup comes off
To discover
I have just lost
My best friend and my lover
Sharing is too painful
Start to pretend
Get up in the morning
Do it again
Days go by
Just pretend
Hopefully soon
This spell from hell will end

Take the High Road

What happens when the war never ends? What do you do when it has been several years since your divorce and the war continues on? There have been changes over the years. There have been changes in jobs. There have been changes in residence. Yet one thing remains the same. Your x-spouse still feels the need to belittle you and bad mouth you to your children, or at the very least they allow their new spouse to carry on in this way. What do you do? Well, as hard as it may be. YOU TAKE THE HIGH ROAD.

The only ones this behavior hurts are the children. As hard as it is, you have to refrain from joining in this juvenile behavior. Rest assured that as your children grow and mature and become young adults, they will see where the manipulation originates. It is of utmost importance for you to protect your future relationship with your children by not partaking in this sort of behavior. You will ensure that you have a clear conscience knowing that you have never talked badly about your children’s other parent.

This is certainly not the easiest thing you will ever do, nor the most difficult. But taking the high road and maintaining your own personal dignity for the sake of your children is definitely worth the effort. It will pay off in the long run. And all of this will be clear to your children as they grow up and have families of their own. They will see right through what was happening. You have to decide now which end of the spectrum you want to be on. What light do you want your children to see you in? I know for myself I want my children to know that I did the best that I could possibly do and I put my own feelings aside for the benefit of them and their well being.

Effects of Divorce

It is so sad to see how deeply and far reaching the effects of divorce can be for children. It is not just their own parent’s divorce that they have to deal with but sometimes the divorce of friend’s parents and other people that are involved in children’s lives. These changes can be difficult situations for them to work through.

I remember after my divorce, there was an older couple that would help me by watching my children when I had to work on Saturdays. The children loved going to see their “adoptive grandparents”. It was so nice to have someone that I trusted to babysit the children and a have a place that the children sincerely loved to go. We were all very saddened to find out that they had decided to get a divorce. It was difficult for the children to understand that divorce doesn’t happen only to people that still have children at home, but truly can affect anyone at any time in their lives.

This adjustment was especially difficult for the children to adapt to as they had just lost their nana a couple of years before. While Rosa did not replace my mom, she was able to provide that grandmotherly love and fun that only a grandma can provide. They so loved the Saturdays that they were able to spend with them and there was a very real grieving process once that was no longer possible.

As an adult it has been difficult for me to accept that people come into our lives and sometimes do not (and possibly are not meant to) stay forever. I believe that this is a difficult concept to teach children, especially as they are in the midst of the loss. I think the best thing that I have done for my children is to show them that it is okay to grieve. It is okay to cry. They have seen that sometimes amazingly wonderful people come into our lives and we need to enjoy them while they are here because they might not be forever.

Divorce

Divorce has many long lasting effects on everyone involved. If you are lucky enough, which not many of us are, to have an amicable divorce that is just a smooth parting of your ways, then my hat is off to you. In most cases, however, divorces are not that easy. And more often than not divorce involves children. Divorce in itself is hard enough on the couple involved but when you add children to that mix it is truly a recipe for disaster. Yet, obviously, divorce is a definite reality for a lot of families.

In a divorce situation children are the true victims. They have no say in what happens or how it happens. Children can end up feeling helpless and sometimes even responsible for the broken family. It is vitally important that the adults in these situations do their best to protect and reassure the children that it is the marriage that failed and not the children themselves.

While my divorce was fairly amicable, the worst part of my personal situation has been since the divorce and then remarriage of my children’s father. Unfortunately, we can’t control the person that our ex-spouse marries or, for the most part, the situation and environment that they choose to live in and expose our children to. While I won’t go into the details of this situation, suffice it to say that I never thought that my children and I would be facing the situations and events that we have over the last several years.

I am proud to say that through all of this I have always kept my children’s best interest, safety, and well-being top of mind. Nothing in this world is more important to me than my children and helping to ensure that they have the best possible chances to thrive and be successful at everything they do, regardless of their parent’s decision to divorce.


Keeping Family Close

Keeping Family Close
Keeping Family Close

When my mom was a kid and her parents divorced, she didn’t see her dad for almost a decade…until she was married and had a child of her own (me) and decided to reach out. My husband’s parents divorced and he never built a relationship with his father, who passed away when Dave was in his 20s. He has remained disconnected from his father’s family even though they live in a neighboring town. My kids’ biological mother has chosen not to have an active role in her children’s lives, even though we’ve given her every opportunity to be involved. It is difficult for me to understand her choice, and I am seeing the effects of it in the way the kids respond to her (or choose not to, in the case of our oldest son). While we cannot force her to be more involved, I do not want our kids to lose contact with the rest of their biological family.

Our children have aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents with whom they have virtually no contact because of their mother’s choice not to be involved in their lives. I know from speaking to their great-grandmother and grandmother that this is extremely painful for them. Our oldest son was ten and the twins were six when my husband divorced their mom, and up to that point, her family had been actively involved in the kids’ lives.  When she decided not to have custody or even partake in her visitation rights, it did not just affect the kids; it affected all of the family who had been close to them.

Since my husband was “the enemy” for leaving the marriage, reaching out to the family was difficult for him to do; I tried to help, but as the new wife, I was even less popular. The kids weren’t old enough in the beginning to make the efforts on their own, and now that they are old enough, they don’t know the family well enough to be willing to make the effort. With our oldest son, he flat out refuses to have anything to do with his biological mother.

While I hope that your situation is not as difficult, I know that there are even worse cases of “disconnect” out there. For the sake of the kids, finding ways to keep their relatives in their lives might be as important to you as it was to me.  While it wasn’t always successful, we did find small ways to help the kids connect with their mom’s family:

•Use holidays as an excuse to bring family closer. While sharing Christmas dinner together might not be feasible, it does not take much time at all to put together a specific family newsletter that talks about the kids and what they did with their year that doesn’t expound on your honeymoon, new baby, or new house. Include lots of pictures.

•The kids’ birthdays are always a good time to include everyone. Have a birthday party at a place other than your home, like a skating rink or a pizza place. Invite cousins and other family members to attend. Being in neutral territory will make it easier for the family to participate, and the focus will be on the kids, not on the ex-husband and his new wife.

•School functions always make it easy. This is one time where you can have even the youngest school-age child call grandma or auntie and say, “We’re having a school program. Will you come?” Just knowing that the kids still want them involved helps bridge the gap.

Divorce is never easy. When bitter feelings aren’t resolved, the ones who suffer in the long run are the children. It would have been easy for me to not even worry about it, but I couldn’t imagine not being able to see my aunts and uncles or grandparents, no matter what the reason, so I kept trying. I sent pictures to the other grandma every year, and made accomodations wherever possible to allow the relationship to flourish.

Family counselors often encourage adults to act like grown-ups and put their issues aside for the sake of the kids. It’s not always possible if all of the adults aren’t willing to do that, but it is worth trying. Kids who have been through a divorce need all the love and reassurance they can get – from everyone who loves them.

Maintaining Stability for Kids During Divorce

Protecting Kids During Divorce
Protecting Kids During Divorce

In the midst of divorce and the subsequent changes that happen in the children’s lives, maintaining stability becomes one of the most important factors in making children feel secure.  When my husband. Dave, and his wife divorced and he realized he would have full custody of the children (it was supposed to be 50/50, but she opted not to take any custody at all) Dave made some key decisions that helped his kids feel safe during such a stressful time.  I admire him for the sacrifices he made for his children.  I think that the way he handled things made a huge difference in the kids’ ability to adjust and cope.

One of the decisions he made was to keep the house they were living in.  While it was painful for him to have the constant reminder of what was, for the kids, it meant very little changed in their routines: they went to the same school, slept in the same bedrooms, and knew where everything was.  Of course they had to adjust to their mother’s absence, and the changes that occurred as she moved certain things out of the house, but for the most part the kids were surrounded by the familiar. While you may not be able to keep your home in a divorce, choosing to live in the same school district and in a familiar area can help your kids adjust.

The other thing Dave demanded was that nothing – not even things that belonged to his ex-wife – be removed from the kids’ rooms; their rooms were sacred and off limits for any kind of change. It meant she had to leave behind a blanket that was in Kira’s room and a couple of pictures in the boys’ room, but it also meant that the kids were not confronted with her absence in their bedrooms.

He communicated with the children’s teachers and counselors (Kira was in Kindergarten, Kyle was in a special school for the disabled, and Derek was in second grade).  He made sure the school knew how to reach him at all times; he personally walked the kids to school every morning and was there to pick them up every afternoon.  He continued their extracurricular activities – soccer and gymnastics – so that everything felt as “normal” as possible.

Finally, because Dave had been working nights and his wife had been home with the kids, he gave up his career so that he could be with the kids at night.  He took a low-paying restaurant job that allowed him to work only when the kids were in school.  Their budget was tight, but the kids had their dad with them whenever they weren’t in school.

Providing stability to the life of a child whose parents are divorcing is critical to their well-being. Making these sacrifices wasn’t difficult for Dave – it was all done out of love and an instinct to protect his kids from any further heartache.

Helping Kids Adjust When Family Structure Changes

One of the biggest challenges facing kids of divorced parents is attempting to live up to the expectations of all of the adults in their lives – moms, dads, stepmoms, and stepdads.  When the adults use the child as a weapon or a wedge, the person who loses the most is the child.  There is a direct correlation between the behavior of children in school, their social functioning, and the stability and security of their home life.

Kids can survive divorce, remarriage, and new family structures.  Kids are versatile, adaptable, and capable of learning to live by multiple sets of different rules.  (They do it between school and home, between home and Grandma’s house all the time)!  That versatility in your child stems directly from the security and safety they have with their surroundings.

If ex-spouses or stepparents are always fighting with each other, using the child as either a point of negotiation or a threat, the child feels diminished and objectified.  No, your child will not necessarily be able to put that in words to you, but at any given age, you’ll experience the results: younger children become clingy and whiny and may regress; older children become violent and angry or withdraw.

Don’t assume your stepchild is simply acting out or misbehaving.  As a stepparent, certainly don’t take it personally or assume the child is behaving the way he is simply to punish you.  Look for the underlying cause of the behavior.  Try to determine whether the child might be feeling neglected or insecure.  Talk to your stepchild; reassure him or her that you are there for him or her and want to help.

All of the adults in the child’s life should be working to create a safe and harmonious environment for the child.  The safer the child feels, the less stress there will be on the entire family.  Stepparents can play a key role in creating this environment for their stepchildren by consistently reassuring the children with your actions.  By listening to, respecting, and communicating with your stepchildren you can help the child understand that you are not a threat.

Open communication is critical – it’s important that you talk to your kids about the changes that will be happening in their lives.  You and your spouse should work together to ensure that you maintain open communication with children and stepchildren – whether you see them every other weekend or they live with you full-time. Make sure to listen to their concerns about the way things are changing and acknowledge the concerns they have.

You can build a healthy blended family, but it takes the effort of all of the grown-ups to make it possible.  Children need to know that they are wanted and loved, regardless of custody, marriage, or new siblings.