Most single moms have a personalized list of things they’d like to leave behind.
In fact, “Leave it behind” could be a single mom’s mantra. I’m telling you right now, if Taylor Swift hadn’t written the song Shake it Off, a single mom would have.
Hurt and struggling to heal. Misunderstood and feeling alone. Facing a “new normal” that includes sharing their children—when their children are the only thread they’re hanging onto. It’s very tempting to want to push it all behind us, swallow hard, and move forward. The world encourages it. Our friends encourage it. Even the legal system encourages it.
But pushing forward and “leaving it all behind” has its good side and bad side.
In many ways, it’s a good idea. There’s likely a lot of pain in the past that can only be healed by the sweet release that comes with time and distance.
But, as we’re letting go, we need to make sure that we don’t also leave the good behind—and pretend it was never there—for our children’s sake. Because their future is also shaped by their past. Their genetic makeup is made up of two parents. And a time will come in their lives when they will look back and wonder at the parts of each of their parents, and how a tiny bit of each is also a part of them.
If we’ve made those parts out to be horrible, or a mistake, or something unforgiveable—it wounds no one more than it wounds our children.
That’s why as we let the hurt go and leave it behind, we can’t slough off everything completely. We need to let go with grace. We need to examine where we’ve been. And search to find the good that might have also been at some point in our past. To remember the moments of joy. To recall the parts of our previous partner that were good, and maybe even admirable.
To help everyone involved to heal, so that leaving it behind doesn’t leave a scarlet thread tied to the past, called bitterness.
Because we will always be family. And as a family, we need to leave this breaking point behind us in a healthy way. So that everyone can move past it and not allow it to define our futures. In fact, one of the greatest gifts we can leave behind for our children—even though their original family is no longer intact–is a legacy of failure that was healed by forgiveness.
So they can see that forgiveness—true forgiveness—does exist, because they’ve witnessed it firsthand. They’ve lived through it. And that when it’s coupled with grace, can leave everyone a future worth looking forward to.
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