So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Divorce.  You think the moment you decide is the worst moment.

Then you realize, “Nope, that’s not it. Telling the kids . . . that is the worst moment.”

Then you do that, and though you realize there is more to come that will surely be difficult, you temporarily (and incorrectly) believe the hardest is behind you.

Then there’s this whole other series of events—these unfortunate events—and you realize, “Well, crap. I’m just gonna keep getting hit with hard for a while.” 

There’s looking at the empty house, telling it goodbye for good.

RELATED: Embracing Life after Divorce

There’s your very first night in bed alone.

There’s the first night at your house all alone when your kids go to Dad’s for the first time. (There’s the realization that you are now the type of family that has kids that “go to dad’s.”)

There’s the first time you have to refer to him as your ex.

The first time you aren’t with your kids when they wake up on their birthday.

The first time they come home full of stories, and (for the first time) you have the realization that from now on, half the memories they make, you’re not going to be a part of.

There’s the first time the kids meet . . . her. Ah. Don’t even get me started. I don’t envy you on this one.

RELATED: Divorce Was Not the End of My World

It’s OK, though. Really, it is. Because with that—with ALL of that—there’s also . . . 

The first time your kids open all the windows at your new (old) house—every single one—and later that evening, not one of them will close again. They just. won’t. close.  They won’t close, they won’t latch, they won’t lock. And you Google (basically) “my windows won’t close. Help!” And looky there . . . there are all these articles and tutorials, and before you know it, you’ve fixed all the windows. By yourself. Bam.

That’s an event—a good one. 

The first time your kids leave you at noon on Christmas to go be with dad, and you think maybe you’ll just curl up and wallow in a pit of despair until they return. Until you realize that spending the next two days curled up on the couch with a bottomless cup of coffee, all the Hallmark Christmas movies you could ever want, and the stack of new books you got for Christmas is not a bad thing. Not at all. 

The first time you realize “I actually have opinions I didn’t even realize I had. Now they don’t have to be swallowed up by his anymore. (Sidenote: I like the music to be loud, thank you.)

RELATED: Divorce is Not a Scarlet Letter

The first time you book a trip, all alone, and wonder why have I never booked a trip, all alone? This is amazing.

The first time you realize you can handle it. Whatever it may be.

The first time you take a long road trip alone and know exactly what gauges to be watching on your dashboard and what the pressure in your tires should be. (I’m sorry if this is a pitiful first . . . this is a byproduct of being married since childhood and having a husband who always insisted on driving. It’s not like I didn’t know how to pump my own gas, OK?)

The first time you realize it’s not a competition. You can’t control what the other parent does, good or bad. You can just do you. Create a life. Create a home. Create memories. Lots of love. It’s not a competition—there’s freedom there. 

Yes, divorce—just like most everything else in life—is a series of unfortunate events that often lead to a series of fortunate events if you just look for them.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Hayley Hengst

Hello there! My name is Hayley Hengst. Mom to three Sweet Boy Hooligans, ages 4, 6, and 10. Regular contributor for Austin Moms, as well as my own personal blog, MotherFreaking.  Other than my boys, the things that make me happiest in life are books, coffee, warm fires, and twinkle lights. Also, queso.  You can follow me on Facebook, Hayley Hengst, or @motherfreaking.  I'm on IG as @motherfreakingmama.

Here’s to the Strong Ones Living with Type 1 Diabetes

In: Living
Pregnant mom on beach, black-and-white photo

This is a shout-out to all the sweet girls. The ones hustling so hard to live like normal. The ones with type 1 diabetes. Some of you have been living with diabetes as long as you have been breathing. Some of you are newly diagnosed and need to know someone who has been managing diabetes for years. I have been living with type 1 diabetes for 17 years, and I see you. Whether you have been diagnosed for 17 hours or 17 years, chances are I’ve felt what you feel too.  I’m here to tell you that type 1 diabetes...

Keep Reading

No Screens Before 7: How Our Family Broke Free of the Screentime Habit

In: Living, Motherhood
Kids using smartphones

“We still have three more minutes!” my 7-year-old says, bouncing with Christmas-like anticipation and excitement. “Well,” I say, looking from him to his 9-year-old sister, “what could you do for three minutes?” “Leg wrestle!” they exclaim and run to the carpeted living room. This life-filled exchange was not happening in my home just a couple of months ago.  In spite of my best efforts, screen time had taken over. Both the kids and I would slip into this zombie-like, space-time vortex. I would look up and know it wasn’t healthy, but it was just so easy to just keep on...

Keep Reading

You Don’t Have to Lose Yourself to Be a Good Mom

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman brushing wet hair

There is nothing wrong with losing yourself in motherhood. Diving in head first, serving your kids and spouse endlessly, never asking for a break, being proud for providing an amazing childhood for your kids, and allowing mom to become your entire identity. But what if you don’t want that?  When did this become the standard of motherhood we are all expected to achieve? Why does society say the best mom is the one that’s 110% physically and emotionally available for her kids all the time and never does anything for herself? Why are you less of a mom if you...

Keep Reading

Witch, Please! Hocus Pocus 2 Release Date Means the Sanderson Sisters Countdown Is ON

In: Living
Bette Middler in Hocus Pocus 2 on Disney+

“Lock up your children!” screeches Winifred Sanderson (played by Bette Midler) in the teaser trailer for Disney’s long-awaited Hocus Pocus 2 movie. But I say, “Mark your calendars!” Disney revealed the release date for this much-anticipated sequel and I’m happy to report that the Sanderson sisters will be flying above Salem and to your Disney+ stream on September 30th! The countdown is ON! Check out the trailer and get excited! But first, a confession:  I have to be honest, I was 16 when the original Hocus Pocus came out, but for some reason I never saw it until I was...

Keep Reading

Good Dads Make Great Grandpas

In: Grown Children, Living
Grandpa walking with two grandsons, color photo

This is not only written for my dad, but for all the dads out there who aren’t the typical, everyday dads. The hands-on dad, the dad who goes on bike rides, the dad who watches his grandbabies. The dad who creates a legacy whether he realizes it or not. The world needs more of you.  It’s not every day you get a dad who enters a diaper changing contest and comes in second place. Yes, that happened to my dad. He would take me up to the local mall to walk around and one of the stores was holding a...

Keep Reading

Dear Friend, I Don’t Want To Lose You

In: Friendship
Two women smiling, color photo

I’m sorry I don’t text you like I should. I’m sorry I don’t call you like I should. I’m sorry I don’t check in to see how you are. I’m sorry this friendship can feel one-sided at times. I’m sorry I’m so distant. The truth is I’m struggling. I’m struggling with life. I’m struggling with finances. I’m struggling with trying to please everyone and do everything. RELATED: Check on Your “Strong” Friend, She’s Faking it The problem is I try to please everyone—everyone who doesn’t matter. My problem is I’ve gotten so content with our friendship that I know you’ll...

Keep Reading

I Want You To Miss Your Childhood One Day Too

In: Kids, Living
Kids jumping off dock into lake

What I miss the most about childhood is owning my whole heart. Before I gave pieces of it away to others who weren’t always careful with it. And some, who never gave the pieces back. I miss my knowing. My absolute faith that my mother’s arms could fix just about everything and what her arms couldn’t, her cookies could. When my biggest grievance was not getting my way. I miss feeling whole, unblemished. Before words cut me. Before people had taken up space in my mind, created permanent movies that were ugly and still play on repeat at times. Before...

Keep Reading

I Traded My Body for This Full Life

In: Living, Motherhood
Happy family smiling

It was supposed to be the happiest time of my life. I was cradling my firstborn child—my rainbow baby—tenderly in my arms as she contentedly nursed. I looked down at this beautiful miracle, unable to mirror her blissful content. Six weeks after the birth, I was still feeling like garbage. Being a first-time mom, I figured the fatigue was par for the course. My other symptoms, however, were suspect. Will I see my daughter grow up? were my thoughts as the streams of grief flowed, pooling on her swaddle. At my medical check-up, I brought my concerns to my doctor...

Keep Reading

The Truth is I’m Drowning

In: Living
Woman with hand on face sad

I find myself sinking. Really disappearing. Everyone around me sees me. They see my smile, my involvement, my willingness to please and participate. No one notices how easily I shift between despair and real tears and conforming to what the situation requires of me. Sometimes this shift happens within the matter of minutes.  Not waving, but drowning. I’m on a weight loss journey. The scale told me I am down just over four pounds. And I feel really good about that. I know I have another 15 to 20 to go, but I am four down. I made a promise...

Keep Reading

Older Kids with Special Needs Can Get Overlooked, and it’s Lonely

In: Living, Motherhood
Two hands held together next to a wheelchair, black-and-white photo

Middle school is tough. I have three girls—two of them now teenagers—so I know firsthand how tween insecurities can quickly spiral into friend drama and subtle bullying. I’ve watched my girls get left out and left behind, and we’ve had lots and lots of talks about what it means to be a good friend. And as much as I want to tell you it doesn’t hit differently with my third daughter, I can’t. Because it does. When your tween daughter is in a wheelchair and has endured—and is still enduring—health and physical challenges that would destroy an adult, a mama’s...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime