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Real MOM Monday: How do you talk about past mistakes?

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“You can only go forward by making mistakes.”

- Alexander McQueen


When I was 21, I got married. 7 years later, I got divorced. The dissolution of the marriage was finalized in 30 days from start to finish.

It is not my intention to sound nonchalant about this heavy life moment, but in my case, my 7-year marriage with no children and no mortgage ended faster and easier than some of my friends’ 3-year dating relationships.

It feels like a lifetime ago really – like I was another person. And though, I am not private or secretive about that phase of my life – I am farther and farther removed from it everyday to the point of forgetting. I believe that certain mistakes should be forgotten. But this is one that I don’t want to forget - not for myself, but for Olive.

In the last few weeks, Olive has started talking in full sentences to the point of having meaningful conversations. Yes – sometimes they center on the story line of a Princess Sophia episode, but they are also more than that. We are working on her bedtime prayers and what they mean. We chat about the weather and why it’s foggy outside. We discuss why pink polka dot tights might be a little too loud for a red and navy plaid dress in great detail. You know…big time stuff. But my point is that she is really starting to understand the world around her. It got me thinking about when is the right time to mention my big D.

Part of me thought about shoving it under the rug all together. I got married before the digital age. There are no online wedding albums, the printed ones are long gone, and the dress went to Goodwill ages ago. But is that the kind of mother I want to be? While I do not plan to share every mistake of my past with Olive (there is simply not enough time in the day!) I would like for her to have the chance to learn from some of my most obvious ones. I want her to know why getting married at 21 was wrong for me, not that it is wrong. I think there is a big difference. I want her to know why getting divorced was right for me, not that it is right - another big difference.

So the question really is – how young is too young to start the “Big D” conversation?

In the case of Olive, Brett and I decided that the present was a good a time as any. So, from time to time when it fits into a conversation that Brett and I are having while Olive is in the room, we briefly mentioned that, “mommy was married before daddy – for a short time and then she got divorced.” We add the fact that I was very young and didn’t know myself well enough to make such a big life decision, and then we go on to say that I love daddy very much and we take special care of our relationship so we will always be together.

To date – her responses include: “More blueberries please”, “ok- mama”, and “do you want to read Sophia book?”

I think it’s safe to say that we are not getting anywhere. Yet. Our hope is that by starting this conversation early, Olive will discover knowledge over fear. More than anything, I want her to know that she can count on me to be honest with her and that she can come to me with anything.

As I type this, Olive is curled up next to me in all her 2-year old perfectness. And to her, I am perfect right now too. I know there is an expiration date on that. My flaws will become more apparent to her everyday – though hers will just make me love her more. I suppose it’s just one of the endless and unexpected joys of motherhood – loving them more as each day passes. Loving them more than you love yourself. Loving them enough to turn life’s failures into life lessons.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcomed. Are any of you struggling with something similar? I would love to know how you are planning to or are currently handling this topic.

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