THE POOL IS FINALLY BLUE
WORDS BY SAMANTHA WATT
edited by karin hesselvik
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
There are days when I wonder how I got from then to now. If I had to do it all again, I wonder if I could. The reality is that as a Mom, I would do it again and a million times over because that’s how I got from my lowest point to where I am today. Your children, whether you realize it or not, pull you through your pain and dark moments into smidgens of light, just enough to keep going another day. And before you know it, almost six years have passed and there you are, the same you, just put back together very differently.
I married at 29 to a man six years younger. We were happy and according to most, very well suited. I had known him for many years as he was one of my sister’s school friends. Our marriage was good, despite losing my father during our first year and surviving some very difficult family dynamics. I left my managing director position to join my husband’s fledgling agency and introduce PR as a new service. I became pregnant that same year with our first daughter, and even though I was working harder than ever, life was smiling. We grew our assets and our business. I was Mom, business-woman and wife every moment of the day. We were that couple that people assumed would grow old together. One year he decided that he wanted to study his fine arts degree, and being the sacrificial lamb, I readily accepted his decision to study full time as I ran what was largely now a PR business, while also being a Mom.
After 11 years of marriage (14 years together), it took three months for everything to fall apart. He went on a holiday with his best friend to the US, it was the second time they did this, but I was not fussed because she was a great friend (ironically, it would have been easier if SHE was the problem). By that time, we had another daughter, whom I had at 38. It was crazy hard, the pregnancy was awful and a polar opposite to my first. I was sick and weak for most of it and she was breached. During this period, my husband started drifting away. Only much later, did I understand why. But, being a Mom, I forged ahead, carried on running the business and now managing two children. I spent months walking on eggshells, being accused of not caring enough, watching too much TV, not holding his hand. He told me he had fallen out of love with me. I did everything I could, but he turned the other way.
He took another solo trip, this time to find himself and that is when the end came. Just like that, he said the words and it was over. I sat in disbelief with the phone in my hand, and took my first breath as a single mom. My husband, best friend and love, was gay. I was now not only a single Mom, but I was a Mom to kids who had a gay Dad and the complexities that follow. In South Africa, we still live in a very conservative society. The responses from people were stereotypical and although well-meaning, no one could quite understand our situation. Surviving divorce is hard, but being left for a man, even more incomprehensible. I was gutted. And now alone with two little girls. .
CALLING ALL SUPER POWERS
Dark times followed. My ex was thrust into a new world that he had visited on many occasions over the years, and there was no place for two young girls. In turn he abandoned his role as father. I was a puddle on the bathroom floor thinking there is no way I could go on. But then I heard the voices of my girls and that is all it took to pull myself together and wipe myself off the floor. Because in the end, this is what being Mom is all about. Protecting your babies. Using your super powers. I have used every single skill given to me, plus learned a trillion more to survive this journey. I didn’t know I was this person until two girls looked at me as their savior. You don’t need any more motivation that this to keep going.
I made the decision to put my career on the back burner as being an available Mom is more important right now. If I want to conquer the business world again, I will do it when I am much older. As a single mom, you don’t get to disappear into a work world and forget, because there is no back-up or plan B, there is only you. I have dedicated myself to this life, I have survived my worst fear in losing my husband, and emerged the other side, a Ginjaninja who can kick butt if she needs to. I used to exist in this form, over 20 years ago, but life, marriage, death and divorce took her punch away. She has come back in many ways, but now stronger and wiser and with her own tribe.
Ebb and Flow
There are days when I wonder if life will ever be ok because just when I think the waters are warm enough for a swim, a new storm arrives. And as the kids grow older, their needs change. We are in constant ebb and flow. So here I am now, two girls, 8 & 13. One who craves a Dad and one who says she has learned to live without him. They watch me manage our home, life and their needs and wants. I can fix just about anything, and I have finally managed to keep the pool blue. I recently told my ex that I am moving forward and that I don’t want to keep delving into the past. Writing this has been kind of hard. We have since experienced our first meal as a family in six years, as well as a coffee together with his partner.
In the end, we do it all for our children. All moms know this. I know I wouldn’t have become the person I am today if I did not have children. By having them, you reach deeper and struggle further. My love for my daughters, my role as a Mom has motivated me to do the very best for them and it always will. I am strong because I am a Mom, I am resilient because I am a Mom, I am alive because I am a Mom. And as much as they think I save them, the truth is they save me, each and every day.