Thursday, June 11, 2009

Beating Up the Widow

I have been reflecting on the disparaging nature of my ex-husband's recent emails. I am glad that he has had an opportunity to vent and that I finally have some clarification of why he sought the divorce. But at the same time I am dismayed by the constant barrage of criticism that I have received since widowhood. I have tried to understand why so many people in my life felt like they could be critical of what I did or didn't do.

Take for example one of the things my ex brought up - fast food. I know my reliance on fast food always bothered him. But what alternatives did I have? At the time I was caring for my gravely ill parents, I also had the responsibility of parenting the boys. Their sports schedules made it difficult to be at home much and oftentimes we'd grab a Subway sandwich or McDonald's for a 10:00 p.m. dinner. The ironic thing is that there were plenty of other intact families with only one son in a sport and the mom not working who were eating at fast food places as much as we were. There isn't much choice when you're on the road for a weekend travel baseball tournament 30 miles from home and need to be at the field at 7:00 a.m.! Have I liked eating so much fast food? Absolutely not! But you do what you have to do and in cutting corners something has to be the casualty and in this case it was home cooked meals.

The funny thing is that the past two Sundays after working 8 hours on Sat. and then Sun., I've been driving home at 7:30 and opted to pick up Taco Bell and Panda Express for the boys because I was too tired to be cooking by the time I'd be in the kitchen at 8:00. Something has to give.

Over the years I have been told how I should have parented, handled my finances, cared for my parents, gone on working, etc., etc., etc. Why is it so easy for others to presume that they would have done any better and be critical of my choices? And most of the criticism has come from those who have been the least involved in my life. Really, why does anyone even care where or what we eat anyway?

Has anyone else experienced this situation? How have you handled it? Why do you think it has occurred?

I know for me that I have felt taken advantage of with people coming in to work on the house (repairmen and such) as if my being alone has made it easier to pull the wool over my eyes. But why would family members and friends be so critical? What is in it for them to gain to put down a disadvantaged, single, grieving mom? Maybe one reason is that the weak are easier targets?

I do know that every decision made since my husband's death was done with the best intentions. Why on earth would anyone purposely try to make a bad decision? We all do the best we can under our circumstances and with the knowledge we have. I did the best I could.

Today I am grateful:

1. That I have been able to keep putting food on the table.
2. That we still have a roof over our heads.
3. That I have a dependable vehicle to drive.
4. That there are still unread books on my bookshelf - I have some choices left to make in my life even if only what book I am going to read next.
5. For the friends in my life who have stood by me and listened and not been critical!

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