I lost my spark and needed to learn to be happy again. I worked hard! For roughly five years, I worked full time, raised 2 young children, and earned my Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees. I had a husband, at the time, that stepped up in his role as father while I was in evening and weekend classes and while I studied. I nailed it at school, earning recognition on the Dean’s List throughout my Associates program and earning Magna Cum Laude honors at graduation from my Bachelor’s program. I was still earning bonuses at work for meeting sales goals. Prior to graduating, I accepted a full time position at my choice company to launch my career. Everything seemed to line up perfectly.

Never mind how unhappy I was at home. I thought for sure it would get better when I wasn’t in school full time and studying every night. I thought stress levels would go down. I assumed finances would be easier when I had a more financially rewarding career. Having kids is hard. Marriage is hard. For some reason, though, school and work never seemed hard like everything at home seemed hard. In retrospect, I can see why things were so hard at home. I can see now, that I never deserved to have my fidelity questioned every time I earned a raise, bonus or an “A”. I never deserved to be called names. I never deserved to be told I was an inconvenience to my family by making them attend my graduation. No matter how hard I worked on my education or my career, I never felt like I was good enough at home. Now I know I am good enough. Now I know I deserve to be happy exactly as I am.

Two years ago I made the decision that I was going to take control of my own life and my own happiness. I left the man I was married to for 11 years. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I knew that life wasn’t going to be the same. That is exactly what I hoped for. I knew life would be hard. I also knew, after 5 years of balancing college, career, and family, I was capable of dealing with hard. Two years ago I recognized that I needed more than a degree and a career to create happiness. I needed to take total control of my home life too. So, two years ago, I left and I have never looked back.

I planned a vacation with my children. We went out to California to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousin. It renewed my spirit and helped me see the decision I made was for the best. I deserved to be happy and my kids deserved to have a happy mother. Life was about more than living paycheck to paycheck. Life is about so much more than the arguments. Life is more than name calling and accusations. Life is about working hard, and enjoying every moment. Life is about laughter and happiness. Life is about spending time with the people that matter to me and doing the things that matter to me. My kids matter to me. My career matters to me. I knew where to refocus thanks to that vacation, two years ago.

I have learned so much about myself in the past two years. I have learned that I love the crazy exhausting challenge of being a single mother. I have learned that life doesn’t always go the way I plan. I have learned that sometimes, when life goes the other way, and things get really really hard, there is almost always a lesson to learn. I have learned that I grow the most after the hardest challenges in life. I have learned that no matter how much I influence my daughter to love math, she may still prefer the arts. I have learned that I also love creating art. I have learned that compassion typically earns a better response than anger when disciplining my children. I have learned that I have an AMAZING support system. I have learned that while I thought I would never have room in my heart for a romantic partner, that I was still capable of falling madly in love. Most importantly, I have learned that life can be wonderfully, magically, fantastically, amazingly, surprisingly good.

There is something AMAZING about taking the time to reflect on your life. Today, as I enjoy my first vacation with my children since my divorce was final, I am taking some time to reflect. Today I can see just how far I’ve come. I am a single mom. I have a rewarding career. I have faced significant challenges and I have overcome them. I bought a home on my own. I have built a fantastic life for my children and myself. I faced some of my biggest fears and I am still smiling. I see how far my children have come in the last two years, too. They have changed schools and made new friends. They have started to be involved in after-school activities, and they love it. Their personalities are growing. They are kind and thoughtful. They see every move I make and they appreciate me. They made me cry the happiest tears on Mother’s Day.

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I guess what I want to say is that sometimes the hardest choice is the best. It is easy to stay in a bad marriage for good reasons. Children. Religion. Parents. Family. Self-Sacrifice. Vows. While all of these are good reasons to fight for a marriage, for me it was also important to fight for myself. Here I am, a divorced working mother. Here I am, the happiest I have ever been in my life. My happiness was worth all of the judgement. My happiness was worth all of the pain I had to go through to get here. Happiness is absolutely worth fighting for. Happiness is worth IT. Whatever IT is.

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Be happy.

~Bettering Bonnie