‘Why did you keep having kids if you weren’t happy?’ I was the ‘bad guy’ for breaking up my family.’: Single mom of 4 navigates life after divorce, ‘Happiness comes first’

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“‘You’re a single mom of four. Why did you continue to have kids if you weren’t happy?’ This is the number one question people tend to ask. Sometimes I get upset with the question and want to respond in a not so nice way, but then I realize they didn’t live my life and they don’t know my story, so how could I blame them for being curious?

As a little girl, I’ve always wanted a house full of kids. I remember having to give a presentation in my nurse aid class on what I envisioned my future looking like. It was to get married young and have 20 kids. I remember my sweet teacher looking at me and saying, ’20 kids, huh?’ Well, let’s just say that number has gone down drastically.

I got married at 18 and a year later, I had my first child, a sweet little boy, Amar. He was born prematurely and I ended up having postpartum depression. Back then, I didn’t know much about it or what I was experiencing. I just knew I’d stay up all night watching his sweet little chest just to make sure he was breathing. I remember lying in bed crying. What if I wasn’t ready for this? What if I’m a terrible mom? What if something happens to him?

Courtesy of Alma Kandzetovic

2 years later, we had our second little boy, Aydin. I had all the nerves of having a second child. How would the first handle not being an only child? How will I give enough attention to both? What if he feels less loved? All those worries quickly vanished when the baby came. The bond of siblings is unbreakable.

We were now 4 years into our marriage. Our focus was on our kids, work, and purchasing a bigger home. We fought a lot about finances, drinking, and communication. I feel like the first two could easily be fixed if the communication was there. I would start talking about a serious issue and would never get anything from him. I felt like I was talking to a wall most of the time. Our problems had gotten so bad at one point I was ready to leave. I’m the ride or die type of person and leaving would have to be the last option, but it had gotten to the point where it was the only option. Drunk nights end up being actions and words that couldn’t be taken back. I had packed up all my things and was ready to go. I remember him crying and saying he’d change and he loved me, so of course, I stayed. Our problems would get better for a few weeks and sometimes months, but it would always go back to the same thing.

Courtesy of Alma Kandzetovic

At this point, I was extremely unhappy behind closed doors, but from the outside looking in, we were the perfect family. Once we buy a bigger home, maybe things would get better and we’d be happier. Maybe if we saved up more money, it would fix all of our problems. Maybe if we just take this one vacation for ourselves, everything would magically change.

Truth is, nothing changed between us even when everything around us did. We had two kids and just purchased our new home. I could never leave at this point.

Divorces in my culture are extremely rare. They just don’t happen no matter how difficult the marriage is. At that point, I was trying to live the best life I could. My sweet boys were the only thing that made life worthwhile so we brought two more into the world, Adam and Aylan.

Courtesy of Alma Kandzetovic

I had everything except for my best friend. I strongly believe your partner should be your best friend before anything but we never had that. I tried so hard to communicate and I was always good at telling him exactly how I felt but he just never cared. God knows I’m not perfect but I did try my hardest to make our marriage work. I remember crying myself to sleep every night and at one point, even wanting to take my own life because I was so unhappy. The only thing that kept me here was my sweet boys. I felt worthless, unworthy, and unloved.

Courtesy of Alma Kandzetovic

At this point, any ounce of love I had for this man was gone but I wanted to give it one last try. We took a vacation together in beautiful Mexico with my two oldest boys and my siblings. This was our time to get out of the real world and for us to enjoy some time together. We ended up arguing most of the time and issues we had throughout our marriage were there as well. That was when I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t know how or when, but I knew I was leaving.

Courtesy of Alma Kandzetovic

When we got back from the vacation, I sat him down and told him I was done. He yet again brushed it off like it was a joke he’d heard numerous times before. I started searching for apartments and looking at how to get our house on the market. If I’m being honest, we were barely paying our monthly mortgage, so this was coming with or without the divorce. Once he realized I was completely done this time, he started doing everything I begged him to do for 9 years, but it was too late. I didn’t love him anymore and I knew the man he was pretending to be was only temporary.

Courtesy of Alma Kandzetovic

Telling my family about our situation was one of the hardest things I had to do in my life. Everyone was so disappointed in me and I was the bad guy breaking up a family. They wanted to know why, but I will always choose to keep a lot of those details between my ex and me. He is still the father of my kids and in that sense, I’ll always respect him.

Courtesy of Alma Kandzetovic

Leaving my marriage was the best decision I ever made for my kids and me. Yes, the first year was a huge adjustment. I cried for months. I wasn’t sad I left him, I was sad the family I always envisioned having was now broken. I was sad all the ‘friends’ I had were now gone all of a sudden. I was sad my life wasn’t the way I imagined it to be. I came to the realization I have the family I always envisioned having. I have my four boys and that’s more than enough for me. Those friends I lost were truly never my friends, to begin with, and life wasn’t the way I planned, but at least I was finding myself again.

I was so lost for the longest time trying to be someone I’m not just to please everyone around me. The only person I wasn’t pleasing was myself.

Courtesy of Alma Kandzetovic

Yes, my story is different and messy but it does have a happy ending. Happiness should always come first before anything else. Feeling worthless, unworthy, and unloved is not the definition of a happy marriage. Having two happy homes is so much healthier for your kids versus having one unhappy home. Yes, I’m a single mom of four kids and yes, I continued to have kids even when I was unhappy. It was the best decision I made because they saved me in so many ways. They give me the most unconditional love and they motivate me every single day to build the best future.”

Courtesy of Alma Kandzetovic

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Alma Kandzetovic from Richmond, Virgina. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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