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A single divorced mom looks back at struggles, growth

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2021 | Divorce

Though there’s nothing wrong with the news sources available to us in Bethesda, we assume that regardless, some of our readers also read the venerable New York Times.

While perusing the Times the other day, we came across this at the very bottom of a page, after a piece had ended, sat this one-line description of the author: “Hanna Ingber, an editor at The New York Times, writes essays that poke into the messiness of (single) parenting.”

Could she do it?

Ingber’s essay began with her looking out the kitchen window three years ago, both contemplating ending her marriage and watching her husband mow the lawn. She had doubts about whether she’d be able to manage life as a divorced mother of two.

For instance, she wasn’t sure if she could mow the lawn. As part of her experiments that summer with taking on tasks that her husband had always managed, she cut the grass with the push-mower the couple owned.

On her first try, she pushed it the wrong way, which didn’t harm even a single blade. She turned the mower around and pushed, voila, “the grass got shorter,” she wrote.

“This was surely a sign: If I needed to, I could get divorced.”

Gendered roles

Ingber writes that as the months passed, their marital problems got worse. She kept testing her abilities to perform tasks he had always taken care of.

She also took time to think about their duties in their marriage and concluded that “it made no sense why our married roles had been so gendered.” He was responsible for the house and car, while she focused on their children.

But when divorce happened, she no longer had someone to take care of the air conditioning units, the retirement account, flat tire or taxes. He “was so much better at those things, but he was gone.”

Ingber writes that divorce is very difficult, though it has compelled her to do a long list of things she never thought she could.

She did it

The summer after she and her ex separated, she drove five hours with their sons – then ages 5 and 3 – to vacation in the Adirondacks. The trip with just the three of them terrified her, she wrote, but by keeping activities manageable, they did it.

“I did it.”

When the divorce process concluded, “the real challenge came.” She now owned the marital house, a fixer-upper.

She wrote that a blizzard hit on the day earlier this year when the suburban house became hers – and she suddenly realized that she was now in charge of shoveling the sidewalk and driveway. But she was also needed at work, so through a friend of a friend, she found a high schooler who shoveled for her.

More joys of homeownership

She quickly learned about radiators and the boiler, downspouts, grout, streaming TV and how to deal with a flooded basement.

She writes that she looks forward to the day she no longer has to do all of these things alone, “yet I must admit, I am super proud of the woman divorce is forcing me to become.”