• Wed, Sep 1 2010

Elin Nordegren, Divorce, and Single Motherhood

It should be really easy to hate Elin Nordegren.  She’s gorgeous, rich and not falling apart at all.  I happen to like my celebrities to be of the trainwreck variety.  We’ve been hearing for months that Nordegren went crazy when she found out about her husband’s whorish tendencies.  I had great pictures in my head of an angry Barbie doll chasing her husband down the street with one of his beloved golf clubs.  We all knew that she would get millions of dollars and settle down in a perfectly blissful life.  That crazy lady with the nine iron – that was my kind of celebrity.  But now, she’s calm and grieving, sharing her story with People magazine.  I expected to flip through the interview, without really reading it, and say, “Poor, poor rich girl.  It sucks to be you.  Glad that’s over…”

Except if you actually read Elin’s interview, she seems like a very difficult person to dislike.  She wasn’t a mess, but she was honest and frank.  She was a mother whose top concern was for her children.  But she was also a woman who shared her feelings of shock and betrayal, and that she would get over them.  I finished that article thinking, “Good for you, honey!  That man is going to miss you for the rest of his life.”

With the divorce rate over 50% and the increase in births to single mothers, there are a lot of children who live in two separate households.  Parents are learning more and more ways to find a balance that works for them.  But Nordegren’s admission that, even after all of the infidelity, she really wanted to find a way to remain a family definitely struck a chord with me.  She spoke early in the interview about the fact that her parents divorced during her childhood, but she still had a wonderful relationship with both of them.  She knew from experience that divorced parents didn’t ruin a child.  You can still be a family.  Even though we all know that, most of us still hope that we’ll get to settle down with a partner and build a family together.  No matter how much we want that white picket fence ideal, sometimes it isn’t the best option.  And the former Mrs. Tiger Woods realized that it wouldn’t be the option for her.  Now, she’s going to do just what her parents did: show her children that they still have two parents that love them.

This whole process that Elin describes has nothing to do with the fact that she’s gorgeous and rich (she did admit that being rich helps!).  By the time my daughter was six months old, I had about twenty goodbye letters written to her father.  I’m not going to explain the specifics of our situation, but needless to say, it wasn’t working out.  I wrote the first letter two weeks after our daughter was born.  I didn’t end the relationship until seven months later.  And even when it was finally over, I was confused and hurt and sad.  Choosing to dismantle your family, no matter what your partner has done, is a heartwrenching decision.  And I feel sympathy for anyone who has to make it.  My life is better because I made that decision.  My daughter and I are happier now than we ever could have been, but it’s still difficult to think about.

Elin Nordegren is definitely not a trainwreck.  If that interview is any indication, she’s a hardworking woman and a caring mother.  I wish her all the best.  And I hope to never see her on the cover of People magazine ever again.  Next week better be Paris Hilton’s mug shot.

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