My first marriage was abusive and I can tell you right now I stayed too long. One of the reasons was to keep the kids safe. I was operating out of survival mode. At the time I only had two children from a previous relationships and after about 3-4 years we got pregnant.
The whole time I thought I was doing the right thing. My children were miserable but my son had it the worst. He was the oldest and really understood what was going on. My husband at the time didn't get physical with him but it was a lot of verbal abuse all in the name of "making him a man".
I allowed it for the most part while the children were around trying to keep the situation from escalating but it never worked.
The arguments always spiraled out of control. It didn't matter if I were quiet or argued back. The police were called a number of times by the children, neighbors and just people passing by.
I saw how this effected my children but didn't really know what to do.
Once I finally left, I harbored so much guilt. I went out of my way to give them the world, let behaviors slide, and just felt horrible inside. Even typing this is making me emotional because I already felt like shit because their biological fathers were not active in their lives and my father (my rock and protector) had passed away a few years earlier.
It's been 10 years since I left that marriage and I am just getting to the point where I can forgive myself. Mom guilt and shame is real and needs to be addressed. There is no manual on this mom life and we all work with the tools we have. Just like our parents (for the most part) we did the best we could. We did what we think is right at the time.
Momma you are doing great!! My children know I love them and so will yours. Keep doing the best you can and learn as you go.
Don't forget your wine and 15 minutes to yourself.