May I call you Wendy? The familiarity with which you address topics like being a struggling single mother made me feel like I could address you in a familiar fashion as well. Forgive me if that was not your intent.
I have a few concerns about the way you have represented yourself, specifically the way you have reframed and edited your life story for public consumption in your bid for the Governor's office. You spoke of the struggle of a single parent, working hard to feed and clothe children. You spoke of the anguish of divorce and the desire to shield your children from public scrutiny. On the surface, all of those things seem to ring true. But as is often the case with those in public office, once the surface is scratched, the picture begins to change. In regard to that emerging picture, I would like to clarify a few things for you:
First, allowing the other parent custody because "you aren't in a good place to take care of children" (even though you can apparently afford to pay $1200 monthly in child support) is not the same as "struggling as a single parent to make ends meet." Struggling to make ends meet is walking your children to the babysitter and then walking to work because the minute you filed for divorce your ex husband stopped payment on your car and had it repossessed. Struggling is knowing that your 18 month old knows her babysitter better than she knows you because in the Army, you're on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Struggling is knowing that no matter how many hours you work, you will never have one minute of real relaxation because there is no break in transition from work to taking care of children. Struggling is being thankful that childcare is only costing half the money you make each month, so that even if you know there is no car and no savings in your future, you also know that you can feed your kids every day. Struggling is knowing that your ex husband is happy to refuse to see the kids in order to punish you, when in reality they are the ones who cry over every broken promise and every cancelled weekend.
Second, claiming the "anguish of divorce" loses credibility when the divorce comes as a result of your own infidelity and on the heels of your husband paying off your law school debt. If you wanted to shield your children from pain and public scrutiny, you should have protected them by not acting stupidly. It's an interesting parallel, considering your recently acquired nickname "abortion barbie," that you want other people to retroactively shield you and your children from the consequences of your actions - but if the irony is lost on you I wouldn't be terribly shocked. So let me tell you, in regards to divorce and protecting children, what anguish truly is. Anguish is weighing the effects of divorce against the effects of continuing to live with an emotionally abusive alcoholic. Anguish is knowing that no matter how many chances you give him to be a good man and a good father, he will always pay for his own habits before he takes care of his children. Anguish is watching your son coming to the realization that he can never look to his own father to be an example or a source of financial support. Anguish is watching your daughters struggle to find a male role model and knowing that they will have to look somewhere besides "Daddy."
I only spent one year in the Army as a single mom of four, and I know many who have had it far worse than I ever did. I had a very understanding Commander and good friends who were able to help me when I needed it. I had a babysitter who worked for half the going rate because her husband was Army too, and she knew exactly what I was getting paid. Many single women don't have that. And on behalf of those I know who did have it worse, I am outraged that you would claim some sort of solidarity, a part of that sisterhood, or even some moderate comprehension of what they go through every day.
Understand, I am not attempting to downplay the struggles you may have faced yourself. I get that giving up custody of your children is a difficult thing to do. But when you choose to do that and you can afford to then pay child support, do not then claim to understand the struggles of the women who every day wonder if they are going to have to skip a meal in order to make sure their kids have enough. Do not by your own actions and choices inflict damage on your own life and then attempt to draw attention to the fact that you survived it while demanding no one pay any attention to who it was that caused it. In short, tell people the truth. Then if they still don't like you, it will be their fault rather than yours.