Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Long Distance "Co?!" Parenting

Reading some provocative posts and tweets this week has really made me think about my dreams vs. the reality of the life I have been handed - yes, HANDED aginst my will and every single maternal instinct within my soul.

First off, if you are reading this blog expecting a flowery interpretation of my wonderful life and my beautiful kids, read elsewhere.  I have blogs posted for family and friends to hear what they "want" to hear and see what they "want" to see.

Our story, printed to the left, tells most of the tale - leaving out the part that I was battling cancer when my ex decided to drop the bomb on our "perfect little family"  Okay, I was left fighting for my life, my kids, my home and my marriage within 3 short months.  Hardly ideal and a chapter I have all but emotionally blocked out for fear of drowning in a sea of anger and self-pity - much of which I fully entitled myself to for a season of my life.  Fear, loneliness, disbelief and hatred filled much of my heart and mind for quite sometime.  I became an expert escape artist - even moving clear across the country to avoid the sights, smells and abandonment that surrounded our world.  The kids rarely saw their father - that is - as far as "parenting" was concerned and I was privately and publicly ripped to my very core.  The only chance I had to make it out sane and strong was to get away - so I did.  We left the eastern gold coast and transplanted ourselves in the vast Sonoran Desert four years ago - spent three of those years in court fighting for what was rightfully ours - and finally gave up the past in favor of building a promising future.

Like many in my shoes, there were periods of dire self destructiveness when I thought the only way to get through yet another day was to have a few glasses of wine once the kids were safely tucked in  simply numbing the extraordinary pain that swelled within my heart.  For over a year, we received no child support......cyber dad thought he was a masterful parent by "visiting" the kids via webcam - a practice I viewed as an intrusion.  I felt controlled and violated by so many around me.  Cyber-dad wanted me to revolve my life around his "webcam" schedule, friends wanted me to simply cut him off, some wanted me to find saving grace within their church, others thought my key to happiness was to throw myself into internet dating and "get laid" and most did not realize that we were at the mercy of the courts.  If one more person told me to "have him thown in jail" I think I would have screamed - as if was that easy to obtain justice!  Ha!

Finally, about two years ago, I gave up the fight.  Along with giving up the fight, I had to give up some of the closest friends I had ever known.  Upon reflection, it became clear that the advise I was receiving was "not for me" and was keeping me in a cycle of dependence and uncertainty.  Looking further, I was able to see the tremendous damage it was doing to my heart and the relationship, albeit limited, that my kids had with their father.  Many of the people offering up the most direct suggestions had very wounded hearts, broken family relationships, inner children needing control and dysfunctional marriages.  Absence may make the heart grow fonder for some, for me it made the heart grow wiser.

In this revelation, I came to realize one's not about me.  People change, relationships change and my kids needed only to see a healthy role model.  As they only see their father 3 or 4 times per year, I decided it was my duty to foster this relationship in the best way I knew how.  Lack of expectation and unconditional acceptance.

Now, I'm sure a lot of you are shaking your heads and thinking me a fool......and perhaps in some ways I am - but it was not worth my health and happiness to carry a torch into battle for years to come.  It is my hope that someday, he will come around and be the man he once was - but this is only a hope, like I HOPE to buy the winning Powerball ticket!

My kids are fully accessible to their father and they love him.  When he visits, he uses the guest room - less transition for them and less work for me.  Heck, I was in labor with my first for 50 hours, I can surely put up with him for 48!  I have yet to meet, or even speak to his "girlfriend" of over 5 years and probably won't until one of our kids gets married - dad's choice - and I have come to be okay with that.  The little they know of her, they seem to like and so it shall remain.  The kids acknowledge their dad holidays and birthdays- a favor which is never returned, but it is the right thing to do.

It gets lonely, money is tight and sure, I wish there was another "fall guy" around to deal with the endless homework, discipline and household duties, but alas, there is not so we motor through as a team-for now, the five of us making it happen.

Someday, I may meet that soul mate who loves me unconditionally for who I am and I hope that my heart will have healed enough by then to recognize him when he comes along.  Until then........the kids have two parents,  unfortunately not "co-parents, " but two parents just the same.


MindyMom said...

I can relate to much of what you wrote here. It's been 8 years since the end of my marriage and through it all my ex and I have never "co-parented" - it's more like I parent and he COUNTER-parents.

Hang in there. You sound like a strong, courageous woman and I'm sure you will.

A Musing Mom said...

Thank you, Mindy, and you do the same. It sure makes life interesting sometimes! Fortunately, the kids know they are loved and appreciate the work that has gone into raising them alone.

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