a fair one I guess. I get asked it all the time although people have a hard time maintaining eye contact while they ask. Which is why it gets asked in email a lot.
I’m not sure it’s anyone’s business. But, on the other hand, we are all interested in the situations of our fellow humans. I know I am.
So. The questions are basically these:
Why don’t my kids live with me? Why do they live with their father?
Don’t I miss them? How can I go on living when they are not with me? (usually asked by other mothers)
What did I do to make them have to live somewhere else? (usually asked by men)
When their father and I separated, I had no means of taking care of them and was suffering from a mental illness. I made the hardest choice in my life to leave them and get well.
Their father had to be both mom and dad to them. He got them through what must have seemed like abandonment by their mom and tried in every way to help them see that I loved them and that it wasn’t their fault that I had to go and that I was going to get well eventually. Which I did.
A lot happens in a year. He moved them to a new neighborhood for a fresh start. He got them enrolled in things and started them in school. He gave them stability and schedules. He got remarried. They have a life there with a school, church network, friends and a neighborhood.
Although legally they could spend half of their time with me and half with their father and his wife, you have to consider what’s best for the kids. Is it best for them to be enrolled in 2 schools and have 2 sets of friends and have 2 church groups and 2 neighborhoods? I know some couples do this and I’m not knocking their way. I’m just telling you that it isn’t what their father and I decided was best for our children. Living 2 lives brings with it so many downsides that it makes the most sense for the kids to live primarily in one place. At this time, it’s with their father. It may always be so. Or it could change later. I can’t read the future. And I’m not going to worry about it. I’m just going to enjoy the now.
Do I miss my kids? Of course! I miss them everyday. And I ache for them. And I pray for them and wish things for them. How can I go on living? Because the alternative is stupid! I want to live and see them grow and change. Why would I choose anything different?
All that being said, I have to say it’s a little irritating. Men, I don’t think, get asked these kinds of questions when they don’t live with their kids. I have more compassion for those dads now that I know what it feels like to miss out on all the ‘little life-things’ that happen everyday I’m away. And I know I miss out.
I allow myself a certain amount of sadness over these feelings and then I press on with life. Because I have to. I refuse to wallow in self pity. I refuse to have a negative outlook on my life. I refuse to let the things I don’t like in my life outrank the things that I do like. And I didn’t work so hard for so many years to pull myself out of a mental hell to not do something worthwhile and positive with my life. Hence the book and the art therapy work. I do what I can with what I have and enjoy every single blessed moment I get with my beautiful children.
quick recap for the kids:
i love you.