“Ain’t a woman alive that could take my mama’s place.”
Your children wait by the open door, the air thick with anticipation. It’s been weeks since you last picked the children up for a scheduled visit yourself. When the car pulls into the driveway, will you be behind the wheel?
You’ve already missed so much!
Holiday celebrations. Birthdays. Back to School Nights, Open Houses, assemblies, award ceremonies and the second grade Mother’s Day poem reading. You were nowhere to be found at the school musical, no showed family therapy sessions, teacher and counselor meetings. You’re elsewhere for doctor appointments and unresponsive in emergencies. You weren’t in the waiting room when your 7-year-old had surgery or at the doctor’s office when your 8-year old was prescribed long term medication.
You’ve never been to the bus stop or chatted with parents at a birthday party. Your current partner drives the kids to school when it’s your turn. Teachers and doctors have not met you. You’ve never been a field trip volunteer, classroom parent or participated in a single party. You’ve slept through your child’s visit to your home, zoned out the school’s annual festival and cookout. You defer co-parenting responsibilities and refuse to speak to your children’s primary custodial parent, who, in the absence of your communication, participation or cooperation, raises your children alone.
When they’re in your care, the kids attend school exhausted, loaded with pop tarts and sugar cereal, homework not done, communication devices returned uncharged.
“(Children) need both parents. But they need the best you.”
-Guardian ad Litem, 2016
I get it: you don’t know what to do. It’s hard. You have a job. You can’t be expected to do every(any)thing. Your ex thinks you’re a bad parent anyway. It’s not true, not fair, not right.
It’s not your fault.
From the age of three, Cole was raised by his father and aunt. At 18, Cole asked tv psychologist, Dr. Phil, to help him repair his relationship with his mother.
She “walked out of my life twice a year, every year, since I was a child,” said Cole. She wasn’t present for birthdays, holidays, school functions or important events. She betrayed his confidence in a million different ways and repeatedly abandoned him.
Dr. Phil nodded. She was the non-custodial parent. What would you have had her do?
Cole responded: “She could’ve gotten involved…She could’ve moved right down the street. She could’ve found a way to see us every day even if it was me walking to the school bus. She could’ve found a way.”
Now, your children scamper optimistically to your relative, friend or lover’s car. Knowing that, as long as they go, there’s at least a chance they’ll see you.
Because no one can take your place! Your DNA is hardwired into their little bodies. They resemble you. Together with your ex, you gave them life. Today, they love you simply because you exist.
But tomorrow? When they’re older? They’ll wonder. Where were you at the school showcase, class musical, festival, doctor’s office, hospital, birthday?
And why didn’t you find a way…?