There are times when being apart from my daughter is tougher than others.
Today was such a time, my family are all out of town, at my cousins wedding, my cousins son happens to be getting married to my ex husbands niece, which is lovely for everyone involved, except, well, me. See I could not go to the wedding, I was told in no uncertain terms that I am excused from attending as my daughter, my ex husband and his wife would all be there. Though understandable that it may be awkward to see my ex the pain does not stem from that, the pain is knowing that my daughter, the girl who I carried, the girl I gave birth to, the girl who I lost so many years ago when just a child would be embarrassed to have her mother at an event where her family, her friends and peers would be.
My child, on the cusp of adulthood in so many ways, yet in my heart and mind still the 7 year old who left 10 years ago to live with her father does not want to be seen with me in front of the above mentioned. The grief that causes me is to difficult to explain.
Thinking with my head, not my heart it is understandable, she is 17, she is full of self esteem issues, her hormones are all over the place, she feels she is being looked at all the time, but my heart is once again pulled out and ripped apart, as it has been over and over and over again since she has left. I feel that those around me think that I am fine when they tell me not to attend certain events, not to go to certain places as my daughter has come to town for a bit and has no time to see me.
It was never decided via the courts that my daughter would go and live with her father, rather after a long battle with bi polar, and a breakdown, and after living with family members for many years it was decided by family that she would go and live there, I have nothing but good to say about her step mother, I know she has tried her hardest, over and over through so many years she has helped , loved and cared deeply for my daughter , I know that at 7 years old my daughter was a disturbed and emotionally charged child, I know it is not my fault that I was unable to care for her, but still the pain never goes, and now, after all these years, the tragedy is….I do not know her, sure we speak on the phone, sure she is getting older and now comes to visit me more often, Yes it is easier as I do not need to make the exhausting train journey every 3 months to visit her for just a few hours, but still I have lost so much. I have lost her childhood.
The story of what occurred is long and probably very boring to you, but I wanted to share some thoughts on mothers apart from their children.
We are the exception to the rule, if you do an internet search on support groups for mothers apart, you will struggle to find one. MATCH http://www.matchmothers.org (mothers apart from their children) seems to be one of the only ones I could easily find, whilst on the other hand a search for Fathers apart support groups gave me pages and pages of websites, to the extent that when searching for mothers apart, google automatically changed the search to fathers groups.
I do not want to diminish the suffering of fathers who have been through no fault of their own separated from their children, their anguish and pain and feelings of guilt, helplessness, loss and despair is one I can relate to well, but they have support, a lot more support than us mothers do.
Statistically, only 10% of children from divorced homes live with their fathers, which means that 90% of children are with their mothers or other care givers, this statistic easily gives the picture of why their is so little support for mothers apart.
Lets be honest, you meet someone, a mother, the mother is separated or divorced, she has children, do we not automatically assume the children live with her? Is our reaction not one of ” does their father ever see them” when people ask me how many children I have, and I say 2, the question is often asked why I have such a large gap between them, the answer is because I have been married twice, the next question is usually along the lines of what schools they go to, do they get along etc, it is never in anyones mind to ask if they both live with me, whilst if I was a father and was asked the same question would it not be a very different reaction, more one of ” do you get to see your children often”
When a mother is separated from their child, it is assumed the mother is unfit, that she may have been abusing the child, an alcoholic, etc. When we meet a single father are we not so full of praise for him for doing a “mothers job”.
It is in our psyche, it is how we are hard wired, no matter how liberated society may be, to think that a mother is the one bringing up children.
When one hears that a mother is apart, she is considered negligent, she is considered a failure, she is considered an outcast.
My crime, was my illness, my crime was a breakdown, my crime was letting her go, yet the reason I commited that crime was because as a mother I knew that I needed to let her have the stability, the care, the love, the enduring and heartbreaking love to let her go.
I have missed so much, I never made her lunch for school, I never bought her uniform, I never took her shoe shopping, I never sat with her and did homework, I never cried with her, I never listened as she learnt to read, the list goes on and on.
My plea to you, understand that mothers apart do not ask to be apart, it is the most heart-breaking thing that could happen to a mother, I have experienced the pain of the death of a baby and I have lived through my daughter being separated from me, the pain of loosing a child through death is everlasting and eternal, but it can be understood, one is never judged, it is a tragedy, but loosing a child who is living is indescribable.