I have often thought about writing about my life as a non-custodial mama but chose not to since its deeply a painful and private thing for me. My son aka elder boy went to live with his father when he was six, when he went to live with his Dad, it was like my guts had been ripped out. Yet I decided that while drinking myself into a dark hole was what I really wanted to do, that instead I would make good use of the fact that I no longer had to rush home to my boy and instead went on a quest to get an education. My son at 17 now tells me how proud he is of me, how I went from being a high school dropout to having a college education and even an advanced degree. Its funny because the other night he said to me “Mama, you were so young when you had me…you were only a couple of years older than me”. So very true.
So why am I sharing this story now? Well I have been noticing that its no longer a hidden thing to be a non-custodial Mama. This is a great website for non-custodial patents, ran by a non-custodial Mama. Apparently the Today show had a segment on the rise of non-custodial mothers. Its funny because now that we have the internet, there is a place for us to connect. In my early days of being a non-custodial Mama, the net was still pretty is young and lets just say mine was a lonely existence. Fact is I have encountered a lot of judgement about my son not living with me, its funny because when people see me and girl child, they assume she is my only child and are stunned when I explain I have a much older child. Of course living in a small town, there are folks who immediately launch into does my boy go to the high school, yada yada and I have to explain no he lives with his papa.
I admit now that he is older it’s not so bad, it was worse when he was 7, 8, or 9 and people would go oh….of course there are also the looks folks give you, that pretty much show the what the fuck did she do look as I call it. Funny thing is now while we have many younger Moms who are the non-custodial parent who have made that choice and are okay with it, for me it was not a choice. It was a mathematical choice I should say, the fathering unit had more money to bury me in court and in the end I got tired of fighting and thought it better to agree to this joint parenting thing than it was to fight a man with deeper pockets.
Yet lately as I sit and marvel at how amazing my son is, in the end he has thrived despite the madness he has risen above both his father and I and the years that were complete and utter hell…so in celebration of that I share my tale of being a non-custodial Mama to encourage any other Mamas out there who are in this place and to say it can work out. I have also learned in this strange journey of parenting that being a successful parent can take many forms and its up to us to decide what our families will look like not society. Over the years, I have often been asked “It must be hard, to not have your son with you daily”…without a doubt its been hard but at the same time, I know our time away allowed me to grow and become who I needed to be.
As I am fond of saying “Mothering is one of many hats I wear…first and foremost I am me”