I was recently asked on my other page how I live. How do I live without my child? How do I go on after losing a custody battle? The truth is, one day at a time.
One painful day at a time.
A day at a time. I was never like that before. I was a planner. A worrier. A total type A.
Becoming a parent wasn’t enough to change my approach to life. I stayed in control and managed all the curve balls a baby can throw like the boss mom I was. Am. I still am. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. And it hurts. There’s a little twinge in my heart each time I feel that bit of disconnect. It hurts. It will always hurt.
The hurt can be unbearable. It can consume you to the point you question every decision of your life. More than once even. The fact remains though that this is your life. This is what it has become for all the reasons that precede today. There’s nothing worrying can help. You tried as hard as you could. You are a good parent, person, and more. You do not deserve this result. Be confident in these things and above all remember that there is no winner in dissolution of families.
Do not let your disappointment fester and alter your attitude toward what your life is now and especially not toward your child. Children need to feel your constant love, even if they can’t see you often. That’s what keeps me going.
Try to find the positive. I still cry over the distance in time and geography, but rejoice that Facetime exists. While trying to keep a 5 year old on a conversation or even in the iPad’s field of view is difficult I’ll admit, it is worlds greater than a 30 second phone call.
Long distance relationships are challenging, parenting is challenging, put them together and whoa! Try doing kindergarten homework across a few states via video call. Yikes. I’d like to say no thanks, but this is my chance to spend with her and be a part of her life and support her education so there I am. Giving a million directions “too close”, “down”, “up”, “no too close now back up”, “too far”, “okay just tell me the letters of the words in the directions.” It takes an hour to do one worksheet. Then the best part, she asks me how to write a letter.
How do you describe how to write? Well, once again, thank the lord for the people who invented technology! I use a drawing app to draw out the letter and text to her so she can see my example. This has proven so easy and effective in giving her a visual aid to work off of on her own. See my example below…
Parenting is challenging and requires a readiness for anything. Finding ways to trouble shoot and think creatively to help my daughter from a distance helps me feel better that I can still help her. It makes the distance seem less an impact even if just for that call.
The time between visits and between calls are the worst. As I’ve said, it is hard. I cry all the time still, and I’m not the cry at anything kind of girl. Trying to focus on the positive takes major effort during these bouts with stinging tears and puffy eyes. Wipe off your cheeks and make a plan. Make a plan for the next visit. If it isn’t planned yet, plan the trip. If it is setup already, plan for your activities when you’re together. Or what you need to do to prepare. Do you need to buy tickets for something in advance? Get them. Do you need to make sure and pickup a favorite cereal or snack? Add it to your grocery list. Find some productive way to support the fact that you will be seeing them and are preparing.
If the time is too far off, then send a letter, package or postcard. I keep so many postcards around the house and anytime I’m having a particularly hard time I send her one. Think of it as an entry in a diary. It is therapeutic for yourself and who doesn’t love getting mail anyway? Once I made it interactive by coloring part of a picture and asked her to finish it and send it back…
I want the take away to be that there are ways to make whatever your situation is work better for you and your child. It will not be perfect, it will not be what you want. It is not what your child wants either, but this is life and it must go on. Take it a day at a time. You will all live through it, do the best you can to make it the best it can be.
I did not come to this point of being able to talk about all this on my own. I did seek counseling as my EAP and health insurance provided. Speaking to a professional is not shameful, please at least give it a try. If you need to go through a few counselors before finding one that feels comfortable to you, that’s ok too. In the meantime, please see my other post Helpful Books for Post Divorce for some helpful reads for you and the kids.
What ways do you find to cope with this atrocious distance? This can be a rare category of people so please comment and communicate with us.
Please see my other post Being A Non-Custodial Mother for more on this tough journey.
“Why Worry? If you’ve done the best you can, worrying won’t make it any better.” Walt Disney