Separate But Never Apart : My Story As A Non- Custodial Mom

There seems to be a natural assumption or prejudice when a mother and a child live separately. It has been ingrained in us to think for a mother not to physically live with her child that it has to be of neglect, abandonment, or the inability in not being able to handle the pressures in child rearing in response for what some may feel a “drastic” decision. Every mother’s situation is different in regards to making the decision to not be the primary guardian of having her child live full- time in her home. I never thought that I would’ve made the difficult decision as a mother for our son to live with his father, but it was a decision that actually benefited our son immensely while strengthening our relationship. Our transition in co-parenting in reversing our roles was a worthy adjustment in helping our adolescent son become well rounded within his challenges in seeing despite our difficult past our love for him is the primary center in striving to be on one accord.

Taking It All In

I’ve shared many parts regarding my motherhood journey since becoming a blogger and a vlogger on family life. I oftentimes share deeply from a transparent prospective. I found it more difficult to share the transition of our son moving in with his father than any post I’ve ever written. I think it was perhaps that I was still living in learning this new path myself as a mother. I was terrified of receiving resentment from my son in thinking he would feel unwanted, unloved, or thinking I favored his siblings over him. I also feared backlash and mom shame in being a “mommy blogger” in not having the perfect traditional family dynamics . I felt heartbreak, guilt, and shame as a mother like my efforts were not good enough. I shared our transition with those who knew our family personally, a few trusted friends, and those who were in close proximity who had frequent interactions with us as a family. I was honestly adjusting and taking it all in as a mother. My son and I have always been very close. I raised him alone as a single mother before meeting my husband. I don’t share the fondest memories of the relationship my ex-husband I shared in our brief marriage, and he may agree the same. However if we both searched down deep within our spirits we knew that both of us as parents had amicable strong points trying to co-parent with an energetic, bright, talented, strong-willed,and gutsy son who was having some struggles that were calling our attention to redirect what at the time was our norm.

Doing What You Know Is Best

Our son lives daily with the challenges of ADHD (Attention-deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder )and O.D.D. (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) for which impacted him socially and academically. There are many who think that such terms are just labels, but as a parent and a teacher who moved from several schools with her son along with homeschooling for 3 1/2 years I can can attest that these are not merely labels placed on a child. I also witnessed in being his basketball coach for 2 seasons along with watching on the sidelines in other seasons that on and off the court there were somethings that I was limited to as a mother in helping our son fully. He has a great relationship with his father, and he saw him regularly for visitation. Our son shares a close relationship with his stepfather as well. He has always had an active male presence in his life for which many boys in similar situations may not have been afforded. Following our divorce we did family counseling to help with the transition. He also followed a treatment plan of both counseling and medication when he was diagnosed initially with A.D.H.D. We paused briefly when we were homeschooling from medication since I was his primary teacher, and there were no real disciplinary concerns at the beginning stages.

Major Shift

During the shift within early puberty we saw that despite my hands on approach my son and I were both struggling in maintaining the best in functioning. The issues of O.D.D. were heavily impacting our home environment. I shared openly with his father the day to day challenges. He asked if he could give it a try in having him live with him. His father lived a little over an hour away, and it felt like the distance from Georgia to California in my heart. I was hesitant at first in seeing if any one besides a mother could see beyond his challenges in balancing the tough love, grace, and compassion it took to care for such a special boy. I would’ve never envisioned his father, stepfather, and I meeting at his favorite restaurant to share with him that he would be moving in to live with his father. He actually took it pretty well. Maybe because his little sisters were there to smiling munching on fries. We shared our arrangement, and later we met with an attorney per his father’s requests. I went with him to registrar for school bringing in all the paperwork required. I was comforted with the fact that I would see him every weekend, all the school breaks, and holidays. He hugged me as I left the school walking out while his father and I discussed briefly some of the school matters.  We watched him bounce down the hall with the friendly guidance counselor.

“Where’s Your Mom ? “

I worked from home his first year in transitioning to live with his father so I was able to join him for lunch meetings with his friends, participate in Field’s Day, attend the parent teacher meetings regularly, and take him to his doctor’s appointments while his father worked. We would drive to his football games, and his sisters world proudly scream out his number. They joined me on the fall drive to see their big brother in his first parade riding a float. It wasn’t easy writing this, nor has it been a ball in the park seeing my only son in the way in which I’m not familiar. I’ve since transitioned back to work which hinders me in doing my lunch dates at the school, and I can’t take the drive as frequently to see him at every function. I can say that our mother and son dates are extra special now. His face lights up extra brightly when we he sees me at one of his events. He takes time to share in conversation more his thoughts, concerns, or his love for his musical playlist. His sisters are jumping in excitement when “YaYa”( African for older sibling) comes home. He enjoy sharing with me the things he shares with his father, and he welcomed with love his new stepmother. He enjoys game nights both in video game and Sunday’s football game day with his stepfather. We made sure to follow through with his updated treatment plan as a family with group counseling, and he has had better improvement with his adjusted medication. This past year in coping with the decision for my son to move in with his father has been an emotional roller coaster, and it was one of the hardest decision I made as a mother.

Blended families are all about making a collaborative effort for the best interests for the children. I pray that our story within our blended family sheds some light regarding the subject of non- custodial mothers not putting all situations in a box. I pray that it gives comfort to any other mother within a similar position feeling fear, guilt, and shame assurance that she to is a good mother. My son knows without a doubt that his mother loves him, and if there is anyone who can relate to being in his case as a child know that your mother loved you the same. I promise you for most mothers the decision was made out of love, protection, and scarifice. My son said one time he was asked, ” Where is your Mom?” He told me he replied ” My mom never left.”

5 thoughts on “Separate But Never Apart : My Story As A Non- Custodial Mom”

  1. Wow…very powerful to hear this from such a wonderful mom as yourself! God calls us to do what is right…but certainly not always what is easy. Your son is very blessed Minimarie!

    Liked by 1 person

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