From the moment I became a mom 15 years ago, my life’s course completely changed. Suddenly my life was no longer about me; it revolved completely around the tiny little girl I held in my arms. Over the years, I’ve given up many things for the sake of my three children. For years I gave up having a career to focus on my kids and my family. I’ve sacrificed my looks, personal time, health and more happily because I love my children more than anything in this world. I feel blessed to have had the time I did with them before I worked outside the home, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
When I sat my girls down and explained to them that their dad and I were getting a divorce, I knew it was going to be hard on them. As a child of divorce, myself, I understand wholeheartedly the challenges that come with being part of a divorced family. Divorce changes everyone, and it changes the family dynamics as well. Older siblings are forced to step up and help out with the younger siblings, and children are expected to help out more around the house, etc. I went through this when my parents divorced at the tender age of 9. The years after my parents’ divorce, I stepped into a mother figure role to my little sister, and was expected to help out with babysitting as well as cooking and cleaning around the house as needed. After I was old enough, I often watched my sister from the time we got home after school til my mom or dad got home from work in the evenings. A lot of those times, I made dinner for us, and helped out by doing laundry or cleaning the house. I didn’t mind too much; I understood that it was just how life had to be. I knew Mom and Dad couldn’t do it all on their own while working a full time job. I will admit that my parents had a lot of help in the form of my grandma and other family members who were able to help take care of us; we were very lucky, and not everyone is lucky enough to have the help we did.
The past year has been a hard adjustment for our little family. Moving back home to Missouri wasn’t a choice I made easily; I left behind a better job market, bigger schools with more opportunities, more therapy solutions for Sawyer, and of course, the kids’ father. But being near my family and friends, who could help me find a new job and be there to help out with taking care of the kids if I needed them to, as well as my father’s declining health outweighed all the good of the Fort Campbell area, and so I moved. I know it’s been really hard for the kids not to be able to see their dad as often as they want, and I hate that, but moving here was a necessity for me.
The kids have done better than I expected them to with dealing with the divorce so far, but the last few months have been hard. On top of missing their dad like crazy, the girls have struggled with issues at school, and our home life hasn’t always been the best. Living in our little house, we are in close quarters all the time, and even though we’ve made the best of it, we have all felt the strain of not having the space to get away from each other when we need time alone. All of these issues along with a few others have come to a head recently, and the girls have asked to go live with their dad for a while.
The first time it was brought up was a few months back, and Caitlyn was asking to go live with her dad. She said she missed her friends at Fort Campbell and wanted to go back to her old school. After a few weeks of talking it over, she decided to stay put for now because she couldn’t decide for sure what she wanted to do. But now, Emily has asked to move as well. Her reasons for wanting to move are understandable, even if it hurts me to admit that.
And yes, it hurts a lot. I’ve cried many tears over the past few days. Being the one who has been there from Day 1 with my children, it cuts me to the core to hear them say they don’t want to live with me right now. Even though their reasons for leaving aren’t all about me, it still feels like a very personal blow. I know I’m not perfect, but I have tried so hard to be a good mom to my kids. Some days have been worse than others, but I always thought that it would be me and my kids until they got old enough to move out on their own. Having my girls look me in the eye and tell me they’d rather live with their dad and stepmom is a hard pill to swallow for me.
Still… They miss their dad, and I know this. And even though I try hard to be there for them in every way possible, I know nobody can (or should!) replace their daddy. So even though I want to be selfish and say they can’t go, I am going to let them move to Colorado to live with their dad for a while. Josh and I have talked, and we are on the same page that this move doesn’t have to be permanent. If they end up wanting to come back to live with me, I will of course welcome them back with open arms. I have never kept my kids from their dad and I won’t start now. If the girls want to try living with their dad, then I’m willing to let them go. Josh and I agree that separating the kids is wrong, so Sawyer will be going as well. Of course, I’m hoping they will end up changing their minds and coming back home next summer, but I am also dealing with the possibility that they will love Colorado and decide to stay permanently.
I could explain all my reasons for my decision, but I won’t. My reasons are complicated, and have to do with the way I was brought up, and my beliefs about parenting my children. My heart is torn into shreds as I prepare to send my kids halfway across the country, and I ask for prayers for all of us. My kids have never been without me, and I’ve never been without them for longer than a few days. I can’t imagine how tough this is going to be, and I’m already depressed at the thought of coming home to a silent house every day. My arms are already aching, thinking about not being able to hug them for weeks at a time. But a real parent is someone who puts their children’s needs above their own needs, and right now my girls need their dad.