Friday, August 8, 2008

Happy Surprises, or Number 1 Mom!

10 years ago, when I contracted 'mad woman's disease', I realized that I was married to the wrong man and living the wrong life. After 10 years of trying to squeeze myself into the mold that was his family, his upbringing and his origins, I just couldn't do it anymore. It was a tough choice, but for my sanity, it had to be done; so I went from stay-at-home mom to my 3 boys, to newly-single-trying-to-find-myself mom/woman. At first, I assumed that I would keep the boys and the house, and we would find a way to make due, knowing that my ex would remain a fantastic father. However, that was not to be. After 6 months of stand-off, living in the same house while separated, I realized I simply did not have the money, nor the will to fight anymore. I couldn't see dragging my poor boys through the court process, especially knowing that his and his family's money would trump whatever meager pittance I could manage to earn for the fight. So I capitulated to the crying and the raging of my ex, and let the boys remain in the home with him, while I lived in a one-bedroom basement suite. I took with me my antique rocking chair and personal belongings only; I was really starting over.

What I didn't expect was the backlash! Here I thought I was doing the right thing, not dragging my kids through the court system and allowing their father, who was the money-earner and responsible, loving dad, raise the boys ~ half-time.

Many people who knew me were openly scornful that I would be such a terrible mother not to "fight for my boys". The people who loved me most just shook their heads at my insanity, leaving behind a handsome, loving husband and beautiful children (except my mama, who stood by me and kept me feeling strong). I saw my boys every single day that first year, so how was I leaving them behind?? My ex worked out of town, so when he went to work, I would stay in the house and then go back to my home when he came back. This way the boys didn't have to go back and forth; they got to stay in the home they knew and we did the commuting. I just couldn't understand that people would see me through such bitter glasses. If I were the man in the same scenario I'd have been named father of the year! It was so hard, but I held my head high, and stood my ground, explaining that although I would have loved to have my boys all the time, this was best for them. Throughout the 10 years, our schedule with the boys has changed, and he has had them more often than me as they've gotten older.

My ex mother-in-law has openly campaigned to destroy my boys' view of their mother, often using terms far too racy for children to hear in general, never mind about their own mom. My ex never has done much about it, and I remained silent knowing that if I just kept living my truth, the boys would be able to make their own decisions. All the while, I was terrified they would think I'd abandoned them, or worse.

My boys are now teens. I love the men they're becoming. I don't get to have them as much as I'd like these days, but through the miracle of the internet, we manage to stay in close contact, even though they now live in another city. We just had them for a week-long pseudo camping trip (meaning that we stayed in a beautiful float home on the lake and the only roughing it we had to do was use a porta-potty), and we had an amazing time. C and I figure this is probably the last year we'll be able to do a family trip, since my oldest will be 18 next year, and will likely have more interesting things to do, so this trip was really important to us. It went exactly as we hoped, and we all came home feeling great.
Conversation with my boys last night:
We were all home watching a movie. The boy in the movie was upset because the last thing he'd said to his mom was 'I hate you'.

Me: That's one thing none of you has never said to me.

Youngest: What's that?

Me: None of you have ever said "I hate you" to me.

Middle (16): That's cause you're an awesome mom.

Me: You think?

Youngest (13): Yeah, that just shows you're doing a great job mom. You can proudly say 'none of my boys have ever said they hate me'.

Me: Wow guys, thanks!

Oldest (17): You didn't know you're a great mom?

Me: Well I hoped, but it sure is nice that you think so!

Youngest: You have this really great way of dealing with things so that it never gets to that point. You're fair and you make sense.

Me: quiet cause I don't want to cry.

Then the movie came back on and it was over.

I know that part of the reason they feel that way is because I'm not the full-time, every day, get on your case parent but damn, it sure feels like victory!