Here I am, 36 years old (wow! had to think for a minute about my age because I just had a birthday!) with a wonderful husband and 8, yes 8!, beautiful, smart, funny, caring, obnoxious, entertaining, spirited children. My home is a place I love, but the location, not so much. I was a stay-home mom until about 8 months ago at which point I went to work as part-time as possible and it still make some sense— now contemplating transitioning back to stay-home mother because I have learned (the hard way!) that I need to be home with my children and my husband as much as they need me to be home. Since beginning the job I currently have, I seem lost and confused and anxious. However, this story is not about my work outside the home. It’s about my work as a mother and choices I’ve had to make regarding some of my children.
But, that’s not where my parenting story begins……
In high-school, I was dating someone that I felt I was in love with. At that young age, I had no idea what I was doing, but I thought I did. And apparently, so did he because within just a few months, I was pregnant. We did what we needed to do. We didn’t do the most ideal thing, the thing that parents want for their children which is to graduate high-school at the very least. However, in our defense, we both got our GED’s within a couple months of quitting school. In that time-frame we also got jobs and eventually (before the baby arrived) we got an apartment together.
And then Bam! the rest is history. We were living full-blown life as an adult. Soon enough, our son arrived and shortly after, I made the choice to move to where my boyfriend’s (father of my child) mother lived and where I could attend college. He didn’t move with us right away, but we were still a family. We got together on weekends, either in the town he lived or the town I lived. This is how we lived for about 6-8 months before he decided to move in with our son and I where we lived.
And what do you know, within a couple of years we had another little bundle of joy, a little brother for our oldest. What started out as a love thing soon turned to something else completely. I can’t even describe what it was other than two immature, selfish people trying to be adults and not knowing how. The relationship eventually ended (we held on for 4 years) and we went our separate ways. You can find a little more of the history here: To The Boy I Used to Love
It was a long time before I started dating anyone again because all I wanted was to get my crap together and raise my boys. In those years, neither he nor I had custody. Court proceedings had been started for that reason, but for some reason or another got put on the back burner. He was the more stable of the both of us so the boys did live with him. I was partying and unemployed, just being selfish still. During this time, I met another guy that I thought was worth it. We dated and I ended up pregnant. However, that’s another story for a different day. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant this time, I decided to move out of state to be with my family (parents and sisters) so I left the boys with their dad. I was a very mixed up soul after he and I split. I was very beat-down emotionally so I really believed I wasn’t good enough for them (my two young sons). Leaving was extremely hard for me, but as I said, I thought I was doing them a favor. It took me only three months to realize they were my heart and I couldn’t bear being away from them. I returned to the state I left from and began to build my life again for my two boys I already had as well as the little person that was to be born in a few months (6 to be exact). I got a job, I got a place of my own, and I quite partying. I leveled out somewhat.
Then I met a man I fell in love with. A man that was everything I had been searching for. A man that scared the daylights out of my emotions. Plus, that feeling of not being good enough reared it’s ugly head. I couldn’t understand why this wonderful man would want to date someone that was pregnant with another mans’ child. I kept putting him off and putting him off. However, he was persistent and wouldn’t quit coming around. He’d come drink coffee with my parents (who by this time had moved to where I was). He got to know my sister (whose family had also moved to where I was). Finally, I got brave enough to risk my emotions and here we are 12 years and 5 kids later. Here, in this town we don’t care much for, but in a home I love. However, this home I love in a town we don’t care about came at a price. I had to leave my two oldest boys with their dad. Although we are only an hour away, it’s a hard road. I don’t see them near as much as I’d like and it’s especially worse now that they are older (teens now) because they have school, sports, jobs and are busy with their friends and/or girlfriends. Over the years, the chaos of living in two separate towns has raised some issues with visitation and what I thought was best for them. Their step-mom even mentioned to me once in a disagreement about visitation that ‘I chose to leave them.’
And that’s the point of this story. My first thought after hearing her words was, “Oh how dare she?” and “As the partner to my children’s father, all she has is his story…she knows nothing of mine.” However, after calming my emotions (I had already said something to her in response but it was anger speak which as everyone knows does not accomplish anything) I simply told her what it was…..my perspective…..I didn’t chose to leave them. I chose to do what I thought was best for them, but I also had to do what my husband and I thought was best for our family (he, I, and our 6 children that live with us). I didn’t want to leave them. I wanted them to be with me all the time, but I also knew their dad wasn’t going to let that happen. I made a choice. I made a choice to not fight because I didn’t want to drag their lives through upheaval. I chose not to fight because their ages at the time, their lives they had built in their young years was more than I could ask of them to give up. As an adult who moved quite frequently as a child, I didn’t want that for them. I made the choice to not fight because I just wanted to keep things as normal as possible rather than selfishly demand my way.
The remark of their step-mother stayed with me for a long time after that. I felt that I had failed in some way as their mother. And it took me a long while to realize that I hadn’t failed, but I didn’t act as an informed adult either. Did I make the right choice? Maybe or maybe not. Would I redo it if given the chance? I honestly don’t know, but I do know that I have always loved them and I’ve always tried to do what I thought best for them no matter how skewed my belief in myself was (which happened to be pretty low at some points).
I want to thank, lifebeyondmommy.com, For the Ones That Judge for inspiring me to overcome my fear of other people’s judgment and to write my story. Reading her post helped me to realize that I am not alone in my actions as a mother. Mothers across the globe share in the trials of motherhood, whatever they may be. I came to understand a long time ago that it’s not so much about other people’s opinions that matter, but rather how the Lord judges me and how I live with my decisions.
So chins-up mothers everywhere. We all make mistakes, but we also love our children to the very best of our abilities and sometimes have to make the hard choices.