I have written in the past about my years spent as a non-custodial mother, granted now that college boy is 19 that label no longer applies. But in the years I spent as a non-custodial mother, I learned early on that society does not shine fondly on non-custodial mothers. I was reminded of this today when I popped on twitter and saw a tweet that stated “non-custodial mothers are the scourge of the parenting world” I ended up tweeting the person who said it and commiserating.
Yet why is it that a woman who chooses for whatever reason not to be the custodial parent is looked down upon? In many instances it’s the hardest decision a woman will ever make, in many cases these are women getting away from abusers who are better equipped to manipulate the system. In other cases there is health, financial and a myriad of reasons behind why a woman chooses to allow their child’s other parent to be the primary caretaker. I have never met a woman who was not heartbroken over the decision even if she knew it was in her child’s best interest.
Funny thing is men are never demonized for their parenting choices, sure if you are Kevin Federline who just keeps making babies you will get the stank eye. But for the average Joe if you financially support your child and make even a half assed attempt to be in their life, no one questions you. If you actually do even more you are damn near put on a pedestal!
One of the reasons I feel the so-called Mommy Wars that exist are damaging to women is because via those wars we attempt to reduce women to one simple role when the reality is as women our lives are rich and varied. For those of us who choose to become mothers, it’s a part of life but as anyone who has gotten a kid to 18 will tell you, you also realize as the years go on that you are a person too! Now it may not seem like it in the earlier days when sleep deprivation is heavy or you deal with the early years but motherhood does not negate who we were before children…at least it shouldn’t. Yet too many times because we as women give into the bullshit ideology of what a mother should be, we play a role in the same system that tears down women who don’t fit the model of what a mother is.
One thing I have learned over the years with my son is never in his eyes has he seen me as less than a mother. Recently he told me now that is in college that he can’t imagine how I tried to go to college, work and raise him and that he understands now why when he went to live with his dad I was able to return to school full time. No, I was not available after school with a plate of cookies and milk but I always knew who his teachers were and how to contact them. Prior to my move to New England, I flew out for his birthday celebrations and endured the looks of the moms wondering why I was not there every day. Of course these women weren’t there when I was nor do they have the memory my son has of the rough economic times that existed before he went to live with his Dad and how his change of residency allowed me to get stable.
Yet too many times, I saw the looks in the eyes of those who wondered about me…how could you? The thing about motherhood, it’s not one size fits all.
So when we talks about motherhood let’s talk about Mommas who are not with their babies every day, let’s talk about the moms that don’t fit the mom mold…they are also mothers who deserve a place at the stable as well.