I have often thought about writing about my life as a non-custodial mama but chose not to since its deeply a painful and private thing for me. My son aka elder boy went to live with his father when he was six, when he went to live with his Dad, it was like my guts had been ripped out. Yet I decided that while drinking myself into a dark hole was what I really wanted to do, that instead I would make good use of the fact that I no longer had to rush home to my boy and instead went on a quest to get an education. My son at 17 now tells me how proud he is of me, how I went from being a high school dropout to having a college education and even an advanced degree. Its funny because the other night he said to me “Mama, you were so young when you had me…you were only a couple of years older than me”. So very true.
So why am I sharing this story now? Well I have been noticing that its no longer a hidden thing to be a non-custodial Mama. This is a great website for non-custodial patents, ran by a non-custodial Mama. Apparently the Today show had a segment on the rise of non-custodial mothers. Its funny because now that we have the internet, there is a place for us to connect. In my early days of being a non-custodial Mama, the net was still pretty is young and lets just say mine was a lonely existence. Fact is I have encountered a lot of judgement about my son not living with me, its funny because when people see me and girl child, they assume she is my only child and are stunned when I explain I have a much older child. Of course living in a small town, there are folks who immediately launch into does my boy go to the high school, yada yada and I have to explain no he lives with his papa.
I admit now that he is older it’s not so bad, it was worse when he was 7, 8, or 9 and people would go oh….of course there are also the looks folks give you, that pretty much show the what the fuck did she do look as I call it. Funny thing is now while we have many younger Moms who are the non-custodial parent who have made that choice and are okay with it, for me it was not a choice. It was a mathematical choice I should say, the fathering unit had more money to bury me in court and in the end I got tired of fighting and thought it better to agree to this joint parenting thing than it was to fight a man with deeper pockets.
Yet lately as I sit and marvel at how amazing my son is, in the end he has thrived despite the madness he has risen above both his father and I and the years that were complete and utter hell…so in celebration of that I share my tale of being a non-custodial Mama to encourage any other Mamas out there who are in this place and to say it can work out. I have also learned in this strange journey of parenting that being a successful parent can take many forms and its up to us to decide what our families will look like not society. Over the years, I have often been asked “It must be hard, to not have your son with you daily”…without a doubt its been hard but at the same time, I know our time away allowed me to grow and become who I needed to be.
As I am fond of saying “Mothering is one of many hats I wear…first and foremost I am me”
6 thoughts on “Non-custodial Mamas…we are coming out!”
Found this article ) and thought about your post. Thought you might be interested.
That was an enlightening read. You know, I had never really given a second thought to the fact that you are a non-custodial mom till you posted about it. I love your saying about the fact that being a mom is one of the many hats you wear. I struggle every day to maintain me despite having kids. Thank you for sharing that!
“while throwing a parade for dad if he changes a diaper”…oh I absolutely agree!
someone once commented that i don’t talk about my boys much on my blog…its because the blog is for me, for me to work out my stuff. i have a separate blog for them…& my issues are more pressing because im trying to be a better person so i can be a better mama.
that said, thank you for sharing your story! as im going through this divorce, i sometimes catch myself fantasizing–what if he did get the boys?? i could go to school, write my comics & novels, work out, be sane!! i know my heart would break in two to not see them everyday, but still i catch myself fantasizing. as it is, i am really looking forward to weekends without my boys. i know i will miss them & worry, but i’ll get time for me. and one of the reasons im divorcing their dad is because he can’t understand that i need time to myself to stay sane.
so, again, thank you for sharing. i wish the world didn’t expect miracles from mamas while throwing a parade for dad if he changes a diaper.
The only non-custodial parents I ever knew were addicts so of course my idea of a mom not having her kids unless she had a major issue was new for me like other ppl in society. My youngest son had to live with his dad for just a few mths b/c I couldn’t afford daycare and it was hard spending that time saving up money, searching for a quality daycare, and getting me together while he was away. The “what the fuck did she do” look was irritating as you know but it was then that I said his dad can have his child too! Why does the mom have to be with the kids all the time?!
He’s my baby & wasn’t even 2 yrs old so I kinda understand. It’s good your son understands, was in a good situation, and he is pride of you now. Moms always lose themselves and forget to better themselves. It sucks to be away but it also sucks not being who you know you can be. This seems like a win-win situation all the way around.
I fully agree withthe sentiment of your last paragraph especially. It is up to us to determine what a good parent looks like and how we can emulate that under all kinds of circumstances. Mine wasn’t an ideal family either. As a single parent, I knew that my kids weren’t being raised in an ideal situation, but I fully believed, and still do, that we were a family nonetheless and that we would take the hand dealt us and make the very best of it.
I applaud your courage and willingness to talk about being a non-custodial mother. Not enough speak out to help society understand that being non-custodial doesn’t mean being absent. People don’t bat an eye when a father is the non-custodial parent, in fact, they sympathize with him. The same is not true when someone meets a non-custodial mother.
From one mother to another, we all need to support each other in being the best we can be in whatever form that takes.
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