If you’re just reading this post and haven’t read any others, I’m the single mom of an amazing little boy, and I work full-time at a pretty cool job somewhere in New Mexico. However that job is coming to an end (it’s a contractor position and all that) so last year I began looking for other employment knowing that by the end of 2015 at the very latest I would be out on my rumpus with a lot of responsibility and no paycheck.
Well I found another job and I can’t even express how excited I am about it. In my head I’m jumping up and down on cloud 9 doing splits and high-fiving myself! Ever since I was young I have wanted to travel the world. In my late teens I decided I wanted to join the Navy but I was 2 lbs too fat so that didn’t work out. (Seriously I should have just gone to the bathroom and come back and reweighed…how different would my life be now? *sigh*) I have a pretty strong patriotic streak. I cry every 4th of July and play Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA. I sing the national anthem and America the Beautiful to my son at night because I only know a handful of other lullabies. More than those silly things though, I love America, plain and simple. Working in the Foreign Service gives me a chance to travel and to serve my country, and the best part about it all? My baby can come with me. Ahhhh…therein lies the problem.
My ex is staunchly opposing this new career opportunity. It means I have to move. Not just out of state, but out of country. I intend to take my son with me. He repeatedly asks me to just hand over full custody and parental rights, and leave, never to return. This is his approach to “cooperation” and “discussion” and “co-parenting” every time he gets upset with me, and usually he’s upset because I exist, which means he’s upset a lot. Why don’t I just take this job and go, and leave him his boy, he asks?
Because I grew him in my womb! Because I changed what I ate and drank and how I slept and got up every 30 minutes to pee. Because I gave birth to him, nursed him, bathed him, fed him, cared for him, sacrificed sleep for him, put his every need ahead of my own. Because in the first year of his life I was there and you were not. Because all of his life you have fought me every inch of the way to be parents together, even if we weren’t a couple. Because you make everything an issue about me and you don’t see the price our son pays. Because you don’t value me as a mother. There are a million other reasons but mostly because he needs to be with me, I am his mom, and I have been the most stable and reliable presence in his life bar none. BAR NONE! And also because I do not suggest that the only solution to every problem is that one of us give up parental rights. My son needs both his parents and I want you to be a part of his life…you don’t want me to be in his life just because you don’t like me, and the supreme selfishness of that scares me.
This is the justification I show to the world around me. Behind the scenes I have cried myself to sleep every night and soothed my puffy eyes in the morning, only to cry again on the way to work. Then I cry at work. Then I cry on the way home. I’ve sobbed to my parents and my best friends, I’ve shown them my heart so full of doubt at the wisdom of my decision to pursue this opportunity, because I do understand the price. I understand it better than anyone because I know my son better than anyone, and I’m his mom.
Why is it that as parents that you only want the very best in the world for your kids, and you usually end up being the #1 person who screws it up for them more than anyone else? If I am responsible for putting a roof over my son’s head, clothes on his back, food in his belly, for making sure he is healthy and educated and for giving him opportunities to excel in life, then this is a surefire way to do it. It’s a paycheck, it’s a roof, it’s clothes, it’s food, it’s healthcare, it’s education, and it’s international opportunity. Not to mention that for me it is a dream, and a chance to serve my country, and retirement! How can I turn all that down so his dad can see him 25% of the year and have the option, although currently unused, to see him more often than that? Nobody is asking him to give up certainty for uncertainty. Nobody is asking him to give up a dream. Since he’s not primarily responsible for anything nobody is asking him to risk failure. Only I am being asked to make these choices. Yet I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
I do believe that all mistakes can be repaired. I do believe there is a lesson to be learned in every situation. I am aware of the pros and cons and the consequences. If we end up in court and a judge denies me, then I will accept it and move on. If it works out that we can go start this new adventure, then I will give my utmost to include his father every step of the way in everything I can. I have faith that whatever is meant to be, will be.