Memoirs {These are the Hard Parts}

The double rainbow we saw on our journey into the Hampton Roads area.

It’s not all sunshine, mind you.

“He never said you’d only see sunshine
He never said there’d be no rain
He only promised a heart full of singing
About the very things that once caused pain.”

-Give Them All to Jesus by Phil Johnson & Bob Benson, Sr.

Love that song. It’s stuck with me since I was a child at the most important times. This is no exception.

Chloe constantly tells me what she will and will not eat. (Not in this house, kiddo.) Chris works hard to bring money home and I work hard to put food on the table. Eat what you’re given, or go hungry. Do it without complaining, and dessert is a possibility. Remember to say thank you to the providers and you will be rewarded with JOY.

Noah wants to leave early to go to a youth event Friday night. His dad told him to talk to me when he was with me about it, and it puts me in a difficult position. Do I think youth group is important? Yes. Do I think it’s important enough to give up two days with Mom? No. Do I feel like I need to make that decision for him? No. Do I think he’s old enough to make his own decisions and figure out the consequences? Well … yes and no. So, I help him weigh all the options every time this happens (which is every time they’re visiting) and then let him make the decision in the end. It doesn’t help that he’s seeing pressure to get home for the event and pressure that Mom is not a good influence because she didn’t take them to church on Sunday, but he’s an almost-13-year-old who needs to figure it out on his own, one  moment at a time.

Faith is QUITE unhappy that they’re leaving early, as she is at an age where Mom time is very important to a girl. Try putting a positive spin on something you aren’t too positive about yourself – it’s not easy. But, I do it because it’s important for her.

They are raised with different rules. If there’s a beer or a cigarette in front of them, that person is surely not a God-loving individual. They are allowed to sit in one room and yell across the house at another person. When Mom calls one of them, they sit on their butts and yell out, “What?!” Dad expects them to call him every night, but I get one phone call a week, if I’m lucky. (Sometimes it’s two weeks or more before I hear from them again.) And, try convincing them to stop what they’re doing to call him every night – it doesn’t work. Lots of rules are different between Mom and Dad’s house, so the transition is always tricky, and of course we never have them quite long enough to make a full transition. They do well with what they’re given to work with, but we spend about 10% of our time reminding them that it’s not okay to … fill in the blank.

I’m left feeling a bit like I don’t know how to mother them, because we’re playing by different rules than what I want to play by. I’m left looking like the bad guy because I simply can’t make an early trip back to Michigan, and Dad comes through to save the day by driving halfway to pick them up. (Of course he does. He is getting exactly what he wants – them back early, and me getting less time with them – and any other time when it isn’t exactly what he wants, he won’t meet halfway.)

My ex is not a horrible man. That is not the point of this post at all. I’m simply sharing that there are some really rough parts of being the non-custodial parent, even when your kids are right in front of you. I am thankful for the lyrics of that song. It reminds me that I don’t have to have it all figured out, know how to make life work by rules I didn’t create, or feel horrible when I see a lot of “rain” moving in. It’s just my job to hand it over to someone bigger than me and do the best I can with what’s in front of me.

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2 thoughts on “Memoirs {These are the Hard Parts}

  1. Whew!! From personal experience, I “kinda” know what you’re going through. I did have custody of my kids, but…..wow! Having two sets of rules to deal with and only every other weekend to adjust was rough. He let them do whatever they wanted when he had them and then I had to get them back on track when I had them…and I always came out looking like the monster!
    I also taught Head Start for 28 years and custody was one of the toughest issues! Because the families lived in the same small town, some kids had to spend every other day with Mom and every other day with Dad….not good!!! Others spent one WEEK at Mom’s and one at Dad’s…again…NOT good! Kids need at least a month to adjust to the different sets of rules and living arrangements. One family ended up doing 6 months on and 6 months off. That worked the best. The kids had a month to settle in and 5 months of “normal”.
    So…you have my sympathy and my prayers.

  2. Megan, feel your pain. Every time you have the kids, they always cut the visit short. Solution: Tell dad for every day cut short you add on to the next visit!! HaHa. I know how frustrated you get. Cherish the days you have and make the most of them.
    Where is he meeting you? At least the drive won’t be so hard on you but WOW why can’t he do it all the time.
    Looks like he gets his way again and makes you feel the loss. I would have never let them call dad. Once and that was it. He deserves that as he does that to you all the time.
    Love ya. Hang in there.

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