When people hear that I don’t have custody of my son, they are confused. I can see it immediately on their face.
A lot of people still hang on to the notion that “mothers always get custody”. If I had a penny for everytime I heard that in the midst of my custody battle, I’d buy you all a new car. Unfortunately, it just is not true.
In the book “Mothers On Trial“, the author provides a startling statistic that 70% of the mothers in her book lost custody of their children to the father.
Now, as depressing as that is. Society’s view of me, as a non custodial mom, is that something must be wrong with me because I don’t have full custody of my son. They silently wonder if I’m doing drugs, whether I’m an alcoholic, if I have a job, or if I abuse my son. None of these things are true, of course. I am a model citizen and devout Christian with a wonderful career. It is the dormant stigma in our day and time to think something must be seriously wrong with a woman to not “get custody” of her child.
I know a lot of people probably don’t presume any of those things about me, but I know I had those thoughts in my head when I heard the term “non custodial mom” prior to my experience. As I’ve expressed in my prior post, relinquishing physical custody to my ex was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my short life.
Mother’s are held to this high standard of society. The mental image of a mother is one who is patient, with rosy cheeks and an apron dusted with flour from preparing the day’s bread. She wears a tired but loving smile on her face and lights up when her children accomplish something new. She bathes them and kisses them and lives her life to see her children happy.
That view is outdated. In my opinion, it should’nt have been that way even 100 years ago. Women and mothers come in all bodies and ways. They are small and big, young or old. They are happy, some are depressed. Some women can’t have children. Does that mean that they can never experience pure joy of teaching a child? Of course not. Women and mothers are all kinds of people who do a myriad of things and love their children deeply.
I, too, love my child. I love him more than words can express. But I am not just a mother. I recognize the wonderful truth that I am a pretty diverse human. I have no patience and I cannot cook. I work outside of my home and I love it. My son will grow up seeing a mom who has passion and talent. He will see one who does not hole herself up inside her house but experiences life and leaves the home to help those in need, teach, learn, and have fun outdoors. He will see confidence and leadership from a woman and know that he can be whatever kind of human he wants to be.
I have learned that I can be whoever I truly am and still be a mother to my son.
In the family court system, mother’s are held to quite the different standard as well.
If a mother fights for her child in court, she’s a vengeful woman trying to rip them apart from their father. If the father fights for his child in court, he’s viewed as a loving, caring, and devoted patriarch.
If a mother chooses to work outside the home, she is selfish and she takes time away from her children. If a father chooses to work outside the home, he is lauded as a contributing member of society and a very dedicated provider.
The family court system has a big problem. Society has a big problem. Humans should be evaluated on whether or not they are a good human or not. Being a mother or father should be irrelevant in the matter.
So on this happy Mother’s Day I would like to boldly proclaim that I don’t identify myself as a mother. I am an artist, a sister, a partner, a bike-rider, a cat-owner, a book-lover, a musician, and I am a mother.
I hope to teach my son to be an outstanding and diverse human. Full of kindness and patience that he can pass on to his children as a father.
What a wonderful and awesome responsibility parenting is. I am so glad it is something I get to experience in my life.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful mothers and people.