2014 was a crazy, messy, beautiful year! A little heavier on the crazy and the messy, but it was definitely beautiful too.
When I pictured how I’d bring in 2015, I didn’t exactly know what I saw; but I knew it would likely be a low key evening at home with my boys and my family watching the ball drop on TV.
What I did not picture was bringing in the new year without my boys.
For 8 months, I have dreaded the day I’d have to allow my sons to do an overnight visit with their dad. I’ve avoided it at all costs. I’ve hid from this event like a scared girl on a horror flick running from a man with a chainsaw. But just like what inevitably happens on those horror movies, I knew eventually, this scary day would find me.
You can run, but you can’t hide.
Luckily for me, my almost ex-husband is not someone who has fought very hard to have overnight visits. He is not equipped in any way, and he knows that. So I haven’t had to be too sneaky in my running. He basically didn’t even chase me.
However, every now and then something inside him rises to the surface and he has to convince himself he’s a decent human being by “fighting to be a father.” Although I have never kept him from his sons and the only person he’s fighting is himself, occasionally he needs to prove his manhood by attempting to follow through with the parts of a court order he feels suit him that day.
Apparently that need arose just before the new year and on Monday I began receiving the, “When can I see my sons” text messages. Mind you, he’d been out of town for 2 weeks and when he had the opportunity and even obligation to see his sons, he refused it or cut it short as he either “didn’t want to do me any favors” or was simply too hungover to fulfill his promises. But, the time to prove fatherhood arrived and I could no longer run from this dreaded event.
The court order states he is to have the boys every Wednesday and every other weekend. Standard visitation. New Year’s Eve 2014 happened to fall on a Wednesday.
The moment came where I knew I was going to have to surrender. Although he has not fulfilled his responsibilities in any way and although he lives in a 2 bedroom apartment with a roommate leaving no room for 3 small children, he requested his visitation. After a short text battle, I stated, “You can have them Wednesday night after I get off work until 6 pm Thursday night like the court order states.” He agreed despite the fact that Wednesday was New year’s Eve and having children in his care likely didn’t fall into the picture of what he envisioned for his new year’s events either.
In that moment, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
While I know he is their father and he has rights, and although I feel like the world (who doesn’t know my husband or the details of the situation well) expects me to encourage the father of my children to be as involved as possible (and I do), I just cannot get my heart in that place. I do what I’m supposed to do, and I facilitate as much involvement as he will participate in; but knowing who he is and the heartbreak my boys will endure as a result of his half in, half out approach to fatherhood, I simply cannot get on board emotionally.
The irony in court ordered visitation and the details of going through a divorce when children are involved, is that the very reasons you left in the first place seem to be what you cannot get away from. When you have children with someone, to some extent, you’re stuck regardless.
I left because of the sad excuse for a father he was, the poor example of a man he was for my sons, his alcoholic heart and compulsive liar soul. I left because I didn’t want one more day of damage done to me and my sons. I left because he never wanted to be a husband and a father; and at his core, he’s an overgrown teenage boy who likes to party and only cares about himself.
Yet, he is the father of my children. The law says he has rights. And despite the broken promises, failed visits, and constant attempts to thwart all responsibility, my sons love him. Unconditionally. Just as I did.
And so even though it breaks me wide open, I hand over my heart to a man who doesn’t deserve it. Each time he has them, whether overnight or just for a few hours, I have no choice but to release my sons. I physically have to let them go, and I emotionally have to convince myself it’s alright. Because that’s what happens in a divorce.
You can run, but you can’t hide.
So New Year’s Eve came after two days of anger and disgust, fear and worry. Tuesday night I packed the first bag of many for my three angels to spend not only their first full night with their father, but also their first ever night away from me.
I struggle to swallow this pill.
In two and a half years, I’ve never been away from my boys longer than 10 hours. My youngest is still nursing. Though he is not dependent on breast milk anymore, he’s still quite dependent on my body for comfort and sleep. My sons are a piece of me. Little chunks of my soul wandering around out in the world. And now, I am forced, by law, to release them much before any of us are ready.
The thought of my boys being gone from me 24 hours, not to mention an entire weekend when that heinous requirement begins, absolutely sleighs me. It makes me sick to my stomach in a literal sense. It feels like a cruel injustice. Even if their father wasn’t an alcoholic, this requirement would feel cruel. But he is. And so it feels intolerable.
Mothers have an innate need to protect their children, even if it’s from their own father. Divorcing an alcoholic strips me of some of my ability to uphold my motherly duties to protect my children.
I have to remind myself frequently that although I cannot always protect them from their earthly father, their heavenly father is always able to protect and provide.
Bringing in the new year with my children and my heart in another home was extremely difficult. But while I thought I wouldn’t get through it, I did and so did my sons. They are too young to understand or see the reality of their father, and for that, I am grateful. They will see it someday and when they do, it will be devastating.
For now, I have no choice but to put on my brave face and trust an untrustworthy person with the most precious and sacred thing I have.
Unfortunately, you can run, but you can’t hide.
How do you handle child visitation?
- First Holiday After Divorce Without The Kids?
- How To Reduce Separation Anxiety During Co-Parent Visitation
- A Congenial, Workable Visitation Arrangement
- 4 Child Visitation Tips: Negotiate Instead Of Litigate