“Wow! Your kids go to Spain for two months every summer WITHOUT YOU?!?!”
“I could NEVER let my child be away from me for that long!”
“I would DIE if I had to let my kids go!”
“I couldn’t BEAR to let my children go!”
These were the “ramblings on” of so many folks (usually other married mom “friends”) once they found out that my kids go to Europe every summer to spend time with their grandparents. As part of my divorce settlement, I agreed to permit my kids to go to Spain in exchange for my ex-husband allowing them to live most of the school year with me. My ex was determined to get as much time for him and his family as he could, as close to 50% as possible he warned during one of our mediation appointments. It wasn’t as if I didn’t WANT him to see his kids, I was just extra concerned with providing the children stability, not wanting them to be ping ponged back and forth between the two of us. I felt they could not handle that much back and forth at such young ages so I did what I had to do. They were going to Spain.
The first two years that my kids went, my daughter was three and four, I went over to see them for fear she would forget me. It was super tough. But I did what I felt was best for the children in the larger scheme of things. It didn’t help however, when people would say things like I outlined in the beginning of the post. They had no filter and said whatever they were thinking. They had no regard for my feelings and in the beginning when they would says such things I would leave the conversation upset and rattled, sad that I had to let my children go. Their comments fueled the already uneasiness I had about the situation. But then after a few times of allowing another person’s opinions to get me all riled up, I decided to think about a few things:
1) My children are not possessions. They are not mine. I have been bestowed with the honor of raising them, protecting them, and teaching them, but they are not my property.
2) They have the wonderful opportunity to become fully bilingual before most people learn one language.
3) They get the privilege of getting to experience another culture and another part of the world.
4) And finally, they get to do all of this under the loving and watchful eyes of their grandparents who love them dearly and aren’t going to live forever, by the way.
That is how I decided to look at my family’s unique situation. Not under the glare of anger, possessiveness, and greed, but for what it really was…an opportunity for them to be loved by other family members, form lasting memories, and finally to be more well rounded. After all, with all the technology there is available today at our fingertips I can actually see my children everyday they are in Spain now via Skype and apps just like it.
I no longer allow people to come into my family situation, drop verbal bombs and then leave me in a mess to pick up the pieces of my emotions. I know why my ex-husband and I do what we do, I have come to terms with our decisions, in fact, I like the choices we have made for our family and frankly I don’t care what others think of them.
Post Divorce tip number 7—pay no attention to other people’s opinions of how you should live your life. As a divorced parent, our situations are not always conventional and may require thinking outside of the box to accommodate the needs of all involved. Stick to your choices and don’t let others sway your resolve.