Fat Bottom Girl Said What

When my ass talks, people listen.

The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love

IT'S TOUGH

Motherhood, fatherhood, parenthood in general, truly is the toughest job you’ll ever love.  I thought my job was tough when my son’s dad asked for a divorce when I was only a couple month’s pregnant with him.  I thought my job was tough trying to deal with behavioral issues, accompanied by extreme anger and huge temper tantrums, which cropped up in my son at the young age of three.  I thought my job was tough when he was butting heads with his third grade teacher, and crying himself to sleep every night because he hated her so much he didn’t want to go to school.  I thought my job was tough the first time I had to put my son on an airplane, by himself, to fly halfway across the country to spend five weeks of the summer with his dad.  I thought my job was tough when my son started deflecting my hugs and kisses, and acted like returning my “I love you” was a struggle to get past his lips.  But as I wrote in this post, nothing can prepare a parent for when a child reaches the age when they have the desire to go live with their other parent.  That particular moment is when you know for sure, that being a parent is a tough job.

Weeks ago my son’s dad and I sat down and discussed the possibility of my son going to live with his dad.  At that time his dad informed me of his intent to retire from the military, and possibly take a contract job in Afghanistan.  His dad had a two year plan, which had my son going to live with him the beginning of his freshman year of high school.  Needless to say, after years of deployments and separations, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of him being absent for another year of my son’s life.  His dad’s end goal was to do this contract job, and then fully retire once his wife finishes nursing school and goes to work, thereby allowing him the chance to be a stay-at-home dad.  Honorable intentions, but I believe these next two years are particularly crucial when it comes to my son.

But last week, after my mother informed me she isn’t willing to transport my son to and from school in the coming year, his dad and I sat down for another chat.  His dad offered me a possibility I’m not particularly comfortable with.  He told me he wants me to consider my son starting school next year in the town he lives in, whether he is there or not.  Do you understand what I’m saying here?  He wants my son, to live with his wife, for possibly a whole year while he’s gone to Afghanistan, instead of living with me.  He did preface it by saying he knew I might not be comfortable with it, and he was afraid I would have terrible guilt feelings about allowing my son to do it.  After all these years he knows me very well, because even hearing the words come out of his mouth immediately made me sick to my stomach and made tears well up in my eyes.  I left the restaurant that day not knowing how to feel about any of it.  I wasn’t even sure how my son would feel about it, but I knew I needed to sit him down and ask him about it.

Yesterday we had almost an hour in the car to talk, so I brought it up.  I asked him how he would feel about living with his dad’s wife, even if his dad was in Afghanistan.  I told him his dad and I had talked about him starting school next year in the town his dad lives in.  He said it would be okay with him.  I told him I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, that I had reservations.  I asked him why he felt he wanted to move.  He said, “So you can have a break, and because I want to go to a different school, and because I feel like you’re annoyed with me all the time.”  Wow. . .gut punch.  I told him I don’t feel like I need a break from him, and I am not annoyed with him all the time, but maybe it seems that way since I feel like he’s always testing limits with me.  And when I felt like I could do it without breaking down and totally losing it, I told him none of this has anything to with how much I love him.  And he told me he knows that.

So now I am left with all these feelings, and all these questions.  Should I allow this?  How do I really feel about this?  What kind of mother am I if I allow him to be parented by his stepmother the majority of the time?  If I do allow it, can I live with the guilt?  Is there a possibility this will make my relationship with my son better?  This is all I have known for the last 12 years.  How do I get up every morning and walk past his empty bedroom and not feel like a total failure?  Since the day I brought him into this world, he’s the only thing I’ve been living for.  How do I let him go?

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21 thoughts on “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love

  1. It’s not my place to offer an opinion since I know nothing about your situation, but that’s never stopped me. Don’t you let that boy go. He needs his mother more than anyone else in his world, even if he won’t say it out loud.

    • Don, there was a little bit more background in the previous post regarding this subject. I know he needs his mom, and I will always be here for him, but he needs his dad too. I think his dad’s “family unit” is appealing to him, and he and I butt heads all the time over everything. I don’t want to let him go, but I am starting to feel almost as if I don’t have a choice.

  2. I hope you can find the answer. xx

  3. sirensway on said:

    I wish we were sitting across from one another holding sweaty hands so that I could look you squarely in the eyes and tell you that I completely, wholeheartedly connect with what you are feeling right now…it feels like the most intimate betrayal. It feels like gut shattering guilt because of piece of you craves the physical freedom that this arrangement might offer you. It feels like bitterness because you’ve invested fourteen years into your child’s life with no expectation that his father would be a provider and now he seeks the very person who left you alone, scared and completely vulnerable when he was still growing in your belly.

    I was there seven years ago and my son, ever so sweetly, revealed his desired to live with his father. And like most seven year olds, the conversation was shelved minutes later… It will come back again. Thank you for sharing your story. Xoxo.

  4. Kids may not have the emotional maturity to make these linds of decisions. So that means the Adults need to step up 🙂

    • His dad and I have a great co-parenting relationship, so we are very lucky that we can sit and have these discussions. When it comes to our ideas on raising him, we come from two different sides of the fence, but are able to see each other’s viewpoint. I feel very lucky because many divorced parents don’t have this.

  5. I don’t feel proper in commenting in this at all. Yes, I also am raising a boy on my own, but his father has been out of his life since he was 1 and never looked back,no Bday or Xmas or presents, no acknowledgement at all. In fact, I just recently found out my ex doesn’t even know the his son’s birthday.
    But I’m sure that you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. There is no right or wrong here. How far away does his father live from you? Can you visit your son if he does decide to live with his father?
    I hope you find a solution.

    • Right now his dad lives about an hour away, and I commute to work near where he lives. His dad is planning to move back to WA in 2 years, but might relocate sooner for work if necessary.

  6. Mariette on said:

    No matter what, it’s going to be tough; he may be upset with you or resent you if you choose to keep him with you, or you’ll feel horrible walking by his empty bedroom, like you gave up. I can’t offer much since I’m not a parent, but my brother-in-law went through a similar situation when he was 11 and the decision was made that he would move across the country to move in with his dad (my step-father).

    They made it a ‘no going back & fourth’ situation where my brother didn’t feel like he could jump around as he wished. He was getting into a bit of trouble and butting heads with his mom quite a bit and I think she was having trouble handling him, accompanied with my brother wanting so badly to move in with my dad (I’m sure it was partly the unknown since they hadn’t lived together since my brother was very little and so my brother wanted to know him better, as well as the fact that it’s just ‘dad’).

    In the beginning, my brother wanted to move right back to Washington because he didn’t love it in Texas, but over time, he grew to like it here. He didn’t get to visit his mom too often since funds were tight, but they stayed close, and I think his dad was able to ‘get him in line’ better so overall it was for the best for my brother. My brother recently moved back to Washington to be closer to his family up there and we all stay in touch.

    I’m not saying him moving in with his father is the best in your situation, but it sounds like you two are doing your best to work together and are thinking this through. As long as you’re able to do whats best for your son and try to let go of what you or his father want, it’ll work out for the best. I’m sorry you’re going through such a tough decision; *hugs*!

    • Thanks for sharing your family’s experience with it. Yes, my son can be a master manipulator, so we will be sure to make it the same sort of “no going back and forth” type of thing. My son and I continue to talk about it, as I want to make sure this is what he wants to do. He is kind of a loner, so he doesn’t seem to be bothered by leaving the kids he’s gone to school with for the last 7 years. He hasn’t forged any close friendships, yet the kids in his class tell me how funny he is. He is quite humorous and loves to do impersonations and voices. He seems to roll with the punches well, and will probably do well whether he is with me, or with his dad. Thanks again!!

  7. I am unsure if your feelings of inadequacy are driving this decision.I have no doubt that a dad can raise a child as successfully as a mom, and he has the advantage of a partner. I do feel very strongly however that if you decide to do this it is very important that you constantly reassure him you love him and want him. Even if this is his choice, he may still resent you for letting him go. Be very clear early on what the arrangements are for you in his life. Do not rush into finalizing your decision, explore every option, maybe even ones you have not yet considered. I really do wish you all happiness. You need your friends around you!

    • I think every parent runs the risk of their child resenting them, regardless if they’re raised in a two-parent home, or by single parents. His dad and I have already discussed that he will be very open with the visitation schedule, just like I have been, so I think all would be fine. I just have to deal with me feelings regarding the whole thing. Thanks for commenting!!

  8. I have never been in this kind of heart wrenching situation. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for you right. All I can say is that I’m in your corner and I’m hoping that it works out for you. Please keep us updated on how things are going, sweetie!! xoxo

  9. When my ex-wife left seven years ago, my two children stayed with me. My son was six and my daughter 11. Last summer, my son told me he wanted to live with his mom for a while. I knew in his mind that he had sort of built up a romanticized version of what that would be like, based on his weekends with her over the last several years. My gut told me it wasn’t going to work out well, but I also realized it was something he was going to need to experience for himself — and that if I fought him and his mom on it, he would resent me for it. At the same, I also felt it was important that he commit himself to his decision, and not just come home at the first sign of trouble once the honeymoon period was over. So I told him that I understood his decision, and as much as I hated to see him go, I would support him. I also told him that, to be fair to his mom and himself, he needed to make a commitment to stay a full school year. Period. No back-and-forth. When that year was up, he could make whatever choice he wanted to, and he would always have a place at home.

    I almost felt like an observer in that moment, hearing the words coming out of my mouth and wanting to throw my hands over my lips to shut myself up. But inside, I knew I had to be strong and trust my instincts, and that — in the long run — it would strengthen our relationship because of the trust I had shown him.

    As I expected, after a few months, his mother’s need to be part of the social circuit wore on their relationship. My son began acting out at home with his mom and at school. I made several trips to school after being called in to discuss his behavior. His grades slipped, his Mom insisted he see a child psychologist because of his anger toward her, refusing to accept that a part of that anger was unresolved feelings he still had about her leaving. I made my presence know, offered my support, but still insisted she take the lead. Eventually, things leveled off and, for the last few months, he’s been on the straight and narrow, and — even better — is getting back to the warm, thoughtful and sensitive boy I’ve always known.

    Last week, he told me he wanted to moved back at the end of the school year in June.

    “The heck you are,” I said. “I’m making your room into a terrarium full of reptiles.”

    When we hugged, it was the best hug I’d gotten in a very long time. The kind that let me know the risk I took was the right one, no matter how many times I smacked myself in the head walking by his empty room.

    Trust your instincts, Ms. FB. And trust that your son knows what you’ve done for him and will always live you for it — near or far.

    Yes, being a parent is tough. The best, hardest job ever. And at some point, we have to let go a little in order to stay close. I apologize for taking this much space, but I could feel what you were feeling because it’s still so fresh. I hope sharing my experience will help you, Hon.

  10. Ned, you’re welcome to take as much space as you like! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am a firm believer in letting children learn lessons through experience, and it sounds like you are too. When my son told me a couple of months ago, that he felt like it was his dad’s “turn” to have him, since I have had him for 12 years, what could I say to that? I feel I have to go with my gut on this, and do like you did, allow him to form his own opinions through experience. I think he will also figure out the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence, but you never know. I feel like this might actually strengthen my relationship with my son, and if there is that possibility within this decision, I have to let him go. I miss my sweet, kind boy who used to love to give he hugs and smooches, and cuddle up to read a book or watch a movie, but I know he has to begin dipping his toes in the waters of manhood. Again, I am so grateful to you for telling your story! 🙂

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