So the last two days we’ve been getting back to normal, this includes child care arrangements. I like that my daughter’s step-mom does a lot of the communication with me, it kinda takes some of the heat out of things and let’s face it girls are generally more organised. I have to admit initially it took some getting used to. You go from having your child as your responsibility 24/7 to suddenly having to split the time. This isn’t so bad when you realise you can actually have some freedom but when you’re communicating that with the person who was a part of your breakup that’s a tricky one and takes a fair bit of strength to put your feelings aside and deal with it all objectively.
In the first few months the days without her were awful, I would just sit alone and cry. I hated being on my own in the house, even when I was dating, the majority of my time was spent alone, I wasn’t seeing that person every day. In spite of my “Everything is okay” smile, it took time to get used to the idea that handing over my daughter to her dad was actually a positive thing and meant I really could enjoy either time with friends or just alone time. I hadn’t known how to be alone, I don’t think I’d ever really done it before. It’s quite different now. Now I really do need that alone time to do, well just stuff for myself. Sometimes I might go on a date, sometimes it’s as simple as guilt free reading books or writing time. But either way I now appreciate it. Perhaps it’s made me a little more introverted and definitely more self aware.
The difficult arrangement dates are always birthdays and Christmas. My first Christmas alone was the hardest ever. I spent the whole day on my own avoiding the fact it was Christmas at all. My ex and his partner had my daughter till the evening and I couldn’t help but feel like I’d been punched in the stomach with loneliness whilst I imagined them all being happy in a new relationship, the jewel in the crown being my daughter whilst I sat and watched Judge Judy because I simply couldn’t do much that day and that was pretty much the only thing on TV that didn’t remind me it was Christmas Day. There were lots of invites to friends, but I just didn’t feel right celebrating and so hid for the day. I’m actually okay with Christmas alone now, I might actually quite like it.
One thing I really had to work on was putting my emotions aside when it came to splitting the time for custody. None of us wanted the whole court stuff, and I feel as grown ups it really shouldn’t be needed. I hate people who play games over child custody, I actually believe it should always be 50/50 where possible. Let’s face it, you both made a baby and should therefore both muck in. The hard part is when your child decides they don’t want to see one parent or the other, this has happened to us once, I’m half expecting it to happen in the opposite direction at some point so have already coached myself that if this happens I will just have to give my child the space she needs. Teenagers get so much stuff confused, it’s hard enough with the amount of pressure from school, mine also has diabetes so it’s just extra angst to manage and sometimes it’s tricky. You just have to stay incredibly positive, even when stuff is just plain shit. Holding it together is what matters most when there’s a crisis. Although there are days when you just feel so alone and that no matter what you do it will be wrong. The only way at that point is good old intuition.
The Birthday subject came up today. My daughter’s step-mom had added some reoccurring calendar invites. She hadn’t done it on purpose but one had booked through my daughter’s whole birthday weekend. I have to admit my initial reaction in my head was “who the fuck are you to tell me if I can see my daughter on her birthday?” Obviously this was unfair and reactionary and I replied with a “can we ask My daughter what she wants to do and we’ll go with that?” She was apologetic I hadn’t wanted to make her feel bad, but appreciated that she recognised it may have accidentally struck a nerve, and I know this must be really hard for her. I mean let’s face it, kids normally get a much rougher deal from a step-mom and this one actually cares, my daughter really likes her and this is such a good thing. I’d hate to think of my daughter being uncomfortable with her step-mom and my ex having to choose or the whole thing being difficult. Yes that’s a bitter persons dream, but I’m a bigger person, and mental health for everyone involved comes first.
It’s funny, as a mother your child being born is a day you will never forget. For me it was that feeling of elation of giving birth naturally, totally compus-mentus, able to breath a full breath of air for the first time in months felt like I’d just run a marathon. That tiny baby (the first baby I’d ever held in my entire life) delivered straight to me as soon as she was out looking up at me with those silent wondering Little eyes, we bonded there, I met the person I’d carried for months not knowing yet who she was or who she would be until that moment. I will never forget that my daughter didn’t cry as so many anecdotally do, she just stared up at me, almost with curiosity and I stared back just so astounded at what had just happened.
Initially when my daughter got a step-mom, I was so worried I’d be replaced, so worried she’d be better than me, not tainted with the depressed mom stuff I had going on. But then I remembered I gave birth after carrying this child in my body. I breastfed this child for a year. I certainly wasn’t perfect but I did my best as a mother. No one can replace that. My daughter now has a mom and a step-mom, if we work together to make her happy then surely two strong female role models who work to get the best for her, is better than the ex and the replacement who are fighting for the crown… nobody can win that game.