I didn’t choose to be a single parent but I also didn’t wallow in the perceived sorrow of it. I stood up to the challenge and though everyday is a mini struggle, my daughter and I are fine. She is a goddess in training and I am the guidance that lights her way daily. I became a mother at the end of a relationship. And I have never regretted this decision.
Absent parent: A parent who does not live with their child but has financial responsibility for them. Also known as the non-custodial parent.
I recently finished a 10-month ordeal within the walls of Family Court. Interestingly, I began these proceedings when my daughter was 2yrs old. I opened the case of joint custody and visitation rights at a time when rose-colored glasses were still in. I know, it sounds crazy. On the one hand, I actually went through the effort to do this and on the other hand, he ignored my effort and forgot about us for the next decade.
Breath training is a basic tool with many uses, and children age four and up can learn and use breath effectively. Start by practicing these techniques through exercises yourself. When you’ve experienced the benefits and feel confident, it’s time to teach the children.
Once the actual court proceedings started, deep inside I was hopeful that in his absence he actually grew up and wanted to be a part of her life. I was elated and surprisingly, relieved. I was running out of excuses for him as my child aged and her questions became harder to answer. Unfortunately, on the first day of court I realized that he had not grown and was in fact trying to teach me a lesson by dragging us through embarrassing legal motions that I could never directly answer because of how he set it up.
Keeping children safe is a powerful primal urge. Our concern tinges every parting, just as our gratitude infuses every reunion. Fear’s presence is subtle but constant: the pause at their bedroom door to hear gentle breathing, the quick inventory of new friends’ homes for hazards.
Over the last year, I’ve watched him get overnight visits and then lose these privileges. I’ve watched him argue custody, citing that I’ve been blocking and then him not able to define blocking since that implies being present in our lives. I’ve watched him show up in court wearing brown suits with different women on his arm and then follow this up by contesting child support payments wearing old sweats and a backpack. All the while, I’ve listened to him regurgitate the same story from our daughter’s toddler days, not acknowledging the blooming woman who stood before him.
Take a walk after the rain and splash in puddles. Find a running gutter or tiny stream and float leaves or twigs out to sea. Water to clean and Water to feed.
Our last day in court found me on the stand articulating truth that only a parent who has been present the entire time could. With no hate, no ulterior motive, only the health of my daughter foremost in my brain. And when judgment fell in my favor, it felt like an enormous weight lifted off my back. All these months of confusion, depression, increased blood pressure, evaporated. But even as I left, his shame couldn’t stop his hateful tongue to lash out at me. He shared no blessings to the one human that has poured unconditional love around his child. No apology. No head bowed. No thank you escaped from his lips.
No ritual can do as much to teach children to love nature as a friendship with a real tree. Nature teaches a wonderful lesson about the mystery of life: that everything changes and everything stays the same.
I share this to help in the healing process of many single parents. It is not acceptable to be Missing In Action. It is not okay to be a deadbeat. If your ‘adult’ decision is that you will not step up to the plate, then step off. It doesn’t make it easier on the tribe to have you reappear when you think you’re ready. That reasoning is not only selfish but a disservice to your child.
I am thankful that the men that I’ve chosen to surround her with have earned her respect. Words are powerful and I believe in their mana. I also believe that action speaks louder than words and that our children are always watching…
“Coit Tower” by TuffGyal 808