***I say visitation because that’s the common term for it; Ryleigh’s dad says his home is her home as well and she’s not visiting him. I understand and I don’t want to offend any fathers if you feel this way as well, I don’t mean anything negative by it. - Kimber
I try not to use the word ‘hate’ very often. It’s a strong sentiment, one I reserve for things I genuinely despise, of which there are few: my skinny ankle region, abuse, the media, and visitation. Okay maybe I don’t hate it but I definitely don’t love it. And for everyone who will now say, “But children need their fathers; it’s vital to their happiness to have involved fathers,” I already know. I don’t hate the father part; I hate the away-from-me part. So let us squash that. I’m not anti-daddy. I loved mine and Ryleigh loves hers. I’m glad.
But it hurts, for various reasons:
1) The obvious one – she’s away from me and I miss her.
2) Her father and I parent so differently. Like I’m America and he’s Andromeda. Whole other galaxy.
3) I have this worrying problem whereby I worry all the time.
4) I hurt for Logan who misses her sister very deeply.
5) It is yet another reminder of the mistakes I’ve made and that my family isn’t the ideal I was raised to have.
#1: I don’t think I need to go too much into detail here. It hurts to be away from our children, especially when they are young. And Ryleigh doesn’t go to public school so I am accustomed to seeing her sweet face all day. I am used to hearing her singing at every moment; and answering her hundreds of questions; and looking at everything she finds ceaselessly interesting, which is everything she finds. I am used to hearing her say she loves me and feeling her slender arms around my waist. She is my pick-me-up when I am down. She knows the jokes that are so corny I have to laugh. She tells me if I have a booger. She plays with Logan when I want to close my eyes. I miss her presence when she is gone, so much that she’s almost nine years old and I still cry when she’s away. Not the entire time or anything, but I do cry for her.
#2: Oh. I love Ryleigh’s father with all my heart. We met young, had her young, and married young. We’ve gone through stuff (Wikipedia: World Wars 3, 4, and 5), and we still do, but I love him. Having said that, he and I have very little in common aside from being African-American and parents of Ryleigh. I have always known that there is very little I can do about his parenting style. He has just as much right to parent Ry his way as I have to mine, and he finds fault with my way as well. He is very good about certain things – he knows how I feel about child sexual abuse and predators; he sticks to my rules about music, movies, and television (for the most part – she did somehow learn a Nikki Minaj song PLEASE HELP ME OPRAH); and he earnestly tries to watch his language around her (I don’t really understand how one can’t not swear around a child but that’s just my opinion and I know many people do but it kinda drives me nuts but I’m not judging it’s just my parents didn’t swear or allow it so I’ve always thought of it as an adult activity). He’s great with her and she loves his laid-back style. I appreciate that she gets to be with someone so fearless and I do wish he and I could balance each other out as we used to, which brings me to number 3.
#3: When Ry is gone I worry: that she’s not sleeping enough. Or she’s sleeping too much. That she’s eating poisoned meat. That she’s going to go to someone’s house and find a gun. That she’s listening to Nikki Minaj songs. That she’ll want to move to her dad’s. That she misses me. That she doesn’t miss me. That she’s going to be taken. That she’ll get a cold, or the flu, or cancer. That she will get her period and I won’t be there. That she’ll break a limb. That she won’t wash her nose (it peels). I could continue but to save my rep as a sane lady (do I have that rep?), I’ll stop. Some of my worries are rational. Some are out of my control. Some could happen whether she’s with me or not. I can’t erase any of them by telling myself that. So I try to just pray and when I talk to her on the phone I ask subtle questions, “Hey Babe, any bad news from the doctor?” I can almost see her rolling her eyes on the other end.
#4: This breaks my heart. Logan and I were at the mall once while Ryleigh was away and we were having a great time. As we waited in line to ride the train around the mall, the song ‘Hey, Soul Sister’ by Train, started to play. Logan looked up at me and her face fell apart. She started crying, loudly. I asked what was wrong and she said, “Dis is Sissy favrah sooooong!” Sissy’s favorite song, I knew it too. Ry and Logan and I always turn that song up when we hear it, and I ignore the fact that lipstick could never stain the front lobe of anyone’s left-side brain (those lyrics are ridic), and we rock out together. Logan loves those moments because Ryleigh really opens up to her, and because they have a close bond. I feel so badly for Logan when Ryleigh is away. She is used to her Sissy helping her with anything she needs. The older Logan has gotten the more they’ve been arguing, but when Ryleigh knows Logan really needs something, she never denies it. I know what it’s like to be supported by siblings and I could not imagine missing them at that age.
#5: The one I’m least inclined to discuss. The one that’s the most embarrassing to me. My failed family life. I in no way consider my family a failure as we are now. I am proud that I’ve managed to not rob a bank, or let off a stink bomb at my former job, or slap Ryleigh’s teachers (when she was in school) with Ryleigh’s backpack. I have not been a perfect mom but I also haven’t been partying all day while my girls stay with the neighbor. Still, it hurts that my family didn’t work out. What’s more, I harbor a lot of guilt for the person I was when I was married. I was depressed, angry, and rather rude. I was very young and still struggling with unchecked, untreated postpartum depression, compounded by too many issues to go into. I do not state that as an excuse for my behavior. If I could talk to my former self I’d tell that girl to get to a doctor and get some help before her family crumbles. But it’s too late for that. I have proven to myself however, that it is never too late to save myself. I can change any time I want to, as I am doing now and have been doing for the past 4 years. I have been working on myself and I continue to; so that should I ever meet a man thirstin’ for a tall glass of iced crazy, I’ll be prepared to be a valuable part of a successful union. Even if that’s not till I’m 40 – which would be kinda…um…disappointing, but is something I’m prepared for, especially since I parent the way I do and will never compromise in that regard.
Visitation is necessary, I know. If I could have it my way I’d be like those celebrity couples who are like, “Oh we want our kids to be surrounded by family so we bought mansions next door to one another.” I’d do that in a heartbeat. But the decisions I’ve made have led to where I am now and I have to handle it like a grown-up. I’m just glad grown-ups cry like babies, in fetal position, hugging teddy bears. At least this one does, sometimes, when my daughter is away.