I Know it’s Necessary, But I Hate Visitation


***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.

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I'm Kimberley, work-at-home single momma to two girls, Ryleigh, 9, and Logan, 3. The Single Crunch is the story of our journey from a lifestyle saturated in mainstream ideals to an organic existence, and learning to love each other, ourselves, and any living thing, unconditionally. I'm passionate about breastfeeding, unschooling, single parenting, writing, grief, childhood abuse, childism, and natural living. I write about all this and whatever else moves me, which is a lot, and I throw in some funny on the regular. I'm humbled and grateful to have you reading, thank you. I hope something here will help you in any way.

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17 Comments on “I Know it’s Necessary, But I Hate Visitation”

  1. Eva
    June 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    <3 you!

  2. June 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    I can so relate to the missing…. my boys are on a 2/2/3 split custody schedule, which means a lot of back and forth, though never more than a couple of days away from either parent. I never, ever, ever wanted to be essentially a 50% parent, fought tooth and nail for primary physical custody, at least in these very early years (NOT because my ex-husband isn’t a good father… he is… but because I didn’t want to be without my children), but this is what I was forced into. It’s so very hard, and I hate that my sons and I are forced to miss out on the family structure and life I (we?) envisioned for us when we got married and started having children. Those feelings of failure haunt me, as well, even though I know I don’t carry the bulk of the responsibility for the failure of our marriage… and I wouldn’t take him back at this point for anything in the world… but it still makes me so sad sometimes. Single parenting is a REALLY tough gig for attachment mamas. ((HUGS))

    • June 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

      Hugs to you. Attachment is tough for single parents; especially because we spend so much time with our children. I am sorry for the time you have to spend away; I know it’s not easy (and I know the fighting in court isn’t either). Thanks for reading. <3 – Kimber

  3. June 20, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Thanks so much for your honesty and courage in writing this!

    • June 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

      You’re welcome, Charlotte. :) Thank you for reading. – Kimber

  4. Trish
    July 12, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    So…it’s me, again. Yes, I’m in *that* place today and reading (re-reading some) and commenting today. Yes, I’m at work. Yes, I have loads ‘o homework and work-work to do. Yes, this is infinitely more important to me right this second.

    Can I just tell you that I sooooooooooooooooooo feel you on this? Holy crap. My ex-husband and I got together at 17. When I say “got-together” I mean I was thrilled to have a boyfriend…and he was thrilled to have a “good girl” who said yes to almost everything. I was lost. Sad. Hadn’t yet dealt with my childhood schtuff (abuse – on different levels). Simply wanted a big, happy, family and didn’t really care how I got it.

    We married in April…when we were both 24. Had Justice the following January. Enter crazy-woman-who-now-has-everything-she-ever-wanted. Yes, I was her. Further, I had grown a backbone somewhere between the time that I found out I was having a daughter and the day she was born. No, I won’t have medicine when I give birth. Yes, I will nurse. No, I will not let her “cry-it-out.” No…I no longer say “yes” to your every whim.

    As you can imagine, that was a tough row to hoe for him. A lot to swallow. A lot of change so quickly and without any warning. We separated when J was 18 months old for something like 2 months. I felt good. Slightly guilty, but mostly good. Proud. Grown up. We went to counseling and our pastor talked us through our issues. Which, if I’m being completely transparent, he had already pointed out in our pre-marital counseling sessions. I had no interest in hearing, because I knew what I wanted — see “one big happy” from above.

    Longest story in the world somewhat shortened, I went back home. Fast frowardabout 8 months and I’m pregnant again. YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!!! Right? Wrong. Found out it was another girl and all of my momma-bear stuff kicked in. “How can I teach these two amazing little souls how they are supposed to be treated when I accept less on a daily basis?” “Why doesn’t this man see what he has and get himself together?” “How do you make someone care more?” “How do I justify leaving this man who goes to work everyday, comes straight home, is halfway responsible with the family bank account, doesn’t cheat on me but just ISN’T IT???” Fast forward to April of 2009. Baby girl #2 was born in December. Enter the most demanding child who ever roamed this earth. I knew nothing of attachment parenting. I truly believed – albeit only on some levels – that she was playing me by crying to get her way. Yes. She was 5 months old. No, I’m not retarded. I just hadn’t taken the time to research things like I have since then. We have the divorce conversation. He says, the same way he has said for the last 3 years…”if you’re not happy, you and the girls should just leave” Wait. This time…he included the girls. My girls. His girls. WHAT?!?!?!?! P.S. — this was our 4th wedding anniversary. Romantic, no? As I’m sure by now in this novella (are you still reading?) you’ve realized, those girls are my world. Things got bad…worse…quickly. By June 1, we were officially separated. My girls and I at my folks house (God bless them), him at “Home.” We began our own version of “visitation” (see — there’s a connection, I’m not just a COMPLETE rambling fool). I hated it. Still do. I cried. Still do. Not everytime…and not the whole time, but yes, still. Today, we’ve been divorced for 2 years, separated for 3. Justice is 6 and Tristan is 3. We’re happy…though, somehow, not “whole”? Or…is that just my interpretation of our reality? He only has the girls on his off days. Right now…that’s Sunday-Monday. That means, he only has them when there are no responsibilities on his side of the world. He’s Chuck.E.Daddy.

    I miss them like I’ll never breathe again. Then, they come home and I breathe their hair and wipe my tears and we do it all over again.

    I cannot relate to having one gone and one at home. I can’t fathom how that must feel. I will say that I’ve spent the last 8 months talking myself out of having another child…even if it’s a sperm bank daddy. I’m DYING to have the opportunity to do it all over again. To do it the way I KNOW is right. For my girls to see and feel and smell what a mother’s love is from the beginning. I will say that your post made me re-think that a bit. How painful for all parties if/when they are spearated so that J and T can go see Daddy every other week…and baby “has to/gets to” stay with Damomma?

    Ugh. This is crazy.

    Forgive my typos…and especially my whole life in a comment. :/ This comment box is doing somersaults and I can’t see what I’m typing and when/where. As such, I can’t fix what’s messed up. LOL Don’t judge me.

    Any chance you’re in GA? I could so use a girls night in…or out. LOL But really.

    O.k. — enough for now.

  5. July 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Wow, you just verbalized every emotion and feeling I have in regards to my ex and visitation. I think you just broke it down for me because all of the pieces in the equation are so hard to put together – the guilt, the love, the worry, etc. Visitation re-opens the wounds of our past from before, during, and after the relationship…over and over again. Thank you for sharing this. So glad to have found your blog. I’m hooked!!!

    • July 12, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      Thank you for reading! Visitation is so hard, there are so many emotions surrounding it. I just try to help it go as smoothly as possible. Glad to meet you. – Kimber

  6. DeidraJ
    August 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    I feel like I’m wasting away over here. My baby has been with her Dad for 10 weeks, and we have over 3 weeks to go. To make matters worse, she doesn’t like speaking to me when she’s gone. It’s like she feels removed from me and doesn’t know what to say anymore. I try to sound excited and ask her lots of questions but she usually gives the phone back to her step-mother after a minute or two or barely speaking. Hard not to take that personal. That’s where my shame comes in. I knew when I became pregnant with her that it’d be the end of her father and I. He promptly left the picture when I told him I was pregnant but quickly came around when she was born. I felt like the ultimate failure. I felt dumb for dating him, I felt dumb for accidentally getting pregnant, I felt like a loser when no one held my hand at my ultrasounds, or my emergency visits to Triage. I felt clueless and undeserving of the beauty and miracle that I held in my hands when she was born and every time I give her away to him, I feel it tenfold all over again. My daughter has a healthy, beautiful relationship with her step-mother and even calls her parents Papa and Nana. They all love her, and I know how lucky that makes us. I still can’t function the same when she isn’t here. I miss her so much that I can’t sleep at night. We parent differently but they are patient and loving parents. Not crunchy, but definitely attentive, thoughtful, and fun so that will do. I want her to enjoy her time with them but she’s mine mine mine and I wish I didn’t have to share. Lastly, and I’m most ashamed to say that I’m jealous. Not of my ex’s wife, but I’m jealous that he gets the complete family picture in record time and w/ such little effort. I want that for my daughter one day also. In the meantime, all I can be is grateful that she has a great family life at her Dad’s – It makes it easier for me to send her knowing that.

  7. lisa thompson
    August 17, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Thanks so much for writing this. It helps so much to hear that my experience and my feelings about it are shared. Rough stuff.

    • August 19, 2012 at 8:58 am #

      Lisa, you’re welcome. I think many of us feel this way. It is so unnatural to have to send our children away for days at a time, on a regular basis. It’s hard to get used to. Thank you for reading.

  8. Gabe
    September 12, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Coming from a single dad who gets visitation rights much like your ex does, your first point really hits home for me. Most women, much like yourself, seem to think that not seeing your child for that two week period, like my ex, is sooooooo terrible. Try going 3 to 4 to 5 months not seeing your kid because your ex decided to move hundreds of miles away, even after she confronted me about moving first! Of course my answer was a firm heck no, but evidently the judge thought the child would be better off with someone on welfare that lives with their parents and can’t even support themselves. I served four years in the USMC, am very responsible, and have my act together and absolutely adore my daughter. Apparently, in Washington state, if you’re a single mother, you practically have to commit murder or something for the father to get them to not move, never mind full custody, which I didn’t even fight for. It just bothers me that people in your position, that get to see your kids on a daily basis, will complain about two weeks away from your kid, when parents like myself, that should have the child in the first place, get so little time. It is truly heartbreaking as I think about my daughter every damn day! People, women especially, seem to think that us guys are just robots or something; that we can just turn our emotions on and off like a faucet. I begged my ex not to move, fought in court, and lost. Even with the judge knowing that I am capable of raising my daughter just as good if not better than my ex because at least I can support myself, I help her with being better in school even with the little time we have together. Teach her how to ride a bike, shoot a basketball, throw a frisbee, take her kayaking, etc etc. These are things I know my ex doesn’t do with her because she tells me, and she never did when we were together so why would she now. Let me paint you a picture of what the other side, the side you folks don’t see, feels like. It’s like falling deeply in love with someone, someone you can’t, don’t, want to live without. You’ve prayed for something so meaningful, to have someone in your life that you care for so much! That’s awesome, right? Now imagine getting to see that person like a total of two months out of an entire year. Regardless of how many months we get, it’s still torture. It is like getting you heart broken, every year, every time you talk to them on the phone, every time you see them leave. As crazy as this might sound, sometimes I wish my ex and I never met, because this is like torture. Be grateful for what you have, much like my ex, because it’s sure as heck a whole lot better than being on the other side. I don’t even get to see my kid come home from school and to help her with her school work, like my dad did with me. Ya, visitation sucks alright.

    • September 12, 2012 at 11:44 am #

      Gabe, if my ex were anything like you, I’d be thrilled. He has his own level of maturity and that’s what I work with. If I ever thought my daughter would be better off in a particular situation, I’d make that happen. Unfortunately, there’s ‘ideal’ and there’s ‘reality’. I don’t bash my ex because I don’t need to, but you don’t know my situation. I feel for all of the wonderful parents who have too little time with their children; and I especially feel for what those children lose out on. But too often, children aren’t losing out by not seeing one parent as much – like when their primary parent has to make decisions to better the life of a child. Not seeing my child for that two-week period *is* sooooo terrible, but I have to deal with it, because that is the way my life has turned out; these are the consequences of decisions I have made. I know that men have it hard when it comes to custody and visitation, but I’m a woman and a mom, and this is my perspective. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about how my ex feels, I truly do, and we discuss it often. But there are things he could do, compromises he could make, that he is unwilling to make. So. I have to look out for the welfare of my children. I am very sorry that you miss your daughter so much, and that you don’t get to be as much a part of her life as you’d like. And I’m sorry that she’s moved so far away. I really don’t know what to say there, except that my heart hurts just thinking about it. Thank you for commenting and giving us a good dad’s point of view, I totally respect it. – Kimber

  9. Gabe
    September 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    I apologize for sounding so harsh; I guess I directed it towards you and that’s not what I was trying to do, so if I did, I’m sorry to you and anyone that I may have offended. I’m sure you’re a fantastic parent, much like the rest of the folks on here. Thanks for having an open mind and hearing me out though; it’s nice to have some support when you need it :).

    • September 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      No problem, I really do understand your passion (your example of finding the love of your life – same way I think of my kids). I try to be balanced in my thinking and to remember that there are plenty of fathers out there like you, though sometimes I’ll admit I’m not; so it’s good when a fiery dad shows up. :) Thanks.

  10. lampra
    February 17, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    I’m so glad to read that I’m not the only one that feels like this. My ex husband decided to step into the picture of my 8 month life so now we have the visitation. My family see me as a big failure because I allowed my ex to abuse me during our relationship. I left him because I couldn’t take the abuse anymore when I found out I was pregnant. However even I get a “you go girl” I never wanted this life of visitation and single parent hood. Our visitation are supervised because of the domestic violence and my ex threatened to kill me and our son. So you can imagine my fear now that my 8 month son is now around his father.

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