When Grace got divorced her children were aged fifteen, thirteen and ten. Her divorce and it’s aftermath was so ugly that four years into it, Grace made the gut-wrenching decision to move to another state. Her two eldest children were no longer living at home, but that decision meant leaving her son with his father and becoming a non-custodial mother. It was not an easy decision but it was a life saver for Grace. Here’s Grace:
It was horrible. The hardest thing I ever had to do was tell my children I was divorcing their dad, the second hardest thing was to pack up and move to Florida by myself, without my kids, knowing that my years of being a mom were probably going to be shorter than usual. But I just knew that I had nothing left for anyone else and that I was on the brink, for lack of a better word, of just total collapse. I had to do something to save myself, and that was my answer.
I’d bought this house in Florida the month after my divorce was final and I would come down and stay about one weekend a month. I’d just sit on the beach and recuperate from my life in Atlanta. It got to where my in-laws refused to help me. They refused to keep the kids for me so I could go out of town and my ex forbade them to. He wouldn’t keep his kids for even a weekend.
So I had no relief at all, I was at my wit’s end. I couldn’t take it anymore.
I thought my son was coming with me. I think he wanted to, but there’s some things with his dad. He just never really had his dad in his life, so he wanted to try. My fondest hope and dream is that he will in the next few months decide to come live with me. That car ride down with my stuff packed in the car was devastating, but I knew that I didn’t really have a choice. If I didn’t save myself I wouldn’t be able to take care of anyone.
Now, I am the happiest girl on the planet. It’s funny, I wake up in the morning with a smile on my face and I think,
“My life is so wonderful, how did I get so lucky?”
My kid still doesn’t live with me, but you can’t have everything. As the Rolling Stones say,
“You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.”
My life’s wonderful and I’m so, so grateful. I don’t think I would be standing here saying I’m such a happy person if I were still married to that man and still trying to hang onto that life. I think I’d be miserable, so you really do get what you need, and I have a wonderful life.
It was frightening at the time.
“What am I doing?”
But it turned out to be the best thing I could have ever done.
The Divorce Coach Says
I was grateful to Grace for talking about her decision to become a non-custodial mother. Before I was divorced and before I started reading life after divorce stories, I couldn’t understand how a woman could give up custody of her child. I think the conventional view is that there must be “something wrong” with her, that somehow she isn’t a fit mother. There’s a stigma attached to it. However, it’s stories like Grace’s that have opened my eyes. It’s just not that black and white. And if it does bring an end to conflict, then maybe the children gain too.
Photo credit: Theen