I’m writing you this letter today in a moment of clarity after the chaos. I’ve not been able to spend the last 2 years with you during this holiday season and I want to document the importance of our time together this year. It has been a long and painful road to reach this sweet moment together. It has been 2 ½ years since I told your dad I wanted a divorce and everything changed for all of us.
I’ve second guessed that decision a million times, it came at such a profound cost. Was it worth it? Only time can tell for sure. I do know that I’m glad to be the person I am now and that has been entirely shaped by the struggles of my divorce and custody battle. I am so much stronger and better for you now, but I didn’t think I’d survive it, let alone be better because of it.
I want to start out by saying that your father is not a bad guy, he was hurting and scared and he made some decisions that impacted you and me in a pretty big way. I truly believe he acted out of a deeply held pain that I had caused him and I’ve taken responsibility for all the ways in which I have failed the both of you. When I approached your father, I assumed because I had seen the demise of the relationship coming, that he had too. I was emotionally prepared and he was not emotionally prepared. I had hurt him and he wanted me to hurt too. That is why he had me arrested on a decade-old bench warrant and put in jail while he filed for divorce and sought to take everything from me, most importantly, you.
I was young and foolish and didn’t take care of my responsibilities and I lost custody of you, not because of your father’s actions, but because of my own. It was easy to put the blame on him as I sat in jail so far away from you on your 3rd birthday. It took me a long time to take responsibility for my actions and ultimately forgive myself. I was a good mother, doing the best I knew how to do at the time.
I was lonely and unsatisfied with my life and wrongly blamed him for my discontent. I was resentful towards him for leaving me with the housework and child care while he enjoyed his hobbies and grew in his career. I loved you so much, but I didn’t recognize at the time what a privilege it was to get to stay home with you all day. I was jealous of the freedom your dad seemed to have I think, but I was foolish and ungrateful instead of appreciating the gift his career had given me; the opportunity to see you grow up and experience all of your firsts! I took it for granted and that is my biggest regret.
I wish I had been more prepared for the way he responded, but I was insensitive to his feelings and too focused on myself to see the depths of the damage I caused. I won’t make excuses for his actions during the divorce, they were deplorable and he has to live with what he did. Neither of us was our best self at that time. I can’t speak for him, but I know that I would do things differently on my end.
I can tell you with absolute certainty that we both loved you then and we love you now. Your dad was not like so many dads that walk out on their families without ever looking back and for that I am grateful. We both fought for you because we both wanted you and I fought that fight until the bitter end. I really do want you to understand that about me, I never gave up on trying to get you back with me.
For awhile after I got out of jail, I had nothing. I had no way of providing for myself, let alone a young child with special needs. It took me a few months to get back on my feet and I stumbled more than once. It was the most difficult time in my life but you are the reason I kept going. I’m so grateful for every day I get to spend with you now, and I’ll never misplace that gratitude again. Being your mom is my greatest accomplishment and my greatest joy!
You were conceived in love. You were wanted and welcomed with an elation that you cannot even imagine. I promise to continue putting you above the animosity between your father and I. A parent is not something easily replaced and I recognize how important it is for you to have a good relationship with him, imperfect as he may be. We might not always agree on what is best for you, but we both want what is best for you. As we celebrate the holidays together, I’m trying to enjoy every moment, without giving much thought to your return to your dad’s after it’s all over. Each day with you is a gift that I look forward to opening.
This article originally appeared on Divorced Moms
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