Letting Go of Expectations & Embracing Change


I’m going to try to get through this post without crying and do my best to make sense of what I want to say…but you’ll have to forgive me if I accomplish neither of those because I’m already welling up and babbling out loud to myself.

Change.

A major change occurs in our lives today. I made mention over the weekend that it was on the horizon and promised to tell you what it is….so…here goes.

Alex is moving today. He is going to go live with his father, my ex.

I will still get to see him on the weekends, but after today I will be a passenger in this parenting car, as I am letting my ex take the steering wheel. My ex will be full-time daddy and I will be part-time mommie.

Part-time vs. full-time.

(sigh)

I didn’t come to this decision lightly and to be honest, my instincts have been stirring it up in my gut for months-since I got my diagnosis and started school to be exact.

No…I didn’t come to this decision lightly.

In order to go from just thinking about it to actually deciding to do it, I had to shed A LOT of tangles and sticky spiderwebs along the way.

Just what were those tangles and webs?

  • guilt
  • shame
  • feelings of failure
  • resentment
  • bitterness
  • fear
  • pain

Every single one of those tangles I mentioned were caught up in one giant web called EXPECTATIONS.

I talked about those on Friday, remember? Those standards we hold ourselves and others to?

Yes. Expectations. I had been living my life by a rather unhealthy set of those and I was choking on them. You see I’m an African-American Christian woman. If you’re a part of either of those cultures or just a woman period, then you know all about the standards set in place for us. If you’re a single parent and a woman, the expectation is that your child will live with you and you will be the primary caregiver. I know there are exceptions to the rule and that joint custody is a regular occurrence. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the expectation society has, the standard we are expected to live by. I know that in the black community, single mothers ARE the end all be all, and there’s no complaining about it. You do what you have to do to take care of your kids, sacrifice what’s necessary and you pull yourself up by your bootstraps daily to get through the ups and downs of being responsible for another human. This was impressed upon me by those around me when I became pregnant with Brennan 5 years ago and his father told me he wasn’t going to be in the picture. That’s when I started striving to live up to the standard. And even though my ex has been in the picture with Alex and Brennan the last 2 1/2 years, the reality is that I’ve been with them 24/7 during that time. No breaks. No real breaks. My ex helps me with Alex, but I have sole custody of Brennan. If something were to happen to me, I don’t know who I would leave him with other than maybe my parents because well, that’s just our reality. I’m mommie and daddy to him. The sole responsibility of providing and caring for him rests solely on my shoulders. As a single mother, I used to wear this expectation like a badge instead of the burden it can be most of the time. I wore it like a badge because I needed it to feel strong, to prove to myself and others that I’m not weak. I can be and do all. I AM WOMAN. RAWWRRRR. As a Christian single mother, I wore it like a scarlet letter, feeling like I deserved to be worn out and pushed to the max because I hadn’t “lived right,’ and had my children the “right” way.

Here’s the thing though: I’m tired. Parenting has beat me down the past 2 1/2 years and I’m exhausted. Depleted. Worn down. I have no strength left. If it’s one thing that living with a mental illness has taught me, it’s that you have to learn what your limitations are and work with them, not against them. It’s also taught me the importance of having a solid support system you can reach out to for help.

Well…Back in December I cried uncle. I called my ex. Said we needed to talk. Told him that I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t be everything to both boys and take care of myself anymore. Said that if I was going to be a full-time student and have to get my BP under control I couldn’t be a full-time mother to TWO children under the age of 5 anymore. Said I didn’t want to end up being that mom at the grocery store cussing out her kids because the strain of single parenting is causing her to buckle and bend. Told him I didn’t want that for me and I didn’t want that for the boys.

So…he agreed. Today Alex is moving to Philly.

(sigh)

When you’re a single parent, especially if you’re the only one calling the shots, the hardest thing to do is give up the driver’s seat and let someone else navigate. But today I’m taking a major step for all of us in a healthier direction by doing so.

I want my sons to be happy and healthy. I want them to live in nurturing and loving environments. I want what’s best for them. This wasn’t an easy decision to make, but once I let go of all the tangles and freed myself from the web, I’ve had an enormous amount of peace about it. I know deep down in my heart of hearts, as scary as this is, and as nervous as my ex and I are about taking this step, it’s the right thing to do. It’s the healthiest thing.

And that…is the only expectation I’m striving to live by from here on out.

 

 

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17 thoughts on “Letting Go of Expectations & Embracing Change

  1. What a brave decision. I applaud you for making such an impossible decision for you and your babies. Love and hugs and prayers

    • Oh, tell about the expectations…I have my 6yr old from my previous marriage, raised her all by myself and I know how hard it was.You are doing the right thing for your kids, and that’s what parenting is all about, putting your kids first…You are amazing.

  2. You are so brave. I applaud your ability to face an incredibly difficult situation and do the right thing: the right thing for your son. Growing up with a mom with bp who was so insecure and selfish that she let her children be abused and neglected rather than thinking about what was right for them, I honesty wish I “was” your son. He has an amazing, strong, and loving mom who is putting his needs first. You are one in a million and after you get your degree and whatever comes next, you’ll be able to handle it and give your kids the love and nuturing they deserve just because they do. Standing ovation – it’s probably not going to help right now, but know your kids will thank you later. You are that strong, solid, Christian woman, bp’s just a detail.

  3. Oh, sweetheart. I can’t imagine how this is making you feel. But I admire your honesty and your willingness to do whatever you need to do to be a great mom. This makes you a better mom, not a worse one. I’m sure you’re feeling like the latter, but seriously, being able to ID something like this speaks volumes. We are here for you. Alex will know how much you love him, no matter what, I promise.

  4. I’m so glad you are doing what is best to make sure you stay healthy for your babies. While this is probably THE hardest decision for you, I’m sure it will work out for the best. Keep smiling! We’re all here for you!!!

  5. I absolutely applaud you for your SELFLESS decision. You are a great mom because you are making decisions that are right for your children and not just right for you. That is the true meaning of parenting.

    I struggled with this same situation twenty years ago. I was just not capable of taking care of my four-yr-old daughter full-time and my soon-to-be-ex was more than capable and super willing. He was not only only financially capable, but emotionally as well. I wasn’t able to do either at the time. I felt like CRAP. I was so ashamed of myself for what I felt was “giving up my child”. It was hard and people judged me. But, you know what? I did the best thing for her and two years later, after I got my head together, she came back to live with me full time and I was 100% ready. She is now a successful, married, mother-of-two and looking back, I wouldn’t change my decision. I did the best thing for her, not what society said was the best. YOU know, in your heart if it is the right thing to do. Kudos to you for following your heart and not your pride!

    The people that judge you don’t get up in the morning with you and get the kids ready. They don’t take them to school, work full-time or more to make ends meet, all while struggling with a mental illness and then come home to take care of your boys full-time. Therefore they have no say so!

    I really commend you and think that you are going to do amazing things with your life and those boys’ lives! More mothers should make as sacrificing of a decision as you have.

    (I’ll bet there are message boards out there for mothers without full custody that will be of great support board to you.)

  6. Brave. That’s what you are. We all live with expectations and limits and encounter juggling acts every single day. It seems you’ve been handed a few more heavy balls than some of us. Be proud of yourself for thinking through your decision so carefully rather than reaching for a spontaneous fix. His father must be extremely proud of you as well. You clearly trust him to step in. Congratulations. Your grief is not misplaced, but I hope that your hope can shine some light on it.

  7. Would you mind if I reposted your post on my blog tomorrow? I’ve been struggling personally with the “mom thing” as well as losing a beloved pet/friends and your story is so inspirational. Please let me know if that would be acceptable to you as I understand how hard things are right now. Stength, hope, and lovingkindness to you.

  8. You are showing such courage as you make this incredibly difficult decision. Sending you huge hugs. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  9. Expectations. Those little buggers have been pestering me this last week, whispering in my ear that I should be recovered already, that my husband should be at work, and I should have solved my toddler tantrum issues by now. Hear all those “should’s”? Yuck.

    So proud of you for recognizing your “shoulds” for what they are and instead figuring out what you and your boys really need. Bravo, mama. Bravo.

  10. so much love for you today. i didnt know this was coming. i have no eloquence. Only to say that Im so proud of you for recognizing limitations and seeing that there was potential for you to be the mom who loses it in public on her kids. I was pushed to that point. Im so grateful you and your ex could talk about a plan. Could consider it. Could entertain it. Could plan for it.

    You being a healthy mom, both physically and mentally, is vital. And this is a good step. It breaks my heart, Im hurting for you. I know you didnt do this lightly. But I support you and will be praying for you and encouraging you. God bless your sweet mama heart, Addye. Love you.

  11. Pingback: Inspirational Re-Post From Mom Making Incredibly Hard Decision | Lara: On the Weigh Down

  12. Oh honey,
    You are doing a wonderful job. you have done a wonderful job. Parenting is so extremely hard and I cannot imagine doing it without support.
    I want to tell you how proud of you I am that you are putting your babe first. I can’t even imagine how hard this choice was for you.
    But when you are well and ready, you’re going to love on Alex and Brennan like there is no tomorrow. Mama needs to be well in order to take care of her babes.
    Sending you love and strength.
    You are an amazing mom. Don’t ever think that you’re not.

  13. Pingback: The One About Us Getting Back Together « ButterflyConfessions

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