Saturday, January 9, 2016

An Open Letter to the Mother of my Children

To the Mother of my Children:

First and foremost, you need to know that I love these children. I love them, and I only ever want what is best for them. Their father and I plan our lives around them completely, without the distractions of working from home or frequently traveling for work. Our family is our first priority, and we have established our household with love, structure, discipline, and fun.

Next: perhaps you haven't realized this, but when you walked away from the kids' father and left them behind, you left the door wide open for someone else to walk in. That is a choice you made. My presence in the lives of our children is a natural consequence of your actions that day and your choices in the years that led up to it and the months that followed. Not to toot my own horn, but you're lucky it was me who tiptoed carefully through that door almost a year after you violently stormed out of it. Your ex-husband could have done a lot worse than someone who completely loves him and the children, is kind and thoughtful, has over 2 decades of childcare experience (including several years as a professional nanny), holds a graduate degree, has book smarts AND street smarts, and brings a loving and extremely supportive extended family into the mix. [toot, toot]

When you talk badly about your ex-husband, me, our extended family, or our friends to the children, you only hurt them. They come home from visits and talk to us about that. They cry in our arms. Just last month, they came home telling their dad that you told them he doesn't have a back injury and is faking it. We didn't tell them that you lied. We showed them the MRIs and doctors' notes. We talked to them about the chiropractic visits and natural pain management their dad uses to avoid using prescription pain medications so he can be present and active in their lives. We consistently have similar conversations after the kids visit you or talk to you, because you have tried to undermine the truth at every turn. We never disparage you or your family in front of the kids. We just don't. We know that's not healthy for the children. Please stop hurting them by disparaging us. Just stop. These kids are intelligent. We don't say anything about you unless we absolutely have to in response to their questions. We only speak the truth of ideas, situations, and events and join them in their joys and sorrows. You ought to know: these smart little girls are on to you, and we can only hold off their search for truth for so long to give you the chance to get your act together. Every day they realize a little more that you have lied to them.

I know the kids love you. Of course they do. You are their mother, and that will never change. I know that, and so does their father. However, once again, you created a space for me when you left; the children now consider me to be their parent, as well. They call me "Mom", "Mommy", "Momma", or even "Mum", if the mood strikes. They do this by their own choice. They asked me if they could. Acting jealous or shaming them for this only hurts your relationship with them. Please stop attacking me and be grateful there is another person in the lives of your children who loves them more than she loves life itself. They KNOW I love them. They know my family loves them. They feel loved by all 8 new aunts and uncles and 13 cousins. Their fourth set of grandparents (because your parents are divorced, too) dote on them and love to spend time with them. These kids KNOW they are loved and accepted in this family. They say all the time how much they love spending time with this family. Please stop trying to undermine that. 

I know you love these kids. I'm just not sure they know it. When you lie to them, try to tell them they shouldn't call me "Mom" or enjoy spending time with my family, tell them that their dad and I lie to them... they feel used. They feel confused. They feel depressed. We have to make them call you most of the time, because they are afraid you will make them feel guilty or sad with your underhanded comments. 
THIS. NEEDS. TO. STOP. We've tried to explain to them that you love them, but we cannot speak for you. We know you tell them you love them, but your actions speak louder than your words. Your actions are betraying your words.

I want you to be a part of the kids' lives. I've had too many friends who don't know their fathers or their mothers--friends whose childhoods were torn apart by divorce and selfish parents or step-parents. I know you were caught in the same trap. Many of my friends have found effective ways to move on in adulthood, but I still don't want that to be our children's fate. Please stop trying to repeat the painful cycles of your childhood with our children. I don't want our kids to have another obstacle to overcome in life. They've been through quite enough already. I'm begging you to move your focus from your pain and jealousy to the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of the children and their best interests. Many of your actions have been in direct opposition to the children's best interests, and that causes me great concern. Emotionally and physically abusing their father for years, assaulting him, attempting to cause an altercation with me in front of them, treating them like your best friends instead of your kids... Frankly, I'm quite sure you didn't consider the best interests of the children in any of those situations. 

To be entirely honest, I'm not sure you are currently in your right mind. I don't know any parent in her right mind who would blatantly lie to her children and the court, try to ruin an honest person's reputation, or withhold court-ordered business income from the household where her children live approximately 80% of the time. It just doesn't make sense. These are not the actions of a rational, mentally healthy person. I know most people don't appreciate being called out on these actions, but I honestly believe that you can do better. I have a hard time believing these sweet children came from someone who would intentionally do these cruel things. I am asking you to please seek the help you need to understand and change your actions. There are so many available resources, and you are not alone. 

The last thing I want you to know is that I'm not going anywhere. You have falsely accused my husband and me of all sorts of atrocities (including hurting the children and breaking up your "committed relationship"*); you have assaulted my husband and threatened me and our home; you have treated the children like pawns in your game; but you are NOT going to scare me away. I've waited to love my husband and children for years while you took your turn at it. I spent hours, days, and months working on myself and enjoying life while I searched for my heart's desire. I waited until the person and the timing were right. I have waited for these bright, beautiful, loving kids. I waited without knowing exactly who or what I was waiting for. Then suddenly, three beautiful, battered people burst into my life quite unexpectedly at what was probably not the most convenient time or place, and I wouldn't change that for anything. I gave up everything, sold most of what I had, and moved across the country for this family. I turned down career opportunities, quit jobs I rather enjoyed, and left behind people I loved for this little family you walked away from. I adore my husband, and I love these kids as though I birthed them myself. We don't do steps and halves in my family. Never have, and never will. Family is family, and matching DNA is not required. You can refuse to coordinate the children's schedule with me, refuse to acknowledge my presence in the lives of the children, and refuse to co-parent with my husband. You can, and you have. However, you cannot force me out of the children's lives, minds, or hearts any more than you can force them out of mine. And, since I'm being blunt, you might as well know that my heart is pretty inextricably tangled around their little fingers. 


The Woman Raising Our Children

*If your boyfriend is reading, he should know that we NEVER threatened to report him to DCFS for any kind of abuse.

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