I am currently a non-custodial parent of my 13-year old daughter. When she, her father and I sat down to discuss my move to another state for a job, we allowed her to decide with which parent she wanted to live.
She decided to stay with her father.
She has always been a Daddy’s girl, so it wasn’t a shock to me. But it tore at my heart daily. I questioned whether or not I was a good mother, whether or not I was making the right decision by leaving, etc. I was already dealing with abandonment issues from my motherless childhood, and on top of feeling “unwanted” by my mother and now my daughter, I was afraid that I was continuing the cycle, even though I was fully aware that the circumstances were different.
Fortunately, my relationship with my daughter has grown even stronger since the move. We talk on a regular basis in ways that we didn’t when we lived in the same house. I’m able to be more of a “layered” mother. I don’t have to be the “bad guy” who makes her finish her homework, eat her vegetables, go to bed at a decent time, etc. We discuss self-esteem and spiritual evolution and working on her artistic skills. I talk to her about what it’s like growing up as a young Black women in America. Our relationship has become so much more than “parent-child.” I don’t believe this would have happened in the same tender compassionate way had I stayed in Louisville – and I think it’s important to note that I was miserable there and it had a direct effect on the way that I mother(ed).
Whether she lives here or with her father, as long as she is happy and healthy, I am happy. I still have days when I feel like I’m not living up to what it means to be a mother – specifically a Black mother. There are so many rules and regulations that we have to follow. But motherhood is varied and complex. Sometimes you have to make unconventional decisions and walk the road less-traveled and much-criticized in order to evolve and grow. And I feel that is truly happening for me and both of my girls. Through it all I have learned that no matter the distance, or the circumstance, I will always be her mother; nothing will change that. Our bond is strong and as long as we nurture it, neither time nor distance can change it.