family, mental health

Mums without their children

I don’t live with my three sons, I haven’t lived with them full time in three and a half years and yes it kills me.

There is a massive stigma when it comes to mums that ‘choose’ to live away from their offspring and I have had funny looks and questions asking me why and normally when I explain the situation almost everyone understands but I can still see the look on their faces as if to say I was or am a bad mother.

For those that don’t know, I split with their dad three and a half years ago, it had been on the cards for a while and although I acted a bit of a tit at times when we first broke up we actually had a pretty good break up. My ex husband (Edwardo) had been a stay at home dad all the kids lives and I was the one that went to work full time because I am not a mumsy mum, I loved my boys dearly when they were small of course I did but there was something inside of me that just ‘didn’t work’ as a mum and we decided early on that Edwardo would be the one to stay at home, much to my annoyance on the housekeeping front as I am a bit anal about getting things done there and then and he is so laid back he might as well be a surf board, when all was said and done he got on the floor and played with the boys instead of making sure the beds were made and washing done and that is what is important, the boys and if they were happy then we were too. I won’t go into the whys and wherefores why we split as it’s not needed but after spending so much time with the boys and as two of my mini Edwardo’s are on the autistic spectrum there was no contest where they should be and who they should live with. I will say this, we did work hard at our marriage and it wasn’t something we just threw away at the drop of a hat, we tried and tried but sometimes you reach a point in your life and you have to admit defeat for everyone’s sake.

At first I didn’t move out and it was about four months later I left the family home and I came back every day to see the boys and would spend most of my spare time with them (and oddly enough Edwardo) going home when they were in bed, I moved from place to place over the course of the next 18 months or so, never a home of my own and always lodging but if the boys could stay they stayed, when I met the man who saved me in the next November things began to change and my mental state was suffering, I didn’t like the person I was becoming and I don’t know where I’d be now if not for him and making changes. For over a year and a half I saw the boys every day (apart from when I started to spend every other weekend with Adam in Essex) about three to four months into our relationship, this wasn’t a normal break up and it needed a ‘break’ in order for both myself and Edwardo to live as two different people because we were still going out with our friends just the same together and still spending time watching tv like nothing had happened, so I made a decision and it was the biggest of my life and that was to move to Essex to be with Adam full time and you can call me selfish or whatever but I needed to do that in order for me to let my relationship with Adam grow and for my own mental state to start to repair itself. I’ve been asked why didn’t he move to Kent? Well his kids are or were under ten we when we met and he doesn’t drive so it made sense for me to make that leap, whys it ok for a dad to leave his kids (they live with their mum full time and we have them every other weekend) but not the mum? I’ve been asked why couldn’t we wait until they were older? I could have waited until my youngest was 18 before I left and believe me I haggled with that idea for a very long time but my son was 10 years old when we met and another 8 years is a very long time when you live in a village with no prospects and for want of a better word, a toxic environment at times because of living in each other’s pockets all the time, so I weighed up the pros and cons and one of the biggest things was my youngest was leaving primary school that summer and it felt like the perfect time for massive changes to happened, all in one hit and he could get used to me not being around during the summer.

It’s not easy leaving your kids and I am sure to my boys they think I’ve just left them but I’m hoping when they are older and for families of their own they will be able to see that in order for me to get better and be a better mother (because I think my skills as a parent and that motherly love has finally kicked in after all these years!) I needed to make that change. I’ve been asked also why didn’t I just move to another village or town closer to them? The answer is I could have and maybe I was a bit selfish for moving to Essex but I had moved to a different village when I first moved out and I was still spending every day with Edwardo and the boys, Edwardo was going to find a new partner and I wouldn’t have anywhere to go, I wouldn’t have a ‘home’ as such to take my boys too and I would have been left a bit in limbo I guess, Edwardo wanted to move on as well and I was holding him back with the situation we had created for ourselves, while trying to maintain a happy, family environment for the boys we had created a situation where we were just not moving on with life.

Living away from my boys at first was incredibly hard, I cried myself to sleep those first few months and I have battled with myself even two years later have I made the right choice (even after marrying Adam), I’ve wanted to run back but what I have to remember is they are happy with their dad, routine and life and that’s what is important.

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Do I speak to them everyday? They are teenagers!! I used to try and speak to them regularly but they would be silly on the phone or get one worded answers so now I wait for them to message me or call me (sometimes the wait does become a bit too much and I call them because they aren’t great at remembering me it seems). We’ve had a few ups and downs where they see my instagram and they see one thing and take it that I’m having the time of my life but what they don’t see is me crying, Christmas don’t get me wrong I had a great Christmas but it was my first without them and they saw the happy photos but they didn’t see me crying in the back garden or throwing myself into work because I couldn’t see them, I’ve told them now if they see something, talk to me. We’ve had a couple of times my youngest get upset because he thinks I see Adams kids more than them and I’ve had to reassure him so many times we see them just as much as we see my kids.

Would I recommend anyone doing what I did? Difficult to answer because everyone is different, I’d like to think this has ‘worked’ but who knows until my boys are grown up into adults, only time will tell.

It’s not easy, you spend a vast majority of your time crying and then feeling lonely, you get times where you are having the time of your life and then feel guilty for having fun while you aren’t with your kids, there are times when you do have fun and sometimes you do forget about them for about an hour but then reality sets in that you have three children, you gave birth to miles away from you, living there life as usual and you wonder if they think about you as much as you do them, you wonder if they would miss you if they didn’t see you as much, you wonder if they are actually happy and you wonder if they still love you and that’s hard.

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