Mothers without custody, an unfortunate unspoken bias that lives among us…often unconscious, like most biases. Also-like most biases, when we don’t understand or can’t relate to something we judge it and not usually pleasantly.
I have been a Mother without physical custody for many years due to my 6 military moves (& multiple deployments) throughout my son’s life. I felt that stability would be an important and irreplaceable part of his upbringing. This will forever be logged as my most difficult decision to consider. The many nights that I worried and wondered how he was ‘actually’ doing versus what I was told, the countless tears every time I watched his plane travel the ramp or his train pull away or to watch him walk back up to his father’s door…it still pains me to recount.
To multiply the impact of this profound decision, is the societal bias around being a mother without her son. I can’t begin to recall the many times a conversation with someone was going well and we’d inch toward the subject. I’d always know and feel…oh here it comes…they’d ask “where does your son go to school?”…here we go, I’d say “he goes in Portland with his Dad”. Then, the shift happens…like clockwork, they’d tighten, shift, squirm, even walk away with or without excuse. I’ve had blatant judgments, innocent “does not compute” judgments, and usually the subtle ones where I somehow have become a lesser life form because I clearly gave up my child, couldn’t handle parenthood, probably did something awful that the courts couldn’t ignore and God knows what else.
Next time you find yourself in a situation with a mother without custody consider the many other possibilities there could be for that situation, consider the potential countless tears they’ve suffered as a sacrifice.
Just this week I became a mother with physical custody and I’m proud to say that I made it through and can see his beautiful face everyday!