Thursday, July 22, 2010

Definition of a mother: single or otherwise

Ever since I became a mother almost 6 years ago, I have strived to be a good one. One that my parents, family members and friends can be proud of. I want to look in the mirror and be proud of what I see. I never thought that being a mother defined who I was until my son was diagnosed with ASD and I truly dedicated my life to recovering him. As my life changes and new decisions are before me, I still put everyone else's needs in front of mine. I want my son to be happy; he comes first. I know I can give him a better life in WA: a better education, fresh air to breathe, and he can still be close to family. However, I would be taking him away from his beloved "heavy house," his father when he is in town, and my family, who he is very close to.

I thought his father was on board with the move to Seattle. For God's sake, he works for the freakin' Mariners! But as time goes on, and he packs up to visit only for two weeks and then hit the road for another 4 months, with plans already in the making for next season to travel and be away, I realize that he has chosen where he wants to be and it is not with his son. I now have to choose. Do I give the ex the opportunity to live his life, possibly marry his girlfriend and stay in AZ, a state I made him move to 9 years ago? All of this after he destroyed our marriage with multiple affairs? Do I lay on the guilt and tell him to pack up his girlfriend, who is a part time mother at best to her child, and offer to provide for them until they get on their feet in a new state? That's what cracks me up about me: I offer to pay for moves and plane tickets and everything else, as if this is my fault? My current husband is doing his best to provide for his step-son, my son...everyone else should be helping us with this decision, not hindering us.

I realize that being a mother comes with the obligation (or feeling of obligation) to make everyone happy. It must be the reason that I am worried about everyone else above myself. Sometimes I think I'm noble; other times pathetic. I can only hope that whoever takes my place after I'm gone (should I exit early) can be half the mother I am. Can two very part time parents make up one full time ME? I wonder...

Many people praise single mothers and that is what I have now become....again. Only this time, my bank account is bigger. I don't have to worry about paying bills (for the most part) because I wasn't left. I am still married. How long can I be apart from my husband and hope that my marriage survives? I would like to think that we are strong enough but who knows? And do I put my marriage and happiness at risk for the sake of others? If my marriage fails, wouldn't that destroy my son too? So here I am, being pulled in all directions, and the only person that seems to care is me.

I bring up single mothers because how many married mothers are really doing the job of a single mother? What if their husbands work all the time and they are left to do everything themselves? What about military spouses, whose husbands leave for months at a time and may never walk back through the door? What about women who are married to deadbeats, who stay on the couch all day, forcing them to be breadwinners and caregivers around the clock?

I love my son and would do anything for him but how do I know what decision is the right one? Motherhood isn't for the weak, that's for sure, but it is definitely unfair. Some mothers are challenged more than others; some mothers are never challenged at all. Our journey in life is what defines us. But when will this journey get easier? Yes, it can always be worse...but when does it get better? When do the decisions get easier? How can I say I'm giving my son a better life when it may be one without his father nearby? And is it fair to even consider the father in the decision when he will have only seen his son 4 out of 12 months this year? A man who still pays me child support based on my full time income (that I haven't had for almost 2 years) and thinks that is enough to be called Daddy? Don't get me wrong, I have a good relationship with my ex. We still have joint custody (something I have vowed to never change) and I still include him in our son's everyday life. But when do I get to say..."if I'm the only one making the decisions for Joey, then no one else gets an opinion on the decision of where to live but me."

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