Almost two years ago, my world was turned upside down. My ex-husband had confessed that he no longer loved me, and I learned the hurtful truth about our marriage. Sincerely believing that I was looking out for the best interests of our two girls, I immediately filed for primary physical custody. My ex-husband did not fight it, as he himself was lost and trying to find his way, and we agreed that this arrangement was in the best interest of our children. He relegated himself to weekly evening visits with them that first summer, and I devoted myself to being the best mother the girls could possibly have.
Less than two months later, my dad was diagnosed with stage three esophageal cancer. Suddenly, my divorce seemed minor and insignificant. The most important man in my life, the most stable man I knew, was fighting for his life, and the impact of his diagnosis was far-reaching. A year-and-a-half earlier, my dad had retired to watch my girls full-time. He had always put us first, and now he had to put himself first. I had to put the girls in daycare, and I had to think long and hard about how to move forward raising them.
Here comes the part where you’re going to judge me, and that’s okay. The judgement is deserved. But I ask that you please keep in mind that this was a time of transformation for me. My world had been turned upside down, and I was navigating it the best I knew how. I had my guard up, and I was dealing with being angry and hurt while also being sad and scared. I reached out to my ex-husband and asked him to come to my house every morning and get the girls ready for school. Otherwise, I’d be waking them up an hour earlier than necessary. They would be the first kids arriving at daycare, a place they’d never been before, and their days away from home would span nine hours. That seemed like an awful lot of unnecessary change for two little girls, ages two and five, who had been through so much in one short summer.
My ex-husband at first balked at the idea. I was still living in our marital home, and I was asking him to get up earlier than usual to be with his children in the place where I’d made it clear he was no longer welcome. I’m not proud of the way I worded it, but I’m going to admit it to you because it’s part of the story. I told him that he could see his children every weekday morning or go back to seeing them just once a week. I pointed out to him that many non-custodial parents would do anything for that kind of time with their children. I wish I could say that I asked him to do this because I believed that the girls needed time with their father, but I honestly did it because it was the easiest solution to the problem at hand.
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