Wow... This might be the hardest blog post I've ever had to write, not only is it personal, it's an unstable place to be in too. Currently finding myself in this position, I realize it is almost impossible for anyone to understand or have the right advice for me on this one, so I figured I would share my experience, in the hopes it might alleviate some of the stress of yours.
I have been a single mother for as long as I can remember, almost 11 years to be exact. While, it seems to be horrifying, it hasn't been. My daughter and I have the most amazing tribe of support around us who have really stepped in to help us when needed. However, there are some burdens about being a single mother that will never change. In a nutshell, it is always MY responsibility alone. No days off. No sick days. No split time. No good/bad cop. Just me.
I've never spoken ill of my daughters father, and I won't begin to do so now, the one thing I've always known, is that he probably has to carry a much heavier weight than I when thinking of the role he played in her life. Recently, he reached out to try to mend the broken relationship he has with my daughter, or OUR daughter. Naturally, emotions flood through me, releasing themselves through tears, "how do I even begin to start this process???" A million questions go through my mind and the best thing I did, was take the 24 hour rule, sleep on it, and come back with a fresh emotional canvas. I woke up the next day, ready to tackle this, but it started with acknowledging my fears.
My Child Isn't Ready
This is by far the most daunting fear... Your child may never be ready, and depending on how old they are, it's ok to ask for time to prepare them. Just because the absent parent wants back in, doesn't mean it has to be done in haste. Bring up the idea to your child slowly, in small increments, feel them out. I've always taken the light and easy road, I ask her, if she doesn't want to talk about it too much, I don't press. The bottom line is that all children want both parents around, but sometimes a long time of absence creates disinterest, maybe anger, resentment, insecurity. Try to figure out what your child feels about the other parent before reconnecting them, giving them as much clarity as possible helps prepare them for the next step. Remember kids need predictability and structure.
The Other Parent Will Say Too Much
There's always two sides to a story, and this can get very tricky when parents are trying to negotiate terms of parenting. That's why regardless of what stage you're in with your co-parent, it's important you keep lines of communication open and civil at ALL times. Knowing your truth about what happened really alleviates this fear. It's easy for our own resentment to cause us to do things that are hurtful, so try to right your own wrongs with the other parent before you decide to reconnect them with your children. A positive relationship between both parents is mandatory when trying to reintroduce an absent parent back into the picture. It's hard, but it's in your child's benefit; furthermore, it ensures the process goes as smoothly as possible with no bad words or bad blood being shed.
The Other Parent Will Disappear Again
Trust. That's what this one requires. Period. Clearly, it's not going to appear overnight, it means constant accountability. It also means setting up clear boundaries that will protect your child, start off slowly, maybe short scheduled conversations on the phone. This also keeps the structure for your child, keeps the predictability and allows you time to see if the other parent is able to keep their word. Once you trust the calls are coming, you may be able to discuss a more personal interaction. Little by little trust should be built, keep communicating and expressing your/your child's needs too.
I'm Not Ready
You have no choice but to be ready. You have to remember it's not about you. It's about your child, and what's best for them. If you always keep this at the forefront of your decision making you can never ago wrong. No one can take back the hard work and love you've sown into your child, you are irreplaceable by every means of the word. The only difference is, now you have the opportunity to maybe help fill in the puzzle pieces for you child. You are strong. You are the pillar upon which your child has leaned on since the beginning, and you will not crumble. Readiness comes in preparation, so take some time do a SELF CHECK, take extra good care of yourself, keep a clean mind and an open heart.
I do have to say though, in certain cases you may need more guidance when it comes to reconnecting your child with an absent parent, and that is ok. Don't feel guilty for wanting reassurance, at the end of the day you want your child to be safe mentally and physically. If you feel the absent parent is unstable in ANY way, seek counsel. Sometimes it is necessary to get the court involved, and if so, trust the process as much as it feels right to do so.
I just wanted to share this with you, YOU being a single parent like me, who never imagined they could raise a child alone, but has and will continue to, with strength, courage, and alot of heart.
"You, my child, came into world, not just for me, but for them."