We’ve all come across this quote on some form of social media by now. And I believe it to be completely true, and the main reason why, after more than two years, I can’t quite get my shit together in regard to living in Saudi Arabia.
Much the same as I thought that an agreed upon divorce would be a quick and easy process, I always thought that when the time came for split parenting and sharing time with our daughter, it would all be discussed and agreed upon and written down, then discussed with our daughter…we’d have the “mommy and daddy aren’t going to live together anymore” talk with her, there would be questions to answer, and we’d all have time to process it and work through it and that it would take some adjusting to get used to. But as it so often happens, things didn’t go at all as I imagined they would go. The transition that I had played out in my mind just sort of happened naturally. And although my daughter hasn’t so much as raised an eyebrow at the new system, I’m lost somewhere, stressed about how things didn’t go as I planned them out in my head, and unsure of how to move forward.
When we came back from our quick trip to the states at the end of June and The Mr. returned shortly thereafter from his overseas assignment for work, my daughter and I returned home, but he didn’t. There was no talk, no dividing of things, no decisions to be made, no fighting, and no drama. I was surprised, but ok with it, since having my own space is vital to my peace of mind.
He was busy working, so she stayed with me weeknights and with him on the weekends. It was rough at first not having her around. The first weekend I called and messaged to check on her almost hourly and I felt lost without her around. But I knew she was enjoying herself, and as long as she is happy I’m happy, and I made sure to tell her that. And then weekends lasted longer and turned into weeks, with me seeing her a couple times during the week and talking on the phone with her daily. She was having fun, she was happy, so I kept reminding her and reminding myself that it’s all up to her and she can sleep where she likes. Besides, I knew that when school rolled around she would be sleeping at my house, since I’m the mommy…the lunch packer, hair fixer, and bracelet fastener.
And then school rolled around. And she wanted to stay at her dad’s for the 13th night in a row and I found myself feeling completely devastated by that. So I did what any mature parent would do and pitched a fit to her father so she could stay with me. I couldn’t not be there to wake her up for her first day of school and to see her off and all. I did what I had to do. And I was totally convinced that she would realize how much more awesome mornings are with me compared to her father, and want to sleep at my house forever and always. But then today she asked if it would be ok to stay at her father’s, and since you can’t fess up to an 8 year old that you have control and jealousy issues and that you’re afraid of being forgotten, I said of course that would be fine. But I’m a little worried she will never ever in her life want to live with me again…and howdidthishappenwhenimclearlythebetterparent.
The last few weeks for me have been the ultimate test of my claim of doing whatever makes my daughter happy and putting her needs first. Believe me, walking the walk is much more difficult than talking the talk. It’s also been a major exercise in letting go of my ego, my need to control & to define, my need to be right, and my tendency to believe that everyone around me has a divine obligation to cater to my wants and needs.
I’ve learned that I have a long way to go on this journey, but that I’ve also come a long way from the person I used to be. And I feel pretty good about the little human I’m raising, that she feels secure enough to be without me sometimes.
I’ve spent the past few weeks feeling depressed and angry, and it hasn’t been easy adjusting, but I think I’ll get there. I’ll get to the point where the doing is almost as easy as the saying. And eventually I’ll stop worrying about what it’s supposed to look like in my head.