Holding It Together
Q: My ex and I have a 3 yr old and his dad decided to move back to his hometown to be with his family. A few months ago, he was awarded full custody and the ability to move anywhere in the US. So 2 months ago, he told me he was moving and taking our daughter back with him. I was floored, I always knew there was a possibility, but I never thought he would go through with it. He told me he was tired of me not being there for our daughter and was sick of watching me go out and party every night. He said I couldn’t be depended on and lots of times would have to end up taking our daughter to school because I was too drunk to wake up. I loved our daughter and I didn’t want her to move. I didn’t want to be with her father, but that was pretty much the only way he was going to say. Part of me did want to be with him to keep our family together, but I knew I didn’t want to settle down and our relationship wasn’t the way I wanted it to be. We’d been still messing around here and there, even though he officially broke it off last year when he found out I was cheating on him. I guess it some ways it was my fault that I was unhappy and justified going after another guy. He’s a reasonable guy, if I had just been straight with him without lying and cheating, he would’ve been more likely to stay even though we wouldn’t be together. We did have an amazing connection though, but couldn’t seem to get the practical things down. Our daughter was our love child and after we had her, nothing was going right. I want to be in my daughter’s life, but I don’t want to be with him. What should I do? Should I convince him to move back? Should I get back with him to be involved in my daughter’s life?
A: It never ceases to amaze me that people have to have something taken away from them before they realize what they had. This is a testament to why we should treasure what we have, we never know when it will be gone. I never condone cheating and you put a big wedge in your relationship. Then you put having fun and partying above your priorities as a parent. Although you are a single parent, you’re not a total single person. You sound as though you got carried away with just the single part, leaving the parent part out. I am not surprised he moved back to his family, at least he knows he can depend on them. And if he does, he can also have the opportunity to have some fun like you do. He’s entitled to it as well, doesn’t sound like he’ll abuse it though. You really are at the mercy of him to gain rights to your daughter. You can try the route to convince him, but don’t expect it to work. He’s at a place where he has a lot of support, if he left, he most likely doesn’t feel there’s enough reason to be where you are. Plus, he’s not with you, there’s not much left there to keep him. What you need to do more than anything is get your act together and get your priorities straight. Until you can figure something out, set up a schedule of when you can visit your daughter, since it sounds like that’s the priority here. I would say NOT to get back with him just for your daughter. Although I’m an advocate of families staying together, I only encourage it when the parents WANT to work things out between the 2 of them, kids can sense when that’s not there. It really doesn’t sound like you want to be with him and the fact that you were cheating sets off flags that you probably weren’t in it for him. Plus, you can cause a bigger rift should things fail. It’s already a bad situation, no need to make it worse. I say your best bet is to move there, yeah it’s not where you want to be. But we all have to make sacrifices for our children. What’s most important? Staying where you’re at or being there for your daughter to watch her grow up, learn to read, play sports or ballet, become a teenager, etc. You’ll miss the days of teaching her how to dress or do her make-up. But you’ve got to decide your daughter is worth it and from there, do whatever it is you need to do. Should things work out with your ex, great, but don’t move there with the expectation that you’ll get back together. Your priority now is your child and should you move there, you need to know the same behavior where you are partying a lot is going to have to be curbed down there too. Just because you guys may fail at the relationship part, doesn’t mean your parenting relationship has to suffer. I’ve seen plenty of single parents that have the communication down when it comes to their child. You have a lot of sacrifices to make, but you have to decide it’s worth it.