Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Be there

I think I have always been clear that I left Tyler because he was not the husband I needed him to be, not because he wasn't the father Caroline needed him to be.

I still feel that way, in general-- he wants to be her father and present in her life. But it seems to me to be a common occurrence for noncustodial parents to have a slow decline in their visitation time that they choose to take, and our situation is no exception. Tyler's job requires him to travel a lot, and certain things can't be helped. But as time passes and we settle in to our separate lives, the time he spends with her is less and less. This is meant to be a statement of fact and not a criticism of his parenting.

I know it bothers him that she has a stronger attachment to me. It hurts him that she does not ask for him when he isn't around. He talks to me about it, about his hopes that they will have a bond someday when she is older, and I simply don't know what to say.

I think a lot about this question: how much responsibility do I bear for his relationship with her? On the surface it seems like it is really not my concern or my burden to carry, and I know that is the view a lot of custodial parents take. But I can't quite bring myself to feel that way. I am her mother. It's any mother's job to raise her child in the best circumstances she can. What's best for Caroline? To grow up having as full of a relationship with both her parents as possible, regardless of personal differences between he and I. So I feel that I should share in the responsibility of how much time they spend together. "It's not on you", people tell me. But I'm her primary caretaker and when it comes to looking out for her best interests, it is on me.

So I ask him, and remind him, weekly, when he's going to take her. The weekends are consistent enough, but four days out of thirty does not a parent-child bond make. I don't know. I certainly have enough on my plate without keeping on top of him to take his visitation, but like I said I feel some responsibility to try to maintain their relationship with some consistency.

Then he talks to me about his sadness over their declining connection. I feel bad for him, and I feel somewhat guilty because I am the one who initiated our split, which led to him spending even less time with her than he used to. But what can I say? Be there. I know it's hard for him when he lives a half an hour away, and he's trying to build a new life, and seeing her probably reminds him of all he used to have and lost. But all he can do is be there. Hope for a relationship in the future is not enough. She is important now, I say. She needs you now. Be there. Even if it makes you sad, even if it pulls you back in to the misery of everything that went wrong between us.

Be there. Not for me. For her.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

You're doing a great job, just remember that. You can push for them to have a relationship, but you can't force it. Like you said, all you can do is tell him to be there for her, now. It's up to him to pick it up from there.

I went through the same thing with my oldest son's father. You can only push the relationship so much, then it's up to the other person to step in.