Monday, October 18, 2010

Solomon in a Nutshell

                                                                                                            {photo by Angelhead}

In my old life, the life I led with my children’s father, I was deeply involved in our church.  Our family belonged to our neighborhood’s New Methodist congregation.  I filled in as the pre-school Sunday teaching assistant sometimes while my husband ushered or attended the Men’s Accountability Group sessions.  One particular Sunday, I was asked to read a storybook version of “King Solomon’s Judgment.”

I sat criss-cross-applesauce on the floor in the circle of children with my then, seven year old daughter Claire, resting her head on my knee.  The kids snuggled into the faded calico floor pillows while I read.  That Sunday morning, I didn’t have any idea how intimately I would come to know the theme of this parable.
I didn’t realize then that, soon, I would face a similar choice to the mother in the story.
The story goes something like this…

Two women, each of whom had young sons of the same age, lived in the same village.  One night, one of the women woke to find that her son had died in his sleep.  Devastated and desperate, the weeping mother crept in the middle of the night to the other woman’s home and silently stole the sleeping child to replace her own.

In the morning, the woman whose son had been stolen was panicked.  She wailed and cried and thought she had lost her son until she saw him in the arms of her neighbor.  She demanded that the woman return her child to her, but the woman whose son had died refused.  She insisted that the child’s mother was lying.  Both women were taken, along with the child, to the royal court for King Solomon to decide who the rightful mother was.

The wise king ordered the child to be placed in front of him.  He beckoned for a guard to bring his sword.  He raised his sword over the child and shouted “Since there is no clear way of knowing who the mother is, we will split him between the two of them.”  He raised his sword, as if to divide the crying child with it.

“No!  Let him go to that woman!” The real mother shouted once she saw her son in danger.  She begged Solomon to give her son to the woman who posed as her child’s mother.  “She can have him!”

King Solomon however, had never meant to harm the child, and lowered his sword and pointed to the woman who had been so willing to give her son away to the other woman.  Wise Solomon knew that only the boy’s real mother would love her son so deeply that she would quickly forfeit him to another person rather than risk him being harmed.

A real mother always chooses what is best for her child.  Even when it is not what is best for her.

My three children are my heart and soul.  I think all parents feel this way, like there is an invisible cord wrapped tightly around you, tugging at your very core, always attaching you to your children, no matter how old or far away they are.  I tell my children how much I love them all the time.   Sometimes they roll their eyes and think I’m being corny, but for all they’ve already been through, they are amazingly well adjusted and positive.  They radiate intelligence and happiness and sometimes roll with the punches better than any of the parent figures in our little family drama.  I feel lucky they remain relatively unscathed.

But not long ago, on our drive to Book Fair night at her school, my youngest daughter Faith, dressed in her “Fancy Nancy” costume, told me that her stepmom Wanda had told her that day that I didn’t love her as much as she did.  Wanda had told my daughter that the reason I was not the full time mom was because I did not “fight” for her.

My heart lurched.

I took a deep breath and explained to Faith that I did love her…  VERY much.  I measured my voice to stay calm and positive, and assured her that I decided back when I thought I had no other choice, that for her to spend most of the week with her father and stepmother was better for her because of their neighborhood, their large house, the school she would be able to attend and because of all of our work schedules.  I tried to explain that I had wanted what would be best for her without having to “fight.”

Faith took my answer in stride.  Once we arrived at the Book Fair, she hugged me around the neck and held my hand as she skipped down the hall in her boa and glittery ensemble to join her class in the library.  I watched Faith giggling with her friends, examining paperbacks and bookmarks for sale at the costume party/book fair and I realized she’d probably already forgotten her stepmother’s words.  But those words resonated within me and coiled themselves around my throat and heart.  That night especially, I wanted to hate Wanda for saying that to my daughter.  I wanted to confront her and set her straight -- but I couldn’t.

Because Wanda was right.

I didn’t “fight” for my children.  For many reasons.  That night, I had to remind myself of those reasons over and over.  After what happened with my husband, I didn’t know how to fight.  Back then, I was too stunned, haunted, and worn down.  I didn’t have the confidence or the energy to fight, and I couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer.  I often wonder if there are other women who go through things like I did, then just crumble… in so many ways.

But the biggest reason I didn’t “fight” was because I thought I was doing what was best for my children.

I watched Faith move confidently around the library with her friends, smiling and laughing, and it gave me comfort.  I miss my children every day that they are not with me, and I often wish often that I had been able to do things differently back then.  There is no King Solomon in my story to return my children to me.  But I know they are healthy and happy, and there is no distance long enough to disconnect the invisible tether between us. 


  1. You are a blessing to me through your blog. God Bless you and keep you, sis! Keep WRITING!!!! PS: My daughter is Faith, too!!!!

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog. I also am a non-custodial mom by choice. And love you story. I do have times where I feel so guilty. But I know my boys are happy, healthy and well cared for.. For that I am happy..

  3. Jeanie, thank you for your words. It's so good to know there are others of us out there! My kids are doing really well and I made choices I needed to make at the time, but I also feel guilt and miss them often. What calms my heart is that they are growing up to be terrific people and know they are loved.

  4. it's sad that Wanda chose to tear you down and use the situation negatively - good for you for not sinking down to their level - I would have been hard pressed not to call her up and give her a piece of my mind or him.

  5. I am a custodial mom who allowed her children to choose where they wanted to be. Because I refused to allow them to suffer more then they needed. And everyday that passes it kills me. But the most painful is when people believe you abandon your kids. It's like a knife in your soul.

  6. We have no official/legal custody arrangements, but my children also live with their dad primarily. Like you, I didn't fight because I thought it was what was best for my children. I left him, so I had to move out. I didn't want to remove my children from the only home they knew or put them in different schools. I've moved several times since then, and my oldest son would've changed schools 3-4 times at this point! I also didn't want to make my ex any angrier than he already was and I didn't want him to take out his anger on the kids. It's always really awkward to explain to people that your children don't live with you. I usually try to totally avoid that conversation with anyone! I left 5 years ago and I'm happy to say that my husband and I are 75% into building a new house and a very nice, safe, kid-filled neighborhood. I have the best job I've ever had. And I have my boys twice as much now as I used to. I'm glad I'm not the only one out there...