Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Without My Kids

When you're divorced, usually you have to share your kids during the Holidays. 
For me, every other year is my year to celebrate in a very different way than when my kids are with me.  On Thanksgiving, this year at least, my children are celebrating with their father. 
It's hard.  But it's okay.  And, it's getting easier now that I've gotten more used to it.  I've adapted to this new way of living, and so have my kids.  Whether they are with me, or with their dad and step mom, they have definite staple traditions:  Turkey with all the trimmings, and family.
To be honest, there are moments when it hits me… that loneliness, the “missing them”, the reminder that things you thought would never change sometimes do.  The quiet of an empty house.   Sometimes I feel hollow, sorry for myself, and lonely.  My retreat during these darker times is to run a hot bath, light a few candles around it, and maybe even indulge in a little dark chocolate ice-cream and a glass of red wine.  (A beer and a pack of Red Vines do the trick for me as well).
I allow myself to wallow a little, feel the pain and sorrow of not having my children with me on the actual day of Thanksgiving, but then I make an absolute point of remembering what I am thankful for. 
·         My children’s and my health.
·         The fact that we all have many people in our lives that we love and who love us.
·         The knowledge that even when we spend time apart, we are still connected in the most important ways.
Maybe it’s easier for me now because I am used to it.  I’ve been apart from the “old version” of my family now for about nine years.  I have new traditions with my new (or as I call him, my “real”) husband and his family.  I still celebrate with my own parents, and even though the relationship with my ex and his new wife is not ideal, I know for sure that they love my kids and my children are safe, happy and will be well fed tomorrow night. 
Next year will be my year to celebrate Thanksgiving with them again.
But this year, I am quietly thankful for the things that really matter.


  1. I once joined a support group for non-custodial parents at a local church. There was a room full of men and a female crack addict. It was a very angry group. I skipped out during a break but one man came after me to apologize. We became friends and spent years talking each other through how best to keep the lines of communications open with our former spouses for the sake of our kids. Yet even he held me to a different standard. Eventually our friendship failed because of it. I was guilty of choosing to support my children and of giving them a decent standard of living while their father choose to work a part-time job and stay at home.

    Over the years I have learned to not be ashamed of doing what is (and was) best for our children. My pain at the time I miss with them is irrelevant when it comes to doing what is best for them in the long run.

  2. Sophia, I am not well-versed on the acceptable behaviors of blog followers so if I'm doing anything that is untoward... forgive me. I don't know that I can actually even be called a follower - yet. I stumbled upon your blog after typing non-custodial Mom in my Google search bar. While I don't advocate wasting time at work, I have to say I was absolutely drawn in, and have been reading for what feels like hours and it has been such a relief. Of course I knew that there were other non-custodial Moms out there, but I didn't realize that others would feel so much like me. Your words, your experiences... they all hit so close to home and many times it felt as though they were my very own.

    Thanks for having the courage to write about, and share your feelings about and experiences with this new family dynamic.

    Just when I think it’s starting to get easier, it stops. It receeds, actually. My children are in their late teens now, and that presents a whole new set of parenting problems... let alone co-parenting with an ex and their new spouse. I have felt so alone, and lost, and scared, and confused all week.

    Now I feel rejuvenated, and more confident in me. I really needed that, so thank you, again.

  3. Sophia,
    I too spent Thanksgiving without my children this year. And it was more for my ex, due to his career he rarely sees them an entire day. So, I gave him that gift of spending the whole day with our 4 children because I know how much they miss their father during the week.

    I have been an NCM for over 3 years now and my children are 7,9,11, and 12 with my oldest being 20. My reasons for remaining an NCM were as complex as they can be. Financially, he made a very good living and there was no way I wanted to put them through moving out of their home. I had to be the adult (I kept reminding myself) even though my situation left me with an absolutely broken heart on top of having to realize that the children would stay with him.

    I started over from the absolute bottom and it has been the most wonderful journey I could have asked for. Not only did I have the time to truly understand life and all its nuances of beauty and pain but my children see a strong woman who is accomplishing her goals one by one, which I would not have been able to do had I remained married. I have returned to college, I've started a business, I've learned to live alone.

    I've talked to other women's groups about my life and how I made it through (there was a short amount of time after the divorce that I was homeless. I never gave up and I was determined.

    Today, I am preparing to start a local non-custodial mothers group called TIES (Transform Inspire Encourage Support) where those that feel like they should hide, need to realize it is a chance to empower themselves. And, yes, it is heartbreaking too! But, together, understanding the loss (and it is a loss) creates strength.

    Thank you for having created such a wonderful, informative blog.


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