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My Kids Want to Live With Their Dad

It was a beautiful trip. My two big boys flew all the way across the country alone, to visit me in Los Angeles. It was the most special reunion for us; their first time on the West Coast, my first time seeing them in the year since I began one of the most arduous projects of my career—The Rebuild Your Life Project, Los Angeles.

I didn’t recognize them when they walked off the place. My 12-year-old is now my height, his skin tone had darkened and he looked like a real, live teenager. My 11-year-old still had that soft sweet voice, chubby cheeks and flawless skin, yet he was a little more round than I remembered him. It didn’t matter. What mattered to me was that I had met my goal of rebuilding my life in a new city and could now afford to fly my sons to visit me so that they could witness my success firsthand.

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We had a blast for the week while they were here: trips to Hollywood Boulevard, Venice Beach and people watching on the Red Line made for one adventure after another. Getting to know them again up close and personal is very different from Skyping and talking on the phone. I was highly impressed by the young men they are becoming; resourceful, wise, witty and bold. Did these two amazing humans come from my body? How could a gift be so great? I could tell that living with their father in Florida has been a good thing for them—a very good thing.

I sat on the edge of the bed as we talked late one night and my son asked me how much longer it will take to finish my project.

“Bringing you boys out here was my first goal,” I shared. “My last goal is to offer a grant to a woman in this city, a woman who needs help rebuilding her life like I’ve been doing. Once I do that, I’ll be free to go back home. I just have to stick with it and finish this project.”

“You’re coming home?” my older son asked me and looked away.

“Well, don’t you want me to?” I asked them both. “Or would you like to come back here?”

They were quiet.

My boys are doing fine—just fine—without me in their lives on an everyday basis.

We hadn’t had this conversation in years. When they went to live with their father following my financial distress nearly six years ago, I promised them that I would do everything I could to get them back with me. Years floated by and they adjusted to their new lives with him, and I guess they like it.

I can understand why. According to them, their dad is “live,” cool and he keeps them involved in so many activities. They have a beautiful home and believe that they are “upper middle class.” They have very few wants in life and everything they need—a far cry from how both their father and I were raised in South Florida. He made the sacrifice of putting his creative side on the back burner, which allowed him to prosper in the corporate world. I couldn’t make it that way and have been floundering trying to establish myself as a creative.

“Baby,” I prodded, “What do you think about me moving back home? Or do you want to come visit me here again?”

My younger son nodded his head. “Yes, ma’am,” he said. “I like flying. It’s cool here in L.A. We want to come back to see you. But we’d love to see you more often.”

My heart dropped for a second as I tried to disguise my disappointment. My boys are doing fine—just fine—without me in their lives on an everyday basis. Despite the naysayers who criticize me for being a non-custodial parent, my boys are really happy and they want to stay with their father and visit me on special occasions. I live my life as an adventure and I guess they want to have a few adventures with me.

How do I feel about it? I’m torn. I no longer berate myself for not being like the average mom, but I have worked very hard to get to the point where I can take care of myself financially, and I want to share their lives again. I want to be a full-time mom again. I want to feel wanted again.

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But my boys are fine and they want to stay with their father. I honor that. Hell, if I could, I’d go stay with him too. He has FOUR bathrooms in his house; that must be something like a dream.

I get it. It’s a cool boys club. He has taught them independence and demonstrated how to achieve your dreams by being steadfast in his. They do love their mommy. They tell me all the time. I hear them. I believe them. I understand. They need him, and I just wrestle with feeling needed; feeling like I exist, and like I’m important to someone. Flittering and fluttering making your dreams come true IS awesome, but really, it would be more awesome to have someone to share it all with.

But hey, my boys are fine. They are progressing. They are growing in leaps and bounds. They have roots, routine and stability with him. My sons want to live with their father and, as smart as they are, even I know for right now that is the right thing. And I will respect their wishes.

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