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Continuing Lyndsey’s story, a woman living apart from her children. In Part One Lyndsey described how it came about, what went wrong in her life. In Part Two we learn how she learned to cope with the situation. Now, in Part Three, we find out how Lyndsey is doing now, and how can still be the mother her girls need her to be.
How I Help My Girls Blossom From Afar
I now live quite a distance from my daughters. They are older, nudging at the teenage years. It hurts to admit it but we were arriving at a stage where they were conscious of missing out on parties, Brownie and Guide activities and general sleeping over girly friends stuff.
After years of Family Fridays, making everyone take off their uniform at the back door and fling it in the washing machine to make the most of available time, I now have to change into mother mark 3. How do I help my flowers blossom into young women from a distance?
I have grown to be stronger, more assertive and at the same time more peaceful. Encouraged by a friend last year I saw a solicitor about the contracts that were drawn up at the time of the divorce. He flushed red and after I had scooped him up off the floor he told me he could not believe that a judge signed them off.
The girls now spend time every holiday with me instead of weekends. I have to view it positively, now we get longer periods of unhurried moments to muse on life, sit on the beach and chat and just enjoy wallowing around in our pyjamas.
When they are here I make sure I have alone time with each of them and both of them together. We go on long walks, paddle in the sea and we eat gluttonous ice-cream sundaes.
I feel I have to be quite open with them to make sure that our moments are used wisely. So I ask them what they need from me. There is no time to waste. I have to be the mother they need, and that is a different mother to the one that I would be if I were with them all the time.
Last summer it was becoming clear I someone should have a chat with my eldest daughter about growing up. Inside I was manical that it was me that had the conversation with her and not her dad, or even worse, my buttoned-up unapproachable ex-mother in law.
We found seats in the corner of an ice cream bar and discussed what was going to happen to her body, how it might affect her feelings and her actions. An amazing, solid, sensitive young woman sat opposite me. I told her I had set up a bag of stuff for her, with everything she would need including period pants! She was not embarrassed or uncomfortable. There was no squirming in her seat or requests to change the subject. She was interested and engaged.
I was proud.
I send emails to the girls lots. Some days I just send a photo of their brothers, who they adore, sometimes I write quite a bit. Some days I just tell them I miss them.
They don’t always answer me, they are busy with their social lives and living in the moment but when they do it is a spotlight on my day.
We chat on the phone every week but their dad for some reason still feels he has to control it. He will never answer the phone straightway he forces me to leave a message. I have to keep pushing through all these little barriers he sets up. Every week. Frequently he is in the background, messing about and generally trying to distract them from the call.
I still do weeks of preparation for when they come. The freezer will be teaming with meals ready to be chucked in the oven; I will clear through all the laundry baskets so that I can fill them up to brimming. I only do essentials while they are here and I go to bed when they do so I can be up and with it in the morning.
So what is my message? I am a Non Resident Mother. Not all Non Resident Parents are demons, selfish and lack responsibility. I cherish every minute I spend with my daughters.
If I had all the money in the world would I go back and try and get them with me?
Maybe I would have a few years ago. But now, who would that be for? Them or me? Would it be right to take them out of a school where they are thriving, where they have been since they were 3 and won’t leave until they are 13? All their friends, all their social circles?
If they want to be here then my door and my heart is open. Up until recently I have held back from saying it, fearing the firing squad from my ex husband. But now I am confident enough to tell them how much I miss them and tell them the door is open. I am comfortable that they know that, but I also know they have a fulfilling life.
What is most important to me is that they are my daughters and I am and always will be Mummy. We have a strong bond and a water-tight relationship that will stand the test of time. And I work hard at that.
Daughter number 2 says she loves being here because
“Mummy is always happy and smiling”
That is the legacy I want to leave them.