Momhood: Then & Now
updated november 2002

with my firstborn, jamie lynn, spring 1982
Growing up, I had two ambitions in life.

One was to become a writer  ... something I'm still working on. 

The other  ...  was to become a mom.

Not just any mom, either:  I wanted to be the best damn mom on the planet.  The kind of mom Hallmark cards are written about.  The kind of mom who proudly wears her tissue-paper Mother's Day carnation to the grocery store.  The kind of mom who gets up at 5 a.m. to bake cookies for the class party:   an honest to goodness "PTA-and-Little-League" mom.  The kind of mom whose children adore her ... and whose children's friends adore her  ...  and whose children's friends' parents secretly hate her guts because she's so great.

Most especially:  the kind of mom who never ever goes away ... like mine did.

So I had my babies, one by one: two beautiful daughters and an adorable little boy, all born within four years of each other.  And for a long time I was that Perfect Mom I'd always aspired to be.

[Well, OK  ...  maybe not perfect.  But pretty darned close.    They could all stand to be seen in public with me, most of the time:  I considered that a measure of my success.]

But then a not-so-funny thing happened on my way to Perfect Momhood, and I suddenly found myself a member of one of the last unspoken minorities  ... 

... The Society of Non-Custodial Moms.

r-to-l: kacie, jamie, me & kyle at my wedding, july 21st, 2001
~ july 2001 ~

As societies go, this one doesn't get a lot of press.  There aren't a lot of support groups around, and the self-help section at Barnes & Noble doesn't offer much on the topic.  Typing the words "noncustodial mother" into an Internet search engine yields little or nothing.

It's easy to understand why.  A mother who gives up custody of her children --  regardless of whether she gives them up voluntarily or involuntarily, regardless of the reasons/circumstances/people involved, regardless of whether or not it's the best thing for all concerned --  is frowned upon.  Questioned. Suspect. Viewed with suspicion and derision.

So we don't talk about it much. 

We just go about our daily lives: living, working, learning, growing, trying to set the best example we can.  We mail our child support every month.  We make every attempt to refrain from referring to the ex as "The Anti-Husband" in front of the kids.   We run up our long distance phone bills just so we can call and hear those beloved voices saying "Goodnight, Mom" one more time.  

And we still try to be the best damn moms on the planet  ...  only now it's from a distance.

Terri Polen Rafter
June 1998/November 2002

throw a rock