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Divorce & Annulments

After my divorce, a new visitation schedule was put into effect of when my daughters would spend time with me and when they would visit their father. My first weekend without the kids, my friend Michele brought me a Pilgrim Statue from Fatima. I put the beautiful statue on my kitchen table and kept her with me for a whole week. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t survive this weekend arrangement and I was thankful to have her there with us.

My daughters were both feeling anxious with the new arrangements. I tried to do what I could to be positive and I told them they would be able to have a whole weekend together with their father and their grandparents. It would be nice for them to have this time to catch up with Dad.

After they left, I spent some time just sitting on my couch trying not to come undone. Over the years, when I thought about my life, divorce and being separated from my kids on a regular basis was never part of the equation.

After they left for the weekend, I realized that the reason I was so upset with the new arrangement was not because I didn’t want my girls to have time with their father. I was upset because I took my job as a mother very seriously and I felt this was being taken away from me by force, two nights a week and every other weekend. This wasn’t a plan that I want for my own life, never mind the plan I wanted for my daughters.

I struggled especially because I never wanted my divorce, but you can’t have a marriage when one person walks away. So this was my new reality—our new reality—and  I wasn’t happy about it, but I didn’t know what I could do either.

So I kept sitting on the sofa and I kept looking at this Pilgrim Statue of Mary from Fatima sitting on my kitchen table. Finally, not knowing what else to do, I sank to the floor and knelt before the statue of our Holy Mother and prayed a Rosary. After I finished, I knelt a while longer, just thinking about the sacrifices that Mary was called to make as the Mother of Our Lord. I cried for both of us and then it became very clear to me what I could do about this new arrangement.

I knew that I would not be able to be the mother I wanted to be when my girls were away from me. It had suddenly occurred to me however, that Mary could be that mother in my place. And so I gave my daughters over to Mary’s care and I consecrated them to her on that day in my kitchen amidst the tears and the anguish.

I asked her to look out for them and to be that mother to them when they were away from me and I couldn’t do it myself. It was an emotional time, for me and for my daughters. But I believe we got through it easier, because Mary was able to be there when I wasn’t.

If your family has a visitation schedule, what have been some ways you have coped with the challenges that it brings?

 

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11 Comments

  1. Kathy-730470 May 13, 2014

    I enjoyed reading your piece. Since my separation and divorce saying the rosary has been a blessing for me. When I became separated I too prayed the rosary. I pray the rosary for my children everyday :)

  2. Theresia-758681 May 13, 2014

    Thank you for sharing this Heather, Mary is also protecting my daughter everyday, as I have to leave her for work and study, She is always there, watching my daughter :) thank you Mother Mary :)

  3. Joan-529855 May 13, 2014

    Heather, Thank you so much for sharing your experience. An unwanted divorce is painful enough. Having your children removed from you 50% of the time just adds salt to the wounds. Please pray for the families in which these children are now living with the new girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse of their parents where there might also be step siblings. Prayer is our peace in a time of turmoil.

  4. Gary-1084326 May 13, 2014

    Thank you for writing this Heather. The power of prayer is indeed the only thing that has helped me keep my sanity; and I have complete faith in God that He hears my prayers for my kids.

    If I may, I’d like to share my story…

    My wife tended to over-protect and spoil the kids where as I would tend to be the disciplinarian. It turned into a good guy-bad guy thing. That along with money issues is what led us to divorce. You can’t have a marriage when you aren’t “evenly yoked” and I was asked to leave. My kids saw me as the bad guy and the one that left, so their time with me was always stressful. Along with that, I came back to my Catholic roots after our divorce… I was born and raised Catholic but strayed. I came back to God when I met my future wife who was a Baptist. We married in the Baptist church and lived our married life there. Coming back to my Catholic faith was strike three: I was the bad guy, the one who left, and was Catholic.

    It didn’t take long for the kids to decide they were old enough that they didn’t have to abide by the parenting plan and could come and go as they pleased. My ex-wife told me I’d just have to accept the fact that the kids were teenagers and had their own priorities and lives to lead. My hopes and dreams of being the husband, father, and family that I always wanted were shattered and ‘all I could do’ was pray.

    Eucharistic Adoration was the place I found peace and healing. I started reading books about the lives of the Saints and am constantly humbled by the suffering they endured all for the sake of Christ. The pain of my broken dreams is nothing in comparison. Through this, I’ve learned more about fortitude, mercy, and humble service than I ever though possible. I’ve finally learned what it means to lay my suffering at the foot of the cross and suffer along with Christ. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I continue to fail and how much more I need the grace of God.

    As a father, I naturally worry about my kids. I gave them back to God the Father who created them and loves them much more than I can imagine. He is faithful and whether it is Mary, Joseph, or an army of Saints and Angels watching over and interceding for them, I know God has everything under control.

    I never wanted my divorce, but I’d like to think I’m in a much better place when it comes to my faith and spirituality. It’s been almost four years since my divorce and my relationship with my kids is better though not what I would have wanted. The bottom line is it isn’t about what I would have wanted. It’s about God’s divine plan.

    May His will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.
    Gary

    • Jason-862068 May 13, 2014

      Gary,
      I appreciate your response as a fellow man and for coming back into the arms of the church in truth even though it has its sacrifices, it’s the way. Come let us adore him.

    • Liz-609023 May 19, 2014

      Hi Gary,
      your story rather reminds me of the situation I’m in although this isn’t about Heather’s story. I’m an Aunt and my sister is a single Mother of a lovely boy who’s also my God son but he’s spoiled rotten here by his Grand parents (my parents) and his Mother isn’t noticing things and hasn’t since the beginning so I’ve been keeping an eye on him and so that involves disciplining in the best way possible but it’s made me into this bad Auntie and he doesn’t like me (he’s 11 now) and what’s worse I’m a bad Christian which makes me feel guilty. The child is just getting fat because of the things he’s given. I would never allowed it. I pray every night for him but I don’t know how to change the situation because he’s not my child. They get angry with me if I say something. All I want to do is help. Nightmare. Thanks for telling your story.
      Peace be with you.

      • Liz-609023 May 19, 2014

        I just re-read what I wrote and realised I wrote “I’m a bad Christian” not very well. I mean they look at me as if I’m a bad Christian.

  5. Marc-361730 May 13, 2014

    I started a daily rosary when the youngest of my three adult children felt unsafe at work and I was unable to do anything about it. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for your care over my children, and all my precious ones.

  6. Marian-941252 May 13, 2014

    Thank you so much Heather for sharing your story, and to others who have posted comments. Its very easy to think that you are the only person going through the mixed up emotions and pain in these situations. Like you I have taken great consolation in my faith. When I wake up on a Saturday morning and my son is not here, I go to morning Mass and join our rosary group afterwards and have got great peace from this. I have also consecrated my son to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She is the best mum ever:) God Bless

  7. Suzy-456834 May 14, 2014

    What a beautiful idea!

  8. Michael-1091531 May 15, 2014

    would like to see some people

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