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?