“I want to live with daddy…”

100_3600aWow.

In the midst of a painful personal decision, I’ve now been hit with another bomb.  This one, however, isn’t painful in the slightest.  It is, though, big.

I recently received an email from my daughter’s mom.  M…my 10-year-old daughter who lives in Ontario and is about to spend two weeks with me when she flies in on Friday…has been repeatedly telling her mom recently that she wants to live with me.

Whoa.

Now I know that it’s an argument tactic on her behalf.  She’s been having troubles at school and has been lashing out a bit.  She’s also being made to do household chores like cleaning dishes and isn’t happy about that in the slightest.  In fact, her mother described her to me as “an emotional train wreck”.

When I read those words in her email, they hurt me.  How could my baby girl…my beautiful daughter…be an emotional train wreck at 10 years of age?  What in the heck has been going on in Ontario for this to happen?

M has been having a hard time fitting in with others at school.  She tries to hard to make friends.  She’s seeing a guidance counsellor.  She’s rolling her eyes in conversations with her mom and sighing loudly.  She’s talking back to her mother (???).  All at 10 years old.

100_3608aSo I got this email and panicked a little bit.  But I took some time to let it all digest and then responded.  My initial reaction would be that maybe she’s not getting enough love and attention at home, or perhaps she just feels that way because she’s got two younger sisters that were fathered by her current step-father…so maybe she feels “alone”, in a way.  I didn’t actually say that in the email…at least not outright…but I hinted at it.  She seems to be craving attention…craving love…and for whatever reason, feels like she isn’t getting it.

I went through a similar time as a child.  My parents loved me…this I totally realize.  But at the time, I felt as though I wanted more attention…so I acted up at school, always being the class clown in an effort to become more popular and to get the attention I desperately crave.  I see my little brother going the opposite route now…at 15 becoming more of an introvert and turning to gaming and metal music as a way of feeling accepted.  But I digress.

100_3553aIn my email I told the ex that I had no problem with M doing chores around the house and that when she comes up to visit, it won’t be a “2-week long free ride” or anything.  The last thing I want to do is to encourage the “daddy vs. mommy” feelings that are apparently already there with her.  I want to back up mommy and support her decisions so that this situation doesn’t get out of control.

But then I thought about it…and I tried to think of the possible ways to help my daughter.  The thing that stood out…the one thing that I wanted more than anything else…was for her to move down here with me full time.

This, kids, was a huge revelation for me.

100_22021I feel like I’m ready to have my daughter in my life much more than she is.  The distance between us sucks, but every time we spend a day or week together it feels like she was just visiting me the week before instead of the twice-a-year situation that we currently have.  I want to show her how I can love her…how I can give her my attention…how I want her to be THE woman in my life until she’s old enough to move out.  Wow…I actually want my daughter to live with me full-time.

So a few hours after sending the email, I started to panick.  Not at my decision, but maybe at how it would be interpreted.  I didn’t want the ex to think that I was going to battle for custody or anything.  I didn’t want her to think that I believed her to be a bad mother.  I just wanted to re-emphasize that the option is there and that I’m totally willing and able to be the full-time father that I’ve never really been for her.

100_2567We talked and she understood where I was coming from.  She told me of a conversation that M had with both her and her husband, and the information really caused my stomach to churn.  She had asked M to tell her what she likes about herself.  At 10 years old, M couldn’t come up with anything.  She couldn’t find ONE THING that she actually liked about herself.  When the opposite question was asked of her…what didn’t she like about herself…the answer was, “Everything.”

OMG.

As we talked, the conversation moved to my offer.  Then came a reply I really wasn’t anticipating:

“What if she lived with you for the summer?  Or even half of the summer?”

I must admit…even though I placed the offer out there, I really didn’t know how I would react if there was a possibility of it actually happening.  But now it’s a possibility…a DISTINCT possibility.  Not only that, but there is now an offer on the table.

100_2417I told her that I would absolutely take her for as long as she needed me to, but that I’d have to look into babysitting options because where my family live 40 minutes away, I couldn’t just drop her off with my mom for the day.  I’d have to look into finding places for her to go all day while I worked.  At this point, my daughter believes that living with me would be all fun and games…and I’m going to have to make her realize that life isn’t always easy and that I’ve got responsibilities outside of just spending every day with her.  Still…my heart is pounding at the thought of her living with me, if even for a few months.

So that’s my current situation.  My daughter flies in from Ontario late Thursday night and is staying with me for two weeks.  I’m hoping that during this time together I can get to the bottom of what’s really bothering her…and if staying with me over the summer is something she would be able to handle.

I’m extremely excited yet extremely scared at the same time.  I feel like I’m ready to be a full-time dad for her…but would I be inheriting problems that I cannot even begin to fix?

Oh wow…life is certain never boring, is it?

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12 thoughts on ““I want to live with daddy…”

  1. Exciting stuff. Well the bit about her coming to live with you is. I don’t like reading about your daughter not liking anything about herself. I’ve been doing some mentoring, and I have a young boy, turns 10 tomorrow actually, who says the same when asked. And the thing is this kid is incredible, so intelligent and likeable. I think your attention analysis carriers a lot of weight, and for that reason time with you has to be beneficial for both parties. I do hope to hear it work, and look forward to some more positive blog post about it soon.

    1. Hey SPD. I hope to be able to blog positively very soon, as well. My hope is that during time spent together that maybe she’ll open up a bit and tell me what’s going on with herself.

      I’d like to think that 10 years old is a bit young to be having these types of self-esteem issues, but where I’ve been through it all before myself, I’m really hoping that I can connect with her and help get her back on track.

  2. ok.. does ANYONE else find it mildly creepy that just days ago you decided you needed to focus on your kids and then your daugther announces she wants to move in with you.

    neer neer neer neer neer (twilight zone)

    🙂

    good luck.

    my manfriend has a 10 year old with self esteem issues. YIKES. but 10 is better than 14. you still have time to beat …er .. i mean ….love it out of them.

    attention and having them around independent, strong people help.

    peace.

      1. lol.. creeepy as in spooky. like twilight zone. like karma.

        when i wrote it i giggled because the way it sounded and decided to keep it in anyway 😀

        aah.. if we can laugh we will cry.

  3. This is a timely post for me. I’ve long wanted my kids with me full time, but never really did anything about it. My son has been getting into trouble at school, similar to your daughter. I wonder if he’d be better off in one home full time. Hard for me to blog about since some friends of my ex read my blog. I have to tread carefully when I blog.

    1. Totally understandable.

      I’m just really hoping that I can get to the bottom of the situation after a couple of weeks with her and a good talk or two. If there’s a positive change in her (or if things get better with me and then get worse when she gets back home), then we’ll discuss longer stays with me (possibly a 50/50 or more situation) as a possibility.

      My priority, obviously, is just making sure she feels better about herself. That’s huge regardless of where she’s living.

  4. As a mom to four girls I can tell you that right about your daughter’s age is when the “seperate myself from mom” thing begins and the hormones start kicking in. My experience has been that from about 11-14 my daughters pretty much hate me for breathing and I can do nothing to please them. The self loathing is a little concerning but somewhat normal too. Girls can be so hard on themselves.

    The very best thing you can do for your daughter is always support her mother in how she raises her. You sound like you are, but know that disagreeing can be undermining on the other end and your daughter will quickly pick up that she can play the two of you against each other.

    The summer sounds like a great idea for everyone. Of course dont spoil her but DO shower her with praise and positive reinforcement to help build her confidence back up.

    Way to go dad.

    1. Excellent advice, Mindy. Thank you.

      One thing I’ve been extremely conscious of is to never undermine her mom. I never wanted to turn this into a “daddy vs. mommy” situation, as I’ve seen it happen so many times and it depresses me because the only ones really hurt in the situation are the kids.

      So I’m all about staying on board with her decisions, and so far there haven’t been any that I’ve disagreed with so that’s a good thing, too.

      I think she’ll realize on this two week trip that daddy *can’t* spoil her every time she comes to visit. She and I will hopefully have a great time, but there won’t be indoor amusement parks or over-night trips with the grandparents or waterslide parks every single day. So I’m hoping that we can just spend quality time together and find other ways to entertain ourselves that don’t make visiting me seem like DisneyWorld every single time.

      I dunno…I’m just wanting to talk with her at this point. I know girls can be hard on themselves, but at 10 years old it does cause me concern.

  5. You sound like such a wonderful father to her. I love your awareness and attentiveness to her dislike of herself. Many girls do go through this – life is hard as a girl!!

    Perhaps her spending the summer with you will give you both the perspective that you need.

    It breaks my heart to think that she doesn’t like anything about herself. I have two little ones that …. it would just kill me to hear that from them.

    Good luck.

    1. Thanks, T. I’ve talked to her a couple of times this week and she’s extremely excited to come visit for a couple of weeks. I’m just really hoping that we can talk…which might be hard with a 10-year old. But we’ve got such a good relationship that I’m hoping it happens.

      No child should feel like that at 10.

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