What seemed like a good idea last night is beginning to seem like a really dumb one today. I am talking about changing my work schedule around so that I can be available for my children this March Break. Today is Monday and I worked the last three night shifts at the hospital and then went and made switches so that I could continue and work tonight and tomorrow night too... Hmmmm.....it's two in the afternoon and I'm not sleeping....this could be a problem. I was woken up an hour ago by the dogs doing some kind of howling duet. Aaaaagh! I blog a lot about self-care, maybe I need to look at this night shift thing a little more closely. Yet when it comes to making sacrifices that will bring about a better situation for my children, I know I'm not alone.
As a single mom now, I have to make decisions about childcare that do not factor in anybody but myself. I am the one who has to juggle schedules, there isn't anyone else to rely on. If that means working five nights in a row so that I am free to care for them when they come home from a visit at the dad's home on Wednesday then that is how it has to be done. But at what cost? Sure in the short term I may be a bit tired but that will get taken care of with a few good night's sleep...but the long term costs in terms of stress are something I will need to keep in mind. Single parenting is a challenge for anybody but when your ex partner is an abuser, it can become a whole new ballgame.
The need for power and control is at the centre for an abuser, it is what motivates and drives their actions. As so many of us has found out, being the primary caregiver for children opens up a whole wealth or opportunities for abusers to fulfill this need. Not showing up on time... texting to say they are too sick to look after the children when they know you have to go to work (vomiting and diarrhea is usually the reason given in my experience) quickly adding that they are thinking of the children's needs: "I want to have them but I don't want them to get sick". Also another situation that I am familiar with is that I can pretty much bank on the fact that if I need to hear back from him by a certain time and have communicated that, I will either not hear back or will be made to wait until the very last possible moment and then be told "sorry, my phone was off". Excuse me while I AAAAAAAGGH! again.
Okay, we all get it -- parenting with an abuser can really be a challenge. I don't have all the answers, I'm kind of feeling my way through this like so many of you. However, I know that when I am sitting in a room with other survivors, it only takes one woman to disclose the stress that she is experiencing in this regard before heads are nodding in agreement in a show of support and solidarity -- it doesn't change my personal situation but it sure helps me to feel like I'm not alone in all of this. One of the groups that I have attended in the past and benefited enormously from is "Women's Weekly" (check the calendar). If you want to connect with other survivors in a safe and non-threatening environment (child care provided!) then this is a great place to start.
So my sisters, hang in there -- and next time you are told that you will have to change your plans because a certain somebody "can't get off the toilet", just take a deep breath and think of me and the rest of us in this virtual room, sitting here nodding our heads in support and understanding. They may have the victory in the short run but we always win when we stand tall and put our children first.by