"Selfless" or "Weak"? Interpreting a Mother's Language of Love

Image Credit: Jaclyn Janssen Name of image's creator

My daughter’s name is Meika. She is an incredibly special little girl. She lights up a room; her smile is unlike any smile I've ever seen. Meika turns three on 12/11/10 (no way can I ever forget that birthday). Meika has a congenital heart defect called Truncus Arteriosus. Meika is my baby girl. The bond I share with her grows deeper and deeper everytime I see her.

Currently, I share 50/50 custody with her father. He and I were only together for four months before I became pregnant. We parted then, and I was torn on what to do with this unplanned pregnancy. I thought about my options. I thought about my son. I felt lost. Her father desperately wanted me to keep her; and for that, I'll be FOREVER grateful to him.

Her father didn't meet her until she was almost four months old. Ironic, huh? But since the day he met her…. Things changed quickly.

Her father and I live about 30 miles from one another. We are currently (ongoing, really) going back and forth through our attorneys negotiating the normal things that come with the territory of sharing a child with an ex.  

The one topic that has yet to surface, is what will happen when Meika needs to be enrolled into school. This unspoken matter just lingers in the air... keeping me awake far too late into the night. In fact, it makes me sick to my stomach and I often find myself on the verge of tears. Due to the distance and our individual circumstances (he's married with another little one on the way and I have a son from a previous relationship), it seems inevitable that our current 50/50 arrangement will not work once the time comes for her to go to school.

Of course there are different scenarios that play in my head, such as:  we enroll her into one school district and her father and I alternate pickups and drops offs, etc. However, is it feasible? Could it work? What if my job is 30 miles in the opposite direction? What if it means I have to wake my son up an hour earlier on the days I am responsible to get her to school? I have to take into consideration his lifestyle as well. But, most importantly, are any of the scenarios I replay in my head  going to be in Meika's best interest?

After years of simmering on this inevitable topic, the time is finally drawing more and more near… decisions have to be made. Of course, you don't know her father (hell, I hardly know him); but I'll tell you one thing I've learned about him through this awkward exchange of a child being passed back and forth: He is a fighter. He is stubborn. He is passionate. He is a loving father. As much as I can't stand those qualities in regards to his interactions with me, I'm so grateful he is the way he is. He'd do anything for our little girl.

So, who will surrender? Who will give up their time with Meika in order to allow her a calm and simpler life?

My sister said, "You can't give up. You have to fight for her." And... that’s where the internal warfare takes over. My heart doesn’t see it as giving up on her. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.  

I want Meika. My heart breaks every Sunday at drop off. Seven days later, when it's my week to pick her up, I am so excited to see her, I get butterflies.

God intended families to be just that: families. But, the year is 2013 and unfortunately, my situation is like so many others. We have to be creative, selfless, punctual, organized, patient, and accepting of our "families"…It’s a lot of work, but it is what it is. It’s our responsibility to ensure we give our children the best life we can offer them given our "not-so-traditional" families we've birthed our children into.

So, here I sit with a conflicted heart. Unsure what is best for Meika. For just a tiny moment, I feel a sense of calming; it's when I imagine that maybe, just maybe, Meika's father is thinking what I'm thinking, and he surrenders first. It won't happen. Because he loves her more? No, that surely isn't it.

Is "giving up", "giving in"? Is "surrendering" to her father, proof that I'm unwilling to fight for her? Or, is it proof, that I’d do anything for her; sacrifice my own hearts needs and desire. That I'm willing to sit here, with an aching heart as means to ensure she'll be provided with stability and peace and a place to call home?

I wonder what has worked for other families in a situation similar to mine. I mean, my particular situation surely cannot be this unique... yet; I've yet to come across anyone who has advice based off of actual circumstances where they can relate and make me truly see it from their perspective.


How do we differentiate being "selfless" and being "weak"? My heart is in the right place. I'd walk a thousand miles uphill for my daughter. I'd give her my heart if it meant she'd never have to endure surgery again. There is nothing I wouldn't do for her. I want the world for her. I want her to grow up in a home where she can invite a friend over, regardless of what week it is. I want her to know what it's like to grow up in a home with both a mother and a father present; like I did.  I want her to have all of this with me, but, I'm unable to provide her with any of these things right now.

Single parents can raise a perfectly happy child; I know this. I KNOW, I can provide her with enough love, peace, and happiness to create a lovely upbringing for her. But, I want MORE for her. I do not want her life to feel ANY negative effects of the decision I made, to not be with her father.


I know that the decisions her father and I make now, will ultimately lead her on the path she will one day walk upon....

I want that path to be smooth and carefree for her. I want her to be a child and feel the sweet simplicity that often comes with a traditional home.

And mostly, someday, I want her to know that every decision I made, were decisions made based off of pure love. I pray she’ll know that me “surrendering”, was her mama's language of love.



Jaclyn Janssen



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