Why I Am Thankful We Lost Custody

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While praying for my husband's ex-wife this morning, I had a realization (it was kind of like God put it there): I can trust God and rest in His goodness, even when what He allows isn't what I wanted. I can choose to be glad, grateful, and present in the moment that is, thinking of all the gifts I have been given, rather than feeling angry while wondering about how things could have or "should" have been.

You see, for the first five years of our married life, we split custody 50/50. Some years that looked like our (technically "his") two oldest spending every Monday and Tuesday with their mom, every Wednesday and Thursday with us, and every other weekend going back and forth. Other years that looked like one week with Dad and one week with Mom. 

In SOME ways, 50/50 was the best of both worlds: 
We got to build relationships between our (technically "my") youngest and his two older siblings when we were all together and we got one-on-one time with just him when they were with their mom. 
Sometimes our youngest would visit his dad for the weekend and we would get one-on-one time with each other - which was pretty awesome for a newly married couple that became an instant family of five. 
I was teaching at the school where the children attended, so I got to eat lunch with the kids and see them before and after school - even when it wasn't "our" time. BONUS!


In OTHER ways, 50/50 was pretty freaking awful: 
We had two kids who felt like they didn't have their own home - it was either "Mom's House" or "Dad's House" - as well has having to adapt to two different set of parenting routines, values, rhythms, expectations, and so on.
Sibling birth order was continually in flux as our middle child was the youngest at his mom's house. It was also hard for our youngest who was also an only child half the time. 
We had to persistently be on top of the switching schedules and homework, clothes, toys, or lunch bags that often seemed to be at the other parent's home when it was needed in the current home.
Worst of all, we never felt like we could have 100% influence on our children - because we couldn't! It seemed that every time we'd get a solid rhythm going, they would be off for a time in the other home...and then back to us at square one to start all over.


My husbands ex-wife had always hated living in Las Vegas and tried twice in court for primary custody to move out of state. She was single both times she lost. After she remarried and had a baby, her husband actively looked for jobs elsewhere, and got one. After an ugly court battle, the judge ruled in her favor because he saw their biological (half) sibling as their only sibling - totally discounting that they had spent the past five years growing up with their (step) brother. After another year of back and forth in court, it ended up that our daughter moved with her mom, stepdad and baby sister and our son stayed here with his Dad, brother, and me! 

For so long, I mourned the loss of relationship between Dad and daughter, siblings, and of course the relationship I had with "my girl" that I lost sight of ALL THE BLESSINGS with which God has indeed gifted us!

* He blessed us with raising our two boys together.
Our boys are only 10 months apart, but could truly not be any more different! However, through their personality variations, we get the opportunity to help them see and navigate through doing life alongside someone who sees, feels, and experiences just about everything very differently than yourself. This helps them develop empathy, compassion, and perseverance in relationships - now and in the future. 

* He blessed us with the desire to continually work on having a strong marriage.
We've both been married before but were not putting God in the center of our marriages. That proved to have disastrous consequences. Therefore, before we were even married to each other, we took "Divorce" off the table. We faithfully and regularly seek God's Word and know that He has a plan and a purpose for our lives for our good and for His glory. We are very connected with our local church (we both work there!) and we live in Community with others in the church. There have been difficult times, times of poor health and even poorer attitudes, but amazing ones, too!

* He blessed us with letting go the responsibility of raising our teen daughter.
And here it is: The reason for this article and the explanation of the title. I have mourned the loss of daily interactions and influence with this sweet girl for three years now. It's beyond time to accept that it is what it is. She is being raised by her mom across the country differently than we would have chosen. But it's out of our control. I can choose to accept this fact or continue to feel angry about how things aren't how I thought they "should" be. I am done "shoulding" on myself. I am going to accept that if God allowed this to happen, it was for His glory and my good. I am going to believe that God loves our children even more than we do, and that He can still work in their lives, no matter how badly I mess up! And, I am going to be thankful for all things, in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)....even for losing custody.

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Kate Fraiser is a wife and mom fielding the world of co-parenting. She is a Pastor's wife, Mom of teens, Director of Early Childhood Ministries and homeschools her children. You can check out more from Kate here at ConnectPointMoms.com