An open letter to the Mom who shares custody

Subject: An open letter to the Mom who shares custody
From: A mom just like you
Date: 19 Jun 2017

It's been three years now. Three years of recovering from a brutal divorce and custody battle. A battle I did not win. A battle I sometimes feel I lost not only for me, but my children. Once a week I gather up my kids and prepare them to leave me for 3 to 4 days. When it first began I always felt like I was dressing them and preparing us for some horrible event we wouldn't come back from. I would almost always cry after they left and I would sit in their rooms and stare at their stuff as if I had lost them forever. Sometimes I still do. When they leave on bad behavior it's even harder. I have guilt that rides in my stomach until they come home. A guilt that makes me question my mothering the entire time they are away from me.
Then there is the question. The dreaded question I have grown to hate more than any other group of words formed together..."so where are your kids?" Every event we go to I get asked this. Some people I feel at this point should know and it makes me infuriated even more. Then I think , "they probably are just starting conversation." But if they only knew what an open, infected wound they were digging there knife into, maybe they wouldn't say it. "At their dads" with a sad face i say and then walk away trying not to show how disgusted i am that my children are not there again for this year's memorial day picnic, my daughter's favorite cousin's birthday party, or this portion of Christmas events because it's not my "turn" this year.
Finally is one of the never ending parts for me. The judgment. When people find out I only have my children half the time, it's like I become less of a mother. Not as good as these other Facebook junkie mothers who have their children all day. I then feel a need to explain why I don't have full custody. How the world is changing and because of that men stand a better shot of getting full custody than women when it's contested. I feel I must shout "it's standard now." It's not the 1980's anymore. You get a divorce with children now, in this new day, and men have just as much right to a new born child and toddler as the mother. But it's a double standard. He is praised for being a stand up guy, a real father, while the woman is frowned upon and shamed for being less than a full time mother when she was never given a choice. I might also note that if a step mother ever comes in the picture she too will be praised for " picking up your slack".
The whole world has become confused and turned around. My children deserve and need their dad and I will never say they don't need time with him. What we agreed upon is done. This letter if for that mother who is also shamed every time she goes to the store and runs into an old friend with her kids and you don't have yours. The look you get. The questions. The pity. Rise above it. You are a good mother. A good woman. Society is what is corrupt and poisoned, not your skills to guide your children. Take advantage of every moment. Realize that as joint mothers we appreciate our time maybe a little bit more because we know what it's like to not have them there. Hold your head high as a proud mom. Because you're a mom all day every day!