Mike & Nicole’s OPP: Losing a Child
Dear Mike and Nicole,
I was divorced 8 years ago. I've since remarried my high school sweetheart and we've been together with a blended family for 7 years now. Together we have 8 children (4 of mine and 4 of his). My youngest daughter was 8 when we were divorced and it is about her that I need advice. she's now 16 and I hardly see her. Maybe for a few hours a week. She hasn't spent the night at my house since Christmas.
My ex-husband and his wife have done a great job engaging my daughter in activities that she loves, including 4-H. They now live on a farm with cows, chickens and goats. They rescue unwanted male dairy cows, rehabilitate them, and get them adopted.
I love that she has these interests, among others. Obviously, I love that she is involved in things she truly loves. The problem is she came to me about a year and a half ago and asked to not do a week on/ week off schedule with me anymore because of all the responsibilities at her dad's house. I agreed because I wanted her to have a say and not be stressed. What has happened is that I rarely see her, even maybe once a week, she does not spend the night, and most recently she received an induction to the National Honors Society at her high school and didn't even tell me about it.
I feel like I've lost my child. I text her and call her. She rarely texts me back and definitely not first. I invite her to activities. She does have a job and so she misses family activities at my house because of that as well. I feel like because she has a hard time balancing her life with work, school and 4-H, I am the object that is out of sight and out of mind. I see pictures of her step mom and her doing activities together...it hurts.
I've cried myself to sleep night after night missing her. The pain in my heart is what I imagine a parent who has lost a child feels. I can't take it anymore. I don't want her to feel like an object to be controlled through a divorce decree, so how can I improve this situation?
I need help.