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When One of the Parents Begins to Step Up Consistently - Part 2

I wasn’t sure what to do when I noticed that Matthew’s mother seemed to be doing all the right things. I kept watching, kept waiting, and then I made a decision. It was time to give Matthew back to his family. Even though this totally tore my heart out, I spoke with his mother and we started making plans. I gave her a list of things I thought were necessary for her to address in preparation for this major life change. It took nearly 2 months after we initially talked about it to give it to her (even though I’d had it prepared for months). We agreed not to tell Matthew until the time got closer.

I cried for a solid month and then got off my keister and decided I was going to take full advantage of the time I had left. I was planning summer vacations filled with fun things to do. I was trying to remember what I did before Matthew came to live with me, trying to make plans for things I would do once I was no longer a full time parent so that I wouldn’t go “in loco”. That was hard. I mean, REALLY HARD. This was the hardest decision I ever made, or so I thought.

But then I started noticing some things. Matthew’s mother wasn’t exactly living up to my expectations. Sure, she was consistent with her scheduled visits, but really didn’t want to be bothered with extra visits or his extra curricular activities during “her time” (she has other plans for her weekends). She made it clear that didn’t want to waste her gas money on an extra gallon of gas every other week for weekday visits (I offered numerous times). She didn’t want to pay her part for other things listed in the child support order (medical expenses). She also stopped going to some of his doctor appointments (that are considerably closer to her house as opposed to ours). These things were coming to light at rapid speeds for me. She was so close, doing so many things right, but at some point, I realized I made a very grave mistake. The next step became crystal clear - I had to tell her. Of coure, I lost tons of sleep over this, because I know in his heart Matthew wants to live with her, and I really wanted to give him that. But I just couldn’t justify him moving back just yet.

I did the worst possible thing I could have done - I gave her hope, and then I took it back. The opportunity for her to take more steps is still there, but until she actively starts taking those steps, I’m not going to make any offers that I can’t make good on.

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Standing in place of the parent, or acting parent, or "in loco parentis" is a big job that comes with a unique set challenges. I created this blog to share my story and my experiences with those who find themselves in a similiar situation. I look forward to hearing your comments!

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