Custody of the Heart: A Letter To the Parent Really Missing Their Children on Thanksgiving

photo by Daiga Ellaby

photo by Daiga Ellaby

Dear Mommy or Daddy, 

I could see how painful it was for you to say goodbye to me today, knowing we will not be spending Thanksgiving together this year. I know how much you each care about me, and there are some things I'd like you to know...

I want you to know it's hard for me, too. No matter how old I get, I will always long for my family to be together for the holidays. I will always wish away the separateness. And the anxiety. And the tension.

The hardest part, for me, is knowing how lonely and sad you might feel without me. I don't like when you are sad. Please don't be sad. Promise me that you will call your friends and not spend Thanksgiving alone. I don't want you to be alone.

Maybe I'm too young to know this, but there is a fine line between what will damage you and what will heal you. Please let your Thanksgiving without me be something that will heal you- heal you from the loss of how our Thanksgivings used to be, as a family. Let this Thanksgiving be joyful, one that you can't wait to tell me about, the next time I see you!

Since I will be with my "other side" of the family, and because divorce is so tricky and complicated, I know I might overhear some things about you that aren't nice. But I want you to know that I know the truth. I know the truth about who you are and where I come from. I am so grateful for you.

I know you want me to have a good time and not feel bad, so I'll do just that. I will eat and play and giggle and get into trouble with my cousins. I will look at the finished turkey and remember how you like to take polaroids of your finished, cooked-to-perfection turkeys, because you feel so proud when its done. I will remember how you write the year on the polaroid: "Thanksgiving Turkey, '92". It'll be a little secret I can have a laugh about. Thank you for doing things that make me think if you when I'm not with you. 

I really, REALLY want you to know that while you may not have custody of my physical company today, you have custody of my heart. I mean, you helped to create it. And it's so strong, strong enough to know that there are many kinds of families. Unique in their own way. BOY! Are we unique! (And a little whacky.)

We will get through this, because Thanksgiving is both just another day AND everyday. And this is what our family is meant to look like. I mean, after all, birds have to fly, fish have to swim, Cookie Monster's gotta eat whatever the hell he eats and you have to share your time with me. It's really that simple. 

Most importantly, I want you to remember that, deep down, we're still a family. I am deeply loved and wanted and looked after. This, I know for sure. 

Happy Thanksgiving, I love you!


A note from Erica:

I do remember. I remember the look on each of my parents' face when it was time for one to take custody of me over a long weekend or a holiday. My heart ached for the parent that would be without me and I wanted to always make sure they would be okay. 

ivorced or separated parents, my heart goes out to you, this holiday season, as many of you share custody, where a piece of paper determines where your child will spend their time. 

Please know two things:

1. You are the EXACT parent you are meant to be today

2. Your children are okay. And if they're not, they will be...

May Grace & Peace be with you and your unique & dynamic family <3