On the summer solstice of 2008 I got in my car, packed to the gills with everything I owned, and drove away. Away from my three kids. Away from never-ending conflict with their dad. Away from Not Living My Purpose. I drove toward the Pacific Northwest. Toward my soulmate. Toward breaking new ground as a different kind of mother, one who mothers from 3000 miles away.
It was not a journey for the fainthearted. I faced bucketloads of judgment, mostly mine. How could you leave your kids? was a question people asked me. How could I, indeed? They were everything to me. Still are. My heart hurt a lot. I didn’t know who I was. I had been a stay at home mom for 12 years. I got up in the mornings and made oatmeal and omelets and packed lunches and greeted them at the door when they got home from school. I knitted toys and read stories I had written and stirred applesauce. Those mother-things we all understand. What mother-things does a mother do when she’s 3000 miles away from the beating of her heart?
We got through it. Not only did we get through it, we thrived. My children are amazing, strong beings. Me leaving them was a good thing in many ways. They figured things out on their own. They will be independent, capable adults. I think my leaving gave them that. I was a good mom when I lived with them but I was also a freakish helicopter parent. No more.
So this is a story that interests people. Mothers don’t do this kind of thing, do they? People think it’s weird, or wrong, or at least interesting, and so it’s a story and 20/20 is on it. In April 2012 they sent a film crew to my house in Seattle and filmed me and Kahuna sipping coffee and walking in the neighborhood. They flew me that month to New York to interview with Elizabeth Vargas, who makes crazypants off-camera faces. Everything was set for airing, and then they shelved the project. Until now. So they sent another film crew to Pennsylvania to interview Serena again and to follow her and Eric around, filming them brushing their teeth and stuff.
The piece is supposed to air Friday, June 14, 2013. I am one of three non-custodial mothers being profiled. Two of them wrote books. I expect many comments. Maybe people will find their way here (waving hi!).
A year ago, I thought the 20/20 story would help launch my career. It would air and people would flock to my website, I thought. All that controversy would lead to things, I thought. Speaking gigs, Book deal. My thoughts went on and on. Then cancer happened and everything changed. I learned a lot about myself and my expectations for life. I still look for the meaning I can make from the things that happen to me, but all I can think of now is to just be open to whatever comes.
20/20 airs on ABC, Fridays at 10pm/9pm.