Non Custodial Mom

Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time, in the glory days of the Baby Boomers and GenExers, there were two types of custodial moms in the world:

  • WaHMs: Work Away from Home Moms
  • SaHMs: Stay at Home Moms

These groups seemed to vie for superiority over each other at PTA meetings. The SaHMs NOT thinking the WaHMs were slightly negligent for leaving their child with a caretaker all day. The WaHMs NOT scolding the SaHMs for not, by working outside the home, teaching their children independence.

…and then, with the arrival of the Millennials, a new kind of custodial Mom appeared on the playground: The Non-Custodial Mom (NCM).

It is still commonly believed, even though it is not common practice anymore, that a judge will always side with the mother when deciding which parent a child should live with. If you are a mother and your child does not live with you, it is still often automatically assumed you lost custody of your son or daughter. If a judge did not side with Mom, then Mom must have done something horribly wrong or be in some way completely unfit.

Yes, those moms exist in the world. There are unfit moms. There are moms who have made horrible mistakes and lost custody of their kids. There are even moms who just one day walked away from their children and didn’t look back. The NCMs you meet on the playground are not among them. Most NCMs:

  • Voluntarily gave up custody to give their child a better life than what, on their income, they could afford.
  • Opted not to put their child through a custody battle.
  • Lost a custody battle because often, a custody battle comes down who has the most money to fight it with.

Meet Your Typical Non-Custodial Mom

Actually, you won’t meet your typical NCM on a playground. You’ll see her on the swing next to her child, flying just as high on the swing as they are (and secretly worrying about how high that child is flying, worrying that he’ll let go, and checking the ground to make sure he won’t get injured if he does). She has just climbed up the slide stairs behind her child for the 10th time and is preparing to follow them down. 

Your typical NCM is reveling in this one, often hard to get, moment with her child.

Ending The Stigma, And The Stereotype

The other reason you won’t meet your typical NCM on the playground is that, when she finally hops off the jungle gym to catch her breath, she will be too embarrassed to come over and introduce herself. She is afraid you will assume the worst about her when you find out her daughter is going back to Dad at the end of the day.  She doesn’t want to justify why she is who she is. Even if her intentions were good, even if she is a good mom, she still feels horrible for not being residential custodian.

Your Typical NCM Just Wants You to Treat her Like a Typical Mom

Do that. Wave to that mom on the playground. Talk to your typical NCM like you would any other Mom. Commiserate about homework, lost gym uniforms, band rehearsals, and juggling soccer practices and multiple family schedules. The keyword in the phrase Non-Custodial Mom, or its sister phrase, Non-Residential Mom, is Mom. A Non-Custodial Mom has all the same parenting worries and all the same parenting woes, her custodial peer does. Your typical NCM is doing all those same things, you are. She is fighting the homework battles. She is on the emergency call list at school. She gets called to the principals’ office.  At the end of the day, her child will go back to their other parent, but your typical NCM will not stop being Mom.

You don’t stop being a parent when your child is not in your presence…