it’s in the quiet times…

I did something extreme this summer – something that has caused me a lot of grief, guilt and shame.

I know… what an intro.

My parents are taking care of my kid for the summer.

There, I said it.

I feel wrong just saying it.

There is so much to unpack here.

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It started in the middle of June. I went to Vancouver for two weeks for two academic conferences and my Mom was watching my baby at my place in Saskatoon. And we chatted about it – and she agreed to watch Aerie for the summer up North. I’m still studying for my PhD (one day I will write more about this) and I am working hard on passing a big test that will determine whether or not I continue in academia in two freaking weeks. So much pressure, and on top of all this – blogging, photography, and a new book out to promote. Mom saw all this and was offering to come stay with me in the city, but she hates the city. And Aerie loves the North. It was easy to see that Aerie going North would help me out so much, and that it would be easiest for my parents.

Let me say this right away – I am so blessed to have my parents around to be able to do this, and the only person feeling guilty about this is me. My parents love having Aerie, and she loves being up there. There are no problems there at all.

So this guilt, this shame, and this self-loathing – it’s all internal.

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I like to say that this is an example of a community raising the child, which is an idea that I have taken to ever since my ex and I broke up. Although he and I are still friends, I am the primary parent of our child. And I do need help – and help is here. My brothers and their families, my parents, my best friends, my friends, and so on. If I need help, I just have to ask. Aerie is loved by many, and that is so good. She has a million aunties, just like any rez kid.

So she is doing amazing. She swims, boats, fishes, road trips, eats all the foods, makes all the friends. She is having a dream summer. We talk everyday and I make the trip down to see her very 7-10 days or so, even if it’s just for a night. But this was the longest time we have ever spent apart, and everyone has a comment.

Taking the summer to focus on my academic needs and myself gives me insane guilt, and that’s ok. I know – I KNOW – that this is the best for her and I right now, and that I needed this extra time to focus. But it’s hard.

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It’s hard when my own brothers make “you’re like an auntie to her ha ha ha” comments, while they sit in their two-parent relationships. It takes everything in me to not verbally cut them down because Mama raised me better than that. And I react because I fear what they say is true. Which is insane, I know, but I’m still teary just thinking about it.

It’s hard when I get asked by friends who don’t know the situation – “Where’s Aerie?” I drown in guilt and massive explanations when I don’t need to. I want to justify this to everyone, and I’m the only one who needs that.

It’s hard when it’s quiet at night, and I turn on a cartoon, just so I can feel like she’s around. It’s hard when I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking she called for me, and I remember she’s not there. When I go grocery shopping, and she’s not there, trying to sneak in her favourite snacks. So many moments where I miss the every day feeling of having her by my side.

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But there is a light – we are coming down to the end of summer. Her days at the beach are getting shorter. Her hair is getting longer. Her tan is incredibly dark, and she is thinking about her Grade 1 class and who will all be in there. My exams are coming up, and soon after that, she will be home with me. Those early morning cuddles where I have to convince her to get up – I can’t wait. Our Friday afternoon Starbucks dates – I can’t wait.

I really didn’t even wanna share this – I hate sharing my struggle – but I do know that the academic world is not women-friendly, it’s not Indigenous-friendly, it’s not mother-friendly. And that to succeed, sometimes we have to make sacrifices. This was mine. I gave up my summer with my kid.

But it’s only my sacrifice – as this was Aerie’s gain.

These were the moments where her relationship with her grandparents, her community, her land, and her culture – it only got stronger.

And come the Fall, I can’t wait to hear her stories.

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 – tenille k campbell

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8 thoughts on “it’s in the quiet times…

  1. I can understand why you feel the way you do. And yet, I think that the best, well-rounded children are those that are brought up with and by their families. You are still her mother and her primary carer! She is having a wonderful experience with her grandparents whilst you focus in being the best you you can be – which can only be the best thing for her. X

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My little sister was born when I was three, and mom couldn’t handle us both and sent me to live with my grandma in another state for three months. What happened was that my grandma and I grew a very special relationship which lasted until her death two years ago. Absolutely nothing bad happened because of it. 🙂 As for you, you’re doing so much that will make the future better for both of you, so don’t feel guilty! It’s a short time anyway and she’ll soon be with you again. 🙂 Good luck with your exams!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing something so vulnerable. I have to leave my baby for a business trip next week, and the guilt is already eating away at me. It sucks to feel guilty for taking some time to yourself too, but it’s what we need to be good parents. You are doing amazing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful, honest, well written post. Mothers guilt is the worst. Stay strong knowing that not only are you giving your daughter memories with her grandparents that she’ll treasure forever, you are teaching by example how to be a strong, smart, determined woman in this world. That has tremendous value also. Best of luck with your studies!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Auntwheezie's Blog and commented:
    this is something I understand. As a single parent in the military I had to rely on my village (family) to help me raise my daughter. It was one of the hardest things I have done but in the end my little girl grew into a woman who was confident in who she is and that she is loved wholeheartedly.

    Liked by 1 person

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