When our custody agreement went into full effect and I had to spend significant time away from my girls, the impact on the three of us was swift and severe. While I know how important it is for them to be with their dad, Kay and Fifi and I were always such a tight unit that it was an extremely difficult transition for us. Despite my absolute best efforts, I am by all definitions a velcro-mom. I've stuck by their side all day, every day since birth, even standing outside the door of the potty if so required (and it's often required.)
The three of us found ourselves at a sincere loss as to how to cope with the time we'd have to spend apart. While I struggled with my identity as a woman who was now frequently without my children, (something I've written about before) my girls were also terribly unsure about who I was without them, and them without me. After the first several overnights, the questions came pouring in:
"Do people know you're our mommy when we're not with you?"
"ARE you our mommy when we're not with you?"
"Do you think about us when we're at Daddy's?"
"Are we still your kids all the time even if we're not together all the time?"
As their insecurities grew, I explored different ways to help Kay and Fifi feel loved and like they were part of me even when we weren't all together. And then one day Kay wrote her name on my arm in permanent marker. It stayed for a while, and the second it was gone she did it again and added Fifi's name as well.
This seemed to do the trick. The girls felt secure because they knew I was constantly reminded of them and of being their mother. So I did something I never, EVER thought I would do. I found an amazing calligrapher, and an incredibly talented tattoo artist, and had their names tattooed on my neck: Karissa Skye on the right (she's right-handed) and Fiona June on the left (she's left-handed.) Both done in Teal ink, because they were created in me.
There are very few things I've done in my life with 100% certainty, but this is definitely one of them. The impact on the girls has been incredibly positive. Kay runs her fingers over her name constantly and often points it out with pride, and now that Fifi can read her name, she tells people "that's me right there" whenever my hair is up. They no longer wonder if I'm still their mom when I'm without them anymore. Because now they're with me all the time and will be for the rest of my life.