MAFS star Tracey Jewel reveals the reasons she is not taking her 8-year-old daughter Grace with her when she moves in with new partner Sean Thomsen
Last week news broke that I had decided to move to Melbourne with my new partner Sean.
And my 8-year-old daughter Grace would be staying in Perth.
The level of vitriol against me was shocking.
Everyone just thinks I'm abandoning my child, and it's absolutely not the case.
I wasn't going to answer the trolls but this attack hasn't been fair to myself, my daughter, or her dad. So I'm here to set the record straight.
When I had Grace I could never have expected that a few years later I would be divorced. Not only divorced, but having to share my daughter with a new family (my ex-husband remarried quickly to a woman with four children — siblings who Grace adores).
Grace was three when we split up. Early on, she was with me a lot more, but soon it became clear that taking her away from her siblings was causing her more stress, and she was missing out on family activities that they got to experience.
Given I returned to work after the divorce (I had to for financial reasons) and her stepmum is a stay-at-home mum it made no sense for Grace to be in daycare when she could be with her siblings and step mum.
She's now been with this family unit longer than when we were married and it works for our situation. I see Grace at least one night a week and more in school holidays, and she's a happy, well-adjusted girl, and that's all that matters.
When I told Grace that I had been cast on Married at First Sight she was really supportive. Her first reaction was actually: "OMG you're getting married! Am I going to get another brother or sister?"
I was like, "calm down" — it's a wedding first.
We spent three months filming, and most of that was away from Perth. But even then, I made sure I could see Grace regularly. We had several breaks in filming (for example, after the honeymoon they flew me back to Perth for four nights so I could spend time with Grace), and of course I was Skyping and Facetiming all the time.
Grace is a really relaxed child. Because she spends a majority of her time with her dad and step family, I've always been really conscious to bring her into my life so she can see what I'm doing when I'm not with her.
Before I went on MAFS, that meant taking her into work occasionally.
When we filmed in Perth, we had some time just to hang out without the cameras rolling. So I introduced her to my "TV husband", and the producer and director, so she could meet the people I was spending so much time with.
When Sean and I move to Melbourne, which we're planning to do in June or July, things won't change much with my relationship with Grace.
Her father and I have already mapped out exactly when I'll see her. I'll fly to Perth on lots of weekends and of course she'll fly over to Melbourne in the school holidays. We'll get an apartment with at least two bedrooms, so Grace will have her own room there. And there's no way I'll spend any more than a month without seeing her.
When she was born I always expected I would be a stay at home mum looking after Grace. And it just didn't work out that way. But that doesn't mean I'm a bad mum.
My situation isn't actually any different to another one of my MAFS co-stars Telv. His kids are in Perth, and he regularly flies there from Melbourne to see them. But nobody is out there calling him a bad parent. It shouldn't be any different for me.
I am very involved in her life. Her dad and I co-parent — we're at the parent teacher interviews together. We go to the school concerts. Just because we don't have a traditional situation doesn't mean I'm hurting my daughter.
Right now, moving to Melbourne is the plan that will work for our family. But that doesn't mean it's set in stone forever. Grace is eight now, and she's happy with the arrangement. But if for any reason down the track things were to change, of course we would revisit it, and look at what we can do to make her happy.
My reality, like many working parents, is that I have to earn a living. The job I had before MAFS no longer exists. I now have to find new work. There's a lot more opportunities in Melbourne than there are in Perth.
But my daughter is my priority. She's a gorgeous, laugh a minute child that I don't want to see unhappy.
So I'm doing what is best for both of us. I'm excited about launching my next book This Goddess Means Business in June and a new change with Sean in Melbourne!