i let my two older dd's go live with their father when they were 6 and 8. they really wanted to and he wanted them too. it allowed me to finish school and for them to remain in the same school and neighbourhood that i was having to leave.
they came to visit every summer for extended periods and i drove down to see them every two weeks for the weekend and on all long weekends. and any other times that they were out of school. it stayed that way for nearly 7 years. it wasnt always perfect and we didnt always agree or get along, things werent always smooth, but in the end my girls felt empowered to decide which parent they wanted to live with, they wanted to be with their sbrothers and their smom also. i dont think that they liked my second dh very much and that might have had something to do with it. but in the end of things, it was fine.
i dont think that children inheirantly belong with their mother, not even as nurslings. fathers are completely equal to be wonderful nurturing parents as much as any mother out there. there have been many reports on line that i have seen where fathers have even been known to produce and nurse their children. dont know how true that is, buti wouldnt be so quick to discredit it either.
i think that mothers sort of feel as though there is a little bit of a different bond because we carry them and they come from within us, we grow them, we suffer to birth them, they are ours... lol that is how it feels anyhow, or has felt for me in the past. but the older i have become and the more children i have birthed, and mothered as a step, the more i have seen that fathers, if truly given the chance, are completely equal in their love and caring for children, infant to fully grown.
children know what they want, especially by the time they are five. if she has been asking for a year, then she is sure of what she wants. i would give it a go, see how it turns out, like another poster said, she can always come back. it doesnt seem a situation of "grass being greener at dad's" but a real desire for being where she wants to be.
it would give you so much more time to fully concentrate on your schooling, to get where you want to be, whether that involves moving closer to where her father lives or staying where you are now or moving anywhere in between.
i can see her dad being disappointed and feeling let down, he almost had his hearts desire there for a minute and now it is being taken from him. i dont mean that to sound snarky, but i imagine he feels sooooo let down. it happened with my dd's to me a few times when they were with their dad and i felt that way every time.
if you have truly changed your mind and want to keep her with you, i hope you have really separated the reasons why, whether it is your need to have her with you, which isnt a terrible thing, or your truly feeling she is too young to make a decision of that nature, or what have you... then try to explain it to him openly and honestly. tell him you are sorry to have gotten his hopes up, but you were just thinking out loud so to speak, not actually talking about it happening right here and now. and give him some time to get over how he feels. he will probably grieve a little bit, the same way he did when you first split and he had to face not living with her daily. that is a hard pill to swallow.
if you have made enough peace to get along so well in the past six months or so, you will get to that place again. be gentle with the whole situation and all the people involved, you included.. i imagine or at least it sounds from your posts that you feel badly about hurting his feelings and have opened this whole can of worms without thinking it through. i dont think you have done that, just opened up a dialogue that will come up many times until she is old enough to leave home for good,
: and part of thinking this sort of situation through does involve finding out what the other party feels, and that is all you were doing. if he chose to see more to it than that then you arent really responsible for his responses and what he says or does. hopefully he will get over it and 'forgive' you quickly.
if you arent really sure, then keep the dialogue going until you both agree on something that works for your family situation. for you, for your daughter and for her father too.
the things that we never expect/consider when we divorce always catch me unawares,