Thursday, August 24th, 2006 was a great day. We celebrated big that night. We went to one of our favorite restaurants and splurged. We had planned to take the next day off of work anyway so we stayed out a little late and really enjoyed ourselves.
The long battle wasn’t officially over, but really all that was left was to negotiate the terms of the treaty. Friday would not be a day in court. Friday would be the first day of an all too fast ramp up to our new lives.
It’s a long story, but if you have a bit, please join me on the flip for the story of my success.
It’s hard to know where to start.
I sort of started the story here; Mrs White trash poet prompted me out of my shell to talk about it a bit. (Thanks!)
You see, this spring, when my son B was up for visitation, he said that he wanted to move in with me. (My ex lives in another state.) This was an earth shattering thing for him to say. I had all but given up hope that he would want to live with me again. I though his dad had totally poisoned him against me. That was what really gave me the strength to fight back against my ex’s shenanigans.
During the court hearing (link above) we asked the judge to assign a parenting neutral to talk to B. You see, when B moved in with his dad 5 years ago I got a clause saying that B could talk talk to a neutral party if he wanted to change places where he wanted to live. It was poorly written at the time, but it gave us the opening we needed.
The judge appointed a woman M to be our parenting neutral. She’s the best in the state. We also got a new hearing date. We asked M to evaluate where B wanted to live and if he was capable of making that decision. She issued a report saying that yes, he did want to move and yes, he was mature enough to make the decision, no he was not coached and yes, he had good reasons behind his choice.
YAY US! 1st hurdle overcome!
Then we asked the judge to extend B’s visitation time up here so that he would not have to be with my ex until after the hearing date. The judge said yes.
YAY US! 2nd hurdle overcome!
Then, my ex challenged B staying up here. The court date was after school started there. B couldn’t possibly not want to go back. (Read: he couldn’t possibly want to stay with me.) The judge denied his challenge.
YAY US! 3rd hurdle overcome!
So then my ex said that the evaluation wasn’t good enough. There was some back and forth over what was going to be done, but in the end we agreed to have M do an evaluation of where B should live according to our state’s “best interest” standard. Also, the judge said that my ex and I had to go through mediation.
sigh new hurdles.
The thought of being in the same room with my ex freaked me out. I was terrified. My partner, pointed out that was a very appropriate word, because really what my ex was doing was terrorizing me (and B). He pointed out (yet again I’m sure) that what my ex does is find the things you’re good at and says they are of no value and finds your weaknesses and insecurities and ridicules you there. He gave several examples, but one came to mind crystal clear: motherhood.
Memory after memory came flooding back of all of the ways my ex had either not supported me or directly undercut me as a mother. Memory after memory came back of many people telling me that I was a good mother and me not believing them. Most especially came to mind a dear friend of mine C who had really been there for me when B lived with me before. She would tell me I was a good mother. And I remember responding in my head, “You just don’t know how bad it is.” I started to wonder. Maybe she had. Maybe she had known how bad things were and she thought I was a good mother anyway.
As things tend to work out… I was to have lunch with C that day. At lunch I caught her up on all of the news about what was going on and I relayed the conversation I had with my partner that morning and my thoughts. She said to me that of course she had known. Then she said the most powerful words to me, “Jakyra, you put more energy into being the perfect mother than anyone else I know. And you don’t just do it by the book. You work to be the perfect mom for B.”
Those words struck a chord in my heart. You see, I had always questioned people saying I was a good mother. After all, maybe they were just saying that, or didn’t really know. And what did it mean to be a good mother anyway? What criteria does one use? Especially with a difficult child like B. But those words I could hold on to. I knew that they were true. And that seemed like a good definition of “good mother”.
And of course, once I allowed myself to be a good mother, many other ways that I am a good mother came flooding to me. Finally, and most importantly for what was to come, who the hell was my ex to judge my parenting?
I was no longer afraid of the evaluation and the mediation. I felt confident about the evaluation and saw the mediation as a waste of time.
YAY ME! 4th hurdle overcome! (Confidence)
The evaluation was the Monday before the court date. It went great. I really felt like I answered her questions well and I watched my ex show himself for all he is. I got some vibes off M that she was not pleased with some of the things my ex said.
The mediation was Wednesday. Unfortunately the evaluation wasn’t out yet, but it wasn’t a total waste of time. I said that my ex was abusive with him in the room. (That was huge.) And we came up with 6 things we both agreed to regardless of who got custody.
YAY ME! 5th hurdle overcome!
The evaluators report came out on Wednesday night, but I didn’t get it until Thursday morning because of phone tag issues.
The report was scathing towards my ex and said that I should get custody.
YIPPIE!!!!! 6th hurdle overcome!
That afternoon (Thursday, August 24th in case you didn’t guess), my ex called B and said that he was on his way home. He wasn’t going to fight it out in court.
YAY US! 7th hurdle overcome! (Joy)
Now, all that is left is to negotiate the details of the change in custody (child support, visitation schedule, the 6 things from mediation, etc).
Endings make great beginnings
Friday, instead of going to court we went through intake to get B into school. Saturday we went to the State Fair. Sunday we went clothes shopping. Monday he registered for classes. Wednesday we did more clothes shopping. Thursday was orientation at school. Friday we left for a long weekend much deserved at my partner’s mom’s lake place.
Today was B’s first day at school. His new school is 25 times as big as his old school. His classroom size is almost half of his old graduating class size. His old school was rural. His new school is very diverse; He’ll be in the minority.
He’s still nervous, but he’s taking it all in stride. He’s so much stronger now and so am I.
We’ve both come a long way from cowering in the face of my ex’s potential furry.
Thanks for reading.
(PS if you’ve made it this far, you deserve an award!)