Twice a month my Thursday mornings began with my alarm going off, and me quietly creeping from our bedroom, scooping up Clancy along the way. I savor the pleasure of waking each of my children and going back again to make sure they are up. The simple act of getting your kids up for their school day – I know for many it’s an annoying and repetitive chore, for me it’s longed for and cherished.
Some people have the Sunday or Monday blues. For me they happen on Thursday mornings. Only every other Thursday, and they start right after I drop my kids back at their father’s house. And settle in for a long eight day stretch of not seeing them.
So I start our little Thursday morning rituals with my heart in my throat. They get a big, healthy breakfast and lots of hugs. Some type of baked good I’ve made for them, lots of fruit and eggs made to order. Since it’s 7 am and they’re 11, 14 and 18, no one is in the mood to talk. But they tolerate me chattering away, fixing their hair and checking on them. They know I’m trying to squeeze in enough “mommying” to last until the following Friday.
Last week I tried something new in my never-ending quest to connect with them when we’re apart. For my two little guys, as they still let me call them, I wrote them a quick note for every day we would be apart. Just some words of love, encouragement to let them know I am thinking of them always. And then there’s FaceTime, thank god, seeing their faces, instead of just hearing their voices, helps so much. While my oldest, at 18, does not need the same level of interaction, my other two love seeing their rooms, our house on the calls. I think it helps us all stay connected.
And then it’s a few minutes before 8 am and I’m dropping them off. Hugging them and breathing them in, trying to bottle up the essence of my babies to last for eight days. And then it’s over and my purpose, being their mom, is taken away until the next time.
Sitting in that courtroom in December 2017, clutching my 6 month sobriety chip, I listened to Judge Norman give my ex-husband permanent full custody of my children, restrict me to public visitation and then deny our requests for a hearing for the next two years. Detailed requests that listed all the implications of his ruling. That because I was no longer allowed to see my children anywhere but in public, I was not allowed in my children’s schools. That Judge Norman had only made a provision for my children to come home once a year, for four hours on Christmas, which meant they were forced to see me on all the other holidays, including their birthdays, in public – and during the pandemic – in my car sitting in a parking lot at a public trail. And on and on.
Back at that hearing my lawyer begged Judge Norman to make it a temporary ruling, because custody and what’s best for children is always open to modification. Asked that we come back in six months when I had a year of sobriety. Instead Judge Norman acceded to my ex-husband’s demands that it be a permanent ruling. And that day, my children’s lives, and mine, changed forever.
If I had known then, the complete damage Judge Norman would do to our family, I honestly don’t think I would have been able to go on. To realize that the ignorance of one person could change the course of our lives. I’m aware now that not knowing what’s ahead can be a blessing. That the path of life only reveals itself to you as it happens. And that’s so we can keep hoping, believing and digging deep to keep moving forward.
So every other Thursday I’ll keep trying. Finding new ways to stay connected to my children, make sure they always feel loved. That’s really what life is all about – we just keep trying.