I haven’t seen my 7-year-old son in one year. You’re probably thinking “what the heck did she do? She must have done SOMETHING”. Well, take a moment to pretend that the world is a perfect place. The world is full of honest, loyal, people who are gracious and caring. There is no prejudgment and in this world everyone has an honest story to be told. Well… here is mine.
The last time that I saw Connor was August 2014 when he came to visit me for the summer. It was one of the best summers I could have asked for. Being a mother, I had to adapt to the things that only “boys can like” according to Connor. “You’re not allowed to like my things, you’re a girl”.
We spent our summer going to the beaches, fishing, and most importantly, bonding. We went to the National Zoo, carnivals, and toy stores. We even had Nerf gun wars; which he thought was hilarious. Every night Connor would ask me to tuck him in and my heart would melt. I tucked him in and laid down beside him: I always felt like this was a perfect time to get to know what he was thinking. I would always ask him if there was anything he wanted to talk about.
His birthday is in August, which is the last time I saw him. To make this birthday special, I decided that we would celebrate his birthday for an entire week. Every night during that week, we shared a cupcake to celebrate again: he loves cake. During his birthday week I took him to New York City; we went sight-seeing and spent a lot of time walking around Times Square. It was like a whole new world full of characters and superheroes. He couldn’t believe it.
Then the big surprise LEGO LAND. We spent hours there playing with Lego’s and looking at all of the creations made from Lego’s.
When I dropped him off at the end of our summer visit after his birthday week, I gave him the longest hug and kissed him. I kept telling myself “don’t cry. Don’t let him see you upset”. As I pulled out of the driveway I began to sob. I had no idea what the struggle ahead of me would be.
SO HOW DID IT GET TO THIS POINT? HERE’S THE BACKGROUND:
In 2009, the court ordered that I would be primary residential parent and share joint custody with his father. We were able to work things out through mediation and everything was fair and agreed upon. We both compromised and we put Connor first. Unfortunately, four months later Connor’s father moved back to Wisconsin. This made joint custody very difficult.
For the next several years I raised Connor 90% of time. I was a single mother, with a low paying job, and toddler. It was extremely difficult because I worked long hours to make extra money; and Connor had to be in daycare. I was barely getting by, but I was making it all work out.
Despite being exhausted and angry, I understood the importance of Connor’s need to have a bond with both of us. I didn’t want anyone to miss out on time with each other. Without the court, we were able to reach agreements and scheduled visits for a month or so at a time. Since Connor was not in school it was easy to work out. We seemed to be working everything out among ourselves.
In 2013 I was laid off from my position from a government contractor. Knowing I was scared, being a young mom, his father offered to take him for a few months. I was happy that he offered because it would give me the time to find a new job and for Connor to spend time with his family. When his father picked him up, I wasn’t worried about anything. I was feeling hopeful and optimistic that everything would work out.
What a bad idea that was! Soon after that I was slapped in the face… all the way from Wisconsin. His family, including his father, had decided to enroll him in school in Wisconsin. I had no idea that his intentions were ever to keep our son in Wisconsin. We had Connor in Maryland, our court order was in Maryland, and we had always discussed these things. He had even mentioned a few schools in Maryland that he liked and we gotten information each of the schools. I was under the impression that he was moving back to Maryland.
At that moment I felt betrayed and I was in shock. How could this happen? Why would he do this without talking to me? I didn’t know what to do. I felt as if I was being bullied by his family and his father; saying that this is what was best, they would hire a lawyer, and they would keep Connor. Being a soft-spoken, quiet person, with little support, and not very much money, I believed that I had to comply or that Connor would be taken away. I was young and scared and I had no idea what to do.
In hindsight, I should never have let them tell me what to do or act as if I am not his mother. Prior to having a child, I always made the right decisions; I worked and paid my way through school, I earned a B.S, paid off student debt, and considerably worked my way into a career. I ALWAYS KNEW WHAT TO DO, but with this situation I was out of my league.
In May 2015, I was told Connor would not be visiting me this summer. His father and wife had already made plans to travel and they wanted him for the summer. At that point I decided that I have had enough.
I took a long hard look in the mirror and told myself that I am Connor’s mother, I have rights as his parent, and I am going to do something about it. My son needs me; whether his father and family realized it or not.
I was ready to start the most important fight of my life. The fight for my child to know just how much his mother loves him.
I am saving money, working overtime, and I write resumes for extra money. I was able to obtain a lawyer and I want my parental rights back. Even though I have hired representation; I have used all of my savings. This case will be expensive and it is a unique and unclear situation in regards to this law. This is a The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) case. To simplify, it’s a law to determine which state would rule over the case.
WHAT I HAVE REALIZED:
I am happy that he has father and step mom who love him, but I love him too. I am happy that he married a person who loves and cares about Connor. She does help a lot and Connor loves her right back.
I am not happy when his step mom tells me “He is my son, I am the good mother, and that I need to talk to the real mothers in the world, because I am not a mother.” or texts stating “I am going to get MY son ready.” These messages and comments are meant to intentionally hurt me and they absolutely do. I have been accused of horrible acts and belittled. I don’t understand why. The worst comment so far has been, “it takes more than giving birth to be a mother.”
There is a 7 year history and a story that everyone has forgotten. It’s not just the past 2 years; there was a point when the roles were reversed. When I bring this up, I am told that I have made it all up in my head and that it’s not true. Well, it is true and it’s documented. I am not going away. I love Connor and it’s so important he knows that I do care, I do love him, and I want to see him.
I try to get along everyone for Connor’s sake. I have taken them out to dinner, I have swallowed my pride, I have given almost everything that they have asked for, I compromise, and I have been cordial. I have tried to work on a friendship with my son’s father; sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. I feel like I don’t even know who he is anymore and I wonder if I ever did. In moments of intense emotion I have been guilty of saying the wrong things. But even so, Mother’s Day I thanked her for her help with Connor. I swallowed my pride. No response.
All I have expected in return is respect, communication about Connor, and my rights to see him.
On a side note; I have my son’s very best interests at heart. I believe that he has individual rights and as parents we have a responsibility. Our responsibility is to ensure that our children grow up in a loving environment, that we guide them into becoming wonderful people, and we lead by example.
We protect them and their rights until they grow up and become better versions of us.