Child Soldiers

On March 24, 2013,  a Washington Post Editorial shed light on the ugly realities of Child Abuse in our country.  According to the Washington Post, experts estimate that more than 2,000 children die from abuse and neglect each year, with nearly 82 percent of victims being under the age of 4.  The Post then goes on to disclose a possibly even more disturbing comparison when it mentions that between 2001 and 2010 15,510 children were reported to have died from child abuse and neglect.  This number is 2 1/2 times the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When I read the Post editorial, I stared at my computer in shock – completely hung up on these statistics.  Ironically, while I was reading the editorial, the national news was playing in the background.  The newscaster was discussing how careful we must be when we send our troops to war, and the tragedies that occur on the home front when a soldier doesn’t return.  My son was sent to war too, but it was a different war.  It was a domestic war that children are fighting every day.  Healthy mothers and fathers are forced to send their children to the battle lines of a disordered/crazy/abusive “co-parent” –  armed with nothing more than the hope that they will return unharmed.

The War:

I have spoken with many parents about Family Court, my beliefs when it comes to the system, and tips I learned the hard way.  When I describe Child Custody as a Custody War, I am not trying to be dramatic.  That is exactly what it is.  If you are faced with going to court for custody of your child, with someone whom you believe to have a personality disorder, it will not just be a battle it will be a full on war.  These individuals need to feel as if they win no matter what happens and they will continue the battles until the war is won to their satisfaction.  The reality is – this war could very well last 18 years.  It will be ugly, your child will likely suffer as a result, and the court will inevitably not put the child’s needs first – ever.

Difficult Questions:

Not every custody situation needs to turn into a war.  While I understand first hand how emotions can run high when it comes to your child, it is in the best interest of your child to step back and try to look at the situation with the most objective eye possible.  Before entering into a war, I suggest asking yourself the most important question every parent should ask themselves in a situation like this:  “Will my child’s parent physically harm my child – intentionally or by neglecting the child’s immediate needs?”

 

Honest Answers:  

If the answer to the above question is “yes”, you need to find the most intelligent/aggressive attorney you can afford, dig your heels in, and prepare for an all out Custody War.  Your child deserves to be protected and deserves the healthiest life you can possibly provide them.  If the unthinkable happens to you, as it did to me, you will need to know that you did everything in your power to save your child or else you will blame yourself forever.

If, however, the honest answer is “no” then you need to think hard about what is making you uncomfortable about the other parent.  The hard reality is that the world is full of terribly immoral jerks.  Your child’s father or mother might just be one of them.  Your child will run into a lot of jerks in his/her life and you will not be able to shield them from these deplorable people forever.  Trust me when I tell you that if the other parent is a scumbag, your child will probably realize this before you need to even utter a word.

One of my readers told me about something her young daughter recently said after coming home from a visit with her father.  (Note: the child is about four years old)  The child wisely said, “Mama, I don’t think Daddy is a very good person.  He lies a lot.”  The woman was shocked (and a bit worried) as she had worked very hard to make sure her daughter never heard her speak negatively about the father.  While the father would without a doubt blame parental alienation for his daughter’s statements, the reality of the situation is that this child is just perceptive.  Children can spot bad sometimes sooner than adults can.  Prince hated evil.  He was always able to spot it and it didn’t take me having to tell him.  In fact, he wouldn’t have understood me even if I had tried.

Little Soldiers:

Possibly the most painful part of any Custody War is the days when you will have to send your child to someone you wouldn’t even hire to be your daycare provider.  Even worse, the constant reminder that you had a child with this person and will be battling this monster for 18 years.  No matter how awful it feels to constantly drag yourself into court day after day, turn most or all of your salary over to attorneys, and face legal abuse every single day – your child is the real soldier.  Your child will be on the front lines of this war and you will not always be there to protect him/her.

I wish there were something I could say – some advice that I could give on how you could prepare your child with some sort of weapon for protection.  The only weapons there are in this fight are the weapons of love and hope.  I will never forget the last time I saw my son.  As I placed him in the supervisor’s car, I kissed him on the face, hugged him tight, and told him how much I loved him.  I armed him with love that day.  It was all I had to give him.  There are days when I am angry at myself – wishing that I could have armed him with more.  In the end, however, I know that at least my son knew real love in his 15 months of life.  My son knew that day how much his Mommy loved him.  That is what I hold onto when I am so angry and full of rage at the outcome of my Custody War.

I had hoped and prayed that I would be able to give Prince more, but that is all I had – love and hope.  I now fight every day to make sure that your children are armed with more than mine was.  In order to make children safe, we need to stop making them soldiers and stop sending them to the front lines of battle.  We need to change the minds of those who feel the need to send them – the courts.

Prince was a brave soldier.  I am a proud Mama knowing that even after he is gone, he will fight to protect those who will stand on the front lines after him.  I will fight to make sure of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surrounded by people – but still alone

It’s Christmas Eve tonight.  One year ago, this very moment, I was tucking my son into bed and preparing to wrap his presents for his first Christmas.  Looking back, I am glad that I was unaware of how bad things would get.  I was able to celebrate my son’s first Christmas like he would have so many more.  It was my son’s first Christmas, but it was also his last.

I didn’t go shopping this year and I haven’t been able to listen to Christmas music.  Nothing seems to matter without Prince.  I have been smiling to make others happy and going through the motions, but truth be told – I wish this holiday would just pass this year. It’s just another day that I have to wake up without my baby boy.

I woke up this morning and my first thought was how I needed to go get Prince.  Then, I remembered  that he was gone.  Even though its been nine weeks since he passed away, I still wake up sometimes and its like he is dying all over again.

My belief in God might be what’s keeping me from completely falling apart.  While so many people have tried to comfort me by saying that Prince is in a better place, this doesn’t seem to give me peace.  A better place for Prince would be here on earth where he would be allowed to live out his life.  Instead, he was never given that chance that he deserved.  So while he is not here suffering along side his grieving Mama, I am not so sure that he is in a better situation than he would be had he been allowed to live.

 

So right now as the police, the judge, the lawyers, the prosecutors, and the medical examiner all sit down with their families and prepare to spend the holiday full of joy and happiness, I remember the one Christmas my son was allowed to have.  I think about how this Christmas I will be visiting his grave instead of watching his face light up with joy while opening presents.  It’s this time of year when people take a vacation from things like death, duty, and “solving murders”.  Instead, they hug their children extra tight and thank God they aren’t me tonight.

 

I am surrounded by what feels like thousands of people, but tonight – I am completely all alone.  I am left with the thoughts of my dead son.  The child I was not allowed (by law) to protect.  I was a mother interrupted and my son was living on borrowed time.

 

Though my son was a shining star in my life, these past three years have been full of pain.  I grieve my son, but I have been grieving the loss of happiness, innocence, and justice since the day I left the devil.  I took my newborn son out of what I knew to be a life threatening situation and the courts send him right back.  I was not allowed to be his mother.

 

I sit here tonight remembering my son and thinking about all the things I wish he could have done – the places he could have seen – and the milestones he should have met.  I wonder when it will be that I am aloud to live my life and leave this monster in the shadows where he belongs.

 

So tonight, I don’t feel thankful for much in the face of this terrible loss.  I do, however, thank God for the fire burning rage I have inside of me.  It is this rage that keeps me fighting for Justice.  While I know that all of those who had a hand in killing my son will one day have to answer to God for their sins, I am certain that God left me behind to make sure that these same people don’t get away with these same sins here on earth.  Bottom line – there is nothing scarier to a public servant who has done wrong than a mother scorned.  There is nothing scarier to a psychopath than a woman who is not afraid to shine a light on what he really is.