The Beginning of a Long Fall

Autumn is officially here now. Most years I love the fall, the cooler weather, the colors, the smell of pumpkin-everything, and the promise of an upcoming holiday season. Halloween has been my favorite holiday my entire life. I have always loved dressing up and showing off my costume. I’m not big on candy and sweets anymore, and I’ve grown a little too old/bulky to feel sexy in a costume anymore, and I haven’t had a Halloween with my kids since seven years ago, but this time of year still holds its charm for me most years.

Since my kids left and I only get to see them on certain occasions, summer now holds special meaning, and so spring is the season that holds the most anticipation for me. The fall is a time of sadness and reminiscence, a time when I miss my kids and hope that they are settling back into things back at home with their dad. This fall, my heart is tied into so many knots that some times it’s hard to find my breath. This fall could be the last fall I spend without my kids. It could also be the last fall I ever spend still thinking that there is still hope of ever having them back.

Court is less than two months away. And I’m so scared that I’m starting to panic.

Today I am 24 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Every symptom, every kick, they remind me of the babies I no longer have. I have a hard time getting excited about a new baby when I hold such a tenuous grasp on my hope of ever having my kids back with me again. It’s not that I feel like I don’t deserve my kids, or that they won’t be best off with me, because that’s not the case. In my eyes, my ex-husband is an anti-social sociopath, and can’t possibly be a good parent. I know those are strong words, but hardly an exaggeration. But because of who he is and how he operates, I worry that he can convince a judge that his lies are true. While I should  be reassured that the court will listen to my son’s wishes because he’s twelve, while I should feel confident because of my ex’s documented past, I still feel like I messed up too badly when I let him take my kids that the court will never let me have them back.

I don’t know if I feel like Karma is out to get me, or why I’m so worried, but my stomach is in knots–and not the pregnancy-induced type. I am in the best relationship I’ve ever had with my husband. He is so perfect for me. You don’t see many relationships like ours. We don’t have fights. We have disagreements, to be sure, but we hash it out or let it blow over. We decided a long time ago that there is no reason to argue about little things. There are no fights over housekeeping, toilet seats, or driving. When something important does come up, we talk about it. We sleep on it. We always say good night. We always kiss goodbye. I’ve never been so lucky as I was to find such an amazing man.

You know how when things are going so well they couldn’t possibly be better, that that’s when you’re the most afraid of it all falling apart? That’s where I am.

I should be excited about a new baby. I should be looking forward to moving into a bigger house and the probability of having my kids back by the new year. I should be happy about my mom coming to live with us. I should be learning to crochet, or making lists of things to do to get the baby room in order. I don’t want to think about things like lawyers and court dates and this ungodly stack of papers I have to respond to in just a few days’ time. But OH MY GOD THIS IS HAPPENING!

Keeping things at the status quo is easy. Letting things stay the same and just coasting along, day by day, year after year, is easy. Initiating and driving change are hard. Changing the status quo is the hardest thing anyone can do. Some people excel at it, make a living by making change. But the hardest days of my life were the days that I initiated a change to my life. The day I walked in on my ex-husband with his pants down with another woman. I made some big changes that day. My family and friends stood behind that decision because I was in a bad marriage with a bad person and my kids and I all deserved better. The day I asked my ex-husband to come back and get the kids because I couldn’t take care of them. I watched my mom struggle to raise us all those years while my dad always had everything he needed. It was so hard to give up my kids, but at the time, the choice was a no-brainer. I could keep my kids, feed them scraps and clothe them in rags until some miracle happened, or until they got old enough to care for themselves, or I could ask their dad to take care of them for a while until I got back on solid ground. He said it was until I got on my feet. And he lied.

The hardest thing I ever had to do, the most heart-wrenching, soul-killing thing decision felt like the right thing to do at the time. And that lying bastard did exactly what he always does, and I should have seen it coming. How could I be so naive to believe him again? How could I have lived with the man for seven years and not seen that coming?

Deep breaths.

My birthday is in a week. The last birthday I spent with my kids was seven years ago. I wasted seven years of my  life with a man who sucked all the life out of me that he could, literally, and then spent the next seven years fighting him for my kids. I’m so done with it. I’m sick of the petty arguments. I’m tired of seeing my kids upset. And I’m really sick and tired of missing them, and worrying about them, and wondering how they are, or what they’re up to, or how they’re feeling about the big things, like life and school and their family. I want to be there for them when they get home from school every day. I want to be there in the evening to help with their problems. I want to be there for them to talk to and lean on when they need it. I want to be there to cheer them on when they do well. I want to watch them grow and help them along. I want to be their champion and nurture them every step along the way.

There is a little part of me, perhaps brought on by my kids’ reactions, that feels like I’m betraying them by having a baby. It feels like I’m saying that, whether I get custody or not, my life will still go on. It feels like I’m telling them that I’m going to have a family, if it includes them or not. And I am so scared that that is something that they’ll never be able to forgive me for. Aside from everything that has to do with my first marriage, the divorce and my kids, everything else in my life is so golden. My husband is great. My job is…well, bearable. We are selling our house and soon will be buying a bigger, nicer one in a better school district. And we have a baby coming in less than four months! I guess you could say that my husband is doing great! But I’m being tortured for my biggest mistakes. I cursed myself by getting involved with the wrong man so long ago. I have the two greatest kids in the world and I worry every day how they are doing, how they are being treated, and what they are thinking of me. Do they think I abandoned them? Do they think I’m trying to replace them? I want so desperately for them to understand, but they’re too young for me to explain to them how awful their dad treated me. How can they understand that I did what I thought was best, even if now I think that being with me is the best?

I have to stop torturing myself. The next few months will be the hardest in my life. I’ll be a good 7+ months along when we go to court. I just pray that my health is good enough for me to travel. Otherwise, it’s going to be hard to convince the court how badly I want this for my kids. By Christmas, my life could be different. By spring, there will be a new family member, regardless of how court proceedings go. In all honesty, life really does go on. It’s just really hard for me to look forward to when the new baby comes, because I have no expectations of how life is going to be in the weeks leading up to that moment. I’m due in early January. If we don’t win in court, then this could be the worst holiday season of my life.

But if we do, it’ll be the best.