I was there, next to you in court, every time, waiting in the sea of what was becoming the all too familiar, cold, hard, oak benches. I was there with you, crying my own tears every time we got bad news. I stood in the endless lines, removing my own belt, emptying my own pockets, to be searched after sitting through endless, rush hour traffic on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. I missed days at my job, nights out with my friends, and had days where peace was an ideal which seemed so far out of reach for people like us, and joy, a thing of mythological creation. Through it all, I kept it together. I kept you together, as if you were the one fighting and I was the coach. But I fought with every bit as much as you. I did your lawyer’s work. Endless hours of chronicling phone calls, redrafting text messages, typing out recordings, for a lawyer who did little more than leave us in crippling debt.
I did it for you. I also did it for her, your absolutely beautiful, innocent daughter that did nothing to deserve the the abusive, tumultuous childhood that she endured for years, and is still recovering from. She came out strong and fierce, yet fragile and untrusting. We fought so hard to get her, because we knew that not only was her mother toxic and outright dangerous for her to be with, but because we were what is good for her. But are we?
We did not make it. Maybe we were never meant to be, and God stuck us together for a short time to accomplish two incredible tasks, saving a vulnerable child and creating an unbelievably amazing little girl, to be her sibling, to help her cope with the ones she lost. When I realized that we were not working out, the fear of losing this child who was no less mine than had I carried her into existence myself, was overwhelming. I would have fought you as viciously as we fought her mother to stay a part of her life, but I did not have to. You not only let me stay in her life, but you let her live with me full time. I do not hold that against you, but rather I respect you for it. She is better off with me and you knew it. But never have I tried to arbitrarily keep you out of her life. Never would I deny her a relationship with the only biological parent she has left. Children need parents, not just mothers.
Thursday, that little baby we rescued graduated middle school. That scared little girl has managed to turn her fear into scars and moves forward in the world gracefully, taking the blows that will inevitably follow her, as life is defined by the pain just as much as the joy, with courage and strength. You watched. That should have been the highlight of your day. You should have been willing to move mountains to be there, willingly, not grudgingly. And it should have been celebrated. So today, when you were busy reading when your daughter called asking when you were coming, because she expected to go out and celebrate, she should not have known you were busy or that you forgot. She should not have heard excuses and blame for why you were not on your way. She should have heard how excited you were to celebrate her graduation with her.
I did not sacrifice so much of my life to get you custody of your child only to steal her away from you or poison her against you. I have never in my life given you reason to think I would do anything but support you being a part of both our children’s lives. I may not love you anymore, and I may not even like you at times, but I love my children more than my life itself, and I will always do what is in their best interest. And they need a dad. If anyone is robbing that from them, it is you. You can make up all the bullshit excuses you want, but I am going to say what I recently learned, “any excuse will do,” because that is all it is worth.
Fathers all over the world are fighting just for access to their kids. You once walked in their shoes. How could you forget? I remember the first time we walked out of court with out her. I remember convincing a police officer to go into her mother’s house and bring her out, since her mother kept pulling her out of school early on our days to get her. I knew the cop was not supposed to get involved, but luckily he did not. I remember driving to East New York at night, for every pick up and drop off, because her mother could not use the VAWA laws to sling fake accusations against me. And you know what? I had a job, and bills, and for part of it, I was pregnant, and for almost all of it, I was depressed and chronically sick. Then, I had a newborn, who eventually became a toddler, before court finally ended and I could breathe again.
It was a short breath of fresh air, because after fighting oh so hard for the ability to raise your daughter in a stable family, that family fell apart. And although I wanted to, I never got the luxury of falling apart myself. I had to move seamlessly from a two parent home, to a single parent home. I thank God everyday that I am blessed to have a family to help me, because I would have failed, and there is no doubt in my mind, you would have let me, and then blamed me. I worked full time, made sure my kids were taken care of 365 days a year, planned all parties, and did almost everything, with out you. Tonight I will be taking your youngest to her first ever dance recital. I would not miss it for the world. You were invited and declined because something may have came up.
I am not the type of mom who pushes the father away in an attempt to play the hero and victim. I never will be, so any animosity your children develop towards you is one hundred percent your creation. I have already held your daughter for countless hours and picked up the pieces because one parent failed her, I’ll be damned before I sit back and allow that to happen again. Count your blessings. Get your priorities in check. No stupid Eminem song is going is going to replace your relationship with your kids once you throw it away. They deserve better and you and I both know you can do better.