The Truth About Custody

Today’s post was inspired by news of Pillar Sander’s middle son finally getting to live with her. Not sure if you remember their divorce or not, but in a nutshell Deion Sanders got primary custody of his two boys and she got shared custody of their daughter who was the youngest at the time. Here’s what his middle son just shared:

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The children are caught in the middle of a divorce. I want to share a story with you. I want you to think about something before you go to war in custody…

I have a lot of friends who have gone through a divorce and custody battle with their children. All but two have had to battle it out in the courts for custody. As sad as it is, it didn’t have to be that way.

Marriages start off great. You fall in love. You create a life. You have children. Your career changes. Life changes. You have children. You raise your children. Life goes on. Then there is a shift in your marriage. It could be mental health, infidelity, loss of love and/or communication. But, something is wrong.

You try to fix it. You try counseling. You try to make your marriage work. You didn’t get married to get divorced. Sex becomes non-existent. You don’t understand what is happening. Why can’t you get back on track?

But, you can’t.

Months pass. Sometimes years. You grow distant. You become roommates. You live separate lives. You even fake it for family in friends. You begin to lose yourself in the hell that is your marriage.

Until one day.

One of you decides that you can’t go on like this. You can’t live this fake life for everyone including your children. You want them to see two happy people than grow up with a false sense of family. You decide it would be best to split and divorce.

What happens to the children?

You believe that your children need both parents. You’ve read the stories of children that do better with both parents in their lives. You will make it work. They will have two homes with two beds, but they will have two active parents. 

Then one person changes their mind. They want to take their chances in court. Battle it out. It could be for a number of reasons, but money or vengeance are probably the top. They don’t want to share. They want the children in their homes and in their lives full-time. You can see them occasionally.

You struggle to breathe. You’ve lived with your children 365 days. You’ve woken up with them. You’ve fed them breakfast, bathed them and taken them to school. You’re a full-time parent. They are the most important people in your life.

You look up at the person that claimed to love you and see that this person doesn’t care. They don’t care about what you did or who you are to the children. They are grieving. You fight it out and go to court.

Your children may be old enough to talk to the judge, but no one is listening. Lawyers, courts and money spent becomes your life. You didn’t plan this. You can’t understand how one person is being given your children and you are being regulated to seeing your child 48 days a year with two weeks vacation in the summer.

It’s not fair. 

But, you accept it. You accept the terms you were given determined to make the best of it. You show up at every recital, baseball game and school program. You are going to be an active parent no matter the circumstances dealt.

Your ex who got the kids can’t let it go. They play games. Wreak havoc in your life. Destroy you with their lies. But, you make it a point to keep your head in the game. Live your life above water. This divorce has already cost you too much. You move on.

Then something happens. Your ex is blocking your visitation. Back and forth to court you go. The system doesn’t budge. They tell her/him to stop and they continue. They tell her/him they can’t deny your visitation and they do it anyway. The courts do nothing.

The light in your children’s eyes diminish. They miss you. You miss them. You get another lawyer. Back to court you’ll go. You request a modification to the child custody. You want a 50% shared custody schedule with a 50% schedule. 

Your lawyers try to advise you both in mediation to split up the children. You can get the boys and she can get the girls. You are both shocked. You both are adamant that the children not be split up. They are siblings. They need each other. You need them.

Your lawyer advises you separately saying that you could win custody of your sons based off your ex’s antics. You get to have them the majority of the time. No more blocked visitations. But, what about your daughter?

You agree to move forward believing something is better than nothing. You can’t be without your children anymore. They need you. Your daughter will be fine you think.

You win.

You smile. You thank God. You thank your lawyers. You’ve finally won.

But, your daughter loss.

Your children are now split between two homes. She has no brothers there to defend her. She is now alone. 

Note: This is the reality in many broken families. Going through a divorce and custody can be both brutal and painful for the children. If you’re battling it out with your former partner, think about the children. Don’t split them up. They need both of you. Let them decide who they want to live with. Listen to them. Respect their decision or let them go. Don’t separate them. Remember the story from the Bible of King Solomon who wanted to split the child in half because both women were fighting over him? The real mother said “Please don’t kill my son,” the baby’s mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.” She was willing to lose her son than see him die. Which woman are you?

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Welcome August

Yay! Welcome August. The 8th month of the year of 2017 is bound to be a generous one. A month filled with exciting opportunities to enjoy the last remnants of summer. If you are a parent, you will probably be school shopping and preparing to send your child back to school shortly.

The month has 31 days for you to accomplish your goals. You want to do a beach day, but can’t afford a vacation? Drive. Drive to a local beach. Look for discounts. Clip coupons and find free events. Have a pool date with friends or take in an outdoor show.

August is going to be busy for me. I am taking Munch to the fair and a couple of pool dates. We are going to do a beach trip and headed to an amusement park. I’m trying to squeeze as much mommy and me stuff in as possible. We also will be flying home at the end of the month to Tennessee to visit my grandma and dad.

I’m also attending my sorority’s picnic, the last weekend of the month and doing girl time with the bestie at the Mary J. Blige Concert. I told you yesterday about how important it is for you to nurture your friendships. This is something I take seriously. Girl time is a must!

For August I wish you the nicest of days with the brightest sun and no humidity. I wish you the feel of sand between your toes as you walk the shores. I wish you fruity drinks that cool your spirit on hot days. I wish you boardwalk food, carnivals and amusement parks. I wish you laughter in the park, music with your loved ones and barbecues with your family.

Don’t forget to mark off your goals. You still have time.

 

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Motivational Monday Moment – 7/31/17

Today’s Motivational Monday Moment came to me after hearing the original song “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers. You know that great song that came out in 1972? If not, click the text and listen to it. Awesome song.

That song was floating in my spirit as I went to go see the movie Girls Trip for the second time with another set of girlfriends this weekend. So, my Motivational Monday moment is about the importance of friends. Friendship is essential to the soul and you should never go through life without having a couple of friends that you can depend on.
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Not just your spouse, but your girlfriends or homeboys. You need someone who knew you before and has invested time in nurturing and developing a connection with you. Someone that you can call on when the s*it hits the fan. The person that not only knows where all the bodies are hidden, but helped you bury a few.

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That friend. That is the kind of friend that you should have. That’s what I want to talk about today.

In that movie there is a group of four women who had been super close since college. They graduated college together, navigated storms together and used to travel annually together and then life got in the way. Petty fights that had no resolution started to break down their relations.  Silence became the norm between a couple of the women. Isn’t that always what happens in a group?

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Now, in the movie you see two women in the group try to reconnect after a conflict. It’s awkward and yet they are trying. Both have their own issues and they become a topic between the group before the trip ends. But, the problem was that their pride wouldn’t allow them to see the best in each other. To know that true friends will always speak their peace no matter what. They will protect you. They will love you. They will defend you and they won’t let you fail.

That song reminded me of this when I heard a couple of verses

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have faith you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

Friendship is supposed to be symbiotic. It is both parties benefiting from the relationship. You have to let people get close. You have to let your friends in and let them know when you’re hurting. Let them help you carry some of your baggage.

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Better yet, let them help you empty them suitcases and burn that stuff. Don’t allow your pride to make you shut them out. No one can help you if you don’t let them in.

My Motivational Monday Moment is to remind you that friendship is essential to your core. Allow those that you trust to enter into your circle and be that support system for you. Give your friendship your all and don’t be too prideful to let the folks that love you the most be there for you.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

My IVF Journey: Blackout

I was in a perpetual hell. Pain. The pain was indescribable. No one knew how bad I was suffering. The excuses.

I made so many excuses for not being present. I became engrossed in work. Always working late or focusing on other things. Hiding the mask of pain for those who knew me best. Those who knew my struggle.

I had other things to focus on. My cousin was dying. He was 9 months older than me. He was my best friend. My life’s purpose became about making sure he was okay.

We talked often. I told him of my fear that I was broken. I told him how I feared that I couldn’t give my husband a baby. That I was scared. That maybe God was punishing me.

He listened. He loved. He encouraged. He never judged.

Even after his radiation treatments or chemo treatments he encouraged me to talk to my husband. To let him know what I was feeling. I couldn’t. I changed the subject.

I made my cousin promise that he wouldn’t leave me. That he wouldn’t die and leave me alone because I had no one. My heart was breaking and I told him that I couldn’t have another organ breaking since my womb was broken. He laughed.

He was tired. He was exhausted. A planned trip to spend some time with him in April was just what I needed. I needed to get home to see my family. To hear the sounds and laughter of those that loved me.

I felt so alone in my house that it was hard to come home. I would smile.  I would make polite conversation. I would go into the room and watch television. I tuned out. I turned my back on my marriage and grew smaller in my shell.

We became roommates.

I told my husband that I needed to go home to Tennessee. I needed to be with my cousin. He thought it would be a good idea. He encouraged me to go. Maybe he was hoping it would help me. A change of scenery. A breath of fresh air in this toxic environment that we were creating.

I went home to spend the weekend with my cousin and his new wife. She seemed nice enough. Surface. I couldn’t see beyond the surface of her personality so I just accepted his choices. He was who I needed to encourage me. He was who I was there to see.

My cousin had baked two pies for me. My favorite custard pie called a chess pie. It was so good. Perfect. Even after his cancer treatments he wanted to do something for me. He told his wife “My cousin is coming. I want to do it for her.” I felt special.

A bond that had formed when I was born this man was the big brother I never had. The father figure. The protector. I ate and slept that weekend. Good conversation, food and family. It was as though my life was reset. I saw value in the things that mattered.

I took my cousin and his wife out to dinner. I bought them groceries. He was on a fixed income. He had to maintain his COBRA payments until Medicare kicked in. She didn’t work. She took care of him. Food stamps helped some. But, she longed for coffee.

Coffee.

That was the least I could do. I called my husband and asked him was it okay that I bought them food. They had little and had given me so much. He encouraged my generosity.

I was at peace.

My cousin decided that he wanted to bake me a couple of pies and a caramel cake to take home. I asked “How am I expected to get this home?” “Ship it.” I laughed.

We shipped 4 desserts back to Maryland packed with ice packs. It was expensive, but I needed it. I needed a piece of family. I needed the love that was in that box. The love that a man who was dying gave me every day.

The next day I headed home. Back to my life. Back to the toxic feeling of failure that was engulfing my spirit. I wasn’t getting better.

I was getting better at hiding my pain.

-To be continued-

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Co-Parenting: I Never Thought

I never thought that it mattered to Munch that his dad and I weren’t together. He had turned 5 and we waited until he graduated from day care and had his birthday party. We didn’t want his 5th birthday to be scarred in any way. However, looking back on it…he probably was scarred in spite of our best intentions.

Munch’s life has always been a life where he’s experienced being an only child with two parents that love him tremendously. When we explained that we were divorcing and that he would live in two homes with two rooms, he said “But, you two are my parents.” We explained that we would always be his parents and that we love him more than life itself.

We probably should have put him in therapy. We probably should have gone to family counseling. We probably shouldn’t have done a lot of things. But, we did. None of which Munch had a choice in.

Life has a way of getting you to reflect on your choices when you’re divorced and try to co-parent. That moment came for me a few weeks ago. Munch was crying after a conversation with his dad. I asked him to come here and sit down and talk. He did. We talked. My heart broke.

My son felt like he was in the middle of his parent’s mess. Truthfully, he was. He sat with me and talked to me openly and honestly about what he was feeling. My little man child was expressing how he felt about everything. I just listened. I cried.

I asked him “Munch, what is it that you want?” We spend so much time telling Munch what he has to do that we probably don’t ask him how he feels about things. Forgetting that he’s the one that has to adapt to it. Do you know what my little boy said? He looked at me with tears falling down his face and said “I want you and Daddy to get back together.” 

This hit me like a ton of bricks. What? Why? I had so many questions. I couldn’t bombard this little boy. I asked him “Why?” He said “Because I’m the only kid in after care with divorced parents.” I explained that he’s probably not and some kids may have parents that never married. But, I had to go deeper.

I explained to him that I knew that he felt caught in the middle and I apologized for my part in it. I told him that his dad and I hadn’t been together in over four years and that we love him immensely. I explained that I know that he didn’t ask for any of this and he’s having to adjust to our choices.

We prayed. I kissed his tears. I held my son until he wanted to get up and go play.

His words stuck with me. In my mind and in my spirit. So much of what you do when you divorce and try to rebuild your life after the divorce affects your kids but do you ever stop to think how they’re coping? Probably not. There are a lot of things that Munch had no control over: his parents divorcing, his shared custody arrangement, his dad’s significant other, his dad getting engaged, his dad sharing spaces with someone else outside of him, me moving, his schools changing, me sharing my space with my mom, my dating Mr. C. and probably a whole heck of a lot more things. He’s had significant change.

We adults made the decision to move forward with our lives and he had no choice. We didn’t stop to think how our choices are affecting him not just in a once in a while conversation, but on a consistent basis. We didn’t stop to ask him what things he needs from us to make sure the transitions are working well for him. We just lived our lives believing that our choices were best for Munch.

Are they? I’m going to say in many ways yes. We are good at mapping out our lives and adulting, but we’re not good at co-parenting. We are good at telling him this is going to happen, but not at giving him a vote on our choices. We may not have a choice in what we do, but be cognizant of the fact that he’ll be the one to suffer the consequences.

Our married life is over. Whatever messes we created we have to remember that the most beautiful thing in all of this was Munch. He is our lifeline no matter how much fire I have to walk through I have to keep telling myself this. No greater joy than motherhood. Than what God has granted.

Next stop is to get Munch paired up with a therapist. Let him talk about what is affecting him. Let him sort through the mess we adults created with a professional. Get the tools and techniques on helping him adjust and be the best kid ever. We don’t have all the answers, but we can start by making the right choices to help Munch.

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

#WisdomWednesday – 7.12.17

God has a way of working things out in your favor while you’re not paying attention.

I’ve been trying to minimize the stress in my life. Choosing to focus on the positives and as my soror always says “Living my happy black life”. That being said things still get to me. I still wonder why some people are intent on bringing me off my mountain top of bliss. But, I won’t let it. I have to keep focused and continue living my life.

It’s on those moments of chaos and discord that God steps in.

I had stopped worrying. I was in a good place. But, God knew that I needed something. That I wanted something. A sign that he’s not forgotten me.

He stepped in and gave that to me. He gave me amazing news like finding out that one of my posts was seen by a stranger that wanted to share it on a website that has over 30 million monthly readers. Woohoo! I was having dinner with Mr. C when I got the message. Talk about God re-shifting my focus. This was amazing and I promise to share more when it gets posted.

I was in this joyful place. Then a couple of days later that bubble burst. More drama. My mind started to shift and wander into a place of unhappiness. I was falling off my mountain top of bliss. I was going into a place of uncomfortable anger and quiet rage.

Then God stepped in.

Again.

I woke up Saturday morning with a woman from Instagram liking all my posts and then following me. She then commented on one of my posts saying “I finally found u! A page on fb that shared a recent blog of mine shared urs too. Girl i love ya work. We need to talk!!” Honestly it freaked me out. Why is this woman wanting to find me? Is she a stalker?

LOL, I’ve become increasingly cautious as I’ve aged. So, I checked out her Instagram page and web page and discovered she is another blogger who has a great website called “Blended and Black” where she is all about trying to create harmony in blended families. Say what now? Yep. I went to her website and was so excited.

God was giving me another aha moment! He was giving me a resource to give me the tools of trying to create a harmonious environment where there isn’t one. I was like “Okay, God. I get it.” And I did. This woman is amazing. I was direct messaging her for most of Saturday morning. You can’t get no better than that. It was like I found a long lost soul sister.

So, my #WisdomWednesday message is meant to inspire you to not give up. No matter what you’re going through or what you’re growing through it will get better. God will re-shift your focus, realign your priorities and help you get back on your mountaintop of bliss.

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

 

My IVF Journey: Fertility Window

We were hurting. I was hurting and probably caused a lot of the pain. I didn’t want to discuss the failure of our first IVF attempt. I was embarrassed. Something must have been wrong on my end. Why couldn’t the eggs latch onto my uterine lining?

I felt alone and frustrated. Feelings of inadequacy constantly flooded my mind. I threw myself into work. I was travelling a lot. Meetings. It was good. The anniversary dinner was a starting point towards talking and acting like a couple. But, a couple of days later I was given the news that no woman in her prime wants to hear. Especially at the age of 32.

I was having my annual check-up and my ob/gyn wanted me to get up and have a talk. She explained that my fertility window was limiting. I had to make a choice if I wanted to have children. My fibroids had returned and I didn’t have as much time as I thought I would to have children. I thought I had more time than 5 months since my first failed attempt at IVF. I told her that we had tried IVF and that it had failed. She asked where did we go for treatment. I told her. She said she knew the practice.

“Who is your doctor?” she asked. “Dr. S” I replied. “I know him” she said. “He’s a great doctor. What did he say?” she inquired. “He told me to try it again. He said that he knows he can get me pregnant” I sighed. I didn’t want to be having this conversation again. Not with someone else. It didn’t work. I get it. I wasn’t meant to have children.

I had begun to accept that fact. “Well, if he said he can do it then he can do it. You should try it again” she said. Just like that. Final. I listened and stuttered “We’re in a bad place. We’ve been married 5 years and I don’t know if we’ll make it.” She listened. “Okay, just know that you can’t wait forever.” I shook my head in understanding and got dressed.

I had never felt so alone.

I headed to the car. On the drive home I kept replaying her conversation in my mind. I never wanted children so why the hell was this stressing me out? Was it our marriage holding on by a thread or was it the fact that at that moment, I knew that I wanted to be a mother?

That was it.

I wanted to be a mother. If not with my husband, then someone else. I wanted a baby. I was going to have a baby. I wasn’t going to stay in this perpetual middle zone relationship wondering if he or I should pull the plug on it. Someone needed to make a decision and it needed to happen now. Definitely before my fertility window closed. No more excuses. It was time to woman up!

-To be continued-

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.