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/.

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Did Your Standards Change?

One of the things that I realized as I got older was that my standards changed when it came to men. When I was younger I really didn’t know what I wanted. I mainly dated men who were rough necks or blue collared workers. There was nothing wrong with it, it was who I was attracted too. They didn’t have to go to college, they just had to have other attributes that made it worth my time.

If you know what I mean.

However, that wasn’t who I ended up marrying, which is weird. I married my ex who had a graduate degree and who had attended great schools. We just clicked. I had assumed it was what God wanted, but I think it was probably just chemistry. We liked and then loved each other and got married. God fell by the wayside for most of our relationship and marriage.

We weren’t focused on God.

When our marriage ended and I was in my late thirties entering the dating realm it was overwhelming. Things had changed. I had changed. I had a child now. I didn’t have the luxury of just wasting my time on random ones.

I had to decide what I wanted. I knew that I didn’t hate the institution of marriage. I knew that I wanted to get remarried someday (at least 5 years away) but I really wanted to get to know someone. What was I going to do differently? Did their education level matter? Their past?

Yes. I didn’t care if a man was a blue collared worker or an IBM executive as long as he wasn’t broke. You had to afford to date me. I wasn’t supporting a man. Money mattered.

His past mattered. I wanted to know if you’ve ever been unfaithful to a girlfriend or wife. Why did your last relationship end? Are you a serial cheater? Cheated one time? Why did you cheat? What responsibility do you accept in the breaking up of your relationship if any? Were you ever in jail? Why were you in jail. A man’s past mattered.

I actually had men reach out to me who had just got out of jail and wanted to date me. Really? Not that I’m judging you for serving your time (okay maybe a little), but I have a son and that is not the message that I wanted to send my son. Get your life, build your empire and date other women. That doesn’t include me.

My standards changed. I was a mother. I was over 40. I had been married so there was no need to rush down the aisle as someone’s wife. I wasn’t having any more children so there was no biological clock ticking away waiting for me to give birth. Whew! Thank God.

But, in changing my standards I had to realize that I wasn’t the same woman in her early 20’s. I had grown up. My needs were different. My dating profile was different. I had to be okay with that.

And I was.

I was specific when it came to dating. I needed you to have stability and a healthy relationship. I wasn’t dating broke men. I wasn’t dating ex-cons. I wasn’t dating men with baby mama (or ex wife) drama. I wasn’t dating men with insecurity issues.

I made my list and dated accordingly. Looks are not at the top of my list, primarily because I determine who I’m attracted too. If you’re sexy as hell to me, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.

My standards had changed because I had changed. I grew up and realized what I valued was someone that embodied those values. Mr. C may not be like the men of my past, but it doesn’t matter.

Why?

Because I’m living the life I want with the man that I love. We have a healthy and respectful relationship that is allowing me to grow in ways that I never could have imagined. In this space we created, my standards allowed me to find someone that makes me feel safe.

 

Have your standards changed from when you first started dating? Do you have a specific type that you date? What are your dating no-no’s.

 

 

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/.

 

#ThursdayThoughts

My blog is my blog. It is a reflection of how I feel. If you read the tag line it is my high horse journalistic point of view.

Thank you for reading and commenting. I value each and every one of you. As my readership grows, I want to thank you for being a part of this journey with me.

It’s an amazing journey where you will witness me sharing my soul and opening up my heart and mind to the things that I’ve endured. It’s not a pretty story, but is life pretty? It is my truth. I make no apologies for sharing it.

Some things you’ll be able to relate to and other things you won’t. I get it. Life is about finding people you can learn and grow from. I spoke about it on Monday. Find your tribe.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so, check out my page and learn a little about me: I Am Me

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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/.

Motivational Monday Moment – 7.17.17

My Motivational Monday Moment is about finding your tribe. Find people that you can collaborate and grow with. People that will inspire you. People that have shared experiences and will motivate you.

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Sometimes your tribe isn’t your best friends or your family and you know what? That’s okay. We all have different life experiences. Your best friend may be happily married and you are going through a painful divorce so your experiences may be different. It’s okay to collaborate with people that may have shared experiences.

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As I’ve aged, I’ve learned that my tribe is all over the place and in different spaces. I’ve learned so much from people that I’m always amazed at why I couldn’t find these people sooner. I wonder “Where have you been all my life? ” 

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I’ve discovered so many things in this last year that collaboration has been both essential and rewarding. From groups on co-parenting, blogging, being a mommy, to female entrepreneurs and survivors of abuse. It’s a lot. Sometimes it is overwhelming. But, I am growing and learning. This allows me to contribute when I can and just observe when I can’t.

Finding your tribe is about finding people that resonate with you. You have a shared experience or feel the need to connect on common interests. This is essential for any one and everyone who believes in growth. For example, when I was younger, my tribe became consumed with married couples. I was a young married woman and my tribe was slowly shifting to couples that were married.

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There was both good and bad in that. The good was that it allowed me to have couple experiences and keep my marriage happy. Seriously, how many men want their women hanging out with single women at clubs or lounges? What about married women? Do you want your husband hanging out with his single guy friends at the bars? There was an opportunity to meet collectively as married women and know that our husbands were cool with that.

Your tribe shifts. It is supposed too. My tribe is continually evolving based on where I’m at in different points of my life. I like that. It doesn’t mean that I find no value in my friends or I’m cleaning out my closet of my closest relationships. Nope, it means that I’m joining and learning from people that have shared experiences. People that can offer both guidance and support for my life circumstances.

You can be a part of many tribes as your life evolves. It’s part of life. That’s okay. You are growing and there are many different facets to who you are and where you are at different points in your life. Don’t limit yourself. Be a part of as many or as few tribes as you want to be.

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So, my Motivational Monday Moment is a battle cry for you to go out and find your tribe and grow. Be strong in whatever endeavors you undertake knowing that you are a part of a collective that wants to see you succeed. Know that when you share you are sharing your experiences to help others. Each one must teach one.

 

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/.

Five Years Later

This popped up on Facebook today:

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It was a picture of a luau. Five years ago my ex and I were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary in Hawaii. Munch was four years old.

We spent nine beautiful days in Hawaii. This was the first of two luaus that we would attend on a beautiful island. Hawaii was perfect. We needed that trip. It was designed to give us time to reflect and strengthen our marriage knowing that we made it this far.

But, it was a short trip down memory lane. Seven months after our Hawaii trip, I was asking for a divorce. I was exhausted. I couldn’t do it anymore. There were many reasons why, but ultimately I wanted each of us to find happiness because we were making each other miserable.

Five years later we’ve both found happiness. At least I believe we have. But, there are still things that aren’t working. Mainly our ability to co-parent.  I have many wishes or as my friends say expectations of how I want things to work. However, I’m an eternal optimist and I like the word “wish”. It brings sincere hope for something better. So, here are my three wishes five years later:

3 Wishes – 5 Years Later

  1. I wish that we would talk to each other about our son. I mean truly talk. Not forceful or accusatory conversation but a conversation designed to help lead our child down the right path. Really listening and respecting the other person’s point of view.
  2. I wish that we could co-parent Munch. You see many people tell you how you should co-parent, but don’t tell you the tools required to do so. The judge believes we can, others pray for it.  But, we’re not co-parenting. Until we can respect each other it will always be a wish. We begin to parallel parent. That kind of parenting hurts Munch.
  3. I wish that we could remember that Munch is watching us. Munch will never forget how we act towards each other and it will sit with him forever. He is watching and observing our behavior and he will craft his own perception of how things are and were during his younger years.

I’m not perfect. I’m an alpha female. I’ve always been that way. I won’t change. I don’t expect you to change. But, we’ve got to do better. I know that you want the best for Munch. I want the best for Munch, but the more that we continue to have painful conversations, lengthy emails or text messages that don’t have anything to do with Munch. The more time is wasted on bulls*it rather than focusing on Munch.

We have to proceed in these next few years as a unit committed to loving and raising our son. It’s five years later. Time has passed quickly and pretty soon Munch will be leaving our home and going to college where he will be responsible for creating his own destiny. What lessons would Munch have learned from us?

 

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/.