Today it feels like things have finally, finally, come full circle regarding my status as a mama. Some moments I’m in awe of it, other times giddy bits of excitement run through me, and every once in a while there is some sadness for what was lost and what might have been. But what was lost and what might have been is in the past. Today I consider it official that both of my sons are near me again for the first time since 1996, and it is seriously amazing.
In 1994, because of my mental health issues, my ex-husband got sole legal and physical custody of our sons. I had no recourse and wasn’t even able to be present when the matter before a judge. They were 2 and 4 years old. Over the next two years my guys spent about 40% of their time with me but in 1996 their dad took a job on the other side of the country. Suddenly they were over 2,800 miles away and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. I saw them twice in the three years they lived on the east coast and consider myself very fortunate to have had those visits. In 1999 my ex moved back to this side of the country. They were still about 325 miles away and at the time he felt they were actually still too close to me, even though I had no vehicle to get to them.
In the thirteen years that they’ve been back in this neck of the woods (relatively speaking) there have been a lot of ups and downs with visits and how much access my boys and I had to each other. In 2002 when I started doing much better, suddenly even my phone calls to them were restricted. Some of this had to do with the woman their dad was married to at the time, and I know now that plenty of it had to do with my father lying to them about how I was doing. It turns out there were times when he was telling my ex that I was in no position to see the boys, even when was doing quite well. I don’t know if these lies were arbitrary, or if there was some unknown infraction I was committing to make him sway my ex, or what–and I never will know.
The journey as a non-custodial mom, especially one with no rights whatsoever, has been long and painful and filled with plenty of anger and bitterness. There were times when I really wondered why I should be alive if I couldn’t even see my own children. Occasionally I had to take their photos off the wall because it was too painful to see their faces when I had no idea when I’d see them next. I’ve had plenty of moments of feeling that my father stole all of my children from me: the one I was forced to lose, the two I gave birth to, and the child(ren) I don’t get to have with my loving DH because I know it would be too overwhelming with our various issues. I didn’t get to see my older son graduate because four months earlier my father was arrested and their dad wasn’t comfortable with me seeing the kids because of that.
About 14 months ago my younger son moved just 30 miles from me. We’ve been able to see each other pretty much every month. My older son was still at least 200 miles away. Until Monday, October 15th, that is. That afternoon I met him at the Greyhound station in Portland and he’s staying with us for a couple weeks while he finds a place of his own.
It’s 12:24 in the morning and I’m typing this from my bed. Both of my guys are here. They’re in the living room watching anime. Every few minutes they have something to say about the show and their beautiful voices filter through the apartment to me. They’ll have to tone their noise down soon but not quite yet. For the first time in nearly five years, they are here together. And even though they won’t be in this household with DH and me, they will still be near me together. This time their dad is 450 miles away. I get to make them a Thanksgiving turkey with all the fixings. We get to celebrate Christmas Day with their stockings hung (and a few small things in them) and with my now-traditional lasagna dinner. They were gone for so very long, but for the foreseeable future they are here again, together. We have come full circle.