Sunday, June 21, 2015

Patience Meets Frustration - Shouldn't Have to be This Way

I've seen it happen. I know it exists. I admire the way some folks can put aside petty differences to allow their kids to be involved with both parents. Kids need this to flourish and grow into healthy and mature adults. Kids stand a much better chance in life when they are involved with both parents after a divorce. Overwhelming amounts of research show how important both parents are to a child's life. With as hard as society can be on a person we need to give kids every chance they can get.

When I went through a divorce the first time I was so concerned with how it would affect my kids. I wanted to be a part of the lives of my children but not being able to drive made that a challenge. I was born with visual issues that challenged me in life enough to keep me from being able to drive. I knew this was going to compound the issue. However, when the divorce occurred I tried to make it the few hours I needed to so I could see my children as often as I could. The help of many friends made that possible. I am very thankful for those people.

Then I met her. We got together very early in a relationship and dragged a lot of baggage from our pasts into it as well. She made promises of how she would make sure I had the opportunity to see my kids and even said to my ex wife at one point, "You should be happy that there is someone in his life that cares about his kids now."

I thought she meant the things she said. I found out differently in time.

Logan and I
Unfortunately with the baggage we dealt with we both fell back into old patterns and made mistakes. We got deeper involved in our relationship and there were things I learned to live with that just continued to take small bites at my conscience as our relationship progressed. Part of that included her deciding at some point early on that she wasn't going to continue to help me pursue a relationship with my kids from my previous relationship. At that time in my life I felt bad enough about myself I felt I deserved to not see them. My youngest son Chuck was a toddler the last time my oldest two kids saw my youngest two kids - almost 11 years ago!

I was walking home from work when I got the text message from my soon to be ex-wife that she had found trucks and moved out. As we went through the separation period I was starting to get reacquainted with my oldest son Logan and the times we spent together were extremely precious. Seeing Logan play basketball in High School and then graduate. Spending time with him and Dylan, his younger brother, made me realize much time had passed. I wasn't going to get the past back but there was hopefully some future to restore relationships. As Logan and I got closer it became obvious that he wanted to get to know his younger brothers and that has become a desire of mine as well.

I was able to see my younger kids throughout the separation process. When she felt they needed a haircut or something she called and brought Brock and Chuck to me for a few hours. I knew what the pattern was here but I just wanted to see my kids. If she wanted something she allowed me to see the kids. None of that was more evident when she called one day shortly after she had moved out and told me she was going to bring the kids by. What I found out that day is that she was going to bring friends she had with trucks and was going to use the kids as an excuse to come clean out the rest of the house. She knew that if the kids were there I wasn't going to put up much of a fight. The approach that all of the pre-divorce videos that we were warned against became a real life scenario. The kids were indeed being used as a riot shield and there wasn't a thing I could, or would, do about it. All I could do was watch her and friends I used to have from a Church we both went to take things as if I had no say in the process at all. It was a frustrating day. I realized at that moment some of our friends would start taking sides without realizing what exactly had happened throughout the process. People just didn't seem to care what had happened in our split; I was simply the person that was in the wrong and my opinion of the process didn't matter.

There were so many things I have found out as the relationship split. Truths that were uncovered that I just didn't realize made me see why things happened the way they did. I have realized that the woman that hasn't allowed me to have time with my kids more than a handful of times since the divorce had a past of embezzlement and dishonesty. So, I suppose it's not a surprise that she would think it's okay to steal time that my kids and I should have together. it's just something else that she feels like it's okay to take. It's not money, but rather an embezzlement of time.  I don't blame God for any of what has occurred; I simply realize that some that say they follow Christ don't see some aspects of their lives as transgression. After all, Christians have started wars over things that God would never see as acceptable. When she left, it seemed a whole Church that I had tithed to for over 2 years never contacted me once to ask if I was alright. I suppose the Church had no real reason to hear both sides of a story. When you are a Mega-Church like James River you can discard a person here and there and not really miss a beat.
Logan, Brock, and Chuck

Good news is my oldest son has had the opportunity to see my youngest two sons shortly after Logan and Brock and I got together for the first time in eleven years.This has been a long time coming and I am so thankful for the opportunity. I was hoping to be able to spend more time with the youngest kids over the summer and hopefully get all four boys together because a friend of mine came to town for a couple months and wanted to help me with transportation. However, it seems my ex wife had other plans. It seems that every time I have tried to contact her she has either ignored texts, emails, and phone calls. Regardless of what the parenting plan states she has decided that what she wants in these situations is more important. She has even used my Son's phone to send a message telling me that they wanted to see me without the friend. However, it turns out that it wasn't my sons message at all- his phone wasn't in his possession at the time it was sent.

Logan, Me, and Brock. First time together in 11 years
I will say I am thankful for my opportunities in life and I am in a place now personally that is head and shoulders better than I have been in so many years. I am not perfect, and I have made mistakes. However, I am a Dad who has never stopped loving his boys and I look forward to every opportunity I have with them. I am hoping for the right legislation to fall into place for a Dad to have a chance to have a relationship with the kids. It seems like Missouri Child Services is much more involved on the money collection end of things than they are in the Father's visitation enforcement. I pray for the right people in my life that may be able to help pave the way for this. I love my boys and I want to know them and be there when I can be. A Father should have access to his kids and kids should have equal access to both parents.

I know this was a bit of a long winded post, but I had a lot to say. I would love feedback as well as your stories. I have seen that I am not alone in this struggle. I have come across many stories in support groups that simply break my heart. I also know that there has been a lot of legislation in places that Fathers have been assisted by. I look forward to the future, and seeing what my boys become. I pray for opportunities to be a part of that whenever possible.

Some of my favorite and most recent pics of Logan, Dylan, Brock, and Chuck

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