Single mum and split access Journey, part 2.

From that night life totally changed….

I was unable to drive after the verdict, so my dad took the wheel. We drove to collect the children from nursery and school club… My head was all over.

How would they cope? How do I tell them? Will they resent me? How can I still provide home for them?

That week I was leaving my full time secure job to start my own business with only 1 part time paying place taken. Was the jump all too soon….

How would I financially provide for them, keep the house going and food to eat… At that point I was relying only on my wages and tax credits, which would soon change as no longer employed…. I spent the 30mins drive crying…panicking but at same time trying to calm enought to collect them and look as nothing had happened..but how wrong was I….

I walked into the nursery and as employer there my colleagues ask and the water works were back out… They were all in shock and too could not understand.

The children were excited as we were having a grandparent weekend. If is was not for my mam and dads support that weekend I’m not sure how I would cope.

My anxiety was sky high, all I felt I wanted to do was escape with the children and return back to the North East with my family. That may never happen now.

My mam helped me to explain to them what was going to happen from the following week. Was was a bit too young to really understand, however Ava-May was 4 had a lot of questions… Why do we have to? Can we come back here to sleep? Where will be be? Will I still be here? Many I could not answer.

I still had things to sort with their dad but that had to wait as I needed that weekend with the family to focus on quality time with them.

The following week emails were back and forward with my ex to sort finer details, when handover will be, times, birthdays, Christmas etc. all this was not decided within the order and left for us to control… Which was great but still now 4years on some things can still be a real struggle.

The last thing in remember from court was “the children are resilient, I see no reason why this will not work or have adverse effects on them…” Oh how I now wish that they could actually see the impacts of this on the children especially oldest.

The first few months was vile… Especially now I was gaining increasing business and services the school my two attended.

My ex had taken the court order into the school and made sure that all teaching staff knew who they children were with….this made me feel sick as 1 the school denied they were meeting him even tho I knew about it, 2nd my ex also felt I was not needed to be at the meeting… I was horrified, there was for no reason that I was not allowed to see the children during their time with there Dad.

Joint parenting which out discussions jointly, was not joint parenting in my eyes.

I remember one night their Granddad wanted me to collect Avamay from her class door and bring her to me (she asked for this in the morning), we agreed as felt better for avamay to be able to have a little time with me before going… I mentioned this to teacher in morning, upon collection Ava was sent out to me and when ready we went to leave… Oh how simple it sounded until a teacher came after me and asked where I was taken her. I discussed plan with teacher who didn’t get the message in morning.

Oh how I was stopped…. I was told I was not allowed to take my own daughter from top gate to the car park less than 2minute walk along side of school. Avamay was taken off me, crying asking for me. She was taken back into the school. I left the playground (upset too) I saw the grandad who was then concerned where she was due to being planned between us I the morning, he was not happy either.all I remember then was my anxitety going into over drive I was shaking a friend supported me while the issues was sorted with the teachers… To my luck my son was given me cuddles too… Avamay was brough out and gave me cuddles.. I helped them both to car all still a bit upset…

This court order was stupid…there was no reasons as to why I could not see the children. All the order stipulated was who the children reside with upon which week. However due to school and ex had further things must been discussed without my knowledge. I felt like life was crash around me….was I really such a bad mum…that I couldn’t see them..t

Many a night I would collected minding children and have my two running to me too, only to have to say to them they need to go with dad or alternate collector. It was and still sometimes really hard. To have to tell your own child they can not come home with you.

I remember a few occasions Ava-May screaming to come home with me, clinging and refusing to go…. Having to get friends to help me out… Still makes me feel sick to this day having to tell them they can’t and have to go…what had I done so wrong that the courts felt this was right for them…

After a few months,  I was in a constant battle with myself. My childminding was really taken off… I was in demand. But was I doing the right thing daily by working this way, servicing the school and nursery where my children attended… Should I quiet working as a childminder, so I would not see the children when was their week with there dad. Should I stop servicing the school. Would I be better going back to employed work and not see them as much, not be able to take and collect the children from school when was my week. After talking with my parents going back into full time work was not a option, I have less time woth Ava-May and Ryin due to the court order never mind not being able to be there for them when I needed to be.

After a few more discussion with their Dad, it was agreed that if the children wanted to, they could meet me at school and go in and out with me…. This was a good send as just a simple fast that Ava-May wanted, which then impacted her to be more settled with the transactions. This also meant that I could carry out my work a lot easier and not feel so guilty as to why other children could spend time with me but my own children couldn’t.

Three year on and we still sometimes do struggle, my ex and I sometimes don’t agree on things (behaviour management etc) or resolving changes, weekend swaps etc seem to be long winded…

However, we are slowly getting there. There will still be a lot of hurdles I expect to overcome… when these things happen.

The main thing I try to keep open is methods of communication, due to a week here and week there access. This is key to making things easier.

I will say it’s not easy at all. But little changes have helped e.g. Listening to what the children want, even at young age.

Lessons I have learnt and still learning.

We may never be one the same page regarding the children. However trying to be on the makes easier.

Keet communication open within the best method. For us emails and verbal chats when needed.

Behaviour will/may become challenging from the children. But stay consistent. Try talk and do same positive reinforcements with both houses, same methods. Setting same expectations within two houses. Also keep similar routines, as this can have impact on behaviour.

Reinforce that children are still loved by each parent, just the parents needed to live apart. Be as truthful and age appropriate over the situation.

I have found as I’m along getting the children help out around house helps me a lot. Little chores for them e.g. Putting their clothes away, tidying their room etc.

Split parenting is hard…I will not lie it’s really hard, I think harder as was court decision. It takes work and persistence…

Single mum and split access journey part 1.

I have had a few messages over social media saying I’m an inspiration, the strength I have is amazing and more… I am greatly touched by these messages but I have not always been this way… Here’s my story.

Four years ago this April, I found out my Husband was not happy within the relationship. I was numb,sick feeling and lifeless… I live 300miles away from my family and friends and no real good friends around this area to gain support. My life was crumbling around me… What had I done wrong, was I a bad wife or mother. Had my decision to stay at home to bring up the children added extra strain on us as a couple… Two years earlier, I opted to leave my career as a deputy manager at a nursery and stay home to help work out my anxiety issues and bring up our daughter, within a year of that I was expecting our 2nd child and working part time around his shifts. Had all these changes affected us as a couple… Suppose I will never know the real answer apart from “I have fallen out of love with you”

Within a few months after trying to “fix” the relationship my husband moved out and I was financially forced back into full time work. Although at the point ex was helping financially, I knew things had to change. I had option to move back home too, back to Northumberland, where I actually would been able to go back to work, have family help with childcare and able to afford my own home on a wage. However I felt that this was not a option, the children living so far away from their dad, seeing him everyother weekend with a four hour commute just did  not seem fair on them esp as Ava-May was loving and settling into school life really well.

I opted to stay in the family home and a friend managed to get me a job in a nursery she worked in, this was a godsend back into my career within childcare was great. However I was starting to struggling for childcare as worked in different town to daughters school, so a neighbour helped me out depending on my shifts. My ex wanted to see the children on his days off  and weekend all worked around his line of work. This was great although a fiancial strain as I was having to pay full time childcare for youngest but only accessing part time place. I soon changed work to nursery my daughter sometimes attended after school, this eased a lot as was able to acces sn pay childcare around his shifts, saw both children more and sometimes able to take daughter to school.

The divorce was sorted and went though fast, although changes had happened and finances and children’s access was no longer sorted within the divorce all seperate. This when the challanges came.

The relationship with my ex and myself was becoming stressful.  Plans were not see through, different family members were collecting the children when should been him. And demands were coming thick and fast over finances,and the children’s time with him. He wanted 50/50 access. And stopped all direct debits we agreed on at point of divorce.

Within a few month back and forth between us, I was faces with a letter from the family court (he really was taken me to court). I have a break down, my anxiety went sky high, my mind went to they will have the children off me. I was working full time as well as trying to set up my childminding business. I had been a stay home mum for 2years with him.  Bringing up the children now, I was frighten to keep stability for them.

I got advice and support from the solicitor who helped me though the divorce. We put our case forward as to why i did not feel a 50/50 access with a 1yr old and 5 year old was suitable. We tried to reason outside of court via mediation but no help. He was strong on wanting 50/50. My solicitor supported us at the 1st hearing where’s believed it would be sorted but no CAFCASS services and the the judge forwarded the case higher.

I felt sick at the thought of our relationship  was so strained that we could not be sorted outside of courts. That someone else would be deciding how the children should live. Someone else who did not know our lives, our children, our challanges etc. There was go getting out of it now. As my solicitor said he had nothing to loose if worse case for him things stay as they are.

I was struggling emotional with all this going on, and handed my notice into work with the aim of hoping my childminding would take off and with view of still being able to see and spend more time with the children. Work was very supportive of this and understood as theowners had expert es of single mum lifestyle…

The 2nd court day came, my solicitor instructed me a baraster as needed further help and support. My parents had traveled from the North East to support me. I was fed up and had several panic attacks in the morning. The children were dropped off at nursery and got load word of support from my colleagues. We all had great belief.

After a morning of my baraster trying to get to reason with my ex, offering alternate options he was still admit he wanted 50/50 only. The decision was with the judge….

I was shaking, tearful, stressed. I could not understand why he wanted the children off my after supporting my for 2years to be a stay at home mam. He works shifts, when we were together  he could go days without seeing the children, so why all this now….

I had been a single mum, working full time for 18months with children and myself happy with the arrangement for access… Now 2young children lives were in the hands of a judge.

My parents, family, friends and barrister were a lot more positive than me. I had hope but not great hope… Want was I on paper but a single mum, low income no family close for physical support. He was financially better stable than me, living with his girlfriend and had family on hand to help… No brainier to me but was told never really happen esp not in courts, and defiantly not unless there was cause for concern, why they children should be taken from there mother….

We were called in, my heart sunk as it was not one judge but a panel of three… Three people total strangers were decisioning on two children’s lives they have never meet.

My barrister but forward my case, my ex represented himself with a makenzie friend… We were dismissed… For them to discuss…

Four hours dragged….I knew from a gut feeling was look looking hopeful for my side as I did not feel would take so long… My barrister discussed seperate with the judges and my ex to try resolve with out the need for this… Still no luck….

We were called back in…the decision had been made… I crumbled…

The panel felt children living between two homes would not have a negative impact on them.

It was decided from the following week the children would live between my home and their dads for 10 weeks then 11the week would be a split week due to their dad having to work a week of nights. That was printed black and white… All worked around his shifts…

I crumbled… We were dismissed… Within a couple of week I had to prepare for the children lives to change dramatically.

My parents waited outside… I saw them and that was it…I crumbled further… I was heart broken….I never stopped him seeing the children… I worked with him from day 1 of the breakdown and life was to totally change for us all…my babies would have to learnt olive between two homes.

My barrister was great, he was in shock too as to why it was decided, why the panel felt it was good for the children. I was told we could try to appeal but due it already been discussed via a panel would not be any success. But still a option to look at.

From that night life changed….

 

(to be continued..)