I received this letter last week. (Edited for space.)
Dear Mr. Wilson:
I am a non-custodial mother by consent, thinking I was making the best choice at the time for our child, NEVER thinking my ex would use custody or our child as a weapon against me. When I signed over full legal custody, I had no idea exactly what that would mean down the road. I had never had a child before. I found myself very surprised at how the law and judges treated me as the non custodial parent, amazed at how sole parental power acted to give my ex a degree of control over my life.
I was shocked by how the court system treated me simply because I was the non-custodial parent. I was not treated with respect or courtesy. I was not treated as a parent, a mother or even a law abiding, tax-paying citizen. I have had judges say such biased, out of line, ridiculous things to me, I had to stop & confirm to myself that yes, I was actually in America, land of the free.
Both parents matter, both important and needed. Though I dislike Dad 100%, I would not wish to eliminate him from our child's life as our child is 50% Dad.
NCP Mothers endure greater judgement from others. The NCP mother must have problems, been a bad mom, etc. Otherwise, why would Mom not have custody since courts always give Mom custody? Doubtful others can not begin to comprehend the depth of my guilt, the severity of the pain I feel, the aching feeling of want, wanting to see the first bike ride, the first tooth lost, the first day of school, 1st grade, 3rd grade. The fear that something could happen to the child and I, Mom, would not be there! Then to go in to a court and have a judge just dictate to me when I can be Mom, when I can't . . . it is a rotten, horrible feeling.
My worst nightmare is that if something happened to my child that my ex would not call and tell me until it was too late. Robbed of being a true parent already, my ex could also rob me of giving my child comfort, an opportunity to say goodbye, to care for and see him take the path out of this life. I have real nightmares that the ex allows step-mom to not do that job. I brought him into this life, gave him life and should his life need to end early I feel it is my job and only my job as the mother. I feel it would be my right, my child's right!
It is so hard for any non custodial parent that desires to be a parent. We, the other parents, do not love our children any less just because we divorce, move, or find a new partner! Our exs are not a part of us as individuals. Our children are created by us, through us. To dislike or hate your child is to dislike or hate yourself.
If I had known it would be like this, I would have never signed our consent custody order. I did not understand how permanent the order was or that no legal rights of decision would be a part of so many things that are important to me now, 9 years later, but had never thought about or considered 9 years ago.
Sole custody is a crime against children and against the most basic instincts of us all. This must stop!
©2010 KC Wilson
To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons. - Marilyn French