For the last 5 years or more I was used to walking through the front door of my home and seeing my son at the top of the stairs, hearing the words “Mom, what’s for dinner?” This is something so simple that we take for granted, or maybe even become annoyed with at some point; but once it’s gone you begin to realize these are the little things that you miss. I went without hearing those words for nearly a year, and during that time I would have given anything to be able to make my son his favorite meal for dinner.
Austin was removed from my custody in August of 2016, and of course I will never forget that moment. How could you? In the year leading up to this event, life took over, and became unmanageable. Do I feel my child should have been removed? Definitely not. I have to wonder if anyone feels their case is a valid one; but I allowed this experience to be my teacher. Not because I was happy about what was taking place, but because I didn’t have a choice. Resistance only makes this process much harder and longer. I know, because in the beginning, resistance is what I chose.
We all have something that we can change that will be better for us in the future. So in the midst of this it no longer became about proving the system wrong and clearing my name, it became about fighting for my son to get him home as fast as possible. I had to focus on what I COULD control, and not focus on everything that I couldn’t. I had to stay present. I couldn’t look to the past and what mistakes I made, because that only breeds depression. I couldn’t look too far ahead about what MIGHT happen because that only caused anxiety. Staying present was my saving grace through this entire experience. My daily mantra was “just get through TODAY.” Trust me when I say there were plenty of days I sat there and had a pity party for myself, but I didn’t unpack my bags and stay there.
Once they remove your child, you aren’t handed an instruction book on what to do next, in fact it’s quite the opposite. But I am here to tell you there are many resources out there that WILL tell you what’s next. The best thing I ever did during this process was surround myself with supports. Being alone on this journey is not the way to go. I used to think asking for help was a sign of weakness; asking for help does not make you weak, it actually shows your vulnerability, and when we are vulnerable with ourselves and others it builds unbreakable strength.
Austin and I walked out the doors of that courthouse with hopes to never return again. In a way the last two years seem like a blur, maybe because I am ready to move on and return back to what I like to call “organized chaos.” I dropped Austin off at home, and like any other day returned back to work. Sat down at my desk looking to see what I had on the schedule for the day. I took out my phone, and started sharing the great news with everyone, as a text came in from my son that read – “Mom, what’s for dinner?”