How does a mother who loves her children so much end up loosing them?
How does a mother who never raised a hand to her child, who rarely raised her voice, who took them into her bed if they were unwell. Who attended every sharing assembly, every parents evening, every sports day.
Who was actively involved in the PTA because she cared about her children's education. Who spent hours sitting with them helping them with homework.
Who fought their battles with them and comforted them when they were unhappy.
Who loved them so much she would happily lay down her life for them.
Who did nearly all of this on her own.
How did that happen?
HOW did that happen ...
How does that honestly happen if that mother is and does all of the above?
It COULDN'T happen could it?
Except, it did ...
Ex Lax and I separated in November 2009. In March 2010 he started a new job in Southampton. Far enough away that I would only ever see him when he came to visit the children.
I was so grateful for that. I was sad for the children and promised that I would do everything in my power to make sure they kept in contact with their Dad.
They were 11 and 12 at the time.
Master Mac took his fathers leaving particularly badly. He focused on the fact that I had told him to go. The very valid reasons for me doing this were irrelevant to him. I made his Dad leave home and now he had moved away.
He didn't behave badly but he did become very withdrawn. He spent a lot of time in his room playing on his Xbox.
I am guilty of not doing more. I was very unwell both emotionally and physically. I felt like I couldn't reach him. I would put my arms around him and hold him close. He would let me but he still felt distant.
I guess I thought that as long as he was fed, had clean clothes and was nearby then he was safe.
I guess I hoped that he would find a way out of all of this with my support.
He did to a certain extent. He started having friends over again. He started going out with friends. He still spent far too much time alone in his room playing on the Xbox.
I should have done more.
He missed his Dad desperately. I struggled to talk to him about his Dad. I was still very hurt. I was traumatised by things that had happened. I was so bloody grateful that he had gone and Master Mac KNEW this and resented me feeling that way.
They saw very little of their Dad in the first year. He had been adamant that if I claimed child support he would not see the children and he would tell them it was my fault he couldn't afford to.
I believed him so I didn't make that claim.
He saw them 3 or 4 times during that year.
At the end of 2010 he started a new relationship. this wasn't the same person he had been seeing before I told him to leave (again, that's another story).
She seemed nice. She encouraged him to have proper contact with the children.
At this time my finances were such that I had no option but to make a claim to the CSA for child maintenance.
Ex Lax was very angry about this despite that fact that he had had a year where he had offered no help. A year in which I had been willing to make an informal arrangement with him. He was furious that I didn't do as I was told.
Just after I made the claim I was at the supermarket with the children.
Master Mac got a phone call from his Dad. I remember he was so pleased when he saw the caller display saying it was his Dad. He didn't hear from him very often.
He walked away to take the call.
Very soon he was back confused and almost tearful. He handed the phone to me. I don't understand what Dad is saying he told me. He's really angry but I don't understand what it's about.
I took the phone.
Ex Lax was almost incandescent with rage.
What have you told the CSA he shouted at me.
I had no idea what he was taking about at first then it transpired that he had applied for a 'shared care' arrangement telling the CSA that he had the children every other weekend.
Based on this they had reduced the amount of maintenance he was liable to pay.
I had received a phone call from them a few days before. They had asked when he saw the children, how often they stayed with him. I told them the truth.
I had no idea at the time that a 'shared care' arrangement existed. I knew nothing about it and I didn't know what he had told them.
Based on the information I had given them they had contacted him and told him that they would not apply the shared care. That until he had been having the children for at least 3 months on a shared care basis they would not review the situation.
He had clearly thought that they would take his word for things, that they wouldn't check with me. If he had thought they would I would have heard from him before.
I stood in the supermarket as he ranted and raved at me. The children could hear everything he said. He said again that if I didn't call the CSA and tell them to apply the shared care immediately AND to have it applied to the arrears he had accrued while the case was being sorted out that he wouldn't see the children and it would be my fault.
Both of the children were so upset that I went straight home and did what he told me to do.
Again he was happy for his children to go without, I needed every penny of that money just to keep us afloat but he didn't see why he should have to pay at all.
Because of the circumstances he wasn't given the option to pay voluntarily. The money was deducted at source from his salary and paid to me. He was given no choice.
He never forgave me for that.
He did start having the children every other weekend. Sometimes his girlfriend would pick them up in the car I had bought.
At this time I quite liked his girlfriend. She seemed to care for my children and I thought she made him a better Dad.
He was often 2 or three hours late to pick them up. They would sit with their bags packed and ready asking me when he was going to be there. He never answered his phone or texts when I asked him how long he would be.
Master Mac in particular found this very stressful.
If I became angry about it, if I confronted his father and said it wasn't fair he became very agitated, he worried that his Dad would stop coming at all. He told me to stop always having a go at his Dad.
I couldn't really win. He could behave exactly as he wanted and I wasn't allowed to complain. I just had to pick up the pieces.
During the next year he had them on most agreed weekends. There were times when he cancelled, times when he brought them home early and, on two occasions he brought them home early and, when I wasn't there, left them on the doorstep with their bags and drove off.
I had issues with the care they were receiving.
I knew that he and his girlfriend both drank, he heavily and her, well, I'm not sure. I rarely drink and I never get drunk. It's not something I do but I was concerned that on more than one occasion the children came home not having been fed because both Ex Lax and his girlfriend had been in bed all day. I was also concerned the Ex Lax might still be over the limit for driving when he brought the children home.
Miss Mac suffered a burn on her arm from an iron whilst in his care. I am sure this was an accident but I wasn't informed and no first aid was given. She still has a small mark where the burn was.
One weekend Miss Mac left here with strawberry blond hair past her shoulders. She returned with cropped hair dyed black.
I had NOT given my permission for this and Ex Lax took great delight in telling me he didn't have to answer to me.
I have no doubt that Miss Mac had said she wanted this hair style. She was a big fan of The Saturdays at this time and it was similar to the hair of one of the girls in the band.
But she was 11.
It wasn't suitable, it wasn't appropriate, I hadn't given permission.
It was also clearly going to be expensive to maintain. It was an asymmetrical cut, closely cropped on one side and longer on the other. It was also BLACK.
Within weeks it looked terrible. The colour and the cut were growing out.
I didn't have they money to maintain this style.
Ex Lax refused to help. Miss Mac's hair has a natural wave but for this style it needed to be straightened. She was 11 years old for Christs sake. Far too young to be worrying about this. My straighteners were designed for long hair, they were far too wide for her hair cut. Ex Lax wouldn't buy her an appropriate set. He wouldn't pay for her hair to be cut. He wouldn't pay for her hair to be coloured again.
She got teased a lot at school.
I paid for it to be done once. After that I simply couldn't afford to and she had to wait it out and let it grow. I did get it trimmed as often as I could to cut out the colour and even up the cut but it was a nightmare and she was very unhappy.
Possibly the worst thing that happened was during the summer of 2011.
It was a hot weekend and Ex lax and his girlfriend had taken the children to the beach.
When they got home Master Mac said he felt unwell.
He was very hot and had clearly spent far too much time in the sun. His shoulders were badly burnt.
I rushed out to buy something to help with the pain. I put him to bed with plenty of fluids and eventually he went to sleep.
The next morning I went in to see him and I was horrified to see blisters beginning to form across his back.
I took him to the doctors and was given some cream to apply.
The blisters got worse.
Master Mac had suffered 2nd degree burns across his back and both shoulders.
I text Ex Lax. I asked him how this could have happened.
He told me it was Master Macs own fault. That he should have taken more care of himself.
My son was 12 years old. What 12 year old applies sunscreen even if it is provided without being nagged? I don't even know if it WAS provided.
Ex lax and his girlfriend denied any responsibility.
I sent him this photo:
This was only a small part of the damage.
His response was to send me several abusive messages and a series of photos of himself with other women with very few clothes on.
Master Mac had a week off school. A week of intense pain. A week where nothing could touch his skin. A week of me having to try to carefully apply cream to his burns.
A week where I lay in bed beside him being careful not to touch any part that hurt, we just looked at each other not talking much. He couldn't do anything, he even lost interest in his Xbox the pain was so bad.
All I could do was hold his hand and be there.
Ex lax didn't phone or text once during this time.
None of this really explains what happened next. I didn't realise it would be such a long post so I'm going to stop now and tell you more another time.