For six hours, I traveled back and forth between a huddle of my client and her family in a witness room; and the courtroom outside of which the other side occupied a bench handy to their lawyer. Periodically, the two lawyers moved into the courtroom. We drew lines through copy, we paced, we told a few jokes to break the tension; but most of all, we argued our clients’ respective positions.
By 2:30 in the afternoon, we had devised a parenting plan by which a mother and a father with nothing in common except their ten-year-old son could forge a smoother path towards his adulthood.
On the way to my office, I thought about the decampment of my son’s father from my life before my son’s birth. For the thousandth time, I realized that raising my son without his father cost my son a lot, but spared me the potential of being on the receiving end of all that arguing. I know that my son loses a lot for not having his father. I do as well. I can remember being pregnant and crying when I saw all those other pregnant women with their loving husbands’ arms protectively slung around their shoulders. The memory of my lament haunts me. Why don’t I get that? What’s wrong with me?
But not every one of those happy couples remain like that. Half of all marriages end in divorce, and that means many scenes play out in the way that my yesterday unfolded. Two lawyers with only contractual concern for a child hammer out the roadmap of the child’s holidays and school attendance. What a system! With high emotions, a mother and a father who once loved one another enough to form a human life now situate themselves as far apart as the corridor allows, surrounded by disparate allies amid a fog of anger and blame.
I hope that my work gives some relief to those who hire me to represent them in that battle. I hope the directions which I strive to impart give them some path to comfort.
It’s the eighteenth day of the thirty-second month of My Year Without Complaining. From the top half-story of my airplane bungalow, in Brookside, Kansas City, Missouri, I send you all warm thoughts. Life continues.