Today, I watched a man who had once thought never to have unsupervised time with his son, take residential custody.

He could do that because he proved himself to me and to the Court.  He overcame the mark on his record as a father.  He proved himself to be a conscientious and caring parent.

He doesn’t have a higher education.  He speaks plainly.  He works and lives simply.  But he parents wisely.  In comparison with what I saw one year ago when appointed his son’s guardian ad litem, he has done a 180 degree turn.

I left the courtroom feeling that the long, drawn-out case had come to a dramatic end that ultimately felt like an anti-climax.  When I did the final home visit last evening, the child had been in his father’s care for three months.  The difference between the child whom I saw last evening, and the anxious, guilt-ridden little boy whom I saw in July, astonished me.

In July, three tables away from his mother, he leaned forward and said, “Is this the time i am supposed to say that I don’t want to live with my Daddy?”

Last night, sitting on his bed in his father’s home, he said, “I went for a walk two times with my Mom, and it felt good.”  He beamed at me.  Downstairs, his father’s paramour stood at the stove in a neat and tidy kitchen.  Two little ones gurgled and giggled, riding around in little mobile vehicles.  The father had already done homework with his boy, and now stood side by side with his son’s soon-to-be stepmother, the mother of his infant son.  In the happy home, I knew that love ruled, guidelines would be reasonable, and children learned responsibility but also joy.

My work here is nearly done.  Two cases concluded this trip, only two more remain to be resolved.  By this time next year, I’ll be a true California girl, though I’ll always be a #MissouriMugwump.  I’ve done a lot of good representing people in Missouri, and I move forward with the knowledge that I have acquitted myself with honor.  What more can I ask of myself?

It’s the twelfth day of the fifty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

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