Custody…

I hate to write about this, but I can’t help it.

Today was the day Britney Spears failed to show up in court to fight for custody of her kids.  I agree, it’s most likely better for them to stay with Dad at this point.  The problem is, I don’t understand her choice.

When I was going through my divorce, I was clear with my ex that I had no intention of keeping the kids from him.  I wanted them to have a relationship with him, whatever that would be.  Instead of making things simple, he tried to get full custody by painting me as an unfit mother.  Trouble is, they had no evidence of such failings on my part, and I won full custody while he had standard state-approved visitation rights.

The trial was so ugly.  His mistress/girlfriend (whom he later married) would take my kids into the doctor’s office during their visits to try to get the doctor to say there was something so terribly wrong with them, that I was not caring for them properly or attending to their health needs.  Needless to say, her interference in my kids’ healthcare and access to their records was a complete and total violation of HIPAA laws, and the doctor’s office was wrong to allow it to continue.  Of course, none of the doctors would show up at the trial, save for one lone secretary who said I was “mean” to her when I called to chew them out for allowing my kids to become a sideshow enabled by their lousy understanding of the law.

The point is, I would have done ANYTHING to fight for the custody of my kids.  Walked through fire over broken glass buck naked in the town square if I had to.  It was such a natural instinct to want to protect my babies- they were only 2 and 4 at the time- I figured it was hardwired into you when you give birth for the first time.

For those who make the age argument, saying Britney is so young, that’s her problem, I say that’s a false argument.   I had my first baby at 22, and knew plenty of other moms who had babies young.  Military wives tend to do that- marry and procreate young.  From Day One, those babies were mine, and I was going to fight to the death.  My mom did the same for me when I was a kid during her divorce.  It was a 10 year fight with my father, and eventually she won.  She was 23 at the time I was born.

How can a mother not make the effort to fight for her kids?  How can a mother not put aside her own selfish needs and wants to secure safety for her children?  How does Britney justify her choice to leave her kids behind?  As a mother, I’ll never understand it.

This is not to say that fathers are not sometimes the best place for kids to be.  Perhaps in Britney’s case, K-Fed can really care for the kids best.  Other dads can as well.  But dads who pursue custody simply to hurt their ex-wives are wrong on all counts.  When revenge is the primary motive, these fathers are the worst kind.  They’re really not interested in raising their kids, rather they just want the pleasure of knowing they’re “his” like a piece of property.  Children are not chattel.   They should not be treated as such.

I wonder what Britney will say to her boys when they grow up and ask, “Why didn’t you fight for me, Mom?  Why did you leave us behind?”

She’ll be hard pressed to answer…

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