“Who’s ready to open presents?” Kelly’s sing-song voice rang out across her home Christmas morning, the melody enticing her three children to follow the sweet sound to the Christmas Tree. Within seconds, Kelly heard a great clamoring down the stairs as Taylor, Bryan and Rosie filed into the living room, their eyes immediately fixing on the mountain of presents arranged under the tree.
“Mommy, is this all for us?” five-year-old Bryan excitedly inquired.
“Of course it’s all for us, because Mommy loves us!” nine-year-old Taylor answered on behalf of her mother, looking at her mother for confirmation.
“Taylor is right, I do love you all. I wanted to make this Christmas extra special for us.” Kelly stated, the pride evident in her voice. “What do you think, Rosie?”
“Presents!” three-year-old Rosie exclaimed, as she ran full-force into her mother’s arms in appreciation.
“Well, they aren’t going to open themselves. So, I’ll ask again—who wants to open presents?” The tail-end of Kelly’s question was immediately drowned out by a chorus of “Me! Me! Me!” sung by her children. Kelly looked on as they tore into the presents, bows and wrapping paper being thrown in the air. The excited chatter, the roaring laughter, the continuous shouts of appreciation and love reminded Kelly just how much she relished the holiday season with her children.
This year in particular, Kelly had a special appreciation for this time with her children since the year prior, she was not afforded nearly as much parenting time around the holiday season. In October of the previous year, Kelly experienced one of the toughest setbacks in her lifetime which led her then-husband to seek a Twelve-Month Family Violence Protective Order. The Protective Order was granted, giving Kelly’s ex-husband more power to exert control over Kelly by preventing her from spending any meaningful time with the children, and over the children by alienating the affection they had for their mother.
Demand after demand, Kelly tussled with her ex-husband and his family to see her children for more than just a few hours a week. The fight continued for three months until Kelly decided it was time to take power back. Kelly hired an attorney for assistance on pursuing a divorce action. The divorce—specifically the issue of custody—quickly became a tug-of-war as Kelly’s ex-husband could feel the reins of power that he became so accustomed to holding slipping from his grip. After nine months of strategic planning, including the hiring of a Guardian ad Litem who was able to see Kelly’s ex-husband for who he really was, Kelly found vindication.
As she watched the Judge sign the Final Order, which detailed Kelly’s extensive parenting time, Kelly felt the weight of the world lift from her shoulders and the ever-present knot in her chest become undone. Though, Kelly felt as if she had a million thoughts swimming in her head. Kelly’s attorney reassured her and told her to take the night to process her emotions.
As Kelly crawled into bed the night after her divorce trial, she found her emotions would not allow her to sleep. Kelly picked up her phone, intending to send an e-mail to her attorney with a list of questions. As Kelly started to type, the faces of her children flashed in her mind. Kelly erased the list of questions she had begun drafting to her attorney and replaced it with a short yet powerful message—
“Thank you for all that you do.”