She certainly didn’t need another cup of coffee.
She looked inside her purse to make sure the box of Pepcid was there. She wouldn’t have been surprised if – in the panic this morning – she’d left it on the kitchen counter.
Good. There was the Pepcid. She took one with a sip of cold coffee.
The worst part about these court appearances is that they were early in the day – too early for liquid courage.
At least the kids didn’t have to be at this court appearance. It was stressful enough without having to consider the emotional fallout from the kids. It’s not like she could pump them full of antacids.
This is the third time the boys’ father has dragged them back to court. Each time the visitation schedule is rehashed. Each time he successfully changes the schedule to more align with his life and commitments.
They live with the new plan for a year until his routine changes, or until he feels he isn’t getting the attention he deserves.
Then he drags them back to court under the guise of wanting to see the boys more.
She knows that it’s not about him wanting to see the boys more, it’s about him wanting the boys to want to see him more. He’ll never figure out that there isn’t a judge or attorney on this planet that can make his boys want to see him. In the meantime, his attorney has racked up enough fees to consider an Ivy League College instead of the state university she’d planned for her oldest.
Her own attorney understands narcissism. This time, her attorney managed to set this hearing in front of a new judge – one who had a reputation for ruling in favor of children, rather than one or the other parent.
She would have to stomach watching him parade through the court room, preening and strutting.
She would hold her head high. She wouldn’t stare at her hands and risk looking like the victim. She would be strong. She would look his attorney in the eye.
She would wear courage like he wears that sickening cologne that he thinks makes him irresistible.
Her courage and strength were built on knowledge. She’s read everything she could get her hands on about narcissism, NPD and how narcissists manipulate a court room. All the knowledge in the world can’t settle her stomach. Trying not to wring her hands while seated next to her attorney, she’s wishing she’d skipped that last cup of coffee.
The boys can’t believe their good fortune. She never takes them out to eat. There isn’t room in the budget for dining out or other such extravagances. Every extra cent is put toward attorney’s fees.
Tonight she’s taking them for Chinese – their favorite.
The waitress can almost feel the collective bubble of optimism above their three heads.
The boys excitedly place their orders. She treats herself to a glass of chardonnay.
The oldest wants to know every detail. That’s the way he’s always been.
The youngest wants to discuss skateboarding and video games – anything but their dad and this latest court appearance.
She manages to tell them enough to satisfy the oldest and keep the youngest from sulking, which is easier to do this time because this new judge ruled in their favor. This time the judge questioned whether all these court appearances were in the best interest of the boys. The judge reprimanded her ex – in front of the entire court room.
She’ll savor this sweet, small victory for months to come.
This new ruling won’t be enough to keep him from opening up another can of worms, but it is enough to buy them some temporary peace. They’d learned that temporary peace was better than none at all.
They’d playfully argued over who should get which fortune cookie.
Even her son, the skateboarder, was amazed by his mom’s fortune.
“First they ignore you, then they attack you, then you win.”