We were so close. SO VERY CLOSE. I can’t find words to describe the drastic change in our relationship. The only saving grace I have – that I cling to – is that a therapist told me kids have their foundation built by the time they are ten. 

The therapist keeps telling me that “he is still there,” my boy is still in there somewhere and that in time, he will figure this all out. I cling to the memories of the times that Sam was sweet, respectful and kind to me. The times that we would secretly watch the Disney Channel as he was way too old to watch with his friends. The weekly sleepover where he would have all his friends over and I would make late-night pizzas and bake cookies.  All the sporting games, there were so many.  SO many out-of-town trips and road trips. I would go to everything!  I wouldn’t miss a minute of any game.  It was “our” thing.  He wanted me there, then.  

Now I am like an annoying fly to him.  He doesn’t want me around. 


Separation anxiety

When Sam was in elementary school he had really bad separation anxiety.  It was only for me.  The boys were at our Church school. I think it had something to do with the music.  He would be in Church with me on Sunday then hear the same Church music played during the children’s Mass. It made him sad and he missed me.  The anxiety just grew and grew.  

I worked closely with the school and a counselor.  By 4th grade, there was a period of time where he only went to school until 10:30 every morning.  The rest of the day was at home with me in a “home school” atmosphere where I administered his school work.  

Does that sound like a mom who would abandon her family?  A bond so close between a mother and a son that the son doesn’t want to leave her during the day?  I think not!


Lost grandmother.

Sam loved his grandmother, my mother.  When we would go on vacation he would always go shopping to see what he could bring back for his grandma.  

Now he doesn’t speak to her.  He calls her by her first name when he mentions her.  

She also went to all his games.  She would make signs, bring cookies and cakes for the siblings in the stands,  she would wear the team colors and cheer for her grandson/ grandsons.  The boys would imitate her in a loving and joking manner.  She would stand up and scream, “That’s MY grandson.”  


Lost cousins. 

The cousins were so close.  They shared so many memories growing up.  Sam doesn’t speak to them anymore either.  


Lost friends.

James also made sure that Sam cut ties with some friends that he was close to.  His best friend was completely stripped from his life.  Just one day, that boy was no longer a part of Sam’s life.  

The main reason was that his mother was one of my close friends.  Sam was forbidden by James to hang out with him anymore.  I recently wrote that boy a letter trying to explain what I think happened.  I told him he was such an upstanding young man and that he did nothing wrong.  He was a great friend to Sam and hopefully in time Sam would recognize that and reach out to him.  

Can you imagine how confused he must have been?  He practically lived at our house.  He took family vacations with us!  The two of them were inseparable. Just like my sister’s kids and my mom and ME, the relationship was just terminated, done, finished.


Under surveillance, I’m withdrawing from friends, too.

James had one of Sam’s friends watch my house.  I would get constant reports of what I was doing and who I was doing it with from Sam. It was like they knew every move I was making.  If I was on my deck with a friend I heard about it.  If I took my dogs for a walk with someone I heard about that too. 

One Sunday night around 9 pm I got a picture from Sam of my front yard from his cell phone. When I went outside, there was a car I didn’t recognize. I walked out further and the car sped off and all the boys in the car were sticking their middle fingers out the window screaming F.U., Maria.  F.U.! 

These new friends would also help James look up my social media accounts to see what I was doing.  Even after divorce, I’m still living under a microscope.  

I am starting to withdraw from my friends as well.  It is a constant reminder of what I have lost.  It is too painful to watch my friends and their kids interact.  To hear the stories of daily life with a child in the home and to have them ask how my situation is, if it is any better.  


Mother’s Day

This past Mother’s Day I was invited to a brunch at my new neighbor’s home.  I went and brought my mother.  It was nice.  No one there knew me.  No one could ask, “Where is Johnny?  Is Sam coming today?”  I just tried to enjoy my mother and appreciate her and all she has done for me.  I couldn’t focus on the emptiness in my heart that day.

I see adults, teachers and coaches that interact with Sam.  They tell me what an upstanding young man he is,  how polite and respectful he is.  

Unfortunately, I don’t know that child anymore.  While I do see him a few times a week he doesn’t look me in the eye.  He sends me rude messages.  He won’t stay at my house.  He won’t go out to dinner with me.  He threatens to quit baseball if I show up to one of his games.  He only texts or calls if he needs something and it isn’t like, “hey mom, can you pick me up a pair of cleats”, it’s more like, “I need cleats.  I need them now.  Go get them and put them out by dad’s mailbox.”  

When I text him and ask him to come over I get a response like, “Alright, what do you want.”  I don’t know how to respond.  


Staying in his life

People tell me that I shouldn’t let him treat me that way. I should tell him that until he can talk to me with respect that he shouldn’t come over or contact me.  Tell him I love him but I will not put up with his poor treatment of me.  I tell them I would rather have this kind of contact with him than none at all.  Some think I am crazy.  

All the Parent Alienation books say, STAY IN THEIR LIVES. No matter how small a role you play, stay in their lives.  When they come through this, if they come through this you don’t want them coming back and saying, I was a kid, and I didn’t know what I was doing or you just gave up on me.  So that is what I do.  I try to stay in his life.  

Even when he sends me things like this: “Don’t you say that I have two parents that love me.  Don’t you ever put you and dad in the same sentence.  I suggest you read dads recent email to you.  If you love me you will simply say fine I can live with dad but you won’t.  Instead, you will just lie.  But guess what, you don’t have a time machine and very soon you won’t have me.  Be assured that if I have to live with you I am done with sports and all things related to that and once I turn 18 you will never hear from me again.” 

That is an email from my son, my baby boy.  Deep down I know those aren’t his words. That isn’t really him.  It is a script that he is told to read, repeat to me and live by. 


One-word messages.  

This is how it usually goes. I say in a text message, “Good morning, I love you, have a great day.”  No response.  “Hey, how is your day going?” No response.  “Good night, I love you.”  No response.  The next three days the same thing. Then one random moment in time I get a “thanks.”  I stare at it.  I cling to it.  I think, “He responded! Wow, he responded.”  It is pathetic!  

If I see his name on caller ID it is like I’m in high school again and a boy I liked is calling me.  My stomach flutters and I get nervous but excited at the same time.  I wonder how the conversation is going to go but I am mainly just so excited that he has called.

He will let me hug him.  When he is here at my house,  he won’t look at me and barely speaks to me but when he gets up to leave he stands at the door just looking down with his arms hanging at his side. I walk over and hug him. Tears stream down my face. He is so tall now. I smell his neck, I rub his back and I soak it all in.  30 seconds of affection.  I will take it.  I need it!  I KNOW he does too. 

These words are so hard to type… He hasn’t told me he loves me in 2 years!  I haven’t heard it from him or my middle son.  How, why?  Don’t they understand the love I have for them or the love they should have for me?


Establishing a pattern.

Right after the divorce, we agreed to a 50/50 split.  I doubted James could adequately care for Sam – even the simple things like getting him to school, washing his clothes, and feeding him home-cooked meals.  

The GAL said I needed to establish a pattern.  I needed to record everything and keep school records, etc.  She said the judge wouldn’t award me sole custody at this point.  So, that is exactly what I did. I continued my role as a detective.  

At some point during the first year, Sam just stopped coming to stay with me.  

I was getting messages from his dad saying my youngest didn’t want to be with me.  He would say things like, “He is a man and should be able to make his own choices.”  

That infuriated the GAL and therapist.  James was empowering Sam, giving him responsibility that a child is not equipped to handle.  He would put things on the Family Wizard site trying to get me in trouble. He would say, “The kids at school are still talking about the legendary party at your house this weekend where you served them all booze.”  

When the therapist asked him where he got his information James would reply, “a reliable second-hand source.”  At one point I got an email from James saying that, “I locked my son in his room with no food or water for seven straight days.”  Just insane things like that.  


The “No Contact” order

Nine months after the divorce the therapist thought James had hit an all-time low. Sam was not in a healthy environment.  He filed an emergency order to get Sam removed from James’s home.  The main reason was Parent Alienation.  

My son (actually, all three sons, but remember my youngest is the only one the court has any jurisdiction over) is being alienated from his mother.

Finally!  We are going to court.  The judge put a “no contact” order on James.  He had three weeks to get himself together and stop his ALIENATING behaviors. I had three weeks of uninterrupted time with Sam to put the pieces back together.

In those three weeks we snapped back into a normal relationship quickly.  Once Sam was at my home he seemed almost at ease, relaxed. The pressure was off.  He didn’t have to keep up the front or keep the anger going with me.  He HAD to stay with me.  It was ordered.  

We hopped in the car the day after and went to his first baseball tournament for the summer.  It was a great weekend.  I was quickly reminded, though, that things weren’t completely back to normal.  When I tried to take a picture of the two of us with my cell phone he freaked out.  He absolutely didn’t want any proof that could get back to his dad that he was having a good time with me.  I am sure once he reported back to his dad he told him what a horrible three weeks it was.  That is how Sam is surviving this.  If he vilifies me, his dad is happy with him. 


A second emergency order

Once James was back it was about another month before the GAL and therapist helped me file another emergency order.  This time James did not even show up for his court date.  When the judge asked where Mr. James was his attorney said that he would not be present but was being represented by the attorney.  The judge seemed baffled but we proceeded on.  

At the end of this court date the judge took all parenting rights away from James for about four months.  He put another no contact order on James.  He could not call, text or see Sam until that time period was over.  In the closing remarks, the judge said to James’s attorney, “Sir you should be commended as you have tried to paint a smiley face on a train wreck.”  

The judge also awarded me back $10,000 of attorneys fees that James had to pay. While tears of joy streamed down my face, it didn’t feel like a victory.  I didn’t want Sam removed from his dad’s life.  I wanted my son’s dad to be healthy enough to handle things properly.  To step up to the plate and be a good father.  A father that could say to his boys that the marriage didn’t work out but they still have two parents that love them dearly and that will never change.  



I was ready to get him back and ready to start being a parent.  The past three weeks had been us just re-adjusting.  I was ready to start counseling and get him back on track.  

This time around it didn’t go as well.  We certainly had some good times, some “normal” times, but school was starting and Sam was protesting. He didn’t open a book for weeks. His grades were extremely low. 

I would ground him and he would look at me like it was a joke and walk out the door.  I would try and take his phone away and he would put it in his pocket and dare me to take it.  It wasn’t the normal parent/child relationship I was used to.  He seemed to be in charge.  We ended up battling nightly.  

I found other ways to discipline him so that it didn’t turn into a physical confrontation. Here is a quick parenting tip:  If your child is too big to wrestle car keys away from him then when he goes to sleep, take the battery out of his car.  One night when he was giving me trouble and wouldn’t do his homework after he went to bed I climbed up into his giant vehicle, lifted the hood and removed the battery and hid it in my closet.  Boy, was he surprised when he tried to leave the next morning.  

On other occasions, I would also just remove his license plate and tell him if he got a ticket for driving without a plate he would be responsible for paying for the ticket. The car would sit in my driveway and I was able to get my point across. I went in and talked with teachers, his counselor and his baseball coach.  One person among them really stepped up to the plate and helped me turn Sam around.  I am forever grateful for that!

Once James was back in the picture, things worsened. James took Sam on a vacation. Sam did not return one of my calls or messages the entire week. I was going crazy with worry. I finally heard from him.  This was his message to me, “I hope you felt some of the same pain I felt not being able to talk to my dad for months. If you don’t change your act, then that’s how your whole life is going to be.”  

Does that sound like a kid talking?  Sounds like an ex-husband threatening an ex-wife. Sam went on to say that, “you and your little group took my dad away.”  Later on in this blog I quote James on some things and he says the exact thing, “you and your little group.”  He is referring to the GAL, the therapist and the judge. It is a common theme. 

James blames me and my “crew” for lying and taking his son away.  Sounds like James is right back to doing what he has gotten in trouble for twice now.  From that point on it has been very hit or miss with Sam.  Some good days but mostly rudeness, nasty messages, and lack of eye contact when he does show up.