I am in a custody battle with my ex-husband and his attorneys. The following is a letter to the judge presiding over the case.
In response to the question "What if I told you to get a job?"
My response is I already have a "job". It is a full time plus overtime, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week including holidays and through every illness "job". I believe it is one of the most important jobs in the world. It takes immense sacrifice and endurance yet it has the greatest benefits imaginable, the result being happy healthy well rounded educated young people who will ultimately be positive and productive members of society. I am a mother. Not just because I gave birth, which was the easiest (16 hours of labor) part of being a mother, and not even with the first six weeks of trying to recover while breastfeeding, sleep deprivation and still managing to get my older children to school with cute pig tails and making it to every PTA, Girl Scout meeting, parent teacher conference and school performance. But because every day I am their mother, I am their teacher, caregiver, nurse, chef (I'm not claiming to be 5 stars, but they seem to like it), and nutrition specialist (endless allergy info expert). I am their attorney (sticking up for them no matter what), mediator (problem solving), and so on, and in return they are my inspiration, playmates and everyday teach me new ways to be a better mom.
I understand that the label Stay-At-Home Mom has been used and abused by so many unqualified, lazy women out there who hide behind the title to collect a child support check. Just as some people use our tax payers' and the governments' money, by collecting with false disability and unemployment claims. Therefore I am now changing the title of my occupation to what it really and truly is. Because with all the birthday parties, school and extracurricular activities and park explorations, the last thing I do as a "mom" with children ages 7 and 5 years old is stay-at-home. I am a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations. I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn't), in the laboratory and in the fields, (indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters, (the whole darned family), and already have four credits, (3 daughters and finally 1 son). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, and the rewards are more of a satisfaction, rather than just money.
Please accept this response in its delinquency as I have been thinking about this very important question since you asked me in the courtroom a day and a half ago. I think it is very important that no matter how overly used and exaggerated the term may be, I am a Mom making $0/mo, not a full time minimum w age employee making $1,500/mo. If I were to be working this hypothetical full time minimum wage job then I believe the hypothetical taxes should be taken out and hypothetical daycare costs should be deducted.
Not to mention the cost of a lifetime of counseling for these un-parented children whose role models are limited to television stars and who have to try and reinvent what is family dynamics themselves. A daycare provider does not have the ability to provide unconditional love, to cover them with kisses, to know what is wrong just by looking into their eyes. The only values and tradition being taught to these children is that one day they too will be ignorant to what is truly important with the upbringing of children, a strong family structure.
What is left of us as true mothers and fathers in this generation should be celebrated and supported to ensure the next generation understands the importance of the role, men as fathers and providers and women as mothers and homemakers. Not just cast aside and labeled as able-bodied women who are habitually unemployed. I am hoping one day, if we as mothers are still overlooked by society, at least we will be recognized by the Family Court System as necessary and essential parts of our children's' lives, not just unemployed random women with court appointed hypothetical minimum wage jobs.
I am hoping by writing this you will recognize the importance a mother makes when sacrificing both financial and personal achievement to devote themselves to the children they created not just signing a daycare agreement so someone else can "raise" them. I hope that in the next case you hear, if you see a mother as devoted as I am to her children, you will not belittle her with your hypothetical minimum wage job or that offensive question implying she doesn't work. But please let her know she is respected for her physical, financial (endless coupon clipping and budgeting) and emotional commitment to the children just as a father should be respected for honoring his financial commitment to the children they created.
That letter is the only way I could stick up for myself against my ex-husband, his attorneys, the judge, and the Nevada Family Court System. I have learned I am not the only one with this ongoing problem of being made to feel like less then nothing because we write "Stay-at-home mother" on our Financial Disclosure Form, not just unemployed by choice (as the court puts it) but we make the sacrifice every day devoting ourselves to our children. It seems the California Family Courts have also suggested to a friend of mine I met through all this court drama, to go get a job in order to pay her husband's 16 year old son's child support. He has a full-time job with the postal service that his ex-wife takes full advantage of. They have 1 daughter and 2 sons with one on the way and gave custody to the mother of his oldest son many years ago. This "mother" is one of the bad apples, in and out of jail and a druggie who gives the rest of us real mothers a bad name.
My concern is just because there are some bad apples out there, how can we as real full-time mothers get the recognition we and the children deserve in the Family Court System? My idea was to start by collecting signatures and filing a motion our County Family Court Division but it is obvious now it goes much further then just the State of NV. Do I need to go to Washington? Should I get the media involved? Any suggestions on how to get "Mother" listed as a legal occupation, not just in the Family Courts but when filing taxes, on school registration forms etc.? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
My kids' mom