Favor was my theme for yesterday in Chicago. It was nothing revolutionary. Nothing was solved completely, but I saw favor every where I went!
My flight flew out smoothly at 6:10am and landed smoothly at 8am in Chicago. The signs to the Blue Line train where clearly mapped out and making my way there was easy. I boarded, staring at the sign making sure it was the right train. A smiling worker stopped to see if I was ok. I said, “This one is definitely going downtown, right?” He said, “Yes, ma’am.” Then it took off for downtown. An hour later, I got off, walked upstairs and was standing directly in front of 50 W. Washington, which was my destination.
I went to the floor where my life changed forever a few years ago and got ready to meet the judge. There was an attorney standing out in front of the Judge Bender’s room, so I asked him a few questions about how to go about turning in the papers to request legal aid. He answered them well and we were shortly allowed in to the room. Nosa’s attorney showed up (THANKFULLY without him) and we were called before Judge Bender. I gave him my legal aid papers and he said that I didn’t need them. He told me how to file a free appearance and went from there. I let the attorney lead the way and I responded appropriately.
He was Judge Bender, whom I’ve grown to love. He is fair. He is partial. He is firm and he is what all that I feel a Judge should be. He has often not made the choices that I wish he would make, but he does it because it’s the right way to do it. I have a lot of respect for that. He never lets things go. He asked where the Child Rep. was and I responded that I could not afford a Child Rep. Nosa’s attorney said the same about him. I mentioned that he doesn’t pay his attorney anything and his attorney basically agreed with that. He’s not a good attorney, but he does all of Nosa’s stuff for free and Nosa lies to him. He’s a nice, older man. I don’t know why he does it. His attorney told Judge Bender that I never wanted the kids to see their father again. I spoke up boldly and said that was not at all true. I told Judge Bender that I wanted them to have a good relationship and how I’ve done everything I can to facilitate that and how important I feel it is for them to have a good relationship with him, but that I cannot send them into harm’s way to do that. I started at the first visit and only got through 2 details when Judge Bender was shaking his head and taking a mental step back.
From there, he gave me 21 days to prepare a written response to their petition. His attorney said that in light of some of these things that he was not aware of, he hoped we’d be able to work something out without dragging this out.
He also gave us mediation. I’ve been through mediation with Nosa before and it was a COMPLETE waste of time, but it really is the way things should be worked out. Two parents that love their children and have a partial mediator, should be able to resolve things. Judge Bender waived intact (whatever that means) and sent us directly across the street to get a mediation appointment.
We both walked across the street, making light conversation, went through security (this was my 3rd time so far) and set up an all-day mediation appointment in Chicago for Migc, Kristen and I on April 1st. There are a few things I should note at this point:
He wants the make-up visitation for Spring Break this year, which is the week of March 15th.
I am due April 28th, so this date is 27 days before my due date. Most airlines will not let me fly without a medical certificate and good luck getting that from my doctor who thinks this whole thing is ridiculous anyway.
So, when we push the mediation date back, the earliest I would be able to be there would be June and that’s with a newborn who will not be able to go without me for an entire day, so I’ll have an eating, sleeping newborn in the room with me for mediation. Fun stuff!
So, chances are, nothing at all will get anywhere with any of this until the middle of summer, which will mean that they won’t go for their summer visitation either.
His attorney is going to talk to him and try to persuade him to come to an agreement with me to work this out. At this point, my requests will be that he attended a minimum of a 6-week single parenting class and pays me the money that he owes me. With the tools that he will gain from the class, I feel it will help him to be able to better parent them at the times he has them. If he messes up again, we’ll be right back here.
So, yeah, I think overall it went well! He has rarely shown wisdom in any of this stuff, but he would be wise to settle it now or we’ll be doing this for a year and having to pay a child rep again. Oh yeah, while I was waiting on his attorney to fill out paperwork, my attorney, Scott, came down to say hello. He has been so amazing over the years!!! He was upstairs and said he couldn’t not come say hello. It was so good to see him. He also said that he saw the child rep the other day and told her that we might be going at it again. He said that she always asks how we are. She was not fooled by Nosa last time and all of this will not sit lightly with her and she’ll be in my favor. He will end up worse than what I’m asking if this goes that direction. So, it feels good right now!
I then went back to the courthouse to file my appearance. That was the busiest court room I’ve ever been in and the two ladies that helped me were so incredibly helpful!!! They were nice and polite and tentative. Can you say FAVOR?!
As I was coming down the elevator and thinking that I had to go Clark and Lake to catch the train, I realized that as much as I could picture Clark Street and Lake Street, I had no idea where they intersected and which direction to go. I asked a man on the elevator. He walked me off the elevator and took me to the door I needed to out of and pointed me in the right direction. Wow! I got there, was pointed in the right direction by a CTA worker that noticed that I looked lost, then when I got upstairs figured out that I didn’t know if I was on the right side or not. Man, how you forget!!! I asked another man, who kindly smiled and told me that I was on the right side. I took that train to the Merchandise Mart, walked across the street, in the building, up the elevator and into the office of my best friend!
We were starving and walked through some light flurries and freezing cold weather to eat Thai food and catch up. Then I sat in her office for a few hours chatting. It was so nice to see her!!!
Then, I walked back to Merchandise Mart to hit up the new location of Garrett’s popcorn. I got a bag for myself and one for a former co-worker, then walked a few blocks to my old office building and surprised them. I hung out there chatting and catching up for a few hours before catching the train back to the airport. By this time, my back was starting to shoot pain down my leg and my body was not enjoying the office chairs, train seats, airport chairs and airplane seats, but I made due for the next 2 hours with my Garrett’s cheese popcorn and my book. My flight home was without delay and smooth sailing.
I got home about 9:30-9:45pm and enjoyed my couch before hitting the sack and sleeping the best I’ve slept in a long time!
There were so many times during this trip that I had so many questions and everyone was so nice and helpful. Every time I walked away, I thanked God! I never got nervous or scared or worried. There was this sense of calm and peace with me all day long. I can see the hand of God in all of it and I am so very thankful!