For Christmas I got M (D’s daughter) a butterfly hatchery. You order the caterpillars and a few weeks later they arrive in a little jar where they stay until they form into a chrysalis. From there you place them carefully in the net enclosure and wait for the metamorphosis. It is quite remarkable and one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. To watch something creepy and crawly turn into something so breathtaking is one of those miracles that you just don’t try to understand because you will only confuse yourself further.

M’s favorite thing in the whole wide world are butterflies. I remember when she was 3 she would call them “buttflies” and I would laugh hysterically. Over time she grew out of that, but her passion for butterflies got stronger. In the summer you will often find her flitting about the yard looking for them, and when she spots them the genuine excitement in her voice warms your heart. We only had M and W (D’s son and M’s twin brother) every other weekend so imagine the excitement when the caterpillars arrived on a Saturday when they were with us. We promised to watch them while they were away and then 12 sleeps later when they returned the first place M would go was to the little jar. She was also here when a few of them emerged from their cocoons. It’s now been several months and they butterfiles have dwindled down to two, but the two that remain love the habitat that my brother has created for them. He keeps wet paper towels and fresh fruit and flowers for them to feed and watches over them daily. He did after all make a promise to M to keep them safe.

One week ago D reached out to her ex to see when the kids spring break was. I’m not going to go into all of the gory details but the conversation ended with a text message that the kids would not be coming for the weekend. At the heart of the matter? D’s ex made the statement, “If you want the benefits of visitation you will need to start providing financial support.” We used to have the twins every other week. Then the ultimatum was delivered that we would have them every other weekend. There is never any compromise. We are completely at the mercy of the ex who is also the “bio” parent. We have dealt with the every other weekend. It hasn’t been easy. Two sleeps every fourteen is hard on D, it’s hard on my kids, and it’s really hard on M and W. They would drive 90 minutes on Friday and arrive about 6pm to have to turn around and drive 90 minutes back on Sunday afternoon to be home by 6 (as mandated by the ex). Then tball and soccer started and D was told they would only be down when there weren’t games that conflicted. Again no compromise, and we dealt as hard as it was with what we got. Now don’t get me wrong. D is more than happy to provide for the children, and when they are with her she meets their every temporal, emotional, and spiritual need. She also offered to pay educational, medical, dental or child related bill. Simply send the bill to us and we will pay it. Not good enough, because that would be a compromise right?

So for five days after the fight and the final text from the ex D sent a text asking how much money was wanted so she could see her children. She has yet to receive a response. Friday night at 6pm came and went and there was no pitter patter of footsteps through the front door. No exclamation from J and A of, “M & W are here!”. There were no forts, or trips to our favorite restaurant, or movies with popcorn, or checking on the beloved butterflies. I knew it would be difficult so I kept the kids busy. D had to work, and at night we planned activities that kept us moving forward. Despite this, there was still a hole. Sunday morning while cooking special breakfast (which I do every weekend for the kids) I kept thinking W would come around the corner and say, “Kyla! I smell bacon!” When I heard something in the hallway I assumed it was M running back and forth on all fours like a monkey. My assumptions were illusions and when I put the french toast and bacon and eggs on the table I couldn’t help but notice the two plates missing. Each of our children has a special plate they  made at color me mine. They all are different colors and they are used for every meal. Light green and pink and green were on the table. Purple and blue were not. Later while cleaning J’s room I couldn’t help but notice that hanging on two of his bed posts were two little super hero capes. One red, one blue. Each one with the boys names embroidered on the them. I asked J if he wanted to take W’s cape down to his room to which he replied, “No mom, it’s where we hang our capes”. I could not hold my tears back so I turned and left the room.

What do you do? What do you say? How do you fix something like this in a state where someone like D does not have a legal voice? Have you ever had that dream where you try to scream and nothing comes out? Or where you do scream but noone hears you? We have decided to find our voice in this. M & W need to know that we are fighting for them. We started a journal, “Letters to the Babies”. I am going to make it into a blog where we can write to them. One day we will hand them the letters and they will have a record of how much they are loved. In addition to this we are going to band together with others in our situation and those who support us and we will find a voice. It’s time that situations like this are put to an end. It’s unfortunate that we are not alone. This is happening too frequently and without consequence to those perpetuating the hurt to the children of the community. For now D and I live with the hope that M & W already know they are loved. We live with the faith that maybe just maybe there will be a knock at the door in ten sleeps. We live with the knowledge that we are doing what we can with what we have. We live with the determination to keep living, and to make J and A and D’s son J happy. Most of all we live knowing that we will see them again. We may not know when, but it will happen.

This morning as I walked down the hall past the butterfly habitat there was a flurry of activity. I stopped to look inside and saw two beautiful creatures flying about, their wings vibrant with color and their enthusiasm for life contagious. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps it was M & W’s way of saying, “We love you too.”