Friday, March 27, 2009

How much time do you have?

When I came to France, I had left Ireland,under the impression that I was moving into a house that was been given to us to look after and do some work on, and that my father in law would help me find a job through his contacts. I very quickly realised that this would never happen.

The house I moved into on 2.5 hectares of land had no electricity or hot water, holes in the roof and the grounds were completely unkempt. The house had rats and was not suitable to be the living quarters of a family.

In my time there I replaced ceilings, helped plan the installation of electrical wiring , installed water pipes cut grass and trees and used a chainsaw, and a heavy garden machinery. None of which I was qualified to do but all of which I did thinking it was for the future of my family.

When the relationship between my ex and I broke down, I had no job, my level of French was minimal, my understanding of the administrative tasks involved in French life was non existent and I found many practices culturally very different.

Faced with the prospect of probably never seeing my son again or only in Summer time at best, I decided to stay in France for him. I was completely alone.

I had asked my ex for help in order to find a place to live, she refused. It was with tenacity and persistence on my part that I finally found someone willing to rent me a studio and I had no references no guarantees but I pleaded with the agent.

During the break up I got my first job teaching English.

My revenue Brut Global in 2004 was 3600 euros. I still had to feed myself and my son when he was with me, and pay rent and electricity.
In 2005 my revenue Brut Global was 7782 euros. Fortunately I had friends at home and had made some friends in France who helped out with administrative tasks, kept my morale up as best they could and encouraged me to stay for my son. In these two years, I was obliged to rely on others to get by, I visited the St Vincent de Paul in order to be able to eat. .

I obtained a scooter for transport and found finally a willing companion who has been my rock in a very challenging time in my life.
I am 1m80 which is a inch short of 6ft, and when I met my current partner I was 59kgs. There is a pic of me on face book. It scares me now when I look at it.

I had discussed often with his mother the fact that when I was established we would share the care of our son. The more established I became however the more reluctant she appeared to be. Dates that were made, were often broken and I could never be sure even around Christmas as to if and when I would see my son. She is incapable of sticking to dates or organising ahead.

I have paid his school and canteen always despite my earnings being so low. Oisín has always had enough clothes, toys, and food in his home with me, and I have often received him in shoes or trousers that are ripped and torn.

I have in the past 5 years, managed to hold down a full time job, to learn French and although I can speak well I wouldn’t consider myself fluent, certainly I am bilingual. I have also obtained my full driving licence, although driving on the other side of the road was a challenge for a while. I have continued to teach Oisín to communicate, to use English, to guide him as best I can. I quit smoking again for him in order to be there when he is older. I learned to swim correctly and I have become fit, all for my son.
I am now settled and I am a father again, one year after trying to get a divorce in the first instance. Finally Oisín has a sister and he is very proud and very loving toward her. I have succeeded despite my ex wife. Whatever issue she may or may not have with me, she has no right to use our son to gain leverage of any sort.

I have had no wish to engage in a fight or to disturb my son. My strategy in not asking for full garde was to be fair. My wish was to engage maturely as the good parents that we are. But this social inquest and my difficulties with the first lawyer, a friend of my ex’s father, who threatened me with prison, signal that the boy's mother and her family are willing to play politics with him.

Now there is the question of his sister who will grow up knowing her brother is 2kms away but she can’t see him and how do we explain that to both children?

I am not going away. I live in this country for my son, and now for the rest our family. I am the father of my son. I am doing my job. I am there for him. I will never let him down no matter how much other people may wish me to disappear. I am asking the French state and legal system to understand that in our case some form of shared care must be established. Every second weekend is not enough. I am open to suggestions, to innovations, to compromises and this I know in my heart is the way forward.

But whatever happens he will always be loved and soon it will be time to just get on and move forward.


Anonymous said...

dear Colm,

You re going through a bad time ..

when I read " When I came to France, I had left Ireland,under the impression that I was moving into a house that was been given to us and that my father in law would help me find a job through his contacts "

Beware of your impressions .. just look at the facts. Where on earth you're given a house and a job ?
please dont be too emotionnal..
Take care of you and your family

Anonymous said...

I m adding this link :

C'est une association
[Les Papas = Les Mamans]

Vous êtes un parent en difficulté au regard de l’exercice de vos droits parentaux, ou d’une manière générale au regard de la coparentalité effective :

Dans la mesure du possible nous vous invitons à nous contacter exclusivement par courrier postal ou électronique.

- Par courrier postal : Association [ Les Papas = Les Mamans ] 283 boulevard Chave 13004 - Marseille

- Par courrier électronique adressé à l’administrateur du site de l’association [Les Papas = Les Mamans] cliquez ici

Dans chaque correspondance n’oubliez pas de nous laissez vos coordonnées (téléphone mobile et fixe, si possible, pour que nous puissions vous rappeler, si nécessaire).

En cas d’urgence vous pouvez nous contactez par téléphone :

- Ligne directe du président de l’association [Les Papas = Les Mamans], Gérard REVEREND : 06-07-55-83-71

Hope it will bring a little help ,
dont show this if you dont want to ,bises

carrie said...

wow. i can really relate to your situation, i feel i've been through something very similar. i have never written about it so clearly as you have here, however.
my situation is kind of the reverse... my being the mother but having the father and his family try to eliminate or outcast me from my daughter's life and having to do everything on my own to get my life in order for HER. anyway, i relate.

Warrior said...

Welcome everyone. I hadn't written in a while so I wasn't expecting comments. To put it into perspective, when I left Ireland, I thought my life was hunkydory and I was starting out again, but that was nearly 6 years ago. The divorce....and shared custody will be the final letting go. I have a new good life, it's own issues need attending to. It's hard to be pulled into the past and try to forge into the future at the same time. Not impossible though. Nothing is impossible.
I promise Carrie I will be back to one of your blogs at some stage, I checked you out and you seemed so familiar :-). Do call again!

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