June 18, 2017
The notebook has 200 pages, each imprinted with a leaf theme. It also has a red leather cover and a magnetic clasp. The title: Diary – Adam and His Daughters, Natalie and Ella. On the second page the girls painted colourful flowers, stars and hearts, and wrote: “We love you, Dad.”
In this notebook, I write down dates, exact hours and details concerning how I look after my children. I write about the meals I make for them (“cereal with hot milk, cocoa, a ham sandwich, tortellini with cheese and melted butter”), about the fact that when they wake up, they want to hug me endlessly (“because on dad’s lap problems don’t exist”), about brushing teeth, combing hair and getting dressed, about when I take my daughters to day-care and pick them up, about how we play board games in the evening and how my daughters, with flushed faces, constantly interrupt the game to tell me school stories, about making pancakes and baking cookies together, about reading The Little Prince in the evening and giving each other goodnight kisses. There are also entries about dancing spontaneously at home, my daughters’ progress in swimming and gymnastics, and doing homework (during which the girls sometimes cry). In a few days’ time, I’ll write an entry about the camping trip we’re going on.
Unfortunately, the diary isn’t intended as a souvenir for my daughters or as a recollection of a happy childhood. It’s for the court. It’s meant to serve as proof in my favour when the divorce trial and child custody battle begins. My sister-in-law heard somewhere that this makes it easier to convince the court of the existence of a strong bond between the children and the father. This bond is often assumed, due to preconceptions and prejudice, to be weaker than the bond with the mother.
My daughters’ painting.
My wife is determined to fight for my guilt to be written in the divorce verdict and doesn’t agree to shared custody. “I agree to you having contact with the children, provided that they’re not aware of your sexual orientation until they’re 18 years old and that they never meet your partner,” she has recently been repeating like a mantra. How could I agree to such a thing? What would this be like on a daily basis? Would I have to lie to my children every day and teach them to be ashamed of who they are? I want to be able to share important moments with the people I love. I want to show my children how to live honestly. I believe that such honesty will improve everything in their lives: their friendships, relationships, and the way they function in society.
I hoped that during the divorce we would be able to avoid endless quarrels and mutual accusations, but it seems I was naive.
I don’t know what to expect from the ‘high court’. To what extent will the life experience and private views of the judge influence the verdict on my parental rights? To what extent will my position be weakened by the fact that I’m gay? Will the judge focus on the children’s well-being or, like my wife, will s/he be blinded by homophobia? I don’t know whether the journal will help me or whether it’ll even be possible to include it in the case file. All I know is that the last word in my case, and the decision concerning how much time I’ll be able to spend with my children, will be made by the ‘high court’ and a complete stranger – rather than by me, together with the mother of my children.
A father should have the same rights to see his children as a mother. My daughters should also have equal rights to their father and mother. I don’t know if this will be possible. I’m filing for divorce, and my mind is filled with apprehension and anxiety.