If you are missing the kids when they’re with the ex, you are not alone. It is an empty, sad, lonely and scary feeling for most newly separated men and women. Fortunately, I do think being apart from the kids gets much easier over time, and single parents eventually learn how to cope and actually enjoy the time they have when the kids are with the ex.
That said, in some divorce cases, men and women might lose custody and have very little time with the kids. That is very different and much more painful than not seeing your kids for a few hours or a few days at a time. That’s what happened to Lisa Spitzer-Lawson, a mom of two girls, who went through a horrific custody battle. Lisa’s story is beyond inspirational, and her courage, love and strength is admirable. Here is Lisa’s story of the hardship she endured, and how she coped with what happened to her by starting a business to help other men and women who find themselves missing their kids when they’re with the ex.
Inspiration by Lisa Spitzer-Lawson
The idea and inspiration to create The Passing Coin came to me during the darkest period in my life. I was living in a toxic marriage, and I held this secret from everyone I loved, and knew that I needed to get out. At the time, I was a mother of two young girls and a stay-at-home mom living what many thought was a luxury life. I knew that it would have been easier to stay, but I chose to leave. I put a two-year plan together and enrolled myself in a nursing program, so that I could start a career and provide for my girls. Once I graduated from nursing school and found a job, I initiated the separation.
The revenge war that was launched against me was immediate and powerful. He was able to manipulate the system by making false accusations against me, which resulted in my losing custody of my two girls for six heartbreaking months.
When I look back, I made two very big mistakes: One, trusting that my ex would be amicable and always consider our children through the process. Two, I did not seek legal advice and retain an attorney prior to announcing I wanted out of the marriage. If I had retained an attorney, I believe much of the injustices could have been prevented. I would have protected myself, my girls, my assets and my rights, and I would have prevented my ex from using the system to punish me for leaving. It’s actually one of the first things I share with women who are thinking about leaving a toxic marriage and want some advice, especially when children are involved.
My marriage looked like we were “the perfect couple” who lived a fortunate and happy life. I don’t believe anybody would have thought that things could go so terribly wrong. At the time, I was on top of the world, I had just graduated as Valedictorian from nursing school and landed two really great nursing positions. In moments, my world fell apart, and I was faced with accusations that jeopardized the custody and well-being of my children. Unfortunately, as many know, with family court, your character, your truth, and your story does not matter until your case is finally heard in front of the judge.
My story took six months to finally be heard after countless delays and time constraints. That day gave me the chance to finally speak, face to face with the judge, and tell her my story. It also gave my ex the same opportunity, which resulted in her calling him “not credible” and stopping all orders against me. Eventually, justice prevailed and I was awarded majority custody of my girls.
During that period of time, I remember desperately searching for something that would keep my girls and I connected when we were apart. I wanted it to be something tangible, something I could kiss when we said goodbye, something the girls could hold onto when they were sad or scared, and know that I am right there with them. I wanted it to represent my unwavering love, our strength, hope, and the bond that could never be broken between us. I really never could find anything that spoke to me. I did buy St. Christopher necklaces for all three of us, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but still, it was a connection.
I decided we would make our own bracelets made of string and plastic beads that could spell out “I love you” along with our names. We wore those bracelets for almost a year until eventually, little by little, the string broke and fell off. I still have all of our bracelets and medals, and they are a constant reminder to me of just how far we have come.
The bracelets, the St. Christopher necklaces, and now, The Passing Coin, reminds me that life isn’t perfect, and challenges will arise, big and small. It reminds me that through those difficult times, I needed something constant to hold onto and to communicate a message of love and strength to my girls. It assured me that all will be well, and is why it is so important that I continue to carry on, stay the course, work hard, and continue to believe in this mission of mine.
When I was fighting for, what felt like, my life, I made a couple of promises to myself: 1) never again would I find myself in a position of economic powerlessness, as many women in my situation do. 2) I would one day build a company that would help people who were not only going through a terrible divorce, but also anyone who needed support.
I launched Gemma Raffo, which is the name of my Italian grandmother, who will be 103 this October. The purpose is to continue to create pieces that will forever keep those you love and care about connected. It is for people who want to give their love, courage and strength, and for those who need to receive it.
Lisa’s story means so much to me personally, as I know some men and women who are victims of an ex making false allegations against them, as well as Parental Alienation Syndrome. I believe these criminal acts are the most evil thing a person can do to their children. It destroys and ruins the kids’ lives. I find comfort in having faith in God that things always turn out the way they should, eventually. It just takes more time than we want it to, unfortunately. Lisa got her happy ending, which I love to hear. Hearing her story gave me hope for others who are victims of this hideous, wrongful, disgusting, disgraceful behavior of accusing an innocent loving parent of false crimes in order to take the children away from them. The Passing Coin seems like a comforting way for parents and their kids to cope with the separation, to stay connected, and to remember that they are always in each other’s hearts, both when they are together and apart.
Like this post? Check out my article, “When You’re Kids Are with Your Ex and You’re Home Alone.”