I cried with Ralph Angel while catching up with Queen Sugar this weekend. It may have seemed like nothing to most people, but I knew from the moment Ralph Angel signed Blue’s permission slip for the zoo, that it would be an issue. It still may seem like nothing to most people, but for me this part of the storyline is the perhaps the realist depiction of a child custody struggle that I have seen in my lifetime. As we watched Kofi Siriboe’s character struggle with the fact that he had to ask permission of someone else in order for his son to do something as simple as take a trip to the zoo, I understood his pain, because it’s one I have endured for the past five years (could be more-I realized I blocked a lot of that time out of my memory).
As he replayed the scene over and over in his mind, the belittlement he felt as a father (I imagine) built into anger as he knew he would again have to accept another blow, swallow his pride, and ask Aunt Vi if he wanted Blue to be happy and go. I feel this most days as a mother.
Because of my own circumstances, I never give much thought to men who are denied custody of their children. Instead I always pray that people are able to work things out, when I overhear a man speak of pursuing such because I do know what that pain feels like as a woman, that awkward feeling of trying to explain not just to others, but also to your child, the schools, to anyone you may date, and hell even yourself at times. Not to mention the time factor- the time you miss of the child’s growth process, the time you try to make stand still because they can’t be there to partake in whatever it is or you can’t be there, or the times you simply just miss because guilt does not allow you to enjoy whatever it is without that significant person being there. To me it’s almost like losing someone.
When Ralph Angel finally explained how he felt to Aunt Vi and broke down crying, I broke down with him, because I know how hard it is to walk around with that load every day, feeling like you are going through the motions, only for someone else to tell you you’re not good enough to take care for a child you brought into this world…but you are still expected to support them.
Fortunately for Ralph Angel, he can spend every day with Blue, just enjoying the little things, but for those of us who did not lose custody to a family member within our family, things can get rough. Daily I am baffled by how I was denied custody on the grounds of what the typical American family looks like, when I know nothing of the sort and neither did the majority of my ancestors, yet, that is how my situation was judged.
I commend Ralph Angel for embracing this scene so well. Child custody cases can leave one with no self esteem or confidence. Women are automatically expected to be good mothers, but the court of law determines whether that is so. I never dreamed my tv crush would one day be expressing my all my hurt and pain on such matters on screen, but if anyone has ever been able to capture and embody that hurt, it was him. I had to pause the show and gather myself before continuing….I’m glad Aunt Vi, was loving enough to understand and not put her own agenda before Blue’s happiness and childhood.