What it comes down to is this: the whole legal wrangling is over. The judge banged his (figurative) gavel down yesterday at about ten after five and said that I was right. That felt like so much less of a victory than the one I had four hours before when I had stopped at home to pick up some paperwork and Peaches was home. She knew that I was going to court with her father and we talked about the whole thing. I explained to her that it didn't matter who "won" or who had to pay what money to whom. What mattered was that her parents were always going to make sure she was taken care of. And that no matter what my personal opinion of her father was (which I did not divulge), that he is her father and I expect her to visit him, love him, and treat him with deference and respect. She seemed so grateful to hear it, and after it was all said and done, we had a great evening.
We celebrated my birthday (a day late) with veggie lasagna (heartbreakingly good), salad (courtesy of Peaches) and garlic bread (courtesy of the Baby Goddess, anxious to prove her culinary skills). And the topper was a vegan chocolate torte that was amazingly rich and substantial without being unctious. It was topped with fresh berries of all sorts and was just all kinds of yummy.
And slowly, I'm unclenching. Coming out of the tension. Relaxing and realizing that it is all okay. Whew!
Okay...so I guess the shoulder devil is the one who's been flicked off.