Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Two weeks! :-)

Can't wait and am so excited--two weeks away from the craziness.  Goodbye co-parenting drama, hello extended family and friends who live across the sea!  (Wait, isn't there drama with family trips, too?  hee hee hee, noooo!  just kidding.)  I am so excited!!  Wish us luck!  <3 br="">

Monday, July 7, 2014

summer vacation--the blues before the sunrise, i hope

Today, I am simply worn down by all the crappity crap.  I don’t know why I wake up each morning, thinking it will be different.  Isn’t that one of those common sayings, that insanity is attempting to do the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different outcome?  I feel like I’m in the hamster wheel of nitpicky and the spokes are made of blaming innuendos and accusatory comments.

Example 1: the children were out of school all last week due to fevers; while their energy level (when on the drugs)  and appetites were fine, they just couldn’t shake the temperatures.  So I stayed home with them one day (the others were his vacation days), and we knew the next day was his birthday, and by decree, the children stay with him from “after school until 8pm.”  Except with fevers all day, there is no school, and I suggested maybe he could spend some time with them during the day, rather than keep them up late, and let them go to bed at their normal bed times (7:30pm).  He said he would think about it, but of course in came the email that no, he would have them after school until 8pm, because by golly, it’s “his time.”  So having them stay up past their bed time so they could be with him for “his time,” trumps what’s best for the sick children.  Great.

Then, the exchange, which he fought me on forever, he had originally chosen a poorly lit parking lot, and I stood my ground on that one with the support of the co-parenting mediator, suggesting two other places with better lighting and more traffic, safer for the children (and for me).  He picked a third place, fine, as long as it wasn’t the original dark parking lot.  I get to the exchange parking lot early, notice there isn’t parking close to the grocery store entrance, so park further down the row, directly underneath a streetlight, plenty of empty spaces nearby and lots of lighting.  I text him exactly where I am located, and settle in for the wait.  Twenty minutes later (yes, late, whatever), he pulls up, drives right by my car and passes me, parks the furthest down the lane that he can, nowhere near streetlight.  Le sigh.  The exchange with the children went fairly okay, thankfully, some alligator tears from baby sister who normally perks up after a few minutes—and she did.   I also decided to distract them with a drive thru run at starcrack and kids hot chocolates, which gave them something to be chipper about and spread their focus a little.

However, big sister was more thoughtful and conflicted, and as I pulled up to make our order, she started asking me why daddy “gives you all his money,” and “that’s why he’s poor and you’re rich.”  I told her I’m sorry daddy feels that way, but he is a grown up, and so is mommy, and it’s our job to take care of her not the other way around.  Then she asked what the money was for, so I told her it is called child support and it’s set by the judge who makes the rules, and it pays for things like going to the doctor or baby sister’s preschool or her before and after school care.  Then she asked how we met, and I reiterated that when we met and had her and baby sister, that mommy and daddy loved each other very much, and then after a while mommy and daddy had big grown up problems, so big, that the best thing to do was to have a divorce.  Of course she asked me “what big grown up problems?” and I told her when she was a big grown up, I could talk to her about it then, but right now she is a third grader and I needed her to concentrate on being a third grader.  Lastly, she asked why she couldn’t just stay overnight at dad’s, because they were going over for the week end, and I told her that we had to follow the  visitation schedule, and she said that it wasn’t fair.  I responded:  The judge made the rules about when you stay with mommy and when you stay with daddy, and we have to follow the rules, so it’s fair because of that.  But even if it doesn’t feel fair to you, we have to make the best of the situation, because that’s how life works.  No matter what we encounter, we have to make the best of it.   (Mind you, this was all in the drive-thru!)

Then on the way home, I asked if they had a birthday dinner with dad, and they said oh yes!  It was yummy!  And I responded that was great! and so glad they had fun!  and I asked if this Aunty came or that uncle, or Uncle R who lives with dad and grandma.  And big sister said, oh no, Uncle R doesn’t talk to us.  He’s only allowed to talk to grandma or dad.  I had thought that was the case, so I didn’t push it, I just said, well, I know Uncle loves you very much, and when you were a baby, big sis,  uncle played with you all the time.  So even if he doesn’t talk to you, be sure to be nice to him and say hi.  Baby sister chimed in and said that he never talked to them, too.  Then big sister said, Uncle only talks to dad or grandma when they’re fighting.  And I said, what fighting, you mean tonight? And big sister said, no, mommy, don’t you remember?  You where there, when I was hiding under the table.

Cue to four years ago, dad had just kicked big sister on the ground at his mother’s house, and the only one who stood up to him was his brother.  A huge yelling match ensued between the brothers, with me and the girls hiding in the other room, followed by an abrupt departure, not the greatest memory and one I had thought DD1 had forgotten, but apparently not.  I didn’t know what to say, so I said, oh yes, I do remember, and Uncle R loves her and baby sister very much.  And by that time, we had arrived home, and the girls—obviously feeling better from their fevers—ran into the house and watched So you think you can dance with A for a little while before bed.

The following morning I woke up to a lovely accusatory email about how I gave the children diarrhea by giving them hot chocolate the previous day before dropping them off (?Seriously ?) and also filled with lovely misleading statements about how I parked in a completely different parking lot, nowhere near the grocery store, and that I was to show up at the ‘agreed upon’ spot and how he has made concession after concession, blabbity blah.  Because that email was not for my benefit, that is for the cc: of the coparenting mediator.  I responded with a two liner:  no spots near the entrance, parked at the end of the row leading to the grocery store, plenty of light and empty spots nearby, I thought that helpful to the exchange.

I find this all tiresome.  Writing about it is tiresome.  I’m sure reading it must be even more tiresome.  I’m so sorry to just be a sad, venting lady today, I’m so tired of all of this baloney.  I’m stressed, I’m not sleeping well, the kids are stressed because the timing of his ‘summer vacation’ means there are a lot of back and forth at the end of it, and they can’t make head or tails of it, they feel the pull of his emotional neediness and respond.  With DD1—she internalizes and mulls and worries.  With DD2—she is more like an energizer bunny yoda, but she feels it, too.  It’s really difficult on all of us, and it makes me so sad that one person who is so focused on his emotional neediness is affecting all of us.  I’m trying to see the positive to all of this, the whole being the change I want to see in the world, but it’s difficult to keep the eye on the ball, difficult to stay bright--our family trip is coming up soon, and it will be so nice to get away from all of this for a little while.  I’m so tired.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Happy Birthday, DD1!

Happy birthday to you!  I can’t believe that eight years ago I was able to hold you in one arm.  I love watching you grow and learn and be silly and love up your baby sister and learn some more (I am in so much trouble in a few more years)!  You prefer to be called “smart” over “cute” or “pretty,” something you came up for yourself in the last year, and that’s fine by me. 

Your heart has the capacity to love everyone in your family.  You throw yourself into giggling fits with your sister, you build forts out of the couch cushions with her, you like doing puzzles and games, especially the ones in the highlights magazine, and you also love being a brownie and helping your girl scout sisters whenever you can.  You whiz around on your scooter with confidence—last year you were not nearly so energetic with it.  Your baby sister follows you everywhere, even when you have sleep-over friends, and you still welcome and include her, too, because that’s how big your heart is (yay!).  Yes you get annoyed with her from time to time, but you also cuddle up with her, too.  Your teachers have only said good things about you—how you play with other kids and help them or always try and get the answer right.  That art is “your thing,” something you can lose yourself in.

You are learning to challenge boundaries and “the rules.”  You’ve become quite the negotiator and debater.  Le sigh.  Given our two families situation, I sense your inner conflict and do everything I can to give you room to work through it.  When you do get mad, sometimes you go up to your room and scream into your pillow.  And after you’ve calmed down, I sit with you how you need me or want it to be—with space or with cuddling, or even, a big carry-hug.  We talk calmly about what happened and why—how it’s okay to have our feelings but it’s not okay to yell at people or throw things.  Sometimes there is crying and lots of times there are hugs.  Yes, you are allowed to feel conflicted and yes you are allowed to have your feelings.  (And I worry and wonder if the reason you do not express these things at dad’s house is because you know deep down that it’s not safe to act that way there.)

Over this last year there’s been some big changes.  Our house, while the same house, looks and feels different—with A moved in and new furniture and rooms re-arranged and de-cluttered—and we are a blended family.  I see you spend time with A and bond with him—reading books, or going shopping with him, or helping when he’s cooking.  Sitting with him playing games or just talking, or asking for a turn to be carried.  It warms my heart to see this relationship grow.

The constant to these swirling life events through the years:  that I love you and am doing everything I can to provide a positive life for you, so you can grow up and learn somehow, somewhere, that to be truly loved, it has to come without a cost.  That we can be responsible for our actions, but we cannot be responsible for others’ actions.  Love is demonstrated by kind and thoughtful actions and behavior, not just words, and I hope this knowledge seeps into your skin through to your caring and sensitive heart. 

p.s. You did ask for an IPAD this year, but I’m getting you a kids android tablet.  You will have to read as much as you play on the tablet, and I can already hear your voice—“does reading ON the tablet count?” and am considering the answer. <3 span="">

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Update on the (boundary) drama, I seem to be saying that a lot lately, hmm...

We had an eye-opening session with the girls’ play therapist, and the things she was discussing helped me feel better about our situation.  No, I’m not going crazy for seeing and reporting Exie’s emotional pressure on the children.  Yes, I am doing the right thing for validating the girls (esp DD1’s) feelings about things—i.e. I’m sorry daddy feels that way vs. a flat out, he’s completely wrong.  And then softly influencing her to form her own opinions—i.e. how do you feel about that?  What makes you feel that way?  Do you know it’s okay to have feelings that are not the same as mom or dad?  (great, can’t wait when that backfires at 16, but whatever, lol).  Yes, we continue to let her have the space and time to figure this inner conflict out—what is her stuff and what is her dad’s stuff.  Yes, we are allowed to intervene if said conflict escalates at our house and behavior needs to be corrected, but we do not use the blame game.  We allow her to have feelings yet at the same time give her structure.  Easier said than done.  Like, how the heck do you DO that?  I’ll keep reporting back on what we discover.  (And I’ll keep looking at and listening to what you discover, too). 

And yes, DD1, especially my sensitive and smart DD1, will one day figure this out, and should this continue, Exie will be the one who pays for it.  And truthfully, introspection notwithstanding, of course I do not want him to ‘pay’ for it or have DD1 resent him (ok, fine.  maybe a little, with a big BUT ONLY if he continues acting like a douche).  What I KNOW is best for the girls is that he stops his crazy bull$**t and acts like a mature adult.  Here’s to hoping that the people involved in our case can assist—who see the bird’s eye view like this, can influence him towards change.  I know that it’s not my job anymore to discuss, placate, wish, talk, demand, beg changes from him. 

So regarding boundaries and what’s ahead:  yes, we need to put something in place that gives structure to the phone calls—they are not for HIM to push his agenda on talking and length of talking and to guilt the children about.  The phone calls or for the CHILDREN, not the parents.  Secondly, no, I do not escalate the ballet class, because of his stance on it at the moment—it has turned into a battleground, another tug-of-war, another conflict area that is not in DD1’s best interest.  Instead, our job is to help DD1 make her own mind up about things like this, and give her the strength to assert her voice and her boundaries.

Exie will be Exie.  We can’t change him and hopefully, he will improve—or not.  In the mean time, we do know what we’re dealing with and facing, so the journey into blended family life continues on.  One step at a time.  One laugh at a time.  One tear at a time.  Don’t give up.  Patience.  Be kind.  Wait, this is what I told our leaders to do in my last post.  I have to remember to give myself the same advice.  Look both ways before crossing the road, hold hands and stick together.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Let’s sue the President! Because, why not, we’ve got nothing better to do!

So several news outlets are reporting that Mr. Boehner is galvanizing a movement to sue President Obama.  One here from the Washington Post and BBC chimed in as well.

You know, because we don’t have poverty levels widening and thousands upon thousands of children crossing the border, or sexual assault running rampant and virtually unpunished, or moms getting prosecuted for murder for having a miscarriage unrelated to drug use, or a fierce debate on access to guns when we have yet another school shooting resulting in a death on our hands. However you feel about gun rights and civil liberties and gender and socio-economic disparities, where ever you land on the spectrum, there are serious issues in our country that we need to discuss and do something about.  Let alone the rest of the world.  Like civil wars in Syria or the lost girls in Nigeria, WTF happened about them, where’s the news cycle on that?

Wait, what?  Oh, that’s right, our wonderful politicians are too busy introducing and voting on 54 bills to REPEAL a law that is already in effect (yes, the dreaded health care law, which is, a law, the last time I checked—a real, bona fide law, remember how a bill becomes a law?  I’m just a bill…on capitol hill.)  Oh, wait, that’s right, it wasn’t REALLY 54, it was only 6, because the other 48 were to generally defund it or gut it or repeal just PART of it, so it doesn’t count.  Seriously.

So naturally, since Congress can’t stop the President’s initiatives through the traditional measures of passing laws (do we really have to sit and watch SchoolHouse Rock!—or ask them to have a mandatory sit down lesson on civics?), no these same people who cry about wasting taxpayers money, who in turn devote their time, effort, and tax-payer salaries into creating bills that have no chance of passing—well…now they want to fund a mother of a lawsuit.  That will take YEARS to pass through the legal system, because two political pundits thinks it’s a grand idea that if CONGRESS gives it’s blessing, the suit will have merit (see links at the very beginning of this blog post). 

Wow.  Just…wow.  Having spent tens of thousands on a lowly conflicted custody case, I can’t imagine the unimaginable cost of suing the President of the United States.  But by all means, let’s do that, while at the same time whining about our growing national debt.  By shutting down food stamp programs, because, hey, those poor people deserve it.  (And thank you so very much to you states who resisted it—and had the power to stand up and support your constituents.)

Yes, I realize this blog post has nothing to do with coparenting or divorce or custody or blended families.  But sometimes, I see a headline, and not that this one is any less egregious than the disappearance of #bringbackourgirls or other serious topics, I just can’t help pointing out how ridiculous our American politics look.  I swear if my children acted like this, told me they were going to “sue” the President, and spend millions to do so, I’d put them in a mother of time out and cry for shame.  Or if they decided not to DO THEIR JOBS and shut down their company, I’d fire them myself. 

Yet this latest headline is so ridiculous, I can’t even sit still.  Remember those cardinal rules we learned in kindergarten?  Hold hands and stick together.  Be kind.  Share.  Yeah, kindergartners are way smarter than the these educated 'leaders' who are running (amok in) the country.  /end rant.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Just keep swimming, OR how NOT to cope with Exie’s crap that he places on your child

Despite the tone of the blog lately, I’m actually a happy, energetic, extremely silly person.  I love people generally (when I’m not raging about crazy people treating women like chattel, I don’t love those people), but I believe in the relative goodness that exists out there in the world.  This was buried for a time, but it came back out—I remember after six months of my ex out of the house, my friends were saying, wow, the old jane is back!  And it made me realize how long I had buried my heart and soul in fear, and it was, indeed, coming out again.  You know, the whole surviving through crappity crap terrorizing and witnessing pet and child abuse and feeling powerless to stop it, until I finally got the help I needed to get the hell out.  In fact, that’s pretty empowering, but before I pat myself on the back, it came at a great cost—I lost friends, I made some really close ones, some friendships are forever changed, but I’m hoping that forever is a mutable word, since we still have forty or so more years (I hope).  I went to the brink of bankruptcy and survived that.  A good dose of anxiety and PTSD rides along my shoulders every day, the triggers at some turns fading, at others activated like a tsunami warning siren, or a fire alarm in your building in the middle of the night, but I digress.

Today, I am not happy.  And dammit, I so wanted to be!  I had an amazing dinner cooked by the hubs last night, some lovely panty tossing ESS EEE EXX, hee hee hee!! (okay sorry for the TMI, but I am a newlywed, after all). Yesterday, I was completely zen and dealing with the situation as best as could be. 

Then I get an email today at 12:17am, informing me that Exie asked DD1 if she wanted to go to her last ballet class of the term, to which she responded NO, and that he would not agree for DD1 to continue with ballet going forward.  Great news!  Because of course DD1 would pick spending time with Exie over ballet, that’s what she knows is expected of her.  And of course she will tell Exie she doesn’t want to go, after the one week end he had to do anything ballet related with DD1—her recital that took away time from him each day.  Guess who got a “concerned” email from Exie that very Monday morning?  Yay! Lucky me.

Did Exie talk to the ballet teacher or the director about “his concerns”?  Nope.  He is more interested in picking an activity for her so that “he” can be in control, than allowing her to continue one that she has thrived in(and he hasn’t paid a cent for) over the past three and half years, but let’s just flush that down the toilet.  Because, it’s all about HIM and HIS choices and HIS concerns and HIS feelings, and not about DD1’s.

So let’s just run down the list of how NOT to deal with Exie on the latest:
·         Sending a curse-laden email calling him out on his emotional manipulation of DD1.
·         Forcing him to support the activity, and too bad, I’ve chosen it, so he has to support it, and not only does he have to agree with it, he has to PAY for half of it (yep, that would go over really well).
·         Start calling him names and telling DD1 what an awful dad she has who would stop her from attending ballet.
·         Allow new husband to enter the fray and fight “fire with fire.”

Well, the first one wouldn’t accomplish crap, so why bother.  It might make me feel better for getting anger out into an email, but will it change his behavior?  Nope.  It will just cost needless emotional energy in the end, because of the toxicity that it would induce.

The second one, while a legal possibility, is not viable, because all it does is escalate the conflict, escalate DD1 to be in the middle, and force DD1 to go to ballet with one parent who completely disagrees with it and who will show disapproval every chance he gets.  So any positivity she would get out of ballet will be nixed with Exie manipulations.

The third one, the cardinal rule of never putting the children in the middle and making them feel bad about their other parent, is obviously a no-brainer no.  Vent alert:  why is it that all consciously intentioned single parents who love their children understand how much negative speak hurts their children, bend over backwards to NOT say anything negative, and yet the respective Exies just throw out the negativity like chocolate chips in a Nestle chocolate factory?  Seriously?  If I had a dollar for every nasty thing that was thrown at me, either directly or through the children over the last three years…yay, first year of college paid for, easily.  Whatever.

And finally, the last one—while I don’t have as much experience, because we are a newly blended family, I do know instinctually, and also listening to my therapist and attorney, excluding A from the equation is the best possible way forward.  A does not need to insert himself on the conflict.  I am the captain of the parenting ship, and A is my awesome, supportive, loving co-captain.  It’s hard, I think, maybe for men in general (I’m not a gender studies researcher by any means), to take the back seat, especially if they have alpha male tendencies of wanting to FIX things or SOLVE problems.  It’s been a challenging and rough process for A to learn that the best way at winning in a situation is NOT fighting, is NOT engaging.  Remember the old school rule that made no sense as a child—ignore the bully, because then s/he has nothing to work with?  And how much that sucked?  But with someone like Exie, that’s the best way forward, to not engage and respond minimally.  It gives him less power over us.  Unfortunately, by not engaging, Exie is now haranguing the children, which tears my heart.  I have to trust that is what our awesome play therapist is for—to help DD1 cope, and also how our positive house will give DD1 room to figure it all out.  That’s what the therapists advise.  Maybe I need to go back and re-read Divorce Poison!  L

So this is what I will do, instead of all those other four things.  I will respond to Exie that DD1 ought to have closure with her last class and note he does not agree.  I will note that the last time DD1 “took a break,” she requested to return, and will ask him to be open to hearing it should that happen again.  (I actually ran this by two attorney friends who think it’s a good idea).

Next, discuss with the play therapist, who appears to be well versed in Exie’s manipulations of the girls, especially with DD1, and is helping DD1 cope with the emotional neediness of her dad. 

And then, keep an eye open and move on, because I have two other fish to fry having to do with a special event and maintaining boundaries with Exie, and it’s likely more crappity crap will be thrown around.  Maybe not!  Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, right? 

p.s. I realize ending ballet is not the end of the world.  And maybe it’s not the end of ballet, maybe she will circle back or maybe not.  I’m lucky to have been able to send her there in the first place, I am not completely insensitive to the social disparities in our crazy world.  I think most of this post is being triggered by Exie’s need for control eclipsing DD1’s desires and interests, which is in turn a trigger to our world from before.  Rawr.  Baby steps forward.