Let’s start off with some positives—while this is the second mom’s day that I am alive without my mom, I survived. Also, I did pretty well at my work conference, having presented at three different events, representing our state as best as I could, and I think my mom would have been proud about that.
Secondly, my girls are growing up strong and tall and smart and sassy and loving and caring and kind and silly and loyal. I could go on and on. So that’s good too.
Now for the screwed up co-parenting world part:
Last Friday, DD2’s teacher sent a class message to all the parents that the kids were coming home with a mother’s day gift that they had been working on all year together. I was out of town presenting at the said conference, and when I returned, it was to an email from the ex saying that DD2 had forgotten the present, but it would come home next time.
So when I saw DD2, I told her I was excited to see the present, and DD2 started bawling, saying she gave it to Aunty (Exie’s new and generous girlfriend), because she was visiting and going back home, so they had packed it in her suitcase. I was baffled, having received the email from Exie and the teacher and figured there must be some kind of confusion. A suspicion did start to rise in the back of my brain, however, that perhaps Exie did encourage DD2 to give the present to his girlfriend, and I figured the best way to find out would be to apply a little kindness.
I wrote to Exie that it sounded like DD2 was a little confused, that she had told me that she’d given the present to Aunty by mistake, and also that I was glad the girls had a positive relationship with his girlfriend. That similarly, A has always treated their relationship different than theirs, has encouraged them to give him father’s day gifts, and would never accept a present where we knew they had made it for Exie for father’s day. Also, that I looked forward to meeting his girlfriend one day at a school event, etc, as the girls seem to like her and they really like her dog.
All in all, I felt proud of myself for going high instead of low.
Unfortunately, the response was a long-winded, well…actually DD2 “CHOSE” to give the mother’s day gift to his girlfriend, despite him trying to talk her out of it and emphasizing that his girlfriend is not her mother and DD2 wanted to give it to her anyway. (And another long winded response about how he would ‘think’ about me meeting his girlfriend, bringing up his past demands of how he wanted a special sit-down meeting with A to talk about parenting and I kept refusing—baffling, since they met at a school event, everything was fine. Exie does hang on to perceived slights and then applies them out of context.)
The thing here is that DD2 is a young child. Exie is the adult. That’s the cue where he steps in, if it actually did go as described, about appropriateness. The way he described is the best case scenario, however I have been a victim and now am a survivor of his emotional blackmail, so here we are. And then I remembered that I can’t control what happens at his house. He may not act like the adult, but I do.
And so the crux of the story is 1) I’m sad that I don’t get to see the present that my daughter worked all year on for me, 2) I’m angry at the double-standard that if the tables were turned (which they never would be, A would never accept a gift under these circumstances), Exie’s head would explode, 3) I’m sad that DD2 feels pressured to please her dad and his girlfriend to give the present to his girlfriend, overtly or unconsciously, 4) I’m praying that DD2 doesn’t end up with a spouse that she’s always bending over backwards to please in an unhealthy way, and 5) at the end of the day, I know DD2 knows who her mom is.
Adulting is hard. I’m going to cry that I don’t get to see this present and go to therapy to unpack what that means to me on Friday.
Then I’ll pull up my grown up pants and handle this like the grown up that I am. All the time praying that my girls grow up with as minimal impact of his needy, manipulative ways as possible and do not replicate it in their future relationships. Please god please let them be strong. #cry