Monday, December 5, 2016

The Rather Anticlimactic Solution to Winter




Image credit here

Quick re-cap:  The girls winter break schedules are slightly different this year, complicating the interpretation of the decree of sharing the time by halves.  Further complicating matters is that Christmas falls on a mom week end, which the Ex vehemently objected to. 

Summary of compromise:  With the help of our coparenting counselor (and not my first wish) I offered to switch the week end so he could have Christmas Eve day and Christmas day (each parent has time on Christmas day) and girls would be with me for New Year’s week end.  I did ask for a couple days before Christmas, because the week end preceding Christmas is a dad week end, DD2’s break starts that Monday, and I knew the girls wanted to get some Santa cookie-baking with their BFFs plus holiday sleepover in.  I offered this at the end of October, and the Ex managed to drag it out through last week.  (Original conversation of winter break started end of September/beginning of October).

The Process:  The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, he sent one last email—that while he had “a problem” the dates because it “gives” me “days leading up to Christmas,” he “didn’t want to drag it out,” but also “wanted to confirm the dates before agreeing.”  I sent a positive, thanks for considering this response, yes these are the dates, I understand the difficulty as this wasn’t my first choice either.  And then I never heard from him—actually, technically still haven’t heard from him.

Le sigh.

I called the coparenting counselor, but couldn’t get a hold of her, because as it turns out she was traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.  So, I sent one more check-in email over the Thanksgiving week end.  Tuesday after Thanksgiving, I still haven’t heard, so I do the, “if you have no further objections, I’ll proceed with the plan as guided by coparenting counselor” email.  I hear nothing back, no objection mentioned.

So…then, I’m stuck, do I go ahead and schedule work vacation/staff vacations?  Do I invite the girls’ BFFs over, do I really have the days?  Or is he planning something (which isn’t far from reality considering our lives past.)

(This is where I’d really like some antiEXiety medication. !!!)

I put in another call to the coparenting counselor and finally forward the email conversation/compromise to my attorney.  The next morning (this is now last Thursday), I finally hear back from the coparenting counselor, who tells me to send one more email, ie If I don’t hear back from you by 5pm, I’ll understand you’re okay with it.  So I do that.  Then, I hear back from the attorney who says, go ahead and plan, you gave him ample notice, it’s fine, it’s done, just confirm with him later.  (and I think, poop! I already sent the 5pm email and didn’t have to!).  However, I still don’t hear back from him by 5pm, so I figure now that I’ve got confirmation from the attorney and went with the coparenting counselor’s guidance, I’m good to go.  So at 6pm on Thursday, a good three months since we first started talking about Winter timesharing, it was finally done.

Good grief!  I’m semi-laughing at the absurdity of this!  Mostly just tired.  And in the words of my friend who has an ex with challenges similar to this—he’s just being a big ole obstructive poophead jerk.

However on the brighter side of life—I really am grateful that our house is decorated with Christmas –the girls helped me decorate the tree, the lights are up in the carport.  And bonus, DD1’s girl scout troop submitted their holiday wreath to the County Christmas contest, and they won the Judge’s Award, yippee!!  We’re taking the girls down to see it on Saturday.  Both girls marched in our little town’s Christmas parade, and they already wrote their letters to santa, swoon.  I’m hoping to squeeze in a Santa visit at some point, lol. 

I absolutely do love this time of year!  And while I’m sad the girls won’t be waking up in our house on Christmas morning to check their stockings, they will be spending time with us, and now that we have extended time over New Year’s, their step-grandma is coming to visit and stay with us.  So fun times!!

So there’s love and goodness in the world that I can be thankful for. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankful




Image credit (here)

The holiday season is upon us, tomorrow is American Thanksgiving. 

I am thankful for attending my little sister’s wedding this past week end, and reuniting with my sisters from long ago.  These women are my sisters of my heart, we met 25 years ago and life has never been the same.  Through it all—the ups, the downs, the in betweens…they’ve always been there.  And collectively, our little sister who is twelve years younger than us, is as much as our little sibling as a ‘real’ family could be.  We’re so happy for her and her new hubby, and for all the joy and love and laughter that their wedding brought to our lives this past week end and for the future to come!  I am thankful for my chosen family, scattered across the united states, far from my eyes, but always in my heart.

I am thankful that tonight I’ll be busting out my mother’s and my grandmother’s Thanksgiving recipes and prepping for the big Thanksgiving feast tomorrow.  Since my mother is so far away and physically unable to travel, and my grandmother passed long ago, I feel like they’re with me when I’m cooking the big dishes, especially when my daughters eagerly help me crush up the pecans for part of the Thanksgiving day feast.

I am thankful for my two daughters, for their silliness and love and caring and eagerness to learn more about the world.  I’m thankful for bedtime prayers with them, for saying goodnight, and for waking up and sleepily putting their hair in ponytails for school.  I’m thankful for the way they help feed and care for our huge puppy G, and also how DD2 is carefully growing lettuce in her garden, every day checking the new sprouts and wondering how tall the seedlings will grow.  For DD1’s careful consideration between embarking on tennis and pursuing this instead of dance, or reading her favorite book, or texting with her friends on her iPod, shrugging off holding my hand in the parking lot, but then also asking me to tuck her in at night. 

I am thankful for my hubby, who accompanied me to DD1’s music recital the other night, shaking hands with the girls’ father and sitting with DD2, and being kind and supportive.  I am thankful for his love and kindness and for the seriousness that he wears his stepfather role, the seriousness that he takes on in providing for our family, and for the thoughtfulness and love he gives to me and the girls every day.

I am thankful for my job, even though it’s been a big pain in the a$$ lately with increased responsibility, lol, but on a more serious note, I’m thankful that I’m growing as a person who is consciously supervising staff and in trying to help others with new initiatives to reach out to the public.  And that through the craziness of all my personal life changes, my job has been there like a solid lifeline, allowing me to grow professionally at the same time giving me the means to support my little family.

I am thankful for my chosen family here where I live, for being able to celebrate DD2’s BFF’s birthday this coming week end by watching Moana together and having a girls’ sleepover, woot woot!

I am thankful that my neighbors aren’t mad at me (or at least they’re keeping it to themselves) for not taking down my cheesy Halloween lights, because I’m going to replace them with Christmas lights anyway, on Friday.  And I’m thankful we’ll be able to get our Christmas tree on Friday, too!

I am thankful for this moment right now, even though I’m going to have to rush out of work like a bat out of H E double hockey-sticks, because my after school care fell apart and five girl scouts are showing up at my house in a couple of hours.

I am breathing in this moment of thankfulness in a sea of craziness and storms.  Because at the end of the day, I am thankful for the love I have in my life—from my family and friends.  Each year, I really think it’s getting better, and I’m so thankful for that, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Leaving on a Jet Plane

An impromptu ladies trip has come up--my sister from another mother is getting married. And actually, two other close sisters, the bride, and two moms, plus me, will all be together for the week end, which is so so so awesome and a balm to the heart, considering what's been going on in the country.  Looking forward to a week end of #nastywomen celebrating love, kindness, and hope for the future.  Hugs!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Talking to my 10 year old daughter after the election

I was strong with my DD1 this morning--who was watching the election last night closely--telling her that while the president-elect is someone she didn't support, he will still be the president of our country, and it's okay for us to disagree with his views, that's our right as citizens. That it's important for us to stand up for the people we love, no matter what. And she totally agreed, and then asked to play pokemon Go, lol. 
 
And after I dropped her off at school, I broke down in tears, because I want my daughters to grow up knowing they are smart, capable, and it is their constitutional right to have their contributions measured on their merits. That being judged or mocked for what they look like over their capabilities as a human is ridiculous at best and disgusting at worst. That being groped by some jack!$$ who thinks he can just grope women is NOT normal, but a crime. I broke down in tears because as a non-white citizen who was not born in this country, and as a domestic violence survivor, I saw how the majority of the country rallied around him. 
I remembered what FLOTUS said--it's painful, it's hurtful--that he boasts about assaulting women. His rhetoric is hurtful. And i'm trying to get to a place of peace--but i'm still here, the non-white citizen not born in this country, adopted by a gay dad who came out when I was 3 years old, and he and my stepdad died in my teens. The same non-white citizen who works for state government and who is raising two non-white daughters to be open hearted and open to learning about the world, to respect themselves and others. So it's painful.
p.s. I'll get to love and standing in the light soon, but right now I'm so very sad.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Winter (Time-sharing) is Coming




Image credit (here)


Good grief.  Why am I surprised, when I should know by now that it’s not a surprise?  Insert (Wall and My Head Banging Against It) here.   
(p.s. and yes, I did put a picture of Jon Snow up there so I could have some eye candy, lol)

So the facts:  Christmas happens to be on a mom week end.  New Year’s is on a dad week end.  The girls winter breaks unfortunately do not align, one starts a week before the other, they overlap for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, then the other extends through the third week after New Year’s.

By decree, we split the winter break by “halves.”

And on the special holidays of Christmas and New Year’s themselves, we share by sending the girls to spend some of the time with the other parent for five hours.

The proposal:  Because of the way the breaks fall, I came up with a plan that equitably balanced out the three different weeks, and at the same time minimized the back and forth.  Because even though the girls are getting older, DD2 still has transition challenges when we’re present at the exchanges (i.e. cries her little eyes out), and the easier we can make it for her, the better.

So in the spirit of keeping things simple, I even threw in an extra day and a half for Dad for the week after New Year’s.

I ran the plan by the coparenting counselor, she said, good luck, send it to him, and see what happens.

The response:  At first, it was, I’ll get back to you by the end of the week.  Two weeks go by.  Then another email, saying I’ll get back to you by the end of the week. Another week and a half goes by. 

I check in with the coparenting counselor and she advised to give a deadline.

I follow up with the an email, saying, thanks for discussing this, if I don’t hear from you by X (two days later), I’ll understand you’re in agreement and will plan accordingly.

Within two hours, I hear back, and he’s having a hissy fit because Christmas is on a mom week end this year and he wants it, because Christmas was on mom time last year. 

My first reaction:  Good grief.  We split the day, deal with it.  Days fall on days and that’s just how it is, i.e. because of how Halloween has landed on the calendar for the last four years, I've had to wait around for your late a$$ to return the kids so I can squeeze in a half an hour of trick or treating before everyone shuts down.  Do I complain and DEMAND changes?  No, I buck up because I’m a damn grown up.  (okay and to be fair he was actually five minutes early this year, yay).    

I checked in with my attorney, to make sure I wasn’t being a total jerk, and she said, no, you’re not being unreasonable for not wanting to give up your week end, and by the way you’re already giving up part of your week end because Christmas is on a week end! 

Okay.  Feeling confident.  Understand it might be time to put my foot down.

So I book an appointment with the coparenting counselor the next day, and in I walk with a December calendar and a January calendar all marked to show how awesomely fair and generous I was being.  My back is up, I’m ready to hold the line.

And then she says, Jane, look, if all he’s wanting is Christmas eve, and you really did have Christmas Eve last year, why don’t you think about giving it to him?  And then make a schedule that works for you for the rest of the break, because we all know he’s too disorganized to figure out the rest of it.

Me: 

And then

Me:  But my attorney said x,y,z, and I’m trying to minimize the back and forth for the kids and he even gets an extra day and a half in this first proposal…

Her:  Well, at this point it doesn’t really matter what your attorney says, it only matters if you two can agree on a plan.  And if you can give him this, then it provides an act of goodwill for the future.

Me:  (swallowing tears of frustration, because let’s face it, I’m always swallowing tears of frustration) you know, these acts of goodwill?  They seem to go down the toilet as far as I’m concerned, it’s not like he’s become easier to work with after FIVE (under my breath !@#$ing) years.

Her:  Well, yes, that may be true, but then when he comes to me about x, y, z, I can also remind him of these acts of goodwill (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist).

Me:  FINE.

And then we commence to make a new calendar, with lots of Fs to denote dad days (although in my head I’m thinking of another word, lol), and Ms to designate Mom days.

So where it stands—Plan 2:  I gave up Christmas eve, but still will have time with the girls before the week end so we can do our baking cookies for santa, and for the rest of the break, the back and forth is minimized.  And he doesn’t get an extra day and a half, and even though the days are even, I do have a longer stretch of continual time with the girls, so that’s nice.  I have a calendar all marked up to show that it’s equitable between the two of us, taking into account the two separate breaks, and keeping the kids together, and the coparenting counselor has the calendar, too.

I sent the proposal to him last week, with a request that he gets back to me by the end of this week.  (And per the counselor, when, er, I mean, IF he doesn’t get back to me, then I can send him another email saying, thanks for considering this plan, and since it seems you don’t have any problems with this, I’ll plan accordingly…)

So we shall see. 

Le sigh.  He sure loves his passive aggressive communication.  So let’s just hope this can all get resolved sooner rather than later. 

And now I'm going to look at Jon Snow again.

p.s. and while i'm all cavalier, this back and forth business takes a toll, and i really wish there was an anti_EXiety pill I could take.  I'm trying to be the bigger person but dealing with him triggers all of my PTSD around his threats and anger and violence and I'm so so so tired of being strong all the damn time.   One day it will get easier, right?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Happy day After Halloween!



We had an awesome, amazing, lovely halloween yesterday!  DD1 carved the "scary" face on the left, DD2 went for the "surprised" look on the right, lol!

And...in other news, lots of co-parenting poopy-ness going on with regard to winter break time sharing, le sigh.  More soon.

For now, I'm just basking in the happy halloween loveliness.  I hope you had a wonderful halloween!

Friday, October 21, 2016

I need a hug

I screwed up. 

I sent the girls to school today, thinking I'd see them Monday.

It turns out DD2 doesn't have school on Monday, so they'll be staying on with their dad through Tuesday, which is his visitation night, so that means they come home on Wednesday.  (I've always recommended keeping the girls together, even if one still does have school--which he reminded me of earlier today.  I'm all for one-on-one time, too, but maybe when they're a little older...)

Dammit.

I'm all upset and triggered and just don't know what to do with myself.

The good news--I was going to have to patchwork childcare in the morning, so now I don't have to worry about that.

The bad news, my DDs don't come home until freaking Wednesday.  And he's been mr. nitpicker scolder via emails and to my DDs on the phone, and they just take it.  The other night after he scolded DD2 for being "distracted" while talking to him (she's 6 years old for god's sake!  who wants to talk on the phone at 6 years old?!  All devices were off, no t.v. blaring like when they call from his house, good lord, so she went off on a random tangent about _the neverending story_, that's what kids do!), I held DD2 in my lap and said, gosh, sweetie, you know what you talk on the phone to your dad?  And she was like, uh huh?  I said, I know you do your very best to talk to him, and that's what matters.  She cuddled up to me even closer.  And then I said, I know that dad sometimes scolds you, but just so you know, I know you do your best and that's all you need to do.  Okay?  And she nodded and gave me a huge squeeze. 

Good grief.  I know, I know, there are worst things in the world.  I guess I'm just mad at myself, the queen of preparedness, that I didn't see this extended time coming.

So...remember all that progress I thought we'd made because of Back to School Night?  Well--he's back to nitpicky bull$$i++ty passive/aggressive email nastiness.  Poop.

Okay Jane, take a step back.  Deep breaths (preferably not when I'm thinking of poop).  Take it one moment at a time. 

I need a hug.  And...so I'm sending out hugs into the world, too.  Hugs, hugs, more hugs.