Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Keeping an Eye Out on Ladybug

So little sister Ladybug is this energizer bunny, loving, hilarious, jumping bean; she is either in a state of motion or fast asleep.  There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground with her, ever since the day she was born—I remember her little body in my arms, and she was trying to hold her tiny head up in the hospital (I think so she could hear her big sister).  She’s embraced life to the fullest and with gusto that I wish I could bottle, especially when at a late afternoon meeting and I have to force my head to stay on top of my neck, rather than sag into an impromptu slumber, lol, because hey, I’m old now, and naps are AWESOME!  Sorry for the digression.

So over the last couple of months, Ladybug has suddenly displayed different behavior—I’d say skittish, like a cat—much more shy around groups of people.  We stopped going to gymnastics last month because she was displaying big reluctance (which was weird, because when she started last fall, she loved it.  We even had her birthday party there in February and she had a blast).  Sometimes she said she would rather go to "swim lessons with daddy," and I responded positively and told her she could do both.  And despite the reluctance, usually a third or halfway through the class, she’d finally warm up and participate again.  Plus, being the energizer bunny that she was, I thought it would help burn off some of that energy, and since she twirls and somersaults in the house, perhaps doing so with thick padding would help.  Towards the end, she became quite vocal about not going, “I’m scared mommy!” to which I would react with curiosity, “what does it mean to be scared?,” “does anything bad happen?” and I’d struggle forward saying we had signed up, so we had to follow through, and mainly so I could show Ladybug that during that 45 minutes of gymnastics, nothing BAD happened, no yelling, hitting, hurting, etc., I was hoping she could see with her own eyes and ears and body that she was okay.

Cut to the last lesson where she just sat on the mats the entire time, while the other children were bouncing and laughing and having a lovely time, and I decided, well she’s miserable, I’m miserable, let’s take a break. 

During this time, I also noticed when we went to a new place where there were lots of people, she would hide in the back of my shirt, clinging like a baby koala and refuse to let go, or if she did, her face hidden in my side.  And while my inlaws were just in town (the girls LOVE them!  See my last post), when they first arrived, Ladybug clung to me again repeating she was "shy."  After 20 minutes or so, she warmed up and was fine, cuddling, playing and laughing with them with her usual gusto.

I talked with the girls’ play therapist—who says not to worry, it could be just a normal phase with Ladybug, because kids can do this—and as long as we react with curiosity and support (rather than punishment or negativity), she’ll likely get through it.  That because Ladybug was so extroverted before it seems like this huge change, but really, it could be just a normal phase that many kids go through.  (Squirrel didn’t, which is probably why it seems like such a surprise to me.)

Well…then the the girls came home from a week end at dad’s on Monday, and for the first time in 2.5 years, Ladybug said she was "shy" around A when he got home and was reluctant to be around him.  We assured her that A loved her and did our best to respond positively.

Ladybug still seemed upset though, and during the phone call with dad, she was audibly sad, and dad asked her what was the matter, and she said she didn't want to tell dad, because she was afraid he would 'get mad at her.'  Dad reassured her that he wouldn't get mad at her, and then she said she felt shy around A, because she hadn't seen him "for a long time."  Dad then repeatedly asked her if "something happened with A," to which she said no, repeatedly, then she wanted to get off the phone, and dad asked her if "someone asked her to get off the phone," to which Ladybug looked at me (confused) and said "no."  Then big sister Squirrel got on the phone and explained to dad that Ladybug was just shy and she always warms up later (because Squirrel always feels likes it her job to take care of dad’s worries…).  Squirrel went on to have a normal phone call with him.

Before the in-laws left, who are veterans at this blended family business (20+ years, and both their youngests were around 10), I touched on Ladybug’s skittishness with them, wondering if all the back and forth between the two houses was finally getting to Ladybug.  That up until now, Ladybug just went with the flow, because she was a baby when the Ex moved out, and she didn’t know any different.  Back then, it was big sister Squirrel who was grieving and having a harder time adjusting.  Now, four years later, Squirrel has her brownie scout friends, her music friends, her dance school friends, her school friends, lots of activities and support around her, and she’s older, more able to tolerate the two houses situation.  I wonder, if perhaps it’s little sister Ladybug’s turn to struggle, to not really be able to settle into each house because of all the shuffling, and if the stress of the schedule is wearing on her.

My MIL confided in me that she had wondered the exact same thing—they they both thought the middle of the week overnight is so disruptive to the busy school schedule and maybe Ladybug is having a hard time settling in.

And then not to assume, but I also worry about the negative speak that may be happening, overtly or inadvertently at their dad’s.  Ladybug mentioned that dad talks about A, and knowing what I know about Exie’s manipulative nature, my red flags are going off.

I brought these concerns to both the play therapist and the co-parenting counselor, and of course they are saying don’t assume, it could be a phase, etc. etc.  I hope they will address this with him, and in the meantime, I remain vigilant and supportive of both girls.  I think these counselors listen to me, but sometimes…I wonder.  And sometimes I think, I am the only person who truly gets and understand the length and breadth of his crazy.  :(

/rant  p.s. So… It turned out the co-parenting counselor had scheduled the Ex to come right after my appointment.  When I learned of that, I made it clear with her that while I am willing to put on a brave face at public events at school for the girls--which do go well, because I do that for the girls' sakes, I was **very** uncomfortable with being in the same place as him and that my PTSD was triggered, and I would need to leave early to be sure I didn’t see him. She apologized and said she didn't think it would be a big deal, and wouldn't do that again.  I left 20 minutes early.   And went to my personal therapist.  I’m okay with this now, because she said she wouldn’t do this again, but part of me was like, seriously?  You may see this educated, well-dressed man in front of you, so you assume he’s not as bad as I had experienced, and I will do what I need to do to be flexible and work with him for my girls’ sake, but I will NOT and do NOT have to be around the person who perpetrated his anger outbursts on us and threatened to put a bullet through my head.  NO.  Dammit.  NO. 

/end rant.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I love Staycations! (Or It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye)

The last week has been a whirlwind of activity—fun at the beach with our stepgrandparents, taking them sightseeing, eating new food they’d never eaten before (dim sum) that they loved.  I took my FIL surfing, and he caught three waves all by himself!  (He didn’t need me at all, lol.)  The girls had a blast swimming in the staycation pools with them, going to the beach, DD1 playing cards and monopoly and folding origami with both of them, and DD2 cuddling up with either grandma or grandpa any chance she could get.  We even fit in a girls day, DD1 has been asking to get a pedicure for ages, and in fact, we were going to do that earlier, but then I got the stomach flu (see barfmageddon ).

So Saturday, step-MIL, DD1, DD2, and I loaded up in the car and went and got our toenails done, then headed into town for some shopping (DD1 needs a training bra, GASP, and also asked if we could do that when grandma was here), lunch, and we all bought a new pair of shoes, too cute!  DD2 told grandma, “I really enjoyed our girls day.”  Awwww.

Meanwhile, Hubby and his dad went kayaking across the ocean to a little island that is also a bird sanctuary, a four hour outing, then they had their guys lunch, and we all met back up at the staycation condo for a swim.  And we played and talked and laughed and had a wonderful time some more.  I just love my hubby’s family so much.

Today, grandma and grandpa get on the big plane and head back home, and DD1 is being quite brave about it.  She said, “see you next Sunday!” because we Skype with them regularly, but like DD2 says, it’s so much BETTER when they’re not on the T.V.  I marvel at today’s technology that links us together with our people near and far, how I counted the days to see my grandmother when I was little.  The school year would take FOREVER to end into summer vacation and then FINALLY we’d make the four hour drive that took another FOREVER to get to our grandmother’s house.  I love that the girls love Hubby’s family—and again, since my fathers have passed, and so has my ex’s father, they have bonded with their step-grandpa like little opihis clinging naturally to the rocks by the sea.  And Hubby’s family has accepted the girls with all of their hearts.  Swoon.

I’ve been teary the past couple of days, in the face of their departing on the big plane.  I love Hubby’s family so much, which brings up some kind of primordial fear about losing loved ones, since my loved ones have disappeared over the years.  I’m sure it’s related to my adoption story, abandonment is something I’ve long struggled with, sometimes embraced, sometimes clung to, a pre-verbal, primal experience which is another therapy blog story altogether.

But what I was thinking about with my divorce and with building a new life—leaving behind family is the part we don’t talk about as much, or maybe we do, maybe it’s something I haven’t talked about so much.  I didn’t just lose a husband, I lost a family.  Granted a weird family, but one that loved me in some kind of way, for a time, all the same, and I them, but now those bonds are gone, due to lines drawn in the sand.  And I understand that his family has to stand by him, and it wouldn’t make much sense in any other way, just like my family stands by me, but it’s sad anyway.  And though the girls will have their bonds, I think somehow it’s okay to be sad and grieve, even though it makes sense to lose the mom who promised that I could bring the girls to see her if the violence didn’t improve, the mom who told me in hushed whispers how she was worried about his temper too, especially with how he treat(ed) DD1, the mom who cried and begged her son to let DD1 out of the locked bathroom that was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face when she was 3 and a half.  The mom who asked him quietly to stop shouting at DD1 after he kicked her in the stomach, only to become the target of his shouting.  She no longer looks me in the eye at exchanges and I wonder and worry about her…and I’m sad that she went on the stand and perjured herself, because of the lines in the sand.

I was thinking about my former BIL, who was the one person who stepped in when the girls were targets for their father’s anger, who bore the brunt of the nasty reaction that ensued and the invitations to fight and the whispered (and shouted) degrading threats.  At the final stages of our crumbling marriage, the girls were flower girls at the Ex’s cousin’s wedding--this was the last family outing we did together after he moved out, when I was still hoping that somehow he would change, he was in therapy, he would fight for our family and win.  I know the girls are in their wedding pictures, and I remember how happy, young, hopeful the couple were, how happy the girls were to stand next to the beautiful bride.  I put on a brave face, hoping somehow we would be okay, too.  Except then we weren’t.  And so a family was lost to me.


I am building a new family now, and it’s full of love and hope and hugs and no secret threats.  We are already making plans to see each other again, and hopefully some more of Hubby’s family will be here over the rest of the year.  Maybe I’m all emo because my own family is full of so much loss, and experiencing the fun and closeness that Hubby has with his, and by extension, experienced by the girls and me…just fills my heart up so much.  (Not that they don’t have their irritations with each other, and every family has drama, but they all get along and genuinely enjoy spending time together!)

And maybe I’m emo, because I’m sad of the loss from before and honestly, I’m scared.  Getting married again, I didn’t just marry Hubby, I married his family, too, and if I lost him AND his family, I would just be bereft.  The thought of that makes my eyes well.

I really just suck at saying goodbye.  I don’t know how people do it, they say goodbye and the world keeps on moving, never skips a beat, because they know everything will be just fine.  It usually is.  I say goodbye, and my heart trembles and I get all sniffly and worried and emo, hoping that there will be a next time, there will be a return, hoping above hope that “fine” really is what is normal, not the exception.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

CS Update

The hearing has been scheduled next month.  I internally did the math, and there’s a chance he may save $100.  There is also a chance it could go up $100, simply because of the new child support guideline formula.

The thing is, even after the new CS order is entered next month, let’s assume it will go into effect on June 1st.  Guess who starts kindergarten at the end of July, which would significantly change childcare costs and child support?

So we’re doing this hearing…for one month, maybe two months worth of payments?  Where he actually may have to pay more, but there’s a chance he could save $100.  Seriously? 

Now, I do not like to think that I have narcissistic tendencies—or any inclination where I think the world revolves around me.  But after talking with one my closest friends, one who is an attorney, this all seems like some weird unhealthy focus to F*(% with me.  Because otherwise, this is a colossal waste of time.  To which I say:  For F*(%’s sake, move on!!  It’s almost four years after separation, please move the F#C% on!!!!!!  Sorry for the swearing.  Seriously venting.

Or, maybe it’s not about me at all.  Maybe this is just his weird measure to have some kind of control.  Or a little of both—needling me and adding more stress to the world, along with trying to wrest some control.

Oh wait, I have to stop myself, AGAIN.  There is no “why” with him.  Exie is Exie, it’s just how it is.  Stop trying to reason with or understand the reason of the Crazy.  It’s not my job to understand or reason with him.  I’m no longer  part of the solution.  Old patterns die hard.


On the bright side, my inlaws are in town visiting, and the girls couldn’t be more thrilled.  They rode their bikes with grandpa, introduced them to the joy of bubbles and playing with our puppy, enjoined them to read bed time stories and tuck them in.  When they wake up, they’ve been asking, “Are Grandma and Grandpa here?” (unfortunately, not at 5:45am, since they are staying in a vacation condo, lol).

Makes my heart swoon.  DD1 asked to get pedicures with grandma and to go shopping for a training bra (gasp!!) so we are hoping to have a girls day, while hubby and his dad go off and do some guys type of thing.  Let the three day week end commence, starting tomorrow!  Yippee!!  I’m excited to take the girls to visit at the condo-tel, replete with water slides and swimming pools galore!

So I do feel blessed, despite the drama behind the scenes.  Concentrating on the good and love and hugs isn't so hard when you're surrounded by happy girls and a loving family. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

iVillage - Australia

I'm so happy to find out that one of my articles has landed at iVillage Australia.  I hope it can be helpful to someone out there--someone who might find themselves in a situation like mine was previously.  Hugs and love to you, where ever you are:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Nothing like a stomach flu and barfing your guts up until your face explodes (literally—I burst blood vessels above my cheekbones from all of that excitement) to give one pause to reflect on things and gain perspective.

The week started out well enough, then DD2 came down with a sinus infection and some wheezy coughing.  She’d been coughing since the week before last week, but it hadn’t slowed her usual energizer bunny speed, until the clanging cymbals stopped—cue to pediatrician visit.  Once on her prescribed medication, she was back up to speed and we were on the road to recovery, giggling, laughing, playing with the dog, when suddenly, whilst having a pleasant conversation with my babysitter, I had a complete and overwhelming urge to throw up.  Which didn’t stop for the next 18 hours.  Which led to an ER visit and two I.V. bags full of fluids, and anti-nausea medicine, etc.

But this is where the story gets better—hubby stepped up in ways I just didn’t know he could.  (In ways I’m not used to, because in my life before, I would have been subject to anger and blame for being sick, plus having to take care of the girls, house, work, etc., too…and in a weird sense, I didn’t mind it, because I was proud to be able to take care of everyone…)

So the morning after the barfing commenced, hubby woke up and took DD1 to school, then because DD2 was still on the mend and wasn’t going to preschool, the three of us loaded into the car and he drove us to the ER.  While the nurses were checking me in and doing their thing, hubby had brought along entertainment (read movies on IPAD with headphones) for DD2, and walked her around outside and was sure she had lunch.  Once home, hubby cleaned the house from top to bottom, disinfected kitchen, bathroom, door handles, etc.  Over the next 48 hours, he took the girls on adventures to play and eat and even to the aquarium, only to return home to clean some more and cook some more and take care of the girls.  While I was lying around sleeping.  It got to the point where they would send me pictures and videos and I was all sad I couldn’t be out with them together.

And what I loved about it—was how easy the girls just slid into listening and hanging out with their A.  DD1 asked me later that night, who do I go to, mom, if I wake up and I need something?  (Hubby was sleeping on the couch downstairs so as not to contract the evil stomach flu and to avoid ‘barfing so much that my eyes explode,’ lol) and hubby, said, come downstairs, don’t bother mom.  Lo and behold, apparently at 2am there as a kerfuffle, DD2 couldn’t find her baby mermaid that Nana (hubby’s mom) had sent her for Easter.  Me, being in a barf induced coma, didn’t hear a thing, but I heard about it the next morning, how DD2 was hollering in hysterics, and DD1 was calling for A, and he had to go upstairs at 2am and figure out where the stinking mermaid was and then all was well with the world.  (Ha ha ha!  Welcome to my world of parenting!)

By Easter Eve I had rallied, and was able to put the girls (and puppy’s!) Easter baskets together and hubby had to work, so off we went to Sunday school and church, plus an easter egg hunt for all the Sunday school kids.  I made the mistake of eating real food after the service, since eating crackers and applesauce was definitely old by then, but that was a big FAIL, so I’m back on my bland diet even today.  I’m just so thankful that I’m not barfing, the kids didn’t catch it, and we’re all back at school and work and life is back on track again.  And thankful for Hubby for being such a rockstar with taking care of everyone—including me.  (So not used to that. !!)

So happy, happy Easter!  I have a lot to be thankful for.  Yay!