Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Heavy Tide

Gif credit here

Last week’s posting was missed due to being sick and tired—literally—a combo cold/GI virus for DD1 (ewwww) which I caught, and then had to travel for work.  Fun times.  Both girls are better from their colds after some TLC, thank goodness. 

I was hoping all would be well, but all is not well.  The ex is like a heavy tide, incoming with full moon/Halloween madness, and while I’m feeling better about it today—I’ll describe a little bit about how I got here.  Note: a random gift of a chocolate chip cookie from a concerned friend helped boost spirits, immensely! 

A couple of weeks ago, my DD1 came home from her dad’s saying she wanted to buy a training bra with him.  Yes, my alarm bells went off, because of the recent bathing issue, but I remained calm and responded neutrally—i.e. oh, well, gosh, you have training bras here, sweetie, and I notice you don’t wear them?  I know, she replied, but I want to buy a training bra with dad.  I murmured a noncommittal response, because even though my alarm bells were ringing, maybe I was overreacting.  And then over the course of our week end, we ended up putting a training sports bra in the cart at TJ Maxx, and I thought well, life moves on.

Then, this past Saturday, DD1 told me on the phone, ‘today, I bought a training bra with dad!’  I didn’t know how to respond to that, completely surprised, so just said—gosh, well, now you have one at dad’s house and some at mom’s!  And moved on with the conversation.

My alarm bells continued ringing because—1) I remembered that DD1 told me her dad still helps her with the bath a few days before they went over this past week end, 2) while DD1 was sick last week, she was better on Friday, and her dance studio was having a special rehearsal for their upcoming exams on Saturday, but her dad said DD1 was ‘too sick to go.’ 3) instead of going to the dance rehearsal, he took DD1 along for the ride for DD2’s gymnastics, then they went out shopping all day, 4) on more than one occasion, DD1 has told me “I don’t want daddy to take me to dance,” and in further conversations says she’s “uncomfortable” with dad taking her to dance,  5) over the last two years, the Ex has made it clear that he thinks DD1 doesn’t want to do dance anymore (read he doesn’t want her to do dance anymore), but once I footed the bill for it all, his protestations stopped,  6) at every phone contact with the girls this past week end, they clearly didn’t want to talk, at one point, DD2 started crying, said she was missing a movie that they were watching to call me (relating to the whole, you have to talk long to daddy because I don’t see you as much, but talk short to mom because she sees you all the time, BS).  7) so !@#$!@#$!@#$ tired of him putting himself before the children!  Knowing full well if I pulled 2-6 of this on him, he would be screaming from the rooftops. 


So, how I tackled all of this.

1) Got really upset and tried not to cry.
2) Drank two glasses of wine.
3) Emailed the play therapist, called my therapist, emailed the co-parenting counselor
4) When the girls came home, we had a nice night of fun, painting pumpkins and eating one of our fave meals the girls like (local style pork ribs—not processed, thank you very much WHO), and then I had a little talk about who the phone calls were for—NOT mommy and NOT daddy, but for THEM.  And it was fine with me if they wanted to talk with dad long or short, I know they love me no matter how long they talk to dad.  And if they talk long or short with me, it DOESN’T mean they love their daddy any less.  That if they want a short call, that’s fine with me, the short call will be—tell me three things about your day and I’ll tell you three things about mine.  Because that’s good phone manners for a short call, but of course they can talk as long as they want. 
And a couple of hours later, before bed time, I asked them, so who are the phone calls for again?  Us! they said.  Yay.  Let’s hope the message sticks.
5) I heard back from the play therapist who is more concerned about the bathing situation (than the training bra, phone calls, dance situation), because DD1 is developing and she needs learn about body privacy.
6) I heard back from the co-parenting counselor who said that she will continue to talk to him about the bathing situation.  That he has a need to be a ‘super-involved’ parent to make himself think he is a “good parent.”
7) I asked for clarification from the co-parenting counselor on how to empower DD1 to maintain body privacy—how will she know she’s entitled to privacy, if the Ex is so “super-involved” he makes it feel normal to be bathing her, and there’s no one else talking about the fact that she is entitled to body privacy and is supported in having it?
8) Play therapist also reminded me that Ex is just digging his own grave about the phone calls.
9) While DD1 will likely give up dance soon, due to the changing schedule being on one of the Ex’s days, she has expressed interest in another activity (tennis) and I’m happy to have found a SUPER affordable class where three of her little friends will also be attending, could it be any better for a 9 year old?
10) I will not have to put DD1 in the middle regarding her dance anymore—if she really wants it, is really talented in it—she’ll be back.  And it frees up our Mondays to be a lot less hectic at home.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Coparenting, ah, the JOY

Last week, I was fortunate enough to take a mini vacation and rendezvous with a wonderful friend of 18 years, and have our children finally meet (her DD will be 2 in December), and play and generally just relax, hang at the beach, play, eat, play some more.  It was so wonderful watching my DD1 play a monopoly tournament with my friend’s mom and hubby, only to beat them both, the little tycoon.  Must be all those girl scout cookies she sells every year.

Here’s some fun pics of our journey.  So much fun and fresh air and lovely times!

 On a hidden path down to the beach seen in the overlook below

 Scenic overlook down into a protected reserve
 A hidden beach off the beaten track, with DD1 playing frisbee with my BFF's hubby
  Checking out the Koi at the neighbor resort's pond

Swoon...let me take in these photos for a minute.  Swoon some more!  :)
Okay…so…cut to the coparenting joy part of this…in order for us to go on our lovely mini vacation, I had to pull DD2 from school; DD1 was on fall break last week, but DD2’s school was running classes as usual.  The kindergarten teacher gave us all of her make up homework, and I had thought we completed it all on in the airport in the beginning of our trip, only to come home and discover six more pages of practicing letters.  We finished the “o”s, before heading over to dad’s house to drop off (for the rest of the Fall break, and even though DD2 is in school, I always think it’s best to keep the girls together), leaving the “s” and the “q” for dad.  Keep in mind, there were six other worksheets that we’d already completed.

So just before going over to dad’s/grandma’s, DD1 suddenly told me she wasn’t feeling well, and DD2 had been coughing for the past three days.  In fact, at that time, I was pretty sure I was coming down with DD2’s coughity cough, but no biggie, no one had fevers up to this point.  I texted Exie that we were on our way to do the drop off, then, after driving for a couple of minutes, DD1 remembered she forgot her beloved blankie and horsey, so I had to go back and get it, and yes, we were late, 13 minutes to be exact. 

When we got to Exie’s house, he wasn’t home, grandma was there, and both girls were teary, fussy from the morning travel, the homework discovery, not feeling well.  I heard DD1 ask grandma if she could take her temperature, then DD1 gave me a big hug and scurried into the house.  DD2 was in tears, I think from all the transitioning (note to self, next time there is a vacation, plan for a longer time between home and heading over to dad’s house, plus I was totally stressed out about the prospect of DD2 having to do homework at her dad’s house and his likely reaction).

A few hours after drop off, I called grandma to find out if DD1 did have a fever, didn’t get through, and left a voicemail that if she could please call me back, that it was okay to talk directly about the children’s health.  And about 20 minutes later she did call, DD1 did have a low grade fever, but DD2 was fine, I talked to DD1, she sounded pretty chipper for having a fever, and all was well with the world.

Then the mountain-out-of-a-molehill email came the next day.  Beginning with “I'd like to address some items related to the children's recent trip with you and communication.”  Which fed into some lovely commenting that I was fifteen minutes late dropping off the girls.  Demands on how long the children have been sick, that they said the baby we visited was sick and that I need to communicate better about the details so he could know what details to tell the doctor if he had to take the girls to the doctor (he never did take them, maybe because they were better w/n 24 hours?).  That I had left a voicemail with grandma saying that it was okay to talk directly to each other about the children’s health but that wasn’t standard practice.  Also how cramming homework in right before going to grandma’s house wasn’t in the girls best interests, etc etc etc, on and on.  And because the children were sent to his house sick with fevers, maybe they’d get the homework done, maybe they wouldn’t.

Le sigh.  I knew the nasty email would come as soon as I dropped the girls off.  I know that taking the high road is my standard practice, but I still cringed knowing what was going to come.  (How many times has he been late, how many times have the girls told me ‘daddy fights with grandma,’ ‘daddy says I’m stupid,’ etc etc do I hear, and do I send the nasty email?  No.  Because it will only make matters worse for the girls and for me in opening up another debate and round of accusations, ugh.) 

I took many deep breaths after receiving the email, reached out to two of my trusted friends, ran my draft response by the play therapist and figured out how to respond in a way that nipped it in the bud.

i.e. 1) DD1 started coughing last Saturday, DD2 last Tuesday, no fevers, which was noted in the parenting notebook.
2) We texted at 12:02pm that we were running a little behind due to airport transportation, then had to return to the house to retrieve DD1’s blankie.
3) yes we are allowed as parents to contact caregivers for updates when the children are sick, this was a great reminder of that.
4) DD2 did most of her homework prior to leaving for the trip.

Which led to some follow up questions of mine—did DD2 stay home from school?  (He never answered that, I had to call the school to find out, ugh).

Was he home with the girls when they were sick?  (again no answer, but I expected that.  By decree if one of us can’t be with the girls for 8 hours or more, we do the ROFR to the other parent).  Whatever.

I guess the best thing is—I didn’t hear back from him on any of these points.  The mountain was shoved back down to the mole hill.

It’s a shame it has to be this way.  I long for the day when it’s not.

When I talked to the girls later that day, they both sounded much better.  Is it terrible that I just long for them to come home already?  Yes, I know on that high road that I drive on, that the girls deserve quality time with both parents.  I can’t control what happens at his house.  I have to concentrate on what happens at mine.

I need hugs.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Image credit <here>

Today’s grateful post:

1)     I’m in charge of a work event that has been months in the planning.  We are now at the day before it’s happening and while I’ve been running around really stressed out, today, I’m very zen and am looking forward to it going off tomorrow.
2)     Tomorrow after said work event, the girls and I are getting on the plane to rendezvous with my BFF, her baby who will turn two in December, and her hub and her mom.  We are staying at a vacation rental and I’m looking forward to five days of beach fun!
3)     My hubby, who has been driving me crazy lately with his work stress, but I’m still thankful for his support and his love.  Yesterday, he brought home dinner, made it ready, then cleaned up afterwards while DD1 and I rushed out the door for her girl scouts, and hung out with DD2 to make sure her tummy felt better so she doesn’t get sick for our mini vacation!
4)     Exie stupid bath crap has been addressed via co-parenting counselor.  No opposite-sex parents to give girls a bath since they’re getting older and able to take baths.  Exie blew up about this again, but I just referred him to the co-parenting counselor, because I don’t have to deal with his b.s.
5)     Last night, I had a candid talk with DD1 about everything under the sun.  Something that has been nibbling at the back of my brain—about reinforcing with the girls that it’s our job to take care of them, not their job to take care of us.  And DD1 said, but that’s how I am, mommy, I love taking care of you and dad.  And I told her she has a huge heart and I know she loves us, but again, it was our job as parents to take care of her. 

I told DD1 that when she and DD2 are at mom’s house, they get to talk to dad as long as they want on the phone, because I’m glad they can talk to him, and also because I know that when they talk to dad, they don’t love me less.  That I know her heart is big enough to love everyone in her family.  She immediately knew what I was driving at, because she’s like, yeah, I know I talk short with you, mom, at dad’s house.  And I told her I don’t mind, that I know she loves me, and I told her I worry that when she cuts off the phone with me at her dad’s, she thinks that if she’s short with me, it will help dad feel like she loves him.  And if that’s the case, it’s dad’s job to work through that, not her job to take care of him.  She got really quiet and introspective about that,  my sweet caring soul DD1.  Actually, I’m not sure I’m grateful about this situation, but I’m grateful that I followed my instinct to talk to her about it.
6)     I think I found a girl scout troop for little sister to join.  She’s been following big sister around for four years, so exciting to have her own troop!