Work projects (exciting!) have taken me away from the blogosphere and the internet in general. And for the most part, parenting responsibilities have been keeping me happily busy, with no storms on the frontier. Until recently.
I keep hoping it will get easier. I don’t know what to do. I feel a little ill. I was getting tired of writing about every little accusatory b.s. b.s., but then it builds up into a weight that I’m unable to carry with grace and dignity.
I strive for grace and dignity. Today, I haven’t met it.
So I learned a couple of weeks ago that DD2 was invited to a school BFF’s birthday—that same BFF came to her birthday party that I threw earlier this year. She seemed super excited about it, the invitation came home when she was at dad’s house, but she said she didn’t think she could go. I didn’t push it, which in hindsight was wrong, but I thought it would work out since he’d been behaving well of late. I thanked the BFF’s mom over facebook and let her know that it sounded like dad had it, he’d been good about RSVPing for things in the past. Birthday party came and went and BFF’s mom let me know they missed DD2, and they never got an RSVP. (Awww! And Whatt??) She also told me she hoped I’d get a copy of the invitation, because she really wanted me to see it. So I sat on this info for a few days. I hesitated, but given the nitpicky and accusatory texts and emails about drying out DD1’s swimsuit, refusing to help the kids floss their teeth, demanding that I return items that I’d returned, complaining about DD2’s water bottle and demanding it be switched out—I just did it. I sent an email asking him about the party and asking him to please RSVP to invitations in the future.
To which he responded that he never got the invitation, and basically said, I raise your RSVP and trump you with neglecting to inform me about DD1’s tennis matches and class parties. To which I heaved a big sigh before biting my tongue. Of course I can’t ever hold him accountable to the little things. I have to remember to pick my battles. Because of course he dodges with made up suspicions and accusations. So I pulled up my big girl pants and responded with a polite “it sounds like we hear things from the children that are open to interpretation,” assuring him that no, there were no tennis matches, and the class party was a last minute request from DD1 for me to just help already. (No, Exie, I do not make up nefarious plans to exclude you, and yes, I consistently give you information about the kids’ activities all the !@#$ time—translated into three sentences of pleasantry).
Whatever. See? Two paragraphs of a big fat annoying whatever.
Except last Friday, DD2 was randomly upset about not wearing her necklace out to dinner (it was this fancy thing that DD1 had won at the arcade, I was only letting her borrow it for before we left the house), and when A was loading her up into her booster, she told him, “I wish I only had a step-daddy and not a real daddy,” to which an astonished A responded, “what makes you say that?” And she said, “I always get in trouble with my real daddy, I lie and break things and I’m dumb.” And he asked her, “What makes you think you lie?” And she shrugged and he said, “sometimes, we lie because we think that will help us get out of trouble, but usually we get in MORE trouble if we lie.” And she shrugged again, so he said, “Maybe you want to talk more about this to mom?” To which she just nodded and hugged him.
Except that on Sunday, when I was out shopping, DD2 made up this elaborate story about how Exie had traded in his truck for a minivan, but instead of a white one like Aunty K, he got a red one! And then started laughing and said, just kidding! And a heartbeat later she said, “daddy can’t afford a van, because he gives all his money to you.”
So that’s still going on.
I responded the way the coparenting counselor has advised, “Oh honey, I’m sorry dad said that. He doesn’t give mommy money, he’s gives money to child support—it pays for things like Dr. S. and food and stuff. Daddy’s following the judge’s rules.” Yes, it probably went over her head. But even my therapist says to keep reinforcing the facts. Ugh.
Except that when the mom of DD2’s best pal invited us for a sleepover next Saturday, she went to him first, because they have a positive relationship. I offered to swap another Saturday later in the summer. And when he responded to her in the negative, he referred to me as “the mother” can spend time with you, sorry DD2 can’t.
Except he always puts himself and his needs first. Except he makes the girls feel guilty for having fun with us. Except any time I do pick up when they call from his house, the TV is blaring, they’re watching a movie, they’re distracted. Except the one time they laughed about something I told them A did on the phone, they quickly got shut down. Except that the girls don’t call A by their fun name they have for him, in Exie’s presence they switch to his given name.
Except, and let’s really get to the bottom of the emo today—they’re about to go over there for two weeks. And I’m trying, as the play therapist says, to “assume the best,” but it’s so difficult to live the reality that he resents “the mother” and that he is always manipulating them to feel sorry for him (the child support, they don’t get to see him all the time, don’t talk to mommy long on the phone).
Except, how can I help my daughters be strong, when they are learning that it’s normal to be this way—normal for dad to resent mom and the rules of visitation? We all say that one day the kids will get it, they’ll see. Will they?
I don’t know what to do. Writing this down helps, I feel less alone, like I’ve framed the problems in black ink and words. It feels more bearable, somehow, even if I’m still as unsure as when I sat down at the keyboard. Maybe I’ll get back to grace and dignity tomorrow. I hope so.