Image Credit (here)
It sounds like a fitness challenge! And the good news is, I’ve really worked on exercising. I’m feeling pretty strong and I’ve lost a bit of weight, but most importantly, when I exercise, I’m *not* worrying. So that’s a plus. :)
But, wow was the two week extended time with the girls at their dad’s a challenge. I tried to follow my “coping” advice. I give myself a C+. I passed, I survived, I didn’t fail outright.
Here’s my C+ evaluation.
The girls usually call when they’re with dad and vice versa, we call dad when the girls are at our house. It’s kind of a pain in the a$$, because at my house, I make sure we have “manners” when the phone call happens, the t.v. is off, the games have stopped, the coloring pencils are down, etc. When the girls call me from dad’s house, they sound stressed, want to get off the phone, the t.v. is blaring, they’ll tell me, mommy, can this be a short call, we’re watching Finding Nemo, or Shrek, or [Fill in the Blank]. And sometimes they just sound stressed, and that makes me sad for them. I know it’s hard for them already to please their dad, and showing affection towards me—is something they know they can’t do in front of him. So I’ve gone over with the girls that the phone calls are for them, not for mommy or daddy, but for them. And they say, I know! And laugh. So sometimes, I let the phone go to voicemail, and I send them a text back. I know that they love me, I know they don’t have to talk to me every day, and if I can lessen the stress for them, then fine. And sometimes I do have to talk to them (i.e. don’t forget tennis tomorrow, or aunty so and so will be picking you up for girl scouts, etc) and at those times, then I remind them it’s good to have phone manners. And…every time they ask for a “short call” I say, okay! And hang up. (Unlike when they ask dad for a short call, it drags on and on and on…but that’s another story for another day).
All right, so last week end, I heard from the girls they were going camping (still on their extended summer visit; plus father’s day week end, great.) Exie sent me a text last week that he would have the girls call at noon on Friday, because he wasn’t sure about the reception at the camp site. Fine, I’m flexible. Well, last Friday I was in a marathon meeting, didn’t get out until 1pm, and when I did, heard a voicemail from the girls to call them back. So I did. It went to voicemail, so I hung up, and went in search of lunch, because I was starving.
A minute later, my phone rings, I answer with a cheerful, “HI DD2!”
Instead—it’s Exie in a nasty (but not yelling, at least) tone: Didn’t you get my texts? I don’t have a charger so I told you to only call for an emergency.
: No, I didn’t get any texts, I just
got out of a marathon meeting and was returning DD2’s call.
Exie: Well, I sent you texts saying that I don’t have a charger, and so now I’m going to have stay home for another HOUR to charge my phone before we leave.
Me: Look, I am just returning DD2’s call, are you going to let me talk to the children or not?
Exie: Well, I guess I’ll let you talk to the kids today, but only text tomorrow, because I don’t have a charger.
The girls come on, they’re excited to go camping, not a care in the world, happy go lucky, for which I am grateful. We talked for maybe 5 minutes or less—then on I went to get my lunch.
And in a bit of shock—we always communicate by text or emails (clearly, a good reason for that). In line to get my salad, I check my texts and then I see them—a long drawn out text about how he doesn’t have a phone charger, and to limit calling to emergencies for the next two days.
Look, I know I was all triggered by my PTSD of having to talk to him. He who used to choke our tiny dog in front of the girls. He who kicked DD1 in the stomach because he was angry she wouldn’t get up off the floor to leave his mom’s house. He who flicked DD1 on the back of her head when she wasn’t answering his question when he walked behind her at the dinner table, so instead of swallowing her mouthful of rice, she coughed it out and started crying. He who kicked a giant fitness ball at wobbly DD2 who had just started walking, knocking her over. He who locked DD1 in a pitch black bathroom to teach her a lesson. He who…
He who comes off as this “poor me” person to the rest of the world, I’m so sad I have a crazy ex-wife who tried to take the kids away from me.
(Healing is this long journey that I’m still on. I’ve come so far and yet I can remember his actions so vividly. And I hurt and am scared and am angry and trying, trying to move forward.)
Anyway, back in line after getting my sandwich, I decide, no, it’s not okay to call me up and talk to me that way. No, it’s not my responsibility that you don’t have a charger. Not that I push it, but the decree clearly states both parents have unlimited phone access to the children. So WTF was that lame a$$ phone call all about?
After I settled down (and consulted with one of my good friends, who witnessed Exie’s anger outbursts), I sent him a response via text—No problem compromising about the texting/phone calls, just received your texts. There was no reason to talk to me that way when you called earlier; this is fine, a little more notice would have been helpful in today’s case.
Good, done, fine. Girls called two days later, they had a blast camping, and then they finally came home last Monday. Hurray, we’re back on our regular schedule.
But, no, not fine, because the day the girls came home, I get a long drawn out email about how when he “answered his phone,” he surmised I thought he was angry, he was not, and the kids and he discussed that he didn’t sound angry. WTF?
So I had to respond again, correcting the facts (i.e. no, he called me to bite my head off about info I didn’t have): I had merely returned DD2’s phone call, and was connected to voicemail so hung up. When I received his phone call, I was baffled that it was him, and not DD2, and further confused when I assured him I did not receive his texts. At any rate, I had a nice conversation with the girls.
Blah blah blabbity blah. This whole thing is stupid and tiring. I’m tired of being the bad guy, I’m tired of being vigilant.
And btw, one of the first things DD2 told me when we were walking our dog after she came home from school? Daddy says A is not my daddy, and not even my step daddy.
And me: gosh, how did that make you feel?
DD2: bad, and…I didn’t want to get in trouble.
Me: With who?
DD2: with daddy.
Me: I’m really sorry he said that, sweetie.
DD2: skipping along with our puppy, nodding, and then distracted by the flowers we were passing, picking them to put in my hair and hers. Next time, I’ll remember to say, and what do you think, DD2? To help her make up her own mind.
That night, all sitting around the dinner table, we held hands, said grace, and ate dinner, the subject of divorce came up again (A’s parents divorced 20 years ago, both remarried and amicable and clearly moved on). DD1 had laid eyes on her family tree project, displayed in the corner, across from where she was sitting, and laughed about having to have so many leaves on her tree because of having a dad and a mom and a stepdad and then A’s parents were divorced, too, and did that make A sad when his parents divorced? And he said, you know, it did for a while, but then I was okay, because now I have two stepparents, and they’re like regular parents. And DD1 didn’t skip a beat and nodded and said, yeah, like you! (And my heart about burst in my chest).
And DD2 was nodding and soaking it all in.
So maybe, in time, everything will just be okay. I hope so.