Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Extended Summer Visitation



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The coping goes on.  I had a mini meltdown over the week end, it’s so hard to be apart from my daughters, but I know a lot of that is my issue, not theirs. 

And in some of my deepest corners of missing them, I feel myself stretching to understand how difficult it may be for my Exie to be apart from them as well.  For a moment, out of some kind of camaraderie as parents.  Then I pause and remember how we got here, which sobers me up somewhat and hardens my resolve to keep our girls as safe as possible.  It’s not my fault he broke toys, dishes, household items in anger.  It’s not my fault that he choked the family dog and threw him across the room on more than one occasion.  It’s not my fault that he kicked my daughter when she wouldn’t get up from the floor.  It’s not my fault that he kicked the fitness ball that my younger daughter was holding onto when she had just learned to walk, leading her to fall backward.  It’s not my fault that he would say he was sorry, but never followed through with actions on taking control and fixing his anger problem.  So F you, I may understand the sadness at being apart from my daughters during an extended visitation, it may help me empathize with your loneliness a little bit, but F you for making this an unbearable mess to begin with, and continuing to make life more difficult than it needs to be.

Erg.  So my last post was about not having information about where the girls were staying on their staycation with him—I had checked in with our play therapist in hopes he might have mentioned it, and she was like don’t sweat it, as long as you can communicate, that’s what matters, and now he’s setting a precedent that you also don’t have to tell him (which is kind of sad in that we as parents are so ridiculous that not sharing this information is going to be normal—when I have shared numerously in the past).  At any rate, guess what, when the girls called me, they let me now where they were—I didn’t even have to ask, they were just open and talkative and communicative and in good spirits, being at a happy place on earth.  And, I was happy they were where they were, I know that place has lots of water slides, it really is hotel heaven for kids.  I love those water slides, too, so I guess I’m just a big kid, lol.

So onward I went with my life of work responsibilities, spouse responsibilities, friend responsibilities, and then I got sick so was in bed for a couple of days and when I got better, went back to work.  And checked my email and realized that I had missed a real gem from days earlier:

Where he accused me of interrogating the girls, had forced them to “report” to me where they were staying, and that he was not comfortable with me knowing where they were because he knows my husband works in the hotel industry and did not want him to check up on them.

Me: …

Further, that I had never given him information on our travel locations and hotels and that communication via cell would be fine.  (by this time, they were home, had left the hotel days ago, it was just me neglecting to pick up my email).

After collecting my thoughts. I wrote a civil response.

Dear Jerkface (okay I didn’t say jerkface),

I have numerous requests from you about accommodations for when I travel with the girls, as well as my responses that include hotel information, contacts, phone numbers, and addresses of where we are staying.  I understand that in the future that as long as communication is via cell that is satisfactory to you.

The girls are open and communicative with me and I make every effort to ensure the girls feel comfortable and supported when they speak with you, I hope the same is happening when they speak with me.

Lastly, I feel sorry that you think my husband would check up on you; he has always been open, friendly, and communicative with you at the children’s school events.  I think that is an odd conclusion, so am merely responding that is not the case.

Sincerely

Ugh.  And notably, when the girls have called me since this email, the conversations have been fast and tense on their part, saying they have to go, and I worry mostly that they feel like they have to placate him by not speaking with me.  I actually make it a point to answer only on the every/other day situation, so as to lessen the stress on them.  L

So that mini-meltdown I mentioned in the beginning of this post?  It’s partly because I was overcome with worry that he was interrogating them, making them feel bad for talking to me.  Partly because I’m frustrated that I’m dealing with this craziness, and part of me worries that he will somehow “turn” them against me.  I realize now that is just crazy thinking.  Stay open, stay communicative.  Let them have a short call when they ask, as they are kids, in the moment, may not want to talk, or it may be their coping mechanism when being with their dad.  The good news is that he’s not kicking them or breaking stuff (at least I hope not).  The play therapist says the phone calls are something they’ll figure out with their dad at some point, but overall they’re doing fine.  I have to believe that I’m doing everything I can for them, by being open and supportive and loving.  Okay, I can do those things.  They’ll be home in less than a week. The final stretch.

p.s. I am doing adult time things, hanging with the hubs, catching up with old friends that I haven’t spent much time with over the last year, dinners with pals, brunch with pals, even a day drink or two, lol.  Coping with extended visitation is apparently a marathon and not a race.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Irony

Coparenting Life: My ex is taking the kids on a mini staycation. Yay for the kids! 

Now, he has refused three times to tell me which hotel they're staying at (as in, I've texted him asking politely, using please and thank you, and he's responded with not telling me). /eyeroll. The irony to this is that if I withheld information, he'd be blowing up my phone and emailing me nasty nitpicking emails until the cows come home. Part of me feels sorry for him that he's so petty, part of me is annoyed at the situation in general, and part of me is frustrated that he gets away with being a jerk.

I checked in with my therapist who helped talk through it with me--remember Jane, he has to feel like he's in control and that he's winning.  Somehow, withholding information from you makes him feel big.  He is Ex being Ex.  

Me:  yes.  

I also checked in with the play therapist to talk this through, and her response was--well, as long as you can talk with them, you don't really need to know in the end, and now he's set a precedent where you no longer have to answer his demands in the future.

And while I take comfort that I haven't completely melted down into a frustrated ball, that half of me is rolling my eyes at the pettiness, there is still that part of me that is just so sick and tired of the stupid bullcrap.

Of course it doesn't help that last week end, when I took the girls on their girl scout field trip, I was courteous and emailed him pictures.  Trying to be an adult and be the bigger person.  Oh well.

As they say no good deed goes unpunished!  Insert laughing and eyeroll emoji here.

On the upside, I'm going to see Wonder Woman tomorrow, yippee!

Happy Week End, All!



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sharing your Light is Kind of Complicated

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Over the week end, a close family member posted a caricature stick diagram explaining the problem of illegal immigration, pitting a stick figure of “John Legal” who is white (okay, light peach, if you want to literally translate the color in the picture), and “Juan Illegal” who is brown.  It then broke down the issue about how much money each of them made, with John paying taxes on his higher wage, with  Juan getting paid under the table for a lower wage and not paying any taxes, both having children who went public schools, a quick discussion of healthcare, and ended, ultimately, with Juan’s children’s excelling and going to the head of the class because of “minority” scholarships.  The takeaway is that John paid for everything and suffered for it, while Juan hasn’t paid a cent and is doing just great.

The one comment underneath this post was hand-clapping.  Eep.

Even at a quick glance, I realized the claims regarding wages and taxes were incorrect.  I didn’t even get to the end of the comic strip, because I knew there was something here that needed to be addressed and wasn’t sure how to address it.

My other family member, E, who is a legal, non-white immigrant family member began texting me—did you see “X’s” post?  I’m so upset!  I’m seeing red!  I can’t believe she’d post that!  E has a much longer history with the family as I do (having married into it just a few years ago), and her feelings were beyond hurt.  She and I discussed everything that was in error with the post, and I found myself, while just as upset and infuriated, strangely calm as I hunted for facts to put together a public response.  E said she was going to talk to the family member and spouse directly as she was going to see them soon—couldn’t deal with the hurtful implications just yet until she’d calmed down—all of which I understood and supported because I love E with all my heart.  For my sake, I felt it was time for me to say something, in a measured, and even loving way, but also in a way that could shed some light onto the situation.  I was hoping by appealing to our mutual love as a family she might listen.  (p.s. my husband was like, um, not going to change anyone’s minds).  And even with that lovely support, I thought, I have to try.  I have to say my peace and put it out there.

So this is what I wrote:

I love you, XXX, you're my family, and I can see how this explanation puts the immigration challenges in a way that many can read easily.

I'd like to share my thoughts as your sister and immigrant, and hope you can see I say these things from a place of love. There are numerous reports that show undocumented immigrants do not take native born jobs, and in fact do pay taxes, contributing 11.74 billion to state and local taxes each year, including personal income tax.  Also, the companies that hire them (construction, agriculture) who give them lower under the table wages, pay taxes for doing business. These same people who are paying taxes are not eligible for government programs that they are helping to pay for.

Re: wages, the wages for undocumented workers are much less than this diagram, instead of $15/hr, it’s more like $5/hr or a set amount for a job no matter how many hours (ie Texas reported $90/14 hour job). There are no protections, so those that hire them will use their status as a way to force them to accept deplorable conditions, and they are more vulnerable to exploitation.

I wish the challenge of illegal immigration, like many challenges that we face as parents who love our children and want to secure a future for them, had an easy answer.  Like this one and many others, tax reform, education, healthcare, it's not easy. Life is messy unfortunately.

I.e., I can't figure out how to fit my friend's story in the stick figure diagram: She has a patient that needs hospice, this patient is undocumented.  They are not here illegally, they were visiting family when this happened.  Now, there is no way to get them home.  And this person could have reasonably priced home hospice, but since they aren't an American citizen, they can't.  According to her, they will, however, spend the next month or so in the hospital until she dies.
  
I also realize I am a brown, legal immigrant, and that I have grown up with lots of privilege, for which has implications and is a wholly different conversation. I hope to reach out with love and kindness and use my privilege as much as I can to help others and I thank you for listening.
-------------

After I posted it, I sent X a text saying I had posted (because I didn’t want her to feel blindsided), that I had put a lot of thought into it and that I loved her.  And then…a few minutes later—she texted back, “I love you, too, I’m sorry if I upset you.  I understand your view!”

Wow!  Wow oh Wow!  That was not the response I had expected, in fact I had been bracing myself (along with E) for a backlash.  Later, when I went back to X’s page to say thank you for listening, I couldn’t find it—and E said I had changed the world a little bit because she’d removed the post.

Wow. 

I felt happy that X listened, that’s all I had hoped for.  I don’t know if it really changed her mind about anything, but I thought, hopefully, this is something I can remember about how I can be the light and use my voice.  That it’s okay to disagree.

As for E, she’s still very upset and hurt by how easily X could post something that is erroneous at best, ignorant and racist at worst, and I agree with her.  It makes me sad to know how many people think and feel this way.

There’s an interesting, food for thought article posted at _The Guardian_ that discusses structural racism.   

I see it that racism is a system, and that while we didn’t create this system, we inherited it, and privilege runs up and down the structure.  Whether you’re white or of color, there are privileges that you may have based on your experiences and upbringing and advantages and disadvantages that are also inherited and it's difficult to understand one or the other because of them.  But we can try.  So let’s be the light, let’s shine, let’s use our privilege to uplift and help others where we can, when we can.

p.s. upon later researching, I found that the stick figure diagram had been discussed and debunked, so apparently this has been around for a while.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A little love





Image credit here


Sometimes in the midst of personal problems and struggles, it’s nice to see some love in the world.

Like this small town in Georgia who embraces refugees.

Or recognizing that it’s okay to love who you love in a region of the world where it’s not always ok.

Or when a stranger rushes in to help people through a tragedy and suddenly he has a home.

Actually, searching for good news, led me here.

Today, I’m tiptoeing back to my sunnier side of myself.  Today, I’m looking for love and light and finding it.

Some days, it's okay to admit the healing is not there just yet.  Some days, it's okay to embrace the darkness and the sadness and the anxiety.  Some days, it's okay to take a deep breath and give yourself a hug.  Be gentle with you, keep striving, don't give up, even if you feel like it.  Those dark moments will pass.

My anxiety is a marathon.  I hit a ditch earlier this week, it’s true, not going to lie.  That damn little black hole is there.

But I’m looking forward to sharing time and my home with the girl scouts tonight, I’ve drafted two older sister scouts to help the little ones with their bridging ceremony, and then we all get to eat brownies that I baked last night, yum.  The non-crafty-mother that I am managed to make flowers out of pipe cleaners (which is kind of a miracle in it of itself) and decorated an exercise bench to make the bridge.  (For people who know me, this type of work is not in my comfort zone, so am hoping to pull this off, lol.)  I’m looking forward to sharing laughter with some moms, we’ve made it through another year of shepherding our girls along the daisy scout trail, and that’s kind of a big deal if we think about it.  I’m looking forward to going to sleep in my bed later knowing my daughters are tucked into their bunk beds in the next room, home and safe.  A little light and love in my home.