Image credit <here>
All quiet on the communication front from the Ex, and I like the peace. (Although when the silence goes on too long, I do cringe a bit; the other foot falls heavy! Cross fingers all stays well!)
It’s actually been a rollercoaster of sorts—in good and in not so good ways. We had a wonderful holiday with our step-family, but the Ex is making us pay for it now. He got bent out of shape regarding DD1’s homework (we missed one day of school; I assured him that we completed all required homeowrk, with the understanding/blessing of DD1’s teachers), and wouldn’t let it go. The nasty things he was saying to me—I can only imagine what he was saying to the girls. And in fact, DD1 did come home saying, well…dad feels bad because we spend more time with our stepfamily than with him.
I responded with the following sentiments (not all at once, but in the same general conversation): gosh, I know it’s hard for dad and it’s hard for all of us sometimes, and I’m sorry he said that—because…we do have these rules we have to follow, given to us from the Judge. So what we have to learn to do is make the best of the situation, of whatever situation we find ourselves in. Some people are really good at that, and others have a hard time. I’m sorry your dad is having a hard time, and remember, it’s not your job to take care of us, it’s our job to take care of you.
DD1 seemed mollified by that, but DD2 is having a harder time. She’s now entered a little bit of a phase that she can’t show too much affection towards me in front of her dad…and I get that..DD1 used to do that, too. It’s like they feel responsible for him—that somehow not being overtly affectionate with me will show him that they love him. (Sad! Not Right! It’s so hard to see them struggle with this!). The girls’ play therapist says not to worry about it—that they confide and share their honest worries with me; that they are safe and can communicate these things, that’s what is important. To support them in dealing with their dad—if on some level they know not to be gushy to me in front of him, and it makes their visitation go easier with him, then so be it. It’s just noise.
They’ve been struggling with calls from their dad’s to mine, so after discussing with the girls on how to make it easier, we came up with a plan where on days that i see them in the morning, when they call at night, i'd let it go to voicemail, and send them a text back. they thought that was a great idea! but of course they tell me he doesn't show them my messages because they're "too busy" (hello, talking on the phone would take longer than reading an emoji embellished two sentence text?) And of course at our house—we are never too busy (even when we are too busy) to call dad when it’s his turn, I always make sure the t.v. is off, minimize distraction, assure them that they feel free to talk with him as long as they’d like. I hear them ask him for the call to be short…but he ignores them and just keeps going. Ugh. Just stupid, petty, small irritations.
The other night was difficult, it’s the night they come home from their dad’s, only to turn right around and go back the next day (this is the one hooey visitation scheduling that is hard to handle—hopefully it will get easier as the girls get older). Anyway, DD2 had the case of the fussies and the opposites (I want water!, I give her water, I don’t want to drink it!, etc. etc.) And DD1 got up and came to get me after going to bed, sharing with me a nightmare from when she was DD2’s age—about our house flooding with water so big that it separated all of us from each other and we could never be together. My sweetheart, caring, sensitive, DD1.
I climbed into bed with DD1 and asked her—is that how you felt when mommy and daddy got divorced? She squeezed me in the tightest hug ever, and as I held her in my arms, I told her that I'd always be her mommy and i loved her no matter what, i'd always be there for her, even when she couldn't see me. And she said that's good, mommy, and she just cuddled with me some more. In the meantime, DD2 was sniffling and saying she was sorry for not listening earlier, and i gave her more hugs, too, that mommy always loves her, too. That we have room in our hearts for everyone in our family. Then, miraculously, all was well and they went to sleep.
By the way, this is the same DD1 who tells me “mommy, you are SO embarrassing” when I cheer her on at the Christmas parade, lol. She has one foot into adolescence, and one foot back into cuddly childhood.
Anyway, let’s get back to the holidays—I’m so happy and excited, our tree is up, our lights on the carport, really enjoying these last two weeks of school before they’re out for winter break. The girls and I have a lot of baking ahead of us, for our neighbors and teachers and friends. All these years I’ve been trying to instill the spirit of Giving with my daughters—getting them excited to give things that we’ve made to people we know and love. And I was talking about this, this morning in the car on the way to school, driving past the twinkling Christmas lights still up in our town, since we leave the house in the darkness before dawn.
“It’s really about Giving presents, darling; I mean, getting presents is nice and all, but I hope you and your sister remember that the season is about giving. And we have a lot of pound cakes to bake this week end for your teachers!”
DD1 thought about this for a minute, then replied, “Mom…you know you’re just like Linus.”
Awwww…my heart about melted into a pool of butter.
Then DD1 followed up with her usual concrete thinking, “you know, mom, that means we have to make seven cakes.” And my eyes about bugged out of my head, and I said, are you sure it’s seven? Shouldn’t it be four? Because we definitely have four for your sister. Then DD1 rattled off all her teachers names, including her before and after school care teachers, and I was like, “oh wow, I guess that’s 8.” And she was like, “yes! 8!” and super excited about it. “When are we going to give them out mom?” She asked when we got to school.
So right now, I’m feeling really thankful—that my daughter understands on some level that Christmas is about giving. Thankful that I have the means to provide a holiday season filled with fun food, baking, gifts, decorations. That I have found strength to deal with the Ex (some days way better at this than others). Thankful for good friends, my family, my daughters. Let me stay thankful for these moments—especially when remembering Christmases in the not-too-distant-past that were touched by panic, depression, fear. Thankful that we are years into a different sort of life.
And thankful…that I will get back to the grocery store for more eggs, for all that cake baking we’ll be doing this week end.
Happy Holidays, everyone!