Irreverent Mama

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I'm exhausted.

Not because of anything that I've been doing, physically, but because of the tension. Oh, the tension.

I've written previously about my tussles with the ex over the child support. He didn't pay May's, paid up in June, but put a stop on July's cheque. I've seen my lawyer and a response is forthcoming. Meantime I managed to cash August's cheque. I'm positive he'll be most annoyed by this. Stopping the July cheque was his attempt to force me into face-to-face discussions with him; I'm quite sure the only reason August's cheque cleared is that he didn't think past that initial goal.

So the shit will hit the fan when he gets back from holiday and sees his bank balance.

But that's far from the most pressing of my concerns. His small hissy fit when he discovers "Hey! She cashed the child support cheque that I didn't write in good faith!!" doesn't have me too worried. No, it's all the Other Stuff.

Other Stuff which involves the children, and will take far too much time to tell in one post. So here's the first installment.

When we divorced, back when, I was a SAHM (stay at home mom), and he was a workaholic dad. To work before they woke, home from work long after they were in bed, the kids would go days without seeing him. Imagine my surprise when he said he wanted access from Saturday morning through Monday evening! My initial, entirely personal response, was "Fuck that! You've had virtually nothing to do with them for their entire lives, and now you're going to be Daddy of the Year??" Then rationality prevailed, and I thought, "Well, he's done poorly thus far, for sure, but hey, maybe he does want a relationship with them, and I don't want to be the one to stand in the way of them getting to know their dad."

So I agreed.

From day one, my youngest hated it. I remember pulling her by her ankles from under the dining room table on a Saturday morning, and propelling her out the door. She was only three. How could I do that to my baby? Well, the oldest, then eleven, assured me that once she got there, she was just fine, her usual happy self. I chalked it up to transitional pains for the little one. Hard to leave mummy, but fine once the transition was made. So I gritted my teeth, and I forced her to go. I hated it, but I trusted my oldest child's reports, and it's good for kids to have a relationship with both their parents.

And in fact, there was a period when things were stable. They may still have preferred mum's house, but dad's was all right. Starting five or six years ago, though, it all started to fall apart. He'd just split up with a girlfriend of two years, and suddenly he was on a hunt for Ms. Right. The girlfriends came in (and went out) with increasing speed. He lost his job. (How can a partner in a firm get fired? I don't know, but it happened.) He got another that was perfectly suited to his skills, but dreadfully unsuited to his weaknesses. I saw more disaster on that horizon.

My concern with his new job was financial. The kids didn't care about that, but the new job exploited his workaholic tendencies. When daddy wasn't out with the girlfriend du jour, he was inaccessible behind a computer. They were getting restive, particularly the girls.

Once the eldest went off to university, the youngest daughter began to make more and more excuses for not going. She was now 11, this situation had been devolving for years. I was far past forcing her to go. The son went, but increasingly he was just making his own plans, independent of his father. He would go, sleep in the bed there, and be out with his friends the rest of the time. No family unit over there at all.

Which brings us to this summer, when eldest returned from university. She decided to live with dad, as she did two summers ago. Within a couple of weeks, I started to hear the complaints:
"He's never there."
"Did you know he has a different girlfriend, again?"
"I don't care about his private life. I just wish he didn't want us all to play Happy Families with a woman he's been dating two weeks!"
"There's no food in the house again. He's always eating out with the girlfriend, so he doesn't buy groceries. And he won't give me grocery money!"

It was a seething cauldron over there. I could see an explosion coming.

The kids did try. They sat their dad down and told him they wanted to see more of him on the weekends. At the end of the conversation, it was agreed that dad would have a 2 - 3 hour "family time" each weekend. It didn't have to be fancy. Playing board games in the dining room would be just fine, but for that period, they wanted his attention.

A couple of hours over a weekend was all they asked for.

The next weekend, they got it!!! They were all very happy. (Rather jaded mum did NOT point out that they COULD have asked that he keep his girlfriend time to two hours, and given them the rest. She could have said that, but she didn't.)

The next weekend? The next weekend, the two younger kids arrived Saturday morning to discover that he was at the girlfriend's home. Had been there since the night before. He made a brief appearance Saturday afternoon to pick something up, then vanished. He did not return until Sunday at suppertime, when he and the girlfriend took them out to dinner and a movie. This was their "family time".

The youngest made her excuses and was dropped off at my house after the movie. "I am not going back for tomorrow!! He won't even be there! Dinner and a movie was all we get!!"

They all look at me. "Why do we have to go, when he's never there?"

Well, that would be the question, wouldn't it?

Next installment: the first explosion.

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5 Comments:

  • How sad for everyone involved. I admire you for being able to hold your tongue!

    By Blogger Carolie, at 10:20 AM  

  • Ugh. My father was married before he married my mother and had three boys. My parents got custody of the two oldest after they got married, but not the youngest because my mother worked. Never mind that their mother beat them, no, it was better in the court's mind that he be *home* with his mother instead of staying with my mother's sister during the day (who took care of me when I was little and who has always been a perfectly lovely and loving person).

    I hope things start working out better, and while I want to read the next installment...I'm a little apprehensive about it!

    By Blogger Candace, at 11:01 AM  

  • Imagine how they feel, competing with a string of girlfriends for his attention. And how admirable of you for trying to do the right thing, and censoring what you want to say. I hope he wakes up!
    Thanks for visiting by the way, what you had to say was very wise.
    Anne

    By Blogger crazymumma, at 9:59 PM  

  • The FIRST explosion? You are a good woman.

    By Blogger kittenpie, at 10:51 PM  

  • Damn, no wonder. Take care.

    By Blogger ieatcrayonz, at 12:19 PM  

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