Stop Feeding Your Kids Shit Sundaes, Part 3

Now, about that child and/or spousal support… What is the big deal with this? On the other board I frequented there were many debates about child support, dads not getting credit for what they did, and how maybe more dads would step up if they were able to buy directly for their kids.

Hmmm… so when Dad’s money goes to buy the new cleats and pay for the class trip you’re supposed to make sure the child knows that it was Dad that made it possible. Yet, if Dad doesn’t send child support you’re supposed to shut up and take the blame for any of the things your kid misses out on or can’t have. I think we call that having your cake and eating it, too. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say Daddy gets all the credit when he sends child support but then turn around and say you should never mention child support if it’s not appearing.

Again, I’ve been honest with my kids. They’re teens. They’ve been raised a certain way. For all of their life, up until the time their dad decided to fuck his cousin, whenever they needed something I was able to go out and buy it. No questions asked for the most part. No tough decisions to be made. Oh, you like both of those? Go ahead and get them both. When I used to take them shopping I didn’t really have a budget in mind. The same could be said about our outings. You want an ice cream cone? Sure. You want a bucket of fries? Of course! You want a souvenir from our trip. Why not? So, when the money tree dried up and I suddenly had to budget I let them know we couldn’t do those things anymore. There were no more shopping sprees. No more expensive makeup. No more game systems. We didn’t go to very many places. Our big outing was generally lunch after church on Sunday back when we still lived in Virginia.

Later, when I was working two jobs and still didn’t make enough to rub two nickels together I told them we were dirt poor and I didn’t have it. No, I can’t take you shopping. No, we can’t go to the movies. No, no, no. I also told them that things might change once he finally began paying support; until then, when he wasn’t paying a dime, I did indeed let them know our finances were extremely limited. Why? Because I didn’t make very much money and Dad wasn’t paying anything.

I have let them know my job pays my bills and that is it. I have told them that their dad’s child and spousal support lets us do everything we are able to do. It allows me to buy the things I buy for them. The way I see it I give CF all the credit. Conversely, he gets all the blame when he decides to play games and send his support whenever he feels like it. Sweetie, I’ll help you with books when your dad pays me. I can get you a new pair of sneakers when your dad sends me some money. Once your dad sends his final support payment I can pay your tuition. I can’t pay your sorority fees right now because I haven’t received my spousal support. I’ll give you your allowance once your dad sends me what he owes me. I’m low on funds until your dad comes through.

I believe I’ve pointed it out before but I have never once complained about the amount of support I receive, nor have I ever asked him for additional money. I have also never said, “Go ask your dad for the money for that.” I plan around what I’ve been court ordered to receive. In none of those instances do I ever say, “Well, I would do x, y, and z but your dad doesn’t pay enough support so we can’t.” I’ve been very honest, though, about my dependence on him and the support he pays. I think of it no differently than my paycheck.

I don’t think anyone would have a problem telling a kid, “I can’t go buy a new pair of sneakers for you until I get paid on Friday,” or “You’ll get your allowance when I get paid.” Yet for some reason it’s a horrible thing to say that about spousal and/or child support. I see no difference.

I’ve never understood the big secrecy regarding child support. Now if I were to go on and detail all the money that he spent/spends on the whore and her kids… Eh, facts are facts. I figure so long as I’m not editorializing I’m golden; however, I would not do that. Not because I’m protecting him or think I owe him or even because I don’t believe you should discuss such matters with the kids. I wouldn’t do it because it would only hurt my children.

Yes, I know. It does seem that I’m somewhat talking out of both sides of my mouth. I do believe you should be honest with your kids. I do believe they are owed the truth. I don’t think you should cover for the other parent, or lie to them. I also think that you don’t have to go out of your way to tell them every horrible thing their other parent did. I believe there’s a big difference between having honest conversations and simply blurting hurtful facts out.

For example, the first month after Cousinfucker and Harley were discovered Cousinfucker cashed in almost $6200 worth of stock, took out a $5000 loan on his 401k, and now had $5000 a month just for shits and giggles. He put it all into their joint account. That first month when I asked for more money in order to buy Rock Star’s Homecoming dress (less than $100, btw) he told me he didn’t have it this month. Yet, he bought the whore a $4200 engagement ring. He put down payments on not one, but two, puppies for her kids. She spent almost $200 at Vera Bradley, over $400 at a sporting goods store (for her own kids, I’m assuming), and hundreds of dollars on eyewear that month. In addition, a few months later a dress was purchased for just over $300 for Harley’s daughter.

Did I run out and tell my kids all of this? No. Why not? Mainly because I didn’t know any of this for certain until I opened the American Express bills or he was forced to turn over his bank records. Her husband had talked about her wearing a new diamond ring and him putting a down payment on the dog he promised her kids, but I didn’t have proof until later. When I did have proof I didn’t blurt it out because there was no context behind it. Oh my God! That sonofabitch! Can you believe all the money he spent on his whore and her kids? Let me run down the list for you!

No, that did not happen. However, when Rock Star began talking about buying her next Homecoming dress online from China because she could get it for a really cheap price I did tell her not to worry about. Her dad would buy her a damn dress. If he could buy Harley’s daughter a $300+ dress he could damn sure buy his own daughter something decent. Yes, I did tell her that.

Another time she threw something in his face about her being “his real daughter”, or something like that; I know it had to do with the fact that now he had a “replacement daughter”. His response was that he and the whore’s kid weren’t that close. I remarked, “Wow- maybe you should go for a ‘not that close’ relationship. He paid for her truck to be repaired, offered to buy her a new car, bought her a puppy, got her a new iPhone and paid her cell phone bill, and spent over $300 on a dress for her. Must be nice to be ‘not that close’!”

I suppose for me the line is this: Does this information add anything to the story? Does it substantiate whatever is being said, or being felt by my kids?

It’s one thing for me to find out my daughter is trying to get the cheapest dress possible because she’s worried about me not being able to afford anything and telling her “No, you are not going to buy some $40 dress because you’re worried about money. You go to your dad and you tell him exactly what you want. If he can spend all that damn money on some teenage girl that he’s not related to and has known for less than a year, he can damn sure as well buy his own daughter a decent dress.”

It’s a completely different thing to just out of the blue tell either of them, “Oh my God! Did you know your dad went on vacation with his new family? Why couldn’t he do that with you two? Oh yeah, that’s right; he did go with us a couple of times, didn’t he? I wonder if he ruined their vacation, too.” Or, “Hey guys, look at the fantastic new house your dad and his new family live in! We live with Nana because he let our home go into foreclosure, and they have a pool and a clubhouse.”

That’s my line. Yours might vary. Regardless, don’t be afraid to tell your kids the truth. You aren’t the villain because you refuse to cover up their cheating parent. Being honest doesn’t make you a bad person. Put down the shit sundae. Grab a juicy burger or a big slice of chocolate cake instead!

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Stop Feeding Your Kids Shit Sundaes, Part 2

I treat it the way I do because I’ve seen enough from the other board where I used to read that I know it does more harm than good to try to convince a kid that a neglectful and/or abusive parent loves and cares about them. I’m not accusing Cousinfucker of being abusive. I guess he is neglectful in the sense that he hasn’t seen his own son in almost 3 years now. He’s neglectful in the sense that he walked away from his two kids and that he didn’t give a shit when we were barely keeping our heads above water. He’s neglectful in the sense that he doesn’t communicate with them regularly and he makes up bullshit stories about not knowing how to get in contact with his son. Really, I think he’s just self-centered. It’s all about him and what he wants. No one else matters and he’s always the poor picked upon victim. Not exactly the kind of person you would want in your life, huh?

I don’t even care for: He/she loves you in the only way he/she knows how (or the best that they can). What kind of bullshit is that? Seriously? We’re really going to try to justify an adult walking away from their kids and then playing the pouty brat because those kids are upset with them? Or try to convince a kid that the best their parent has to offer is subpar and they should embrace that?

I believe kids can sometimes see with a clarity that escapes adults. It was my 13 year old nephew that saw something in Cousinfucker’s eyes when we came back from our family vacation in Florida. CF had opted out of the family vacation, choosing instead to go first to Tennessee and then to Kentucky so that he could participate in a mini family reunion that excluded his actual immediate family, and then turn around and fuck his cousin. I do believe he said he could see evil in his eyes.

I still remember the mom who was realizing as her son turned 16 that he would have been so much better off if she had never pushed for a relationship between father and son.

The story was this: They had been friends with benefits (maybe had even dated at one point). She got pregnant, kept the baby. They didn’t marry. He paid support but didn’t have much of a relationship with his son although he did have visitation and she supported them having a relationship. He went on to marry another woman a few years later, had two kids with her. He was supposedly a great dad to the two kids he had with his wife, but remained a largely disinterested father to his eldest. He basically went through the motions and did the bare minimum. I remember a story about the father giving him a special dice set for his 16th birthday. I think that was it. Nothing else. The straw that finally broke the camel’s back was a family trip that was planned for DisneyLand. It was to be Dad, his wife, their two kids, and this boy. He broke his ankle so wouldn’t be able to get around easily. Instead of trying to reschedule (and I believe the younger kids were not yet in school) Dad was practically giddy at the thought of going on this “family trip” with his wife and two kids, leaving the oldest son behind. It was quite obvious to the boy that his father really didn’t care about him. In the end he (the son) chose to cut off all contact.

I recall the mom who eagerly advocated 50/50 custody. She had offered it to her ex and constantly talked it up as the gold standard. Her daughter had both parents in her life and there weren’t too many transitions compared to a child seeing a parent every other weekend. Her daughter had no problems with it. She had four parents. She would never force her ex to a peripheral part of his daughter’s life. Life’s a funny thing. Stepmom had a child of her own and no longer had time for her stepchild. The daughter got older, had her own teenage life, and wanted to spend more time with friends. Despite the 50/50 custody Dad was not willing to accommodate her. The relationship broke down because Dad was more concerned with his own needs than his daughter’s. That child is now 18, hates her father and has an eating disorder. There is some suspicion of sexual abuse and stepmom definitely contributed to the eating disorder. The mom now says if she knew then what she knows now she never would have agreed to 50/50 custody and she would have fought to end 50/50 custody long before she did, which was when her daughter was somewhere between 14 and 16.

Yet another mom dealt with an alcoholic ex who, by her description, makes CF seem absolutely delightful. He was entitled, rude, weird, and unreasonable. Mom worried about what a judge would say if it got to court so she was always, as she said, busy keeping her halo shiny for court. She didn’t think she could support her daughter in not visiting her father because that might cause him to take her back to court. She went along, hoping for the best. Yet another situation where the mom now says if she could she would do things completely different, because the father was extremely toxic to her child, once again to the point that there was some abuse involved. I think it was mainly emotional abuse; I don’t think he beat his daughter. But she was asked to keep a lot of secrets and he laid a lot of guilt trips on her. That poor girl ended up with severe mental health issues and has no relationship with her father.

Another mom worked hard to support her son’s relationship with his dad only to watch it disintegrate once the son turned 18. Once her son became an adult Mom left them alone to manage their own relationship. Left to their own devices and without having her there to guide them, the relationship crumbled.

So many of these women look back as their children grow up and are only now realizing the damage that was done.

It wasn’t always a case of telling the kid Daddy loved them when he didn’t. Many of the situations came down to them either believing having a dad in their life was very important, or not knowing how to keep a kid from a toxic parent.

I prefer Chump Lady’s motto: You only need one sane parent. That parent can be a mom or a dad (hello, Mobster!), and while it’s always nice to have both parents be sane, you can raise a perfectly functional and fabulous human being with only one sane parent.

I will never forget the woman from the first story saying that her son’s therapist had told her to stop telling him that his father loved him/cared about him whenever he would say his dad didn’t. As the therapist explained every time she told him that she was reinforcing this idea that he couldn’t trust his own feelings. She was basically telling him that he didn’t know the truth. The therapist went on to say that he was eventually going to be pissed at her because she kept lying to him. He was also relying on her to be a safe space. That safe space should be helping you navigate painful truths and validating your feelings, not encouraging you to believe lies.

With that in mind I don’t tell my kids their father loves them. Truthfully I don’t think he’s capable of it. Perhaps I should say I don’t excuse his behavior by assuring them that he loves them very much or that he loves them but he’s just broken and can’t express it very well. I do, however, share stories with them. They’re usually sappy stories which paint him in a good light. I may not think he’s capable of putting them first but at one point in time he did do nice things. Plus, I have always said I will give him credit when it is due. Like the time he came home from work and Picasso asked him to take him to the new Star Wars animated movie on opening day. Mama doesn’t do opening day crowds; however, I suggested he ask his dad and his dad did indeed put his stuff up and take him directly to the movies.

I do admit I don’t know why he does the things he does. I have offered to pay for counseling. Rock Star went for a few weeks. Picasso has no desire to ever go. As he says, he has nothing to discuss. He’s fine with his father’s disappearance. It’s just the way it is. No use crying over something you don’t have; it’s not going to change it. I don’t push. I’ve heard that’s not a good thing to do.

In a similar vein I don’t push a relationship between the kids and their father. He’s their father; if they wish to have a relationship I can accept that. I don’t find it odd to think that they may want that at some point. But I’m also not forcing it down their throats. We don’t have conversations that revolve around me telling them they need to call their dad or give him a chance. I have told them both they need to text him and thank him for the Christmas money. I’ve also asked if they’re interested in seeing him again. On a few occasions I’ve asked some “What if” questions. One time I did ask Picasso if he would see his dad if he showed up on our doorstep (I was curious because CF says one of the reasons he doesn’t drive to see his kids is because they would refuse to see him). I may have even asked once what it would take for them to develop a relationship with him again. But that’s as far as it goes. I let them lead. If they say, “No,” then no it is.

I do my best to validate their feelings. When Rock Star says that her dad is always playing the victim I sympathize and usually agree. When Picasso says his dad is scum I don’t admonish him; I listen and sympathize. Hell, sometimes I even say, “Do better than what he did.”

I think we do our kids a disservice when we push an unwanted relationship on them. Look, we ate a shit sundae for years in our quest to keep a relationship going. Shouldn’t that stop with our kids? Why lie to them and tell them someone who is actively hurting them loves them and cares about them? Again, I’m not saying that your vomit up all of your ex’s bad behavior. But I am saying that you reinforce this fucked up version of love when you try to convince your kids that someone who does such shitty things really, really loves them. Stop it! I think kids tend to have better boundaries and better instincts when it comes to things like this, and we as parents are doing them no favors when we teach them to ignore their guts.

That goes for the stupid affair partner as well. I believe in naming them and letting your kids set boundaries. Hell, I believe in telling your kids that they can have boundaries when it comes to their parent’s affair partner.

Why do some people insist upon torturing themselves by insisting that the kids get along with or meet the AP? I realize that when you’re dealing with very young children they don’t have much of a choice. But as teens or older? They absolutely have free agency. I have no problem admitting that I told both of my kids that they didn’t have to meet Harley if they didn’t want to. They are both at ages where they can decide that for themselves. I’m not going to lie to them and tell them they have to!

I also most certainly told them her name. I was not going to let him pass her off as some new love when the reality was he had been cheating on me and draining our bank accounts to do so. His kids did without so that she and her kids could have even more. He more than likely moved us across the damn country and took us away from everything and everyone we loved to get closer to her. I think they have a right to know all of that. I think they deserve to know what kind of a person she is.

I remember a relative telling me I couldn’t expect my kids to not have anything to do with Harley but think they would develop a relationship with the mobster. I assured her that I certainly could because the mobster had not been the reason my marriage ended. He had absolutely nothing to do with it. I met him almost two years later. She, on the other hand, had stepped right into the middle of it. She was perfectly aware of what she was doing and she didn’t care.

My kids like the mobster. He is good to them. He cares about them. Harley has never done a single thing to show my kids she even realizes they exist. Unless you count when she blocked Rock Star on Facebook because Rock Star saw her idiotic post whining about missing the comfort of her married lover in her bed, and confronted her father over it.

I have even gone so far as to tell both of my kids that they are perfectly within their rights to insist that if they see their dad that he meet them alone. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend time with your parent and not have the person who directly contributed to your life imploding tag along.

I find the argument that they can’t have a relationship with the parent unless they have a relationship with the AP to be ridiculous. Of course they can! If the parent is any kind of parent at all they will meet their kid at their comfort level. And if the parent says, “Love me, love my AP,”? Well, then your kid has all the information they need about pursuing a relationship with that parent. You as the sane parent are doing them a disservice by teaching them to accept such shitty treatment.

Admittedly most of my research comes from my circle of friends and commenters on Chump Lady, but those commenters on Chump Lady are a chatty bunch. It seems that the majority of the time these cheating parents weren’t very good parents when they were married to the child’s other parent. Usually they are painted in a very selfish, unflattering light. A lot of times the cheating parent abandons the kids, or they just don’t put the kids first. It’s all about them and what they want, what makes them happy. The kids are given any leftover scraps. My question then is why on earth are we painting them as these amazing parents, half saint/half god, that are going to leave deep, festering wounds if they are not around to dote on the children? Chances are they haven’t been around much anyway! Stop rewriting history! Stop shoving the shit sundae laden spoon down their throats!

If the kid’s boundary is, “I don’t want to meet that whore,” or “I will not be around that whore so if you want to have a relationship with me leave it at home,” then respect that. Stop teaching your kids to make their needs smaller to keep somebody that doesn’t give a shit about them in their lives. Stop teaching them that their boundaries aren’t important.

We got into our situations by telling ourselves that our needs didn’t matter. We were taught that the only thing that mattered was that lying cheater. Keep him or her happy at all times and at any expense. Look where that got us.

Help your kids break that cycle.

 

Stop Feeding Your Kids Shit Sundaes, Part 1

Quite the provocative title, huh? Eh, what can I say? I’m feeling a bit sassy today.

As long as there has been cheating and divorce I’m sure there have been varying opinions on what to tell the kids. The overriding opinion seems to be you keep your mouth shut, you don’t answer questions about what happened, you simply tell them both parents love them and everything is going to be okay and you do everything in your power to encourage a relationship with the other parent, regardless of what kind of a person that parent is. Also, never ever mention child support. Ever.

I am not impressed with any of this. I also strongly disagree. Here’s what I believe: You tell your kids the truth in age appropriate terms. You state the facts; you don’t editorialize. You answer their questions honestly. You don’t tell them that the parent that walked out on them and hasn’t called in two years loves them. You don’t excuse shitty behavior and try to smooth it over. You don’t force a relationship when the kid isn’t feeling it, and you certainly don’t sell them that bullshit that they must accept the affair partner, especially if they want to have a relationship with their parent. I’m also not a fan of acting like child support doesn’t exist and money magically appears in your bank account at random times.

Before the torches and pitchforks appear I shall explain further.

Tell your kids the truth. If Daddy went to prison because he killed someone, or Mommy went to prison because she was selling meth, I think most people would agree the kids should be told the truth. Depending upon the age the child might only be told something so basic as, “Mommy/Daddy did something that was against the law so now they have to stay in jail.” Older kids would probably know more details, like what they actually did to break the law. I’m not saying they would be given crime scene photos and walked through the actual murder/meth production, but they would have the basic facts: Dad killed someone. Mom was selling meth.

Similarly if you divorced because your spouse was a lying cheater then I don’t see the problem with admitting that you are choosing to divorce because of infidelity. Younger kids would get a much more basic version: When your dad/mom and I got married we promised we would live together and we wouldn’t date anyone else. Daddy/Mommy broke that promise so now we are getting divorced and we’ll be living in separate houses.

I’ve read a lot of comments over on Chump Lady from people who didn’t tell the kids about the infidelity and it has come back to bite them in the ass. Either the kid is angry that this information has been kept from them, or, in other cases, they don’t understand why the betrayed parent isn’t mourning the parent’s death or is ready to date once again. They see the cheating parent as a victim of the betrayed parent because finally that person has drawn boundaries and is enforcing them. I suppose that’s the risk you take when you try to protect a lying cheater. I advise not doing that.

My kids were 13 and 15 when this all went down. What I told them was this: You’ve been asking where your dad is this weekend. He’s in Kentucky. With his girlfriend.

I remember my son correcting me, “You mean his ex-girlfriend, right?”

“No. His girlfriend. Your father is having an affair.”

My daughter wanted to know if his family down there knew. When told, simply, yes, she asked in a horrified voice, “And they’re okay with it?”

I replied that they were indeed okay with it as far as I knew. That led to me telling them that this was not the first time he had been involved with this woman. I reminded them of the summer two years prior, the summer that Rock Star had complained was so boring and they didn’t do hardly anything. I explained that I had been working through that all summer, only to find out in August that he was still messing with her. I went on to tell them that according to what I had been told Tammy Faye called Harley and encouraged her to call their father. And, I let them know that their Aunt Jezebel had been actively encouraging him to leave me.

When asked if that’s the reason we had moved to Virginia I was honest. I truly did not know. I told them I did know that their dad had set the wheels in motion to take over this plant when he got involved with Harley the first time, but I didn’t know if he was involved with her again by the time he was offered the job. I think I might have even gone so far as to tell them I wanted to believe that he wasn’t involved with her when we made our move.

I’m sure the people who run those mandatory parenting after divorce classes would be aghast at my answers. I don’t really care. What exactly did I do wrong? Nothing. I told them the truth. I didn’t editorialize. I didn’t go on to say that their dad was a big, fat jerk or that he never appreciated me and what I did for him. I didn’t tell them about the financial shenanigans he had engaged in. I didn’t call him a whore loving pox upon humanity and I didn’t call his cousin a cunt face cum dumpster with a rap sheet. I was very concise. Your dad is in Kentucky with his girlfriend. Yes, his family knows about it and yes, they’re okay with it. This is not a new thing; he was involved with her once before and that set the wheels moving for our move out here.

I think I could make the argument that even if I had told them about all the financial shenanigans I would have been within my rights. It most certainly affected them and it was the truth. There was no editorializing needed. Truth was he was buying puppies and engagement rings. He spent as much on the whore’s kids for Christmas as he did his own kids. Editorializing would have been: Nice that he could go to the mall with her and Christmas shop; he never did that for you. Nothing but the best for them! Or: He’s more concerned with buying their love than he is with maintaining a relationship with you.

And lest anyone thinks I whitewashed my own behavior I did tell them about the alternate Facebook page I had that their father saw and which he used as his excuse to do what he did.

The fact of the matter is this move had completely uprooted my kids. They both had lives they enjoyed back in Utah and we made this 2000 mile move for their father. A year into rebuilding and he was taking aim at their new lives with a flame thrower. They had every right to know whether or not he had done that just to be closer to a piece of ass. I didn’t know for certain so I didn’t say he had, but I was honest about his actions. He did put his plan into motion when he began his first affair with her, and in doing so he didn’t give a single solitary fuck about his kids; he cared only about his dick and his whore cousin.

The truth was his family absolutely supported him and the whore being together. If her husband is to be believed (and I did say this was what I had been told) his mother did reach out to her and ask her to call. His sister had been begging him to leave me. Everyone was very, very concerned about Cousinfucker. No one gave a shit about his two kids who were going to have their lives shredded once again.

The bottom line was I had two teenagers who had been watching their supposedly distraught father who hibernated in his room and couldn’t even manage a family dinner at Olive Garden without dissolving into sobbing fits, hop into his car every weekend and drive off into the sunset. I wasn’t going to be able to pull off this fucked up version of Where’s Waldo for long. I certainly wasn’t going to lie to them. Nor was I willing to fall on the sword for him. Fuck that! If you’re big and bad enough to go fuck your cousin, then you should be able to handle your kids knowing about it.

I was honest at every turn with them.

Do we have to cut our grandparents out of our life? Of course not; they’re your grandparents. I don’t wish to have a relationship with them because they didn’t treat me very well, but I completely understand if you want to see them.

Do you think he’s crazy? Eh, probably not.

If I didn’t know the answer I told them so. Are we going to have to move? I hope not, but I don’t know. I won’t know until I find out what I will be getting in support payments.

I vividly recall the time I took one of the lawyer’s advice about not involving the kids and telling them everything would be okay. Picasso wanted to know if I was going to have to get a job and I responded as I had been coached, telling him not to worry about it, that I was the adult and he was the kid and it was my job to take care of him. His response was that it was his life, too, and whatever I did would affect him. I couldn’t argue with that so I did what I felt was right and I told them the truth.

I even went so far in the very beginning as to remind the kids of good times we had together, like when Picasso commented that his dad couldn’t be bothered to go to Disneyland with us. He did go with us. Don’t you remember? He went on Space Mountain with you, and that one night when I was getting so irritated with you he took over and had more patience with you than I did. Granted, that was in the beginning and I feel like I was correcting misinformation more than anything. I don’t bother with that now, but I have always said I am willing to give him his due when he has done something right.

There have been times these past three years where either of the two kids will start a conversation about their dad. I listen. I commiserate. Sometimes the things they say are funny and I will laugh along with them. Picasso imitating his dad and talking about the horrors of the “Soccer Squadron” comes to mind (CF hated soccer with a passion). Or Rock Star talking about her reaction to his faked breakdown in Olive Garden.

My talks with Rock Star are usually about the way he always portrays himself as the victim, or how no one in that family has ever once reached out to apologize for any of it. Hell, even a simple, “I’m sorry you lost so much,” would be appreciated, and a sign that they realize what he did was selfish. She also talks about the various ways in which he tries to manipulate her and make her feel guilty. She leads and I listen. Sometimes I interject a comment of my own.

Picasso doesn’t say much about his dad although he seems to have a fascination with his own graduation. He honestly doesn’t think his dad will even bother trying to come. He’s asked about the ticket situation and how he could get one. I did tell him that if he didn’t want his dad at his graduation ceremony he needed to be absolutely clear with me on that. Don’t give me the Rock Star treatment where you tell me you don’t care and then go on to say, “You handle it!” and then tell me after the fact that you didn’t want him there. If you don’t want him there, tell me that and I will leave it alone instead of texting him and offering him a ticket.

I will go so far as to say that we actually have conversations, ones with give and take, about these topics. I don’t treat them as taboo, nor do I treat their father as the sacred cow which must be worshipped. We’ve laughed over some things. They’ve made some good points. I’ve used their father’s behavior as a teaching moment, i.e. You don’t cheat on your spouse; you divorce them. I don’t hush them whenever they complain and I don’t pretend that I have no feelings or thoughts on what they are saying or feeling.

Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t insult their dad and I rarely speak of Harley. I don’t feel like we’re ganging up on him but I also don’t sit there quietly all of the time and pretend I have no opinion. I’ve even apologized to them on his behalf because of everything he’s put them through.

 

Spaghetti Sam Turns Three

As you can probably tell by the title I’ve been doing this blogging thing for three years now! In the beginning I posted almost every day; I’ve slowed down quite a bit recently. This will be my 716th post. If I’d kept up my original pace I think I’d have closer to 1000 posts.

I’d like to think that a lot has changed in those three years but I’m not sure it has. When I started this blog I was about 5 months in, having found out my husband was cheating again back in August. I still lived in the family home. We all lived in Virginia. My kids were attending their original high school and middle school. He was paying support. I had money in the bank.

Shortly after I started the blog he made the decision to quit his job of 15 years and move to another state. That was not a good time. I had no idea what was going to happen. Would we have to move back to Indiana and in with my mom? Would my kids have to leave their schools and their friends yet again? Well…. not quite yet.

Life leveled out again for another four months or so and then the bottom dropped out of our world. We packed up, moved in with my mom, started all over again. I found a job. Then I found a second job. Then I found a full time job and kept one of my part time jobs. I cried every day. I begged to be put out of my misery. It was a very long, bleak ten months where I worked my ass off for very little money and exhausted myself.

I finally got my back support which eased the financial burden somewhat. Life became a little less bleak. A wonderful thing happened and I met the mobster. I fell madly in love. In between those two events my beloved Beau died. I was still in limbo with the ex and still having to fight for spousal and child support.

In November I went to court and kicked some ass. In December he began paying support again and I was granted my divorce.

In March of the following year I was promoted. My daughter graduated high school in June. She began college in August and is happy once again. My son got his learner’s permit in October but hasn’t spent a minute behind the wheel of a car.

That brings us to today- January 8, 2019. A lot has happened. Some very bad. Some very good. I’m still not self sufficient. I still don’t have a house of my own. I still don’t make very much money. I’m still fighting with the ex over support. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’m still here, writing.

I’m also made new friends. I’ve reconnected with old friends. I was lucky enough to get out to Utah twice. My kids have really grown emotionally over the last three years and both seem to be at a good place in their lives. Probably the biggest difference between that January day in 2016 and now? The mobster found me. I finally have an amazing relationship- one based on reciprocity, mutual respect, love, and a real partnership.

I never thought I would be part of a couple again. I wasn’t looking for love. I don’t think I really even wanted it or thought it was possible. I figured I was going to spend the rest of my life alone; I was fine with that. Then he came along and changed everything. I would have got there eventually but he made the transition move along so much more quickly and seamlessly.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this next year brings. Happy Birthday to me and my little ol’ blog. I don’t have a ton of followers but I love my regulars. According to my stats I’ve had a total of 26, 892 visitors and 117,611 views. Not exactly staggering numbers when compared to Chump Lady’s four million plus views, but considering I wasn’t sure whether anyone beyond my immediate circle of friends would ever read this, much less follow me, I can’t complain.

Thank you to everyone who comes here and reads what I write. I appreciate you more than you will know. I hope to continue to be entertaining you for a long, long time!

Finally! Christmas Comes For Picasso

It’s only two weeks after Christmas. My son finally got a card from his dear old dad. At least he didn’t neglect entirely, I suppose. Thank goodness for small favors.

Is it me? Am I really expecting too much to think that a person might send Christmas cards to both of his children at the same time instead of sending one card and then waiting another two weeks to send the other? He did this at least once before. I find it bizarre.

I can understand the Easter thing. You go online and order something for one kid from one site; then you order something different from a different site for the other kid. You have no control over how quickly each package reaches the child. But this isn’t something purchased online. This is a Christmas card with a Visa gift card tucked inside. How difficult is it to put a stamp on both of them and drop them off at the mail box together? I will never understand it.

I asked him if his dad wrote anything to him. He said that he did. He mentioned something about him writing that he would like to see him or talk to him again. I asked Picasso if he ever thought about doing so. He quickly replied, “Nope.”

There was no anger. No bitterness. No hesitation. Just, “Nope.”

Hallmark Channel Vs. ID TV

It has been suggested that perhaps I watch too much ID TV; I have also been advised that instead of watching murder and mayhem I should start watching YouTube videos of puppies and kittens. I’m told it will make me smile and make me think of happy things.

Let me set the record straight. I haven’t been watching much TV at all, much less ID TV. Nonetheless I was intrigued by the ads I kept seeing on Facebook. They were advertising sweatshirts that read: This is my Hallmark Christmas movie watching sweatshirt. So I took the plunge and I made the switch.

Can I just say it has been magnificent? Yes, I frequently fell asleep. What do you expect when you watch a movie late at night? Yes, they use a lot of the same actors. Yes, you can predict the plot line a mile away. I didn’t care. I loved it.

It wasn’t without its bumps. My first foray into the madness that is the Hallmark Channel was about a young girl who fell in love with an Army guy. Her mom was against the romance because she, too, had fallen in love with a military man, the girl’s father, years ago. Sadly, he died in the line of duty. She wanted to save her daughter the heartache.

Anyway, the story is moving along the way you expect it to when suddenly they’re reading off names of the service people in the area that have given the ultimate sacrifice. The choir director is going down the list and before you can say, “Merry Christmas” she reads the name Tyler Sloane- the main character’s love interest! WTF, Hallmark? I’m watching you because I’m supposed to be getting happy and being uplifted! What kind of bullshit is this?

I’m thinking it must be a case of mistaken identity but as the story continues the girl is inconsolable in her heartache and grief. I’m watching this with my mouth wide open. I was all set to give this movie a scathing review on Facebook and to warn others who might think that the Hallmark Channel was a marvelous place to hang out. I was livid! How can they kill off the title character’s love interest? What kind of uplifting Christmas love story is this? Bah humbug!

Surprise! At the last minute she picks up an ornament, goes to put it back on the Christmas tree and is stunned speechless. She calls for her mother. There’s a knock on the door. There’s Tyler! It had been a case of mistaken identity! He had been injured but after letting his mom and sister know he was alive he hobbled his way back to her house. Merry Christmas, everybody!

There was a subplot with the mom and how she had closed herself off to love because it hurt too much. Then she ended up opening her heart to a longtime friend. Everyone found love and was happy.

Like I said, I fell asleep to a few others. I did manage to record three to watch on New Year’s Day. I was hoping to finish watching A Bramble House Christmas but it didn’t appear to be in repeats. I’m pretty sure I know how it ends though. So I settled on Christmas In Angel Falls, A Small Town Christmas, and Northern Lights of Christmas.

While I think Rachel Boston is cute as a button and I liked the whole community coming together on Christmas In Angel Falls my favorite movie by far was Northern Lights of Christmas with Ashley Williams.

I loved this movie! I teared up. I cried. It made me feel all sorts of feelz. I know it’s fantasy. I know it’s completely made up, but I want that kind of life!

She’s a pilot (okay, I don’t want to be a pilot) who is hoping to buy her own plane. Gus, who was like a grandfather to her, leaves her his ranch, complete with two reindeer. The ranch is up in Aurora, Alaska where she grew up. She’s now living in Seattle and her parents have retired to Florida. Anyway, the ranch is gorgeous of course and comes complete with a hot handyman. Hot for Zoey, not for me. I’ve got eyes for the mobster only.

Anyway, she goes back there to sell the ranch, believing Gus left it to her so she could realize her dream of buying her own plane to start her own charter business. Everyone knows her. Everyone is so happy to see her. She decides to put on the Christmas Festival at the ranch to attract buyers. The Christmas Festival is something that Gus and Ida put on every year until death and illness stopped them. This balloons into having the craft booths, the hardware ring toss, and the dance afterwards. Lots of happy memories ensue. Ultimately Zoey decides to keep the ranch, stay in Aurora, and have her best friend and her husband help her run a B&B out of the ranch. She also ends up leasing Gus’s old plane and taking over his flight route which he had sold to a guy named Jeff who’s wife just had a baby. Oh, and of course, she and Alec end up together.

Bonus- they end up with three reindeer because the new reindeer was actually part of a pair and the two of them frequently escaped to meet up at the airstrip, which resulted in fines for Zoey since she was the new owner. She and Alec ended up taking the third reindeer, Sadie, so she could be reunited with Palmer and Holly, the original reindeer.

Plus, Anya found Ida’s famous secret Christmas cookie recipe; her cookies were a hit at the festival. It was almost like Gus and Ida were there.

One of my favorites part though that got me right in the heart was when Zoey and Alec were decorating the trees with lights and Zoey commented on how Gus and Ida would plant a Christmas tree for every year they’d been married. I cried. OK, it was more of a tearing up rather than a full on bawling spree, but I was choked up and couldn’t speak and I thought it was beautiful. Now the mobster knows we have to plant trees in honor of our years together. It will work out well though because he likes Christmas and I’m sure he’ll love having fifty or so Christmas trees in the backyard.

I so want to live that life! I know; I know. It’s completely made up. Plus, she was from this small town and was coming back. I would be a stranger in a small town. But I would love to have a gorgeous ranch with reindeer (and some goats; I really like goats.), Christmas trees planted for the mobster and I, throwing a huge Christmas festival on my ranch every year, and running a bed and breakfast. I will have to settle for my annual Ugly Christmas Sweater party which will begin whenever the mobster makes the move up here.

Now, as much as I love these movies, cheesy as they are, I have made a few observations. First, they are always in cold, snowy places. You will never find Christmas in Miami on the Hallmark Channel. They’re always quaint little towns, filled with charm and decorated to the hilt. These towns are complete works of fantasy. It is always snowing. It’s the nice kind of snow- not the wet stuff. The snow is always white, never black or dirty. As a person who lives in an area that gets lots of snow I can vouch for the fact that the snow does not remain pristine and beautiful for long.

It’s also always sunny. I know living in Utah we got a lot of cold, sunny days, but here in Indiana and Michigan the overwhelming color is gray. In fact, we frequently go a month without seeing the sun. Years ago when my oldest wasn’t more than 4 or 5 we’d had so many gray days that when the sun finally shined through the clouds one of my kids asked, “Is that God?” It’s never gray on the Hallmark channel.

Also? As crazy as it sounds they don’t wear hats. Even in Alaska. Zoey and Alec would wear gloves, even a motorcycle helmet. Never a hat. As a person who only recently discovered how incredibly warm a hat keeps you I find it hard to believe a person from Alaska would not wear a hat. But none of them do. I’m not sure their coats were sufficiently warm for the weather.

Those are small quibbles though. I loved it. Like I said, some movies were better than others. All were fairly predictable although that first one really threw me. I’ll be back next year, crossing my fingers that something can possibly top Northern Lights of Christmas.

 

A Tale Of Two Christmases, Part 2

With all that’s been going on with the child support modification and Mr. CF being his usual douche-y self it’s easy to say evil always wins. It’s easy to fall back into thinking that he gets away with everything.

I’m getting a lot less per month than I was originally told. I’m probably going to end up paying my own legal fees to get this lesser amount of money. And who the hell knows how much longer this is all going to go on?

It doesn’t matter. In the end I’ve ended up with the better deal. I took Rock Star and Picasso out to dinner the night she got home from school. We sat there eating, talking, and laughing. Both kids were talking about how they bought me the best gift ever. Rock Star insisted she had outdone herself this year and I was going to love her gift to me. Picasso, in turn, said no way, that the gift he bought me was going to the best gift I had ever received.

Christmas Eve came and we opened gifts. Picasso had bought me a Sega Genesis. We had been to a store like Game Stop where I had seen one and told him how much I had once enjoyed playing Ms. Pac-Man on our Sega Genesis years ago. He commented that it would make a good Christmas gift and I concurred. The Ms. Pac-Man game had been sold so I still need to grab that, but I’ve got the main part!

Rock Star’s gift to me was a necklace. It’s a round silver necklace with a heart cut out from the center. Rock Star has a necklace that goes with mine; hers is the heart cut out from mine. As she explained to me after I opened it: Now I’ll always have a part of you with me wherever I go.

He can be a pain in the ass and drag crap out. He can accuse me of spending all of “his” money on meetups with my boyfriend. He can insist upon paying the bare minimum in child support so that his whore and her kids can have more of his paycheck. He can do his best to make my life hell. He can even continue on with his snide comments.

It’s only money. He’ll always have more money than me. He’ll also always be married to a cheating whore (well, unless she dumps him). And I will always have my kids who will continue to compete over who can buy me the best Christmas gift. Because they love me and I’m important to them. I know it doesn’t matter to him, but it matters to me. As far as I’m concerned I will always come out ahead for that very reason.