Finally! The Truth Is Revealed

Some of you may remember the issue I have with Lucky Charms and Trix.

I suppose I can kind of understand the leprechaun running off with the lucky charms and trying to keep them away from the kids. After all leprechauns are supposed to be little assholes, if not downright evil.

But for the love of God what is wrong with those kids tormenting the poor rabbit whose only sin is wanting to eat a bowl of fruity delicious cereal? I have wondered for years why on earth he couldn’t have the damn cereal. And now I know.

Children & Cheating

There is always discussion on various boards about whether or not to tell children the truth. Thankfully, the tide seems to be turning and more and more parents are opting to be honest while keeping it age appropriate. I’ve never understood those that object to a simple: When you get married you make a promise to each other that you won’t have other boyfriends or girlfriends. Daddy (or Mommy) broke that promise and that’s why we can’t stay married anymore.

It’s age appropriate. You’re not trashing the other parent. It’s honest. The child is not left wondering if his or her parents are getting divorced because they threw a tantrum at the supermarket or got a “D” in school or forgot to feed the dog.

Yet there are still people who argue that children are too young to understand the concept of cheating and that they shouldn’t be burdened with adult problems.

Have you ever played Candy Land or Go Fish with a small child? Believe me, they understand the concept of cheating. You hide that Queen Frostine card and they’re going to call you on your shit. “That’s not fair! You cheated!”

Putting that aside, every time I hear someone argue that children don’t understand cheating and shouldn’t be burdened with that I think of my own daughter and our discussion about her getting married.

She was 3, maybe 4, when she announced to me, like young girls often do, that she’s going to marry her daddy when she grows up.

Had I known then what I know now I would have said, “Baby, I’ve got bad news for you. Your daddy is a big, fat cheater. You don’t want that in your life. Find another man. Also, he’s your father, and that’s gross.”

What I actually said was, “Honey, you can’t marry Daddy. He’s already married to me.”

Again, knowing what I know now, that obviously wouldn’t have stopped him.

So Rock Star decided to do the next best thing. She decided she was going to marry one of her uncles. Again, I had to break it to her that her uncle was also married.

She went down the line until she got to my brother that she didn’t really even like at that time. Actually, it wasn’t so much that she didn’t like him. She was terrified of him.

“You don’t even like him! Besides, he’s married, too.”

“To whom?”

“Your aunt!”

I still remember her defeated little sigh as she said, “I’m never getting married! Everyone’s already married!”

I would like to believe my child is brilliant beyond measure. Honestly, I think she’s very intelligent even if she did tell me on one occasion to tell her brother to stop using big words. Apparently, he was using words in every day conversation that she would reserve for a paper she had to turn in. I believe the word was “invigorating”. Nonetheless, I don’t think she was so incredibly gifted at age 3 or 4 that she alone could comprehend you could only be married to one person at a time. Hell, when she was 3 she wanted to be a butterfly when she grew up.

My whole point, of course, is that my child could understand she couldn’t marry someone if that person was already married to someone else. We weren’t even talking about something nefarious, like cheating. It was a simple explanation that when you’re already married you can’t marry another person. And if you think about it, when she bitterly announced she would never get married because everyone was already married, she already intrinsically knew that the solution wasn’t for that person to get divorced so she could marry him. It never occurred to her. She didn’t say, “Well, he can leave you and marry me instead.” She didn’t even attempt, “Maybe he could be married to both of us.” He was married and that was that to her little 3 or 4 year old brain. So no, I don’t think it’s completely crazy to believe a child can understand the explanation, “When you get married you make a special promise to not have any other boyfriends or girlfriends.” I don’t think it’s involving them in adult situations or putting too much on their shoulders. It’s a simple, age appropriate explanation as to what’s going on.

A Woman’s Responsibility

I have another circumbendibus story for you. I guess it’s not that circumbendibus but I’ll let you decide.

Once upon a time in 1969 there were three precious babies born within 5 months of each other. Spoiler alert! I was one of those babies. The other two were my cousins- one born in January and the other in May.

The cousin that was born in January had a birthday- obviously. I believe he is now retired from the fire department and he has taken to driving buses. He doesn’t drive just any kind of bus. He’s not transporting kids to school. Oh no! He’s driven Lorrie Morgan, Luke Combs, Kane Brown, and Jesse Keith Whitley.

Because I’m Facebook friends with him I saw his message on his birthday where he talked about Jesse Keith (son of country legends Lorrie Morgan and Keith Whitley) calling him up on his birthday and singing to him. It turns out he’s actually friends with this guy now. Like, he’s not just Facebook friends. They go back and forth with each other.

Now, I don’t remember how I came to see this but in the not so distant past I saw a video of him singing his father’s song. I liked it and I downloaded it.

“That’s fascinating stuff, Sam, but why are you telling us this?” I’m sure you are asking. Hold your horses! I told you this was a circumbendibus story!

Because of the exchange between my cousin and Jesse Keith I looked up another YouTube video. In it, he had his mama on stage and sang his father’s hit, “Tell Lorrie I Love Her”. As I am oft to do I began reading the comments.

For those of you who have no idea who these people are I will give a brief overview. Keith Whitley was a country singer who also happened to be an alcoholic. His career was brief, but filled with hits. Maybe some of you might recognize his song, “When You Say Nothing At All.” Allison Krause covered it back in the 90s. He was married to Lorrie Morgan for approximately 3 years, from 1986-1989. They were considered a country superstar duo and then he died of alcohol poisoning.

I have now given you all the background information I need to get on with my main point. Ready?

As I was reading the comments what struck me were the number of people commenting on the relationship between Keith and Lorrie. Many talked about how you could see how much she loved him and how difficult it still was 30+ years later. Others made the comment that if she had loved him so much she shouldn’t have gone on tour. Apparently, it was while she was on tour that he died. And apparently, knowing he was an alcoholic she should have sidelined her career and babysat him.

Look, I have no idea what went on in their relationship. I have no idea how much he had been drinking before she went on tour, and I have no idea if she knew how bad the drinking had become. Hell, who knows if her breaking her contract and refusing to go on tour would have even saved his life? But to have someone actually call into question the love she had for this man because she went on tour? WTF!

Seriously? We women are caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand we’re told no one is responsible for supporting us all of our lives, and especially not after you’ve been cast aside for the newest model; on the other hand, we’re supposed to give up our career for the sake of our husband if that will help him. Or at the very least, we’re expected to put our career on hold so we can take care of our husband.

I hate all the pretentious talk about “the patriarchy” and how it keeps women down, but damn! This is the kind of shit that drives me nuts. As women it’s our duty to disregard what might be best for us and concentrate on what’s best for the man in our life. You’ve got a tour with hundreds of people counting on you for their livelihood? Oh, but hubby needs you. Just cancel it. You have a job that you find fulfilling and allows you to support yourself? Your husband was just offered a promotion 1000 miles away. Looks like you need to leave that job behind in order to make that move. You want to go back to school in order to get a job that pays you well, one that you find personally rewarding as well? Oh, hubby needs you home to take care of the kids, do his laundry, and make his dinner. Just put a pin in those plans until the kids are older.

Most states in the US have no long-term alimony. I know Texas doesn’t. Indiana doesn’t. From what I understand quite a few will award “alimony” while the divorce is in process but it ceases once the divorce is finalized. Others will award rehabilitative alimony for a few years. Basically, the breadwinner has to pay alimony until the dependent spouse has had a chance to either go back to school or otherwise managed to get a job that will support them. It is the courts’ belief that this should only take a few years. Of course, they don’t really care if they have anywhere close to the same standard of living. It’s enough to merely be able to pay rent and buy groceries. If you’re living in a one bedroom apartment in the roughest section of town, who cares? You’re supporting yourself! Congratulations!

It suddenly has occurred to me that we’re not going to make the changes in the courtroom or in Congress. Too many cheaters in power. No way that they will pass laws that hurt themselves. But we can make a change with women. Maybe. Hopefully.

Women, stop putting your husbands first. Start putting yourselves first. Go to school if it betters your career prospects. Get a job. Keep it. Don’t buy anything that you cannot afford on your own. If that means you live in a shittier house than your husband wants- too damn bad. Have him put that extra money aside in savings so that if he gets a bug up his ass and decides to leave for some floozy 20 years younger you’ve got one hell of a savings account to split. Don’t quit when you have children. Don’t move all over hell’s creation for your husband’s career. Don’t be the only one to drive kids all over the place. Don’t be the one picking up dry-cleaning all the time. Don’t cancel your plans for his plans. Don’t be the one who tries to do it all. Period! Make your life count. Make your needs count.

I know it sounds selfish. That’s because we’re used to putting our spouse ahead of ourselves. Don’t.

Not long ago I was reading a woman’s story. She had helped put her husband through med school or law school. Something big. She’d helped him build his career and as they often do, once he became successful he tossed her aside for a newer model. One that hadn’t helped build shit but was going to reap the benefits of that woman’s hard work. The woman was actually chiming in to thank another long time member of the group. She said she remembered sharing her story and that member said to her, and I’m paraphrasing, “Imagine what all you can accomplish if you put as much work and focus into yourself. You helped your husband succeed. Now help yourself succeed.”

And so she did. She took that member’s advice and put all her time and energy into herself and her own career. She went back to school to become a nurse. Her standard of living is nowhere close to what it used to be but everything she has from here on out is hers. She’s not dependent upon a man that will turn on her the minute she’s no longer of use to him. She’s going to be far better off than most of us.

I will leave you with this wise advice I got off Twitter:

Two Sides To Every Story Revisited

I was re-reading one of my very first blog posts. It talked about this idea that there are always two sides to everyone’s story and you shouldn’t judge, blah, blah, blah. You know the rest.

My thesis in that post was: No, there are truths and there are lies. If my story is Jerry Lee cheated on me and abandoned his kids then either that’s true or it’s a lie. In order for there to be two sides Jerry Lee would have to say, “No, I didn’t do those things. Sam thinks I did but we were already separated when I started sleeping with Harley. And furthermore, I didn’t abandon my kids. She poisoned them against me.”

Looking back though I realized I missed the real intent behind that bullshit. I’ve come to the conclusion that when people say, “There are always two sides to every story,” what they really mean is… “Maybe he or she had a really good reason for cheating on you.”

Eureka Moment!

Getting a divorce after being a stay at home mom, or simply being the lower income earner, is like going into business with someone and then dissolving that partnership. You get 50% of what that business is worth, minus 50% of the debts associated with it. Only… you’re the business partner that has to sign a non-compete clause and start over 200 miles away with a completely new business you have to build from the ground up while the other half of the partnership gets to keep the business, the customers, and the income generated.

2022- A Meh Kinda Year

It’s trigger season- that lovely time of the year when all of my Facebook memories show me visiting with my family and friends in Indiana and Utah right before the axe dropped. It’s full of updates about my pool. The trip out to Virginia to buy a house. Our bucket list of things to do before we moved. Pictures of our house in Utah up for sale. Pictures of us moving into our new home in Virginia. Pictures of all of our new furniture and how I decorated my house. It’s right around the time I found out about Harley the first time. It’s June now which means, not D Day, but the day he texted me to tell me he had lost his job and wouldn’t be sending anymore money my way. June 10th. And Father’s Day. Always a jolly holiday in our household. I’ve still got pictures of me renting a U-Haul so the kids and I could move to Indiana after Jerry Lee lost his job to look forward to in late July and August is the month of both of my D-Days- the 10th and the 14th. So many memories to trudge through. Or avoid.

This year, though, it’s been kinda “meh”. Maybe I’m simply too busy with work. I had already put in 38 or 39 hours by the time I logged onto the computer Thursday morning. It’s going to be a hell of a week this week, too.

June 10th came and went with no fanfare, which is exactly what I want. When it first happened it overshadowed DDay as the worst day ever. I thought that day would be a looming anniversary forever. An indelible memory. But once again it passed with almost no notice. I was actually sitting on the couch and I thought to myself, “Oh! Did I completely miss it this year?” I was quite excited and happy. And then I realized it was June 10th. So, it’s still there slightly niggling at my brain, but it’s like a cobweb that I can swipe away.

Today was Father’s Day. It was no biggie. I guess I’ve been fortunate in that I haven’t had to deal with my kids happily trotting off with Jerry Lee and Harley, playing happy new family. I do, however, think about my kids and the fact that their father is such a piece of shit. I’ve said before it will never NOT hurt when he hurts my kids. The fact that neither of my children has a real father they can rely on hurts them, so it hurts me. I believe that in past years Rock Star and Picasso would acknowledge me on Father’s Day. One year I bought myself a Father’s Day gift. This year, though, it was very “meh”. None of us acknowledged it. It was just another day.

It’s nice when it gets to that point. It’s also a little weird. I often think it should mean more. I’m glad it doesn’t.

Next month will mark 6 years since I moved back to Indiana. It will also mark 8 years since we left Utah. I was all set to write a maudlin post next month about how July marks a turning point. We’ve been out of Utah as long as we lived there and every day henceforth would mark more time out of Utah, than in. Perhaps that’s when it becomes a reality. You realize the life you left behind has been gone longer than you had it.

Then I did the math and realized that we weren’t there for a full 8 years. We moved there in November of 2006. We moved to Virginia in July of 2014. We were in Utah 7 years and 8 months. Without even realizing it we were already living this new life outside of Utah longer than we had been living our lives in Utah. Once the math was done and I acknowledged that July wouldn’t be the start of the time clock, that the countdown clock had in fact already begun, it quickly became another “meh” moment. No use in reminiscing. What’s done is done.

It is getting late and I have another long day tomorrow.

A Son Speaks

The funny part about your kids getting older is you don’t always hear what’s going on. If you’re not there in the moment you may miss it altogether. Unless you have a mother who happens to be there and passes it along.

Apparently Picasso told her that one day he’d like to go to Jerry Lee’s house, knock on his door, and when he answered simply tell him, “I’m so disappointed in you,” before walking away.

My son was 13 years old when his dad walked out the door, went to work, and then moved to another state without saying a word to either child. He has not seen or spoken to him since. He might send the occasional birthday or Christmas card. Send a few bucks through Venmo along with a sappy message. And there was that one year he sent Easter gifts to them. But he hasn’t picked up a phone and spoken to or texted his son since February of 2016. He hasn’t seen him in that time either. Six years. Honestly, once his affair was outed he pretty much ceased functioning as a father to his son.

Picasso turns 20 this July. Six and a half years since he’s seen his father, almost 7 years since his dad stopped being a dad. 13 years old. Just when a boy probably needs his dad the most. He navigated all of his teen years with no dad in sight. All this time has passed and yet it still weighs heavily upon him.

He calls him by his first name, you know. Refuses to speak of “dad”.

“I’m so disappointed in you.” I think that one sentence speaks volumes.

I Am Doing Well

Rock Star had a birthday recently. My mom, the mobster, and I all went down to Muncie to help her celebrate. We went to a really cute winery right there in the city, not far at all from her house. Afterwards we went to a hibachi grill for dinner.

On the car ride over to the winery she told us all that her father had messaged her on Facebook.

Happy Birthday! I am doing well. So proud of you. Wow- 22!

She said it took her a few moments to wrap her mind around what had transpired. He made her birthday all about him. Hey, happy birthday, kid! By the way, I am doing great. Can I tell you all about it?

Apparently, this is the year he decided to cut off birthday gifts. Nothing sent to her. Just well wishes and a notification that he was doing well. Because isn’t that always your first thought on your birthday? I wonder how everyone else in my life is doing. Me? Oh, I’m just celebrating a birthday. Comes along every year! Let’s talk about you!

I am ashamed that I procreated with this man. Even more ashamed that I actually thought he was going to be a great dad.

Update: This took place June 3rd. I just saw Rock Star. Her dad still has not sent her a birthday gift. She thinks he’s punishing her for not immediately telling him that of course he would get an invitation to her graduation, and she’s pissed.

A Sweet Moment

My English professor once told me I needed to prune my words. Prune. So I’m going to give this my best shot.

I had a very sweet moment with my two kids today. Rock Star just turned 22 and Picasso will turn 20 in 2 weeks. This is important to the story.

Short version: Fuckwit dad disappears for months. Suddenly reappears and asks his kids, young teens, if they have bank accounts yet and lets them know if they don’t he’s willing to open up a joint account with each of them. Mom is suspicious about this. As she puts it he never does anything unless it will benefit him so she’s wondering what his angle is.

Several people agree with her suspicions. All is fine until one commenter declares that there is no reason for that father to be on his kids’ account and furthermore, any parent who is on their child’s account is controlling and abusive. People replied that in the US a parent is almost always required to be on an account with a minor. I know that’s true at the bank where I work. That’s when the stance became: If you must be on their account while they’re a minor then you should immediately remove yourself once they turn 18 because you have no business being on that account at that point. Anything less is controlling and abusive. The end. Period. Voice of authority says so, therefore it is so.

I could have argued with this person but I figured it would be far better to go to the source. This person believes they are the voice of every child who has a parent on their bank account? Well, I’ve got two kids of my own and I’m on their account. I asked them how they felt about it.

“Hey kids! Quick poll for you. Some stranger on the internet thinks it’s controlling and abusive for a parent to be on their child’s checking account. They also think once the child turns 18 the parent should immediately remove themselves from the account. So, if I were stupid enough to listen to internet strangers and took myself off of your account would you be saying, “Thanks, Mom! It was so controlling and abusive and I just didn’t know how to tell you,” or would you be saying, “Thanks, random internet stranger. Now my mom can no longer randomly transfer money in my account,”?

Shockingly, both of them said they appreciated the fact that I randomly transfer money into their accounts and said they would prefer I not stop that. Rock Star said if I was stealing money from them then it would be abusive but since I’m not she had no problems with it. Picasso agreed with her. He went on to state that he knew of parents who did stuff like that and even mentioned a friend of his who had to hide money from his mom. Rock Star named someone as well. And then the sweet moment happened.

Picasso wrote: Mom, I don’t know if you realize, but you are a good parent.

And then by the miracle of iPhones Rock Star was able to “emphasize” his statement.

Awww! Folks, I was in a restaurant getting ready to eat some chicken wings. I almost cried!

Rock Star went on to say, quite sagely, that parents that are being abusive to their kids probably wouldn’t be reading a post discussing how to be a good parent. Picasso agreed with her and added that they also probably either think they are a good parent or they just don’t care. And then again he melted my heart when he wrote, “We love you, Mom.”

Then it got very sappy. Rock Star added on, “To the moon and back,” which is funny because I always associate that with what Tammy Faye and Jerry Lee would say. But she reminded me a while ago that when she was little I would read the book, “Guess How Much I Love You” to her. Little Nutbrown Hare tells Big Nutbrown Hare how much he loves him. Each time Big Nutbrown Hare agrees that that is indeed a lot and then goes on to add to it. At the very end Little Nutbrown Hare tells his dad “I love you right up to the moon.” Big Nutbrown Hare says that is very, very far indeed and with that, Little Nutbrown Hare falls asleep. Then Big Nutbrown Hare whispers, “I love you right up to the moon… and back.”

Because Big Nutbrown Hare always loves Little Nutbrown hare more I couldn’t leave it with my daughter declaring her love for me to the moon and back, so I told them I loved to Mars and back, or whichever planet was furthest. I added that Picasso probably remembered which one it was from his solar system program in kindergarten.

Sure enough, he writes: …it’s Pluto, though Neptune is sometimes further since Pluto has an elliptical orbit.

It’s a mouthful, but it had to be said: I love you both to Pluto, and sometimes Neptune because of Pluto’s elliptical orbit, and back.

It’s the Best Decision I Ever Made!!!

Oh boy! Another former co-worker had a baby and opted to be a stay-at-home mom. This makes three in the last 2+ years. She announced it on Facebook and so many people chimed in to tell her how happy they were for her.

“You’re going to love it!”

“So happy for you!”

“Being a stay at home mom is the best!”

“So glad you’re going to stay home!”

“You’ll never regret it!”

“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made!”

I didn’t comment. I didn’t feel it would be appropriate.

The reality is no one wants to be told they’re doing something that could prove to be financially devastating to them. They don’t want to hear about everything that could wrong. We’re not taught to plan for the worse; we’re always told to look on the bright side and think positive! The person who attempts to interject reality into this fabulous fantasy is labeled bitter, jealous, and jaded. Plus, I realize it might all work out exactly as they’ve planned. I hear that sometimes happens for other people. I guess in that case you’ve made a mountain out of a mole hill. Jellybean’d on their dreams for no reason. Not to mention looking like a bitter, jealous, crazy woman who wants everyone to be miserable. So I don’t comment. With that said (or left unsaid)…

It’s the best decision you’ve ever made? Really? Because I look back on my time as a stay at home mom and while, yes, I did enjoy my time with my kids, I think it was the absolute worst decision I could have made. When the discard came 15 years later I lost everything. Primarily because I didn’t have a job or any way to support my kids.

Had I not gotten a divorce I might be singing a different tune. I might be one of those people telling her how amazing it is. Then again, if I didn’t get a divorce I wouldn’t be living in Indiana. If I didn’t live in Indiana (and I didn’t get a divorce) I wouldn’t have taken a job at the bank. If I didn’t take the job at the bank I wouldn’t have met her, and therefore would not be Facebook friends with her. It’s a real If-You-Give-A-Mouse-A-Cookie situation.

You’ll never regret it? Hmmm…. I suppose that depends upon how your marriage works out. Again, if you remain married I would imagine you wouldn’t regret your decision much at all. He tosses you aside for a new model after 15, 20, 25 years and you’ve got to go out and hustle to get a job after all that time at home, you might be regretting it.

I find it a little sad that I view life that way now. This woman is so overjoyed with her new baby and being able to stay at home with her and all I can think about is how this has the potential to go horribly wrong years down the road.

Honestly, I’m happy that they can go all in. I’m happy that they feel like they can trust their husbands. I’m happy they seem to truly work as a team. Good for them. That’s over for me but hooray to whoever can still have that. I mean that sincerely.

I think that when marriage works as it’s intended to it can be a very, very good thing. Two people working towards a common goal. Two people supporting each other and each other’s dreams. Two people raising their family and having the best interests of their children at the forefront.

The problem comes, of course, when it no longer works as intended. When the woman who worked a full-time job so that she could put her husband through law school gets discarded once her husband graduates from law school and begins to finally make good money. When the woman who has moved around the world in support of her husband’s career, and at the expense of her own, is tossed aside for a younger model, When the woman who chose to stay at home with her kids and take care of everything related to the home so that her husband could concentrate on his career and his climb up the corporate ladder is replaced by a woman who makes good money herself. That’s when we say to ourselves, “I never should have done that. That was NOT the best decision I’ve ever made and I DO really regret it!”

Unfortunately, it’s one of those things where you don’t know what you don’t know. Until your world comes crumbling down and you find out that those decisions that felt so right back when you made them 10, 15, 20 years ago, turned out to be so, so wrong.

The truth is most people don’t live their lives thinking of worst case scenarios. They don’t make their decisions based upon, “What if I get divorced?” or, “Could I do this completely on my own if I had to?” I certainly didn’t back when I was married. I naively thought that I would never get divorced, and if I did… Well, I saw my mom do very well for herself after her divorce and had heard of other women who began careers after their kids were grown and out of the house. I didn’t think I would have any difficulty.

I’ve said before I enjoyed being home with my two kids. I enjoyed taking them to school and running them around to all of their practices and games. I loved being able to take them places and do things with them in the summer and when they were on break. I’m thankful for all the memories we were able to make. I did love it. And had I remained married I would still think it was a wise and wonderful choice. But I didn’t remain married. Instead I was forced out of everything I ever knew and had to find a job after being out of the job market for 15 years. No one wanted to hire me. I suffered. My kids suffered. We lost almost everything. We had to move 600 miles away. I worked 2 jobs for almost a year. I didn’t have much time for my kids. I went from being a 100% dedicated stay at home mom who did everything for my kids, to being someone who was constantly exhausted, worked ridiculous hours trying to pay my bills and support my kids, and never had time for my kids. I think that abrupt shift from Mother Extraordinaire to Pretty Shitty Mom hurt my kids more than anything. In the end staying at home was the worst decision I could have ever made and I definitely regretted my decision.

I sincerely hope that all of these former co-workers who are so happy to quit their jobs and stay home with their babies don’t find themselves wearing my shoes 15-20 years from now.