Six Years Ago Today

Time flies when you’re having fun. Six years ago today I had my U-Haul packed up and I loaded my two kids and the three dogs into our multiple vehicles and headed off towards Indiana. My brother drove the U-Haul and took Picasso with him. My mom had her own car, although I’m not sure if Rock Star drove with her or me. I’m fairly confident I had all of the dogs.

I remember crying as I drove out of the neighborhood. It was not supposed to be like this; however, with Jerry Lee basically getting fired and deciding that he wasn’t going to go back to work anytime soon, I didn’t have much of a choice. Even if I started working right away I wouldn’t have been able to pay the mortgage, even if that’s the only thing I paid each month.

I remember pulling into my mom’s driveway, going into the house, and thinking, “Now what?”

Now shit would get real. I had to enroll kids in school. I had to apply for Medicaid because this was back when you were fined for not having insurance. I had to apply for free lunches and textbooks. I had to find a job, which would end up taking three months. I would end up getting hired on at the bank in another month but wouldn’t start until January.

Six years. Huh. I suppose a lot has changed in those six years. I made it through the divorce. I made it through working two jobs. I met the mobster. I finally have a bed and a bedroom of my own. I finally have a job where I make a decent amount of money instead of crossing my fingers each month that Jerry Lee will pay his support in full and not modify it yet again. I finally have a kick ass legal agreement that puts Jerry Lee in jail if he fails to pay. Rock Star will soon graduate and will be fully launched by this time next year. Picasso is working on it.

And while this happens EVERY year today is also National Cheesecake Day. If you live close to a Cheesecake Factory you can go in and get yourself a slice of cheesecake. I think it was free, but it may be half price now. You can’t get carry out but you don’t need to order anything other than the cheesecake in the restaurant. Go get yourself some cheesecake! Make this day a happy one!

Eight Years Ago Today

Eight years ago today I climbed in my minivan with my daughter, my niece, and my three dogs and 2 cats and began the drive from Utah to Virginia. It was supposed to be the beginning of a new life. In a way, I guess it was. Just not the way I had originally thought.

The trip would take 3 days. We would stop the first night in Grand Island, Nebraska. It was a good 12 hours into our trip. Maybe more. We would make it to South Bend the second day so I could drop off my niece. Plus, I wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel room because I would stay at my mom’s house. The third day Rock Star, the dogs, and the cats, and I would finish up the trip- a mere 8 hours.

If you remember anything about foreshadowing from your days of high school English then you should know I should have realized this move was going to be a disaster. The engine in my car was overheating, or doing some other funny thing. I took it into a dealership the following morning before our trip began. They couldn’t get the part in that day but were willing to try to rig something up for me so I could make it “home”. Looking back I remember thinking I absolutely HAD to be there for when the movers came. In hindsight I should have waited for the damn part and just hung out in Indiana. But no! I was so worried about poor Jerry Lee, and how he would deal with the movers all by his little self. So I got in the car and preceded to listen to the damn door chime for the next 8-10 hours. I had asked them to pull the fuse at the dealership and they looked at me like I had grown a second head. Jerry Lee helpfully sent me a diagram but I’m no mechanic. The fuse remained and I got to listen to the door chime all the way to Virginia. But wait! There’s more!

The trip to Harrisonburg from South Bend is mainly toll roads so why I had my GPS on from the beginning I don’t know. I had bought a new charger for my car. I’m not sure what exactly happened. Maybe the charger wasn’t pushed in all the way, but about 2 hours before we hit our destination my phone died and my brand new charger wasn’t working. My GPS was my only source of directions. I had been to my new house twice and both of those times had occurred over a month prior to this visit. I wasn’t sure I could find Jerry Lee’s hotel. I was panicking. With some quick thinking we managed to contact a friend back in Utah who placed a call to Jerry Lee. I think we were able to get directions off of Rock Star’s iPad. She wrote them down so we would have them if her iPad died. She told me later she feared I was going to drive off the mountain.

I don’t recall being that upset but between leaving hours later than we planned, the dinging that went on for approximately 10 hours, the fact my engine light was once again coming on, and having no fucking clue where I was going, I might have been a little stressed.

That trip was my harbinger of doom. I ignored it. Just like I ignored all of Harley’s pictures on her Facebook and the fact she had taken her wedding picture down. Just like I ignored the supposed name snafu where Jerry Lee was going to register the deed to our new house in his name only because one of our names had a typo in it. I still remember telling him, “You better make sure this is what you want because once I make this move you’re stuck with me.” I was telling him he had one last chance to pull the plug on our marriage and go chase down the gold digging whore. Go get her if that’s what you want, but if that’s the case then don’t drag me and the kids away to Virginia away from all of our friends and the lives that we love. You know the story. Liars lie. Turns out he wasn’t stuck with me. He just up and quit his job and moved out of the state he drug us to.

A year after moving in I found out Jerry Lee and Harley were back at it. If they had ever stopped. Two years after moving in I sold off all the furniture I could, had a giant yard sale, and left everything else behind when the kids and I moved to Indiana and in with my mom. Both of the cats that made the trip with us died while we were in Virginia and I only have one of those dogs today. My kids have grown up, too.

Eight years. A lot has changed. Looking back at those pictures and those of the days leading up to the move, I had no idea what was in store for me or my kids.

Thanks for the reminder, Facebook.

New Wife Signs the Alimony Checks

The other day I was doing some research when I came upon a series of checks that were clearly labeled as alimony. What I found interesting was that the new wife was the one who wrote and signed every single one of these checks. $25,000 a pop.

Huh. One part of me says, “What a cunt.” Does it make her feel good writing those checks out to the ex? Letting her know there’s a new bitch in town? Ha- I took your life. You get the table scraps.

The other part genuinely wonders how she likes writing out that $25,000 check each month. The ex gets $300,000 a year. How long? I don’t know. But she’s getting it right now. Good for her!

Of course, if she’s getting $300,000 a year from him I’m sure he’s making much, much more than that. Hopefully, in addition to the monthly payments she receives, she also received at least half of everything they owned together.

Does the new wife resent writing that check? Or does she feel like it’s a small price to pay to garner herself a high earning husband? Does she ever wonder if he’s thinking she wasn’t worth the $300,000 per year he now has to pay his ex? Probably not. They all think they’re super special.

I will admit, that despite knowing the money spends the same whether it’s the whore or the whoremonger writing the check, I’m thankful that throughout my entire ordeal over the last 6 1/2 years I’ve only had to deal with Harley writing the check once.

I cashed it. Didn’t make a big deal about it. Hell, didn’t make any kind of a deal about it. Told myself it all spends the same. But still…. there’s just something about the person who has stolen your life writing a support check to you.

I have no proof of this but I would not be surprised to find out that Harley was not happy about the amount of money Jerry Lee was supposed to pay me.

In the beginning of their affair he was handing over more than $5000 a month to her. She had quite the time. They both did. And then court happened and suddenly he was handing over about 65% or so of his check to me. Harley got a pay cut. A big pay cut. So it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out she didn’t enjoy writing that check. At the very least, let’s say it was a hell of a lot easier for me to cash it and spend the money than it was for her to write it and watch all of that money go out of her bank account.

I think back to the various times Jerry Lee decided to modify the agreement on his own. He never stuck to the original agreement which was to pay twice a month, every other week. When things came up, like his mother’s funeral, he just didn’t pay what he owed until the following month. Then he cut child support in half. That gave them almost an additional thousand dollars a month to spend on themselves. Then he lost his job (again) and cut spousal support off. Once he finally began paying again he shorted me by more than a thousand dollars each month.

All that time he and Harley were living it up. They never downsized their house. They never downsized their spending. Her kids certainly didn’t do without. No, it was always taken from me and my kids.

So when I was finally able to take him back to court I’m sure it was quite the wake up call. He went from being able to pay whenever it was convenient for him to having to directly deposit my money into my account twice a month- the 15th and the last day of the month. He went from modifying my spousal support to whatever amount allowed him and Harley to live as they felt entitled to live, back to paying the full amount he was court ordered to pay. He went from cutting child support in half to finally being modified to the correct amount- and having to pay over $20,000 in arrears from all that time he had refused to modify the order. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when his lawyer told him to sign or be prepared to go to jail. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Jerry Lee had to break the news to Harley that they were going to be out a hell of a lot more money than they had planned- and if he tried to get around paying he would go to jail, thanks to the clause I had put in there.

Maybe she had no reaction. Maybe she was fine and dandy with losing over half of his paycheck once again. Maybe it made absolutely no difference in their lifestyle. I’d like to think her head exploded though. Just like I hope it chafes the second wife’s ass to write out those $25,000 checks to the first wife each month.

Stop Expecting Them To Parent!

I think one of the saddest things I see on infidelity boards are the parents that ask in anguish, “Why won’t the fuckwit have anything to do with our children? How can they just abandon their own flesh and blood?”

I frequently see posts from people who are frustrated that the fuckwit won’t help out with the kids, won’t take them for visitation, doesn’t show up when they’re supposed to, and of course, hasn’t seen the kids in months or years.

I recall reading a post on a blog from someone who was irritated that her ex wouldn’t help out with his kid. At the time I told her she needed to pretend that he didn’t exist and that she only had herself and her support system to rely upon. I think she was a little befuddled because her response was along the lines of, “But this is his child! Shouldn’t he be doing this for our child? He’s the other parent; I should be able to rely on him and expect him to do his part! This is for our child, not me!”

My response to that was, “Yes, obviously he should but he’s not going to so stop beating your head against a brick wall and control what you can control.” What she could control, of course, was herself. Not him.

I spent six months living in the same house as Jerry Lee after D-Day. Not one time did he help out with the kids. I believe he asked Picasso once if he needed a ride but that was it. Then he moved 6-7 hours away and he’s never lived in the same state as his kids since then. I had no choice but to take on everything myself.

Maybe that was a blessing in disguise. I never had false hope that the other parent would step up and do his part. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wouldn’t.

Maybe I spent too much time on other boards, boards populated by single moms who shared children with absent fathers. Their attitude was primarily, “Put on your combat boots and get shit done yourself.”

I think that’s why I advocate for people forming outside support systems. It’s why I recommend not relying on the other parent. And if you’re going to rely on the other parent then make sure you have a backup plan. It’s why I recommend having everything your child needs at your house and the other parent having everything the child needs at their house.

Stop begging an uninterested person to remain in your child’s life. That’s giving the fuckwit more power than they deserve. It makes them central. If they’re going to ditch your kid they’re going to ditch your kid and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. The only thing you’ll be able to do is potentially prolong it. I have heard so many stories where once the sane parent finally drops the rope and puts the relationship responsibility on the now adult child and the other parent it fizzles out, or the now adult child puts an immediate end to it.

Stop being shocked when they flake on you. Expect it. Have that backup plan ready.

I guess maybe in many ways I was lucky that I was the one that handled everything that went along with Rock Star and Picasso. I could figure out how to get both kids to hockey and gymnastics on the same nights when Jerry Lee was at an out of town meeting. He seemed incapable, but I could do it. I was used to taking 2 young kids on a cross country vacation with no help from him even when we were married. I could figure out how to get Rock Star to gymnastics practice early and then return in time to pick Picasso up from school at the regular time. I could figure out how to get Picasso to his hockey tournament (three games played throughout the day) on the same day as Rock Star’s state gymnastics meet. I could figure out how to get a kid to orchestra and arrange a breakfast for the teacher’s at the same time. I could figure out how to arrange for childcare while I volunteered at church. And I even figured out how to arrange for childcare while I went out of town for a weekend with church friends so we could go to a women’s conference.

It involved about 16 hours of driving and leaving children in two separate states but I arranged it! I drove Rock Star from Michigan to Kentucky to stay with her grandmother down there and then I drove Picasso back up from Kentucky to Indiana to stay with my mom. From there I drove back on up to Michigan and my friends and I left for the conference the next day. And I got to turn around and do it all over again a few days later in order to pick them back up.

Is it better when you’ve got a 2 person tag team taking on childcare responsibilities? I’m sure it is. But you can do it without them. My advice, just like the advice I gave to that woman on her blog, is to stop banging your head against a brick wall. Be prepared to take on all the responsibility. Don’t rely upon the other parent. If they come through it’s an unexpected bonus. If they don’t, you’ve got this.

If the other parent is still involved and reliable I think that’s great. I’m not suggesting you attempt to oust them from their kids’ lives. But if you’ve got an ex who doesn’t take much an interest in your children then please stop giving them the power to hurt you and your kids. Your kids need one sane parent. Stop offering up your child like a lamb to slaughter. You don’t mention visitation. If the other parent shows up you send them with them. If they don’t show up they have no idea the other parent was even supposed to be there. You don’t call them and beg them to show up for birthdays or holidays. You take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to share those moments. You don’t ask if they’ll be using their visitation. You don’t remind them of the days they have. They are adults and I trust are able to read their visitation schedule. If you’ve got plans you get yourself a backup in case the other parent doesn’t show. If you didn’t have plans now is your chance to do whatever you want with your kids, whether that’s spending the evening at home, or going out and doing something fun.

Can it be heartbreaking for your child when the other parent abandons them? Of course it can be! More so I think if your child is old enough to remember the other parent being around. In other cases, if the parent disappears early enough they may not even really remember them. Just remember, this is not something you can control. You are not responsible for their shitty choices. You concentrate on being the best parent you can be.

What you can control is taking charge of your life. You can refuse to be at the mercy of a fuckwit. You can refuse to be held hostage to their whims. Put that support system in place. Make your backup plan. Have a backup for your backup plan if necessary. That way when they call you twenty minutes before pickup and let you know they can’t make it you’re not flipping out because you had planned on going out for a long overdue night out with friends. You’ve got this. You’ve already made arrangements. You’re never disappointed that your ex can’t pick up your daughter while you take your son to soccer. You’ve already got this handled.

Kids, Dating, and Introductions

This will be a short rant. It’s not even really a rant when I think about it. I’m simply curious.

I see so many people talk about not introducing their kids to the people they’re dating. That’s fine, I suppose. No one says you have to introduce your kids to everyone you go out with. But these are the same people who insist to everyone else you shouldn’t introduce anyone you’re dating until you’ve been together at least six months; some even say twelve months.

Why?

I understand not introducing everyone you date as your kids’ new mommy or daddy. Definitely a bad thing to do. But simply introducing them? I don’t get it.

I knew of a single mom who said she didn’t introduce any of the people she dated to her two kids because she thought of dating as something she did for herself. She wasn’t planning on getting married or adding someone to the family so there was no need for anyone to meet them. She was completely upfront about the fact that she was selfish (her words) when it came to her dating life; she wanted something that was just for her and that she didn’t need to share with her daughters. If she was out on a date she wanted to forget about being a mom; she had no desire to blend her dating life with her life as a mom.

I understand that. It wasn’t that she had some moral objection to introducing her children to the men she sometimes dated; she felt it was unnecessary because she didn’t ever intend to merge any of these men into her life with her girls. But the people I’m talking about? They’re not objecting because they feel there’s no reason to introduce them. Instead they argue that introducing your dates to your children is confusing to them. More specifically, it’s confusing to them when Mommy (it’s almost always Mommy) introduces them to someone and she ends up not marrying him. He’s only around for a few weeks or a few months. You must wait until you know this relationship is serious.

Ok. Why?

Children have numerous people enter and exit their lives. Coaches that coach only a single season. Teachers that transfer schools after one school year. Neighbors and friends that move. They switch teams or move up in sports. They stop participating in activities because they’re no longer interested. They switch schools. They move and leave behind everything. They have different teachers, coaches, music teachers, etc. It’s not as though every child has a life that never involves any sort of change. I’m not sure any child has a life that involves no change. People are entering and exiting their lives all the time.

To be clear I don’t think it’s a good idea to move in your boyfriend (or girlfriend) of one week right after a breakup or divorce. I don’t agree with introducing them as “New Mommy” or “New Daddy”. Or even “Your other Mommy/Daddy”. But I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with simply saying, “Hey, kids! This is my friend, Joe. We’re going out for dinner tonight. I’ll be home in a few hours. Have fun with Aunt Ruby.”

I was going to follow in that woman’s footsteps- the one who was going to keep her dating life and her mom life separate. The mobster was going to be my little secret. He was going to belong to me and me alone. I wasn’t going to introduce the kids; I would simply spend a weekend away once in a while. I was going to keep my life with Picasso and Rock Star separate from my life with the mobster.

Do you know why I changed my mind? Because I didn’t want my kids to think that there was anything wrong with me dating. I didn’t want to have to hide the mobster. I didn’t want them to think dating after divorce meant you had to sneak around and that somehow I was doing something I should be ashamed of. I wanted to normalize the idea of me dating.

My kids have never met Harley. Almost 7 years after they found out their parents were divorcing due to Jerry Lee’s infidelity and they still have not met the woman that helped to destroy their lives as they knew them. They don’t want to meet her either, but the fact is their father has never once even tried to introduce them. He has never spoken to them about her, aside from admitting to Picasso that he had a girlfriend. He’s never spoken about her except to defend her when his daughter let him know she was posting all over social media about missing him being in her bed. He’s never attempted to broker a meeting despite running off to her house every single weekend for six months, and despite his kids knowing she existed. Harley is a dirty little open secret.

When I started dating, and realized this might get serious, I didn’t want them to think that there was anything wrong with me dating. And as stated above, I I didn’t want them to think I was ashamed of the mobster or that we were doing anything wrong.

We began texting towards the end of May, met for the first time June 9th. After we met up for the second time, later that month, I asked him if he’d like to meet my kids. When he came up again in July I asked Picasso if he wanted to meet him. I told him he didn’t have to if he wasn’t ready or didn’t want to, but if he did want to the mobster would love to meet him. Picasso told me he was interested in meeting him so we ended up going to breakfast together, I believe. Ironically, Rock Star was in Virginia that weekend so she didn’t get to meet him that weekend. Her introduction to him happened at the end of the summer when the mobster and his daughter came up over Labor Day weekend. And that was my first time meeting his daughter in person, although I’m pretty sure we had said hello over video chat.

Yes, my kids were older. His kids were older. Plus, we had many weekends away with just the two of us. I guess if our relationship had ended it wouldn’t really affect our kids because most of our time was spent together, without our kids.

Maybe if they had been younger and a bit more gullible I would have delayed making introductions. Maybe.

As it played out though I decided I wanted to teach my kids that me dating wasn’t some dirty little secret I needed to be ashamed of and hide. And I didn’t want them thinking the mobster was a dirty little secret either.

End of rant.

The Name Game

As y’all may remember I changed my name back to my maiden name when I divorced Jerry Lee. I didn’t want his name anymore. Or rather, I no longer wished to be associated with him anymore because let’s face it, once we got married and I changed my last name to match his it became my goddamn name.

There always seems to be discussion on changing your name back on the various boards I read. My stance is pretty simple. The last name is yours. Do with it what you wish. You want to get rid of it and go back to your maiden name? Get rid of it and go back to your maiden name; I did. You want to keep it? Then keep it. No one else gets to have an opinion. That includes the replacement, the cheating STBX, or even, sadly, the betrayed male spouse. Yes, my stance remains the same even then.

You think your new boyfriend’s/husband’s ex should change her last name back to her maiden name? You don’t like that she still has “his” name? It’s not your decision to make. It’s her last name now, not solely his.

You want your ex-wife to go back to her maiden name because you want to “bestow” that name upon a new woman? No one’s stopping you, Romeo. But you don’t get a say in whether or not your ex changes her name. Your choice was to be faithful or cheat. Now she gets to make choices.

Your ex-wife cheated on you and you think she should stop using your name? Again, I’m sorry. I really am. I know it must suck to have someone you despise share a name with you, but when you married her you gave her that name. It’s now hers. It was never a loaner.

Someone asked, “Why would she want to keep it when she cheated on me?” I can think of several reasons.

Practically speaking it can be a pain in the ass to change your name, especially now in the time of Covid-19. I just went through helping my son change his last name a year ago and let me tell you it was quite the process, and this was without having to change diplomas, credit cards, etc. I realize we probably had to take a few extra steps, like advertising in the paper, but it was still a lengthy, time-consuming process. Just getting the change at the Social Security office was a nightmare. Their offices are still closed so everything had to be sent in the mail- birth certificates, social security cards, high school transcripts, IDs. No one was answering phones so you had no idea if what you were sending in was correct (and in our case it wasn’t so we had to send in all new things). You needed to get everything changed at the Social Security office before you could do anything else- like getting a new State ID or driver’s license, or changing your medical records or updating your information at your bank. Hell, I still have credit cards in my old last name. My email address still has my old last name as well.

Many women also want to share a last name with their children. Most children are given the last name of their father. They frequently point out how travel and other issues can be more difficult when you don’t have the same last name as your child. It’s yet another slap in the face to think that your child’s stepmom can get information about your child or travel with your child with no one questioning them because they share a last name, while you, the legal parent, has to jump through hoops and prove your relationship to them if your name is different.

Also, as some people point out, they’ve had their married name longer than they had their maiden name. That wasn’t my situation but I’d still been Sam Jackass for 20+ years. Most of my adult friends knew me by that name instead of Sam Awesome.

Even with those three reasons listed above it still comes down to this: When you get married and legally take someone else’s name that name becomes your name. No one else gets to tell you to get rid of it. It’s yours to change if you choose. This isn’t semantics. It is your legal name.

In my situation I asked Jerry Lee how he would feel if I hyphenated my name when we got married. I know you will all be shocked to find out he was not happy with that idea at all. Oh no! I was to take his last name when we married.

Little Miss Harley hyphenated her name when she was married to The Saint. Now, I don’t know if she chose not to hyphenate it this time around because she just loved Jerry Lee so much she wanted to be all Jackass instead of Skank-Jackass, or if he pouted again and asked, “How could you not want to be all Jackass?”

So here’s my solution, fellas. Stop giving your name away! Seriously. When you’re getting engaged let it be known that you realize she’s her own person and you don’t expect her to take on a different name. She’s been Jane Smith for 20+ years and just because she’s marrying you doesn’t mean she has to suddenly become Jane Jones. If you’re insisting that she take your name then realize it’s now her legal name. She’s free to do with it what she wishes. She doesn’t have to give it back if things go south.

Personally, I think we should stop taking the man’s last name and we should start giving our children our last name instead of the man’s. As one person pointed out, “You have to do a DNA test to prove the children belong to the father. Not so with the mother.” And as another made note, ”So many times these men abandon their children and the woman is left either keeping a last name she no longer wants, or her name is different from that of her children, even though she’s the one raising them and he’s off doing God only knows what.”

Tag!

Did you know they have professional tag now? Professional tag! I swear, they will make anything a competitive sport.

My mom, Sweet J, and I were out to eat and ESPN was on. TVs all around us. We couldn’t get away from it. I’m watching these men run around and it really looked like one was trying to catch the other. I said to my dining companions, “It looks like they’re playing tag.”

Well, wouldn’t you know it, ESPN had the tag at the bottom of the screen and it said something about the WCT Championships. I was curious so I googled it.

World Chase Tag. I’ll be damned. To be fair it is an international championship for competitive parkour involving the game of tag. So, they’re not simply running around trying to catch one another. Sometimes they do stunts, too.

This has been going on for 11 years. Who knew?

If you go to their webpage (yes, they have a webpage) you will see that they bill themselves as the “world’ first and only global competitive Tag organization.”

You know why it’s the only global competitive Tag organization? Because most people beyond the age of 10 don’t play tag anymore! Hell, do kids even know how to play it anymore?

I thought it was crazy when I found out they have professional corn hole tournaments. This beats that.

Beating A Dead Horse

Honestly, I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but I am astounded.

“Why?” you ask.

I would love to tell you. I see women come to support boards. They’ve been a stay at home mom for years. Some of them homeschool. They are at the mercy of the very man who cheated on them and left them in financial disarray. And then they ask, “Will the judge award me enough child support (and/or alimony, in some cases) that I can continue to stay at home with my children?”

You continue the conversation and let them know that they are probably going to have to get a job. That’s when they hit you with, “But I homeschool!” or “But I have young children! They’ve never been in daycare.” Or even, “How can I even consider getting a job when daycare costs will eat up everything I make? I might even lose money!”

Honey, the judge doesn’t care. I know this wasn’t what you had planned. But it’s your reality now. For every one woman who tells you she is able to manage to get by on support payments alone you’ll hear from over 100 that will tell you they had to get a job. No judge is going to award you 90% or more of your ex-husband’s paycheck. You’d be lucky to get half and that’s a rare occurrence.

I get it. I really do. You’ve been blindsided. Your whole world has been turned upside down. You are grasping desperately for anything that might provide a semblance of normalcy.

I say this as gently as possible. You must let go. Holding on to that old life of yours is doing you no favors.

I was that woman once upon a time. I found out my husband was cheating on me six days after our $57,000.00 inground pool was finally filled. I lived off of what he was willing to give me (what he had incorrectly been told he would be ordered to pay) and the money I had transferred into my own account. And then I lived primarily off of the temporary spousal and child support, which gave me a lot more room to breathe, my half of what remained of his bonus, and the remaining savings. I found out in August and still didn’t have a job in June when my world turned upside down yet again.

I believe I’ve shared with you before that my plan was to start looking for a job right around the time my daughter was able to drive. That way she could get herself and her brother to the places they needed to go and they wouldn’t need to lose out on cheerleading, gymnastics, and band because I had a job and couldn’t leave to take them.

Of course, we all know how that panned out. Terribly. Jerry Lee lost his job. Stopped sending money. I had to sell off everything I could and what I couldn’t sell I left behind when the kids and I moved 600 miles away to Indiana, in with my mom. My kids received free lunches and free textbooks. We were on Medicaid. I might have been able to qualify for food stamps.

My advice is based on the shit storm of my experience. DO NOT RELY ON THE PERSON WHO BETRAYED YOU!

When you are reliant on child and/or spousal support you are at the mercy of the person paying you. You disagree with him? You refuse to go along with whatever it is that he wants you to do? He holds the support payment hostage. Or maybe he doesn’t hold it hostage; he just doesn’t pay if he has something better to do. You know- taking Schmoopie on a fancy vacation, buying toys or bikes or dogs or cars for her kids to impress them, putting in a pool, buying a new car. Whatever strikes his fancy because child support is simply a suggestion and it’s the bill he pays after he buys whatever he wants. Now what are you going to do? You can’t take him back to court when you have no money. Sure, you may be awarded court costs but you have to pay your lawyer in the meantime. How are you going to do that when your only source of income has dried up?

Let’s say you are fortunate enough to be awarded enough child and spousal support that you don’t have to get a job. Let’s even say you’re able to be comfortable on what you’re awarded. All worked out, right?

Until he stops paying. Or he modifies it on his own. Or he dies or becomes disabled.

My temporary orders gave me $6600 a month. While that sounds like a lot my household bills, including our credit cards, mortgage, phone, insurance, and utilities totaled approximately $5000. I had $1600 a month for food, gas, pet food, and anything else we might need. I was planning on staying at least until Rock Star graduated. I was willing to stay until Picasso graduated if he decided he wanted to stay. At that point I would have probably moved back to Indiana. I could have managed just fine on $6600 per month without working if I was no longer living in such an expensive house. Living with my mom? Oh, I definitely wouldn’t have had to work.

I received the court ordered amount for all of five months. Then he lost his job, stopped paying, and decided it would be more advantageous to him to force me and his kids out of our house and go into this divorce with no job. I lost everything.

The lesson there? There’s a big difference between what you’re awarded and what you actually receive. The last statistics I read were 43.5% of people who are awarded child support receive the full amount. That leaves 56.5% who do not. Statistics also report that 30% don’t receive anything.

Let’s say he pays in full as he’s supposed to and it’s enough for you to live on. Great! You’re free to homeschool and be there to take your kids to all of their extracurricular activities. You get to be a stay at home mom despite the fact that you are divorced.

Have you thought about what’s going to happen when your kids are no longer in school? At some point they’ll graduate. The child support will stop. You are then going to have to support yourself. On what? You’ve been a stay at home mom now for twenty years, give or a take a few years. Who is going to hire you? When you get hired how much are they going to pay you?

I was out of the workforce for 15 years. I had a college degree. I stocked shelves at Target for $11.00/hour. I went in anywhere from 2 am until 4 am. That was the first place that called me for an interview. I put in endless applications and heard nothing back.

It took me four years at the bank before I began making close to decent money. Four years and five promotions.

Maybe these ladies will be very fortunate. Maybe one or more of them has a pharmacy degree or a nursing degree and they can go back to work and make fantastic money. I’m pretty sure pharmacists are making six figures now, and depending upon your nursing experience you can definitely make six figures. But from the way they present their situations I don’t think they’re going to enter the workforce after being out for 10 or 15 years and find a job making a huge salary.

All those years you spend at home, living off of child support, are years you are NOT advancing in your career. It’s years you are not being promoted or earning raises. It’s a longer period of time where your resume is blank.

And don’t even get me started on retirement! You might be able to live on child support but can you also save for your retirement? That is doubtful. Again, we’re back to years of NOT contributing to your future. You’re only going to be eligible to receive half of your husband’s retirement, and depending upon how long he’s been working and how much he’s contributed there may not be nearly as much in those accounts as you’d think. No job means no Social Security benefits of your own, and even if you were married 10 years and one day (and don’t remarry) you only get to collect half of what his benefits are.

I can tell you now, almost seven years after finding out about the cheating, that there is nothing more satisfying than knowing you can support yourself, if need be. I spent years being at his mercy. Wondering if this was the month he wasn’t going to pay. When his mom died he paid about a fourth of what he was supposed to pay because he was busy paying her funeral expenses. Didn’t have the common decency to ask if I would be okay with that. Didn’t even have the common decency to tell me that’s why he would be late. And then had the nerve to act indignant that I asked about it. He would pay when he wanted. He would modify payments when he wanted. He frequently waited until the very last day of the month to make his final payment. I dealt with 2 job losses There was always that fear that he would stop paying and I would have to go back to working two jobs and running myself ragged. Now, if he decided to test me and see if I really would throw him in jail (spoiler alert: I would) I might have to tighten my belt but I would make it. My bills would be paid. I’ve been fairly smart and I put money aside for taxes every month and I put money into savings. I won’t have to go get a second job if I don’t want to. That is an amazing feeling.

Yes, when you have young children daycare costs may eat up most of what you make. But you’re still advancing. You’re still getting raises. You’re still putting your name out there and creating a resume for yourself. Your children won’t always be in daycare. And as someone pointed out daycare costs are separate from child support; they’re also usually income based so if he out earns you by a significant amount he may be paying 60%, 70%, even 80% of the costs while you pick up the remaining amount.

We tend to focus on our children when they’re little. We don’t think about the future and what happens when they grow up and move on. We never seem to see what lies ahead. Please look out for yourself, and don’t rely on the person who tried to destroy you.

Two For Two

Jerry Lee is on a roll! Picasso recently had a birthday. Little munchkin turned 20! 20. Can you believe it?

Daddy Dearest texted him (yeah, we’ll get to that in a minute) a birthday message. This is not verbatim but pretty damn close: Happy Birthday, son. I miss you tons. Have a great day. I’m so proud of you. I love you. Hope the day isn’t too hot for you (yeah, we’ll get to that, too).

As Picasso succinctly said, “He apparently realized he couldn’t send his birthday message through Venmo because he wasn’t planning on sending me anything for my birthday.”

Yes, that is correct. Jerry Lee flaked out on giving either one of his kids a birthday gift this year. The man and his cousin bring home over 12k a month but apparently he is too broke to send his kids fifty bucks.

Or perhaps he has simply given up. He realizes his kids aren’t willing to give him the time of day because of his own actions, and instead of owning up to that he has decided he will stop sending them money because, in his eyes, they don’t appreciate it and are only using him as a wallet. Poor sad sausage. His kids don’t appreciate him. Because of me, of course. I brainwashed them.

I was the one that convinced them that him moving out of the house and out of the state to go be with his mistress was a dick move. Naturally they were fine with it until I pointed out, falsely of course, that he had abandoned them!

I was the one that convinced them that him spending hundreds, of not thousands, of dollars on the whore’s kids while letting his own go without was a bad thing. They didn’t have a problem with that until I pointed it out.

I was the one that told them they should be hurt that their dad could show up for cheerleading competitions and show and tell for the mulligans while he ditched his own kids. They were good with it until then.

In fact, every bad experience they’ve had since the separation and divorce can be boiled down to me not putting the correct positive spin on it and falling on my sword for him and all his glory.

Whatevs!

Anyway, back to that whole texting thing…. Did everybody catch that? Mr. Genius, Mr. Mensa Member Material, has been claiming for years now that he did not have Picasso’s phone number. The story he told was his phone got wet or something and he lost most of his contacts. While he did have Rock Star’s number, Picasso’s was lost and he had no way of getting it. Interesting. You’d think a genius might be able to formulate a plan. Hell, I’m not a genius and yet I clearly remember tracking down a cute guy I met at a frat party using nothing except my memory, a student directory of the dorms, and some simple fucking deductions! I didn’t even have a last name for him at the time.

Now the question is: Was he lying this whole time, or did he somehow figure out how to get Picasso’s phone number? My son is wondering the same thing. “How did Jerry Lee get my phone number?”

I did check with Rock Star and she said she did not give it to him. Of course, he’s never asked either.

So that’s a little mystery that will never get solved. But hey- Jerry Lee has his son’s number now so no reason he can’t text him every day and say hi, tell him he loves him and misses him. Am I right?

Picasso and I were also both a bit weirded out about the whole, “Hope the day isn’t too hot for you.” The kid was born in July. It’s typically a hot month in the Midwest. I’m not sure Jerry Lee knows how heat adverse Picasso is; however, I recently posted about how proud I was of Picasso. I talked about how he had graduated with no fanfare last June and that as of January he had no job and no driver’s license. And then, just like that, he decided he was going to get his license and he was going to sign up with the carpenter’s union. I went on to say he did both of those things and that he was now driving and he had been working full time since April. In this specific post though I mentioned that the heat index was supposed to be around 110 degrees and to keep him in their thoughts and prayers as I was worried about the heat.

That seems to be a very specific “hope” for Picasso. Coincidence? Or do I have a spy? And is the spy malignant or misguided and benign?

Anyway, Picasso had a great day. His actual birthday was pretty low key but the following day his sister came up and we had a family dinner at a Japanese steakhouse and then everyone came back to the house for ice cream cake. His main gift from me had been tickets to the Fully Loaded Comedy Festival, headlined by Bert Kreischer, last month. Rock Star got the same gift. But seeing as I brought wine to her on her birthday I opted to give Picasso a gift card to a local home improvement store so he could buy some tools or whatever else he might be needing for work. It was a fun time, and while the mystery of Jerry Lee suddenly having Picasso’s number and potentially knowing something about his life was interesting to speculate about, it was but a tiny sidebar and soon forgotten. Quite like Jerry Lee.