Thanksgiving Past

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Then it was the best of times once again.

I don’t think it’s fair to say that I struggle with Thanksgiving. It makes me a little wistful sometimes. Thanksgiving 2014 was the last happy holiday we spent with Jerry Lee. It was the last time our lives were truly normal. Happy. We honestly were happy that holiday, or so I thought.

My daughter’s best friend flew out from Utah to spend the holiday with us and my mom, brother, sister-in-law, 2 nieces, and a nephew all drove to Virginia to spend the holiday with us. I put on an amazing spread. We played tons of Phase 10 and ate Scotcheroos and went Black Friday shopping. It was one of the best Thanksgivings I’d had in years.

I thought Christmas was pretty good, too, until I discovered the text messages a day or two after Christmas where he told his sister he was heavily medicated and should never have tried to be happy. There went my Christmas cheer!

The following Thanksgiving was spent at my mom’s house- just me and my kids. The year after that I was toiling at Target so not really much of a holiday. Going in to work at 12:30 am will really suck the life out of your holiday.

Anyway, all of this to say that Thanksgiving of 2014 was really great and almost every year since I get all nostalgic. It’s not just that it was a really fantastic Thanksgiving. It’s also an acknowledgement that those days are over. That was my old life. Parts of it were really awesome and some days I miss those awesome parts. 

I tend to focus on Thanksgiving 2014, how great it was, and how I lost everything after that year. It recently occurred to me I’m thinking about it this all wrong.

Yeah, life after that Thanksgiving got really tough. There were a lot of tears. A lot of change. Most of it not welcome change either. I went kicking and screaming into a whole new life.

But then I begin to think about Thanksgiving 2017 and I remember how awesome that Thanksgiving holiday was for me. Family time and playing Phase 10 and being kidnapped and forced to go Black Friday shopping made some amazing memories but you know what managed to top that?

Finding out that I won my court case only a day or two before Thanksgiving! Yep, no matter how weepy I may get thinking about that final year together I can always cheer myself up remembering the year I got the judge’s orders right before the holiday. I remember opening those papers and reading them out loud. It got better and better the longer I kept reading. Yep, there was the part about how Jerry Lee could do much more for his children but his money was obviously going towards his girlfriend and her children. His expenses were deemed “excessive” while mine were considered reasonable. Harley got named in the final ruling- at least twice. First and last name. I was awarded $25,000 in legal fees. He got imputed for wages. I was given spousal support for 16 years. I got more than double the amount of child support Jerry Lee had offered to pay. Hell, I got more than three times the amount he wanted to pay for both spousal and child support. Jerry Lee was told any mental health problems he had had been managed until he started up his affair which was a self-inflicted wound. He was also told he could make more money but he refused to move, and while he said it was because of his mom and his support system he never mentioned the girlfriend, Harley Butt-face Whore, with whom he immediately moved in. It was also pointed out that throughout all of our marriage he rose up in his career by doing exactly what he refused to do now- move for the promotion. The judge told Jerry Lee the story he told of why he stopped the three support checks “hurt his credibility”. In short, he got his ass tore up and I got almost everything I wanted. I had an amazing holiday that year and I have no doubt Jerry Lee had an absolutely miserable one that year. He doesn’t do holidays well to begin with but to add on losing so completely in court and finding out how much money he was going to have to pay me? Oh my! I truly hope he spent the weekend in bed catatonic. The gold-digging Harley probably wasn’t real happy either. Based on that alone I will always treasure Thanksgiving.

For so long I worried about what would happen in the final orders. Would Jerry Lee get away with his claims of PTSD? For so long I had no answers. Only questions and worries. Preparing myself for the worst all the while knowing there was no way to truly prepare for the worst. My greatest fear was that Jerry Lee and Harley would live happily ever after with all of their money intact because of his bullshit PTSD claims while I worked two jobs and couldn’t afford shit. Thankfully that didn’t happen, and how appropriate it that I found out right before Thanksgiving?

Instead of looking back and reminiscing about everything that was lost after 2014 and allowing that to dampen the holiday I am choosing to think of Thanksgiving as my victory. The tide truly did begin to turn at that point. No more weepy Thanksgiving memories for me. From here on out Thanksgiving is associated with me emerging victoriously over Jerry Lee.

Fast Food Foibles, Part 2

It happened again. I went to Subway this time. I had been cleaning my room and packing away all of my summer clothes and puling out my winter clothes. I was hot and sweaty. I had taken off my bra because it was gross. My hair was up in a ponytail/messy bun. I was probably wearing no makeup. Oversized, inappropriate t-shirt to wear in public. It was actually my t-shirt from the Fully Loaded Comedy Festival with Bert Kreischer. It wasn’t my first choice but it was the only thing they had in an oversized t-shirt. It has a little smiley face with a beer in one hand and a blunt in the other. I’m not a fan of wearing things that glorify drug use. And yet here I am, wearing the shirt, smelling gross, looking gross as well. To add to the fun I was tired and grumpy, too. I had been cleaning and dragging bins up and down the stairs all afternoon.

So now I’m hungry. I decide Subway sounds good. I offer to buy one for my mom and my son, as well. Picasso asked for 2 foot long sandwiches which I was willing to do.

I get into my car and drive to Subway. Now this particular Subway has a drive thru because they are in the former Burger King building. I happen to love this feature because when I’m smelly and gross and not wearing a bra the drive thru is a wonderful invention. Do you see where I’m going with this?

I pull up, ready to be told they are making sandwiches for their online clients. That didn’t happen. So far, so good.

“How many sandwiches can I make for you?” the sandwich artist asks.

“I am going to need four.”

And this is where we derail.

“Oh, can you come inside? We aren’t supposed to do more than 2 sandwiches in the drive thru.”

What the ever living fuck? They can make me wait for 20 fucking minutes while they make sandwiches for people who aren’t even present but if I need four sandwiches I need to park my car and walk my smelly ass into the restaurant?

Had it not been for the fact that I was buying sandwiches for everyone I would have simply driven off. Instead, I had to pull back out onto the four lane highway, get into the turn lane, and turn back into the parking lot so I could park my car, and walk inside with my smelly armpits and my inappropriate t-shirt and my boobs hanging free. You want me inside? You got me! Enjoy!

I was able to hide my irritability but it did get worse. Picasso likes the Italian Herb & Cheese bread. They had only Italian or wheat. It’s not the end of the world but if you’re going to make me come inside sans bra the least you can do is have the bread my son likes. I’m still not sure if that is a temporary or permanent issue. I’m not really sure I’ll ever find out either because I think I’ve crossed Subway off my list as well. At least the one close by me.

I think this may be Fate’s way of telling me to knock it off with the fast food and get back on low carb. I’m going to go eat a Reese’s peanut butter cup while I think about that.

Mommy Me Time

I am always amazed when people ask some variation of the question, “How can I enforce my ex takes visitation with our children?”

The short answer is you can’t. No judge is going to declare that the non-custodial parent MUST take their visitation. They only thing that MUST happen is that the custodial parent MUST have the child available for visitation.

Should you document when they don’t take their time? Well, of course.

Sam, are you telling me there is absolutely nothing that can be done when my ex won’t take the kids?

No, you can document the fact that the ex never takes their visitation, and then based off of that you can go back to court if you’re so inclined and a) attempt to get custody changed so that it matches on paper what you actually have, and b) have child support recalculated based upon the fact that you have the kids 90-100% of the time.

What really amazes me though are the ones that want to know if they can not only force the ex to take their visitation but also if they can make them pay for a babysitter if they don’t.

This question was posed not that long ago. Ex works out of town. Takes a new job in town and has the kids every other weekend. Ex finds out that working in town doesn’t make as much money as working out of town and he is behind on child support. So…. ex is back to working out of town, which means he is no longer taking the kids every other weekend. This is unfortunate because Mom has discovered she really likes her child free weekends. Mom wants to know if she can take him back to court to enforce visitation and if that isn’t a possibility then she’s wondering if she can have it ordered that he must pay for a babysitter on the weekends he’s supposed to have the kids. Or should she suck it up and just pay for a babysitter from the child support she receives?

Am I the only one that thinks this is lunacy, or am I simply a chump who continues to let people walk all over me? I can’t wrap my head around this.

We’ve already discussed the fact that visitation is only enforced one way. A parent cannot withhold visitation but the other parent does not have to take the visitation. If your ex insisted on 50/50 and now that they have it they only take 10% of it, sure, go back to court. Get custody changed. Get child support if you weren’t getting it based on the 50/50 arrangement, or get more if it was a low amount because of the 50/50 arrangement. But you can’t withhold the visitation, and you can’t make the other parent take it either. Period. This is the part where I tell you to suck it up, buttercup.

Who in the hell lied to you and told you that motherhood came with a vacation package? Did you get every other weekend off when you were married? Like, did your spouse take the child and you were able to just go and do whatever you wanted? Every. Other. Weekend? Did your spouse help out so much that you felt like you didn’t need a break? Or, is it more likely that you took care of everything when you were married and you didn’t blink an eye? Because, again, motherhood is not exactly known for its generous vacation time. But now that you’re divorced you think you should be entitled to have every other weekend free? And if that’s not a possibility then the ex should have to pay for a babysitter for you? Mind blown.

I am that parent that did 95% of it on my own when I was married! I did not have child free weekends every other week. I can probably count on one hand how many times I went away without my children. It would definitely not be more than 2 hands.

Sure, I knew people who got lots of breaks. My brother and his wife had a friend whose parents took her son every weekend. My mom took my brother’s kids for an entire month every summer. Jezebel didn’t spend more than 48 hours in a row with her kids. So I know it happens that some people luck out. I was not one of them. I was with my kids pretty much 24/7 and if I didn’t have them with me then I was the one arranging childcare for them.

And now as a divorced mom? I realize my kids were older when I separated and divorced but Jerry Lee has had them exactly 0 minutes since the day he walked out the door back in February of 2016. Yes, minutes. That’s not a typo. I didn’t mean to type days or weeks, or even hours. He’s had them 0 minutes.

Yes, they were older- 13 and 15- but Rock Star didn’t drive for the first 2 years of our separation, thanks to us having to move. I was still having to run her around. When she got a job I added that on to her regular rotation. Then I was working and running around for kids. Super fun! And also doing all the other parent type things- like going to open houses, buying school supplies, getting registered for new schools, throwing graduation parties, making doctor’s appointments and therapy appointments, etc. All by myself. No dad around to help. No babysitting allowance. 70/30 split on the medical. That was the extent of my additional help from Jerry Lee.

I’ve had help from my mom, yes. I’ve left for a weekend. Yep. My kids are older. I can do that. My brother steps in for my son on occasion and I appreciate that very much. He is able to get through to him in ways I can’t.

This is part of the reason I’m so passionate about building your own support system and not relying on the lying, cheating fuckwit. They tend to let you down a lot. If you can’t rely on family then reach out and build some friendships.

As for thinking you’re going to get a judge to order the non-custodial parent to pay for a babysitter because you want to go out? Good luck with that. Hell, who knows? Maybe it’ll fly. I doubt it but what have you got to lose aside from a few thousand dollars when you go back to court? I’m not saying a parent doesn’t need or doesn’t deserve some time to themselves. Of course, they do. But reality is a bitch. Instead of wasting your time and money going back to court to try to force the other parent to cover your babysitting bills so you can have a night on the town just use the damn child support and pay a babysitter.

Remember that old adage: You can only control yourself. It’s useful in this case as well. Accept the fact that you are the sane and responsible parent and the other person isn’t. Once you accept it instead of railing against the unjustness of being on call 24/7 you can take measures to get the help you need- from your own support system instead of a fuckwit. Life is so much easier when you drop the rope and make arrangements on your own.

Disclaimer: I don’t want anyone thinking I was never away from my children for even a moment. I put them in the nursery while I went to church. I took Picasso to Mother’s Day Out for a couple of hours one day each week. I went to MOPS groups and childcare was provided there. I managed to take a couple of cake decorating classes and left them with Jerry Lee. Jerry Lee and I took some ballroom and swing dance lessons and we had a babysitter for Rock Star (Picasso wasn’t born yet). When we looked at houses in Michigan we left Rock Star with my mom. We left both kids with Jerry Lee’s parents when we looked at houses in Utah. My brother watched them along with his own two when I threw myself a birthday party. I’ve already written about the Women’s Retreat I took and all the travel that involved. I actually had a sleepover one night with a couple of new mom friends I had met when we moved to Michigan. We spent the night at a hotel away from kids. And eventually as they got older they would go on playdates or spend the night with friends. Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list of all of the times I was without my children (probably a lot closer to it than I’d like to admit…). So, I was without my children at times, but I certainly did not have child free weekends on a regular basis.


November is usually the month where we are all treated to every other person on Facebook listing off the things they’re grateful for. I suppose this is a pretty apt post then.

I’m grateful they’ve finally made an arrest in the murders of Abby Williams and Liberty “Libby” German, the two girls who went out for a hike on February 13, 2017 and were never seen alive again. The case gained national attention back when it happened and I just saw reports on all the media channels yesterday so if you watch the news you’ve probably seen the story. Libby had the foresight to videotape her murderer. You’ve probably seen the video. “Guys, down the hill,” he directs them.

It probably seems like a strange thing to be thankful for. I don’t know the two girls. I don’t know their families. But I know Delphi.

I moved to a little tiny town called Flora when I was 2. I lived there with my mom and dad and eventually my two brothers until my parents’ divorce. I moved after I finished fourth grade there. Flora is 10, maybe 15 minutes from Delphi.

More importantly, my grandparents lived in Delphi. I spent the night with them countless times out at their farm growing up. When I got a little older I got to spend an entire week out at their house. My dad and aunt grew up there and both graduated from Delphi High School. My brother moved in with my dad about 5 years after we moved. He lived in Delphi and graduated from that high school as well. My niece moved in with her dad a few years after her parent’s divorce and she, too, attended Delphi High School. I’ve played in the park there. I’ve eaten at their restaurants. My grandparents used to take me to the Dairy Queen there. It’s not home to me but it’s close. And those murders hit a little too hard for people I didn’t even know.

My brother was actually part of the search team that went looking for the two girls the day they went missing. They weren’t found until the following day. He was not a part of the search party that found them. In fact, I don’t believe he was even out that day. I do know he said that the people had searched the area where they were found and they were not there on the 13th.

I see the comments from ignorant people. Comments that ask why their parents allowed them to be out in that area by themselves. People saying they would never leave their own children unsupervised and this is what can happen when you aren’t watching them.

Abby was 13. Her best friend, Libby, was 14. They went hiking along the Delphi Historic Trails, near the Monon High Bridge, an abandoned railroad bridge. It is a very tall, very ominous bridge. I’m sure I’ve seen it or at least passed it by but I haven’t actually been there. They were not tiny children that needed to be supervised. More importantly, this was Delphi.

People leave their fucking car keys in their cars. It would never even occur to them that someone might steal the car.

I remember climbing into my brother’s car one time and not only were the keys out there, in the unlocked car, of course, but the damn debit card was out there, too!

They don’t lock doors. They’re not worried about people stealing shit. They let their kids play outside. They don’t always bring their bikes in each night. And they sure as hell were never worried that some goddamn sick asshole from that very town would abduct and murder two young girls.

I was just down at my brother’s 50th birthday party a few weeks ago. I overheard his stepson talking about those murders and how it affected him, how it affected the entire town. He described it as a turning point. There was life before the murders and then there was life after the murders.

This isn’t a town that deals with murder. What happened to Libby and Abby rocked the entire town whether people knew them personally or not. I know it’s a common phrase when things like that happen, “Things like that don’t happen here!” But things like that don’t happen in Delphi. Until they do.

For five and a half years people have been waiting for answers. They’ve been searching for the person who did this. Sadly, it seems to be someone who was right beside them the entire time. He even worked at the local CVS, and in a chilling story that was confirmed by LIbby’s grandmother, he actually helped her as she was printing photos off of her phone for Libby’s funeral and then let her know he wasn’t going to charge her for the pictures. Sick fuck.

There are still more questions than answers as the investigators are being extremely tight lipped. However, this Thanksgiving there is someone sitting in jail on murder charges. It will never bring those two precious girls back; I do realize that. And I can’t even begin to imagine what their families are going through, have been going through these last almost 6 years. I would imagine that the overwhelming emotion is still sadness. But I truly hope that this Thanksgiving they feel at least a small measure of hope that the person who took their sweet girls from them will finally be held responsible. Being thankful for such a thing is too much to put on them so I will be thankful that the monster has been captured. No, it won’t bring them back but he’s not out there lurking in the shadows any longer either. And that is something to be thankful for.