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!

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.

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.

Look At This!

That was what my daughter texted to me, along with a screenshot from her father, about a month ago.

She was indignant because he had the audacity to text her and tell her he had seen on Facebook that she was going into her last semester of college, he wondered if that meant she was graduating in December, and he told her he hoped he would get an invite. Also, her boyfriend seems like a really nice young man and he’d love to meet him one day.

She was pissed that he was fishing for an invite to her graduation and more importantly, that he thought he got to be a part of her accomplishments when he was the one that put up stumbling block after stumbling block for her.

I’m not proud of this but I’ve always been honest with those of you who care enough to read my blog. Wait. That didn’t sound right. The thing I’m not proud of is my feelings when I read the text, not the fact that I’ve always been honest with those who read my blog. Let’s try this again.

I’m not proud of this but my heart leaped into my throat when I saw the text message, especially because I could see earlier texts between them. Then I realized she was wishing him a happy Veteran’s Day. This was May. That happened back in November. And then I realized those messages were from 2020. Now maybe they communicate in other ways but Jesus Christ on crutches!

You have no contact with your daughter for a year and a half and you want an invitation to her goddamn graduation? Fuck you! Who do you think you are?

Obviously, I am going to go along with whatever she wants to do. Right now she says she isn’t inviting him but she also said she’ll decide when it gets closer. I think she will end up inviting him and I’ve already told her I will support whatever decision she makes. But I can vent with you in my safe space.

For the most part I don’t think about him and I try not to dwell on what happened and everything he cost us. I’m not perfect. I slip up every now and then. I think it was realizing he hasn’t communicated with her except for the possible Venmo transfer since November of 2020 and then just casually slipping in, “Oh, I’d love to be invited to your graduation. I want to celebrate with you.”

Fuck you, motherfucker! Where in the hell was he when she needed rent money? Where was he when she needed money for groceries? Money for gas? Money for anything? To this day I still send regular Chewy shipments to her house for her cats. I buy them treats, kitty litter, and food. I paid what was left after financial aid towards her tuition her first year. Paid for her books. Her sorority fees. Then he lost his job mid-way through her second semester. My mom came to the rescue and paid the final $1000 until he started paying me again. Dickhead actually had the audacity to ask me why her tuition was not paid already because it obviously was all due at the beginning of the semester AND insinuated that I had filled out the FAFSA incorrectly because she shouldn’t owe a dime for tuition with my salary. Rock Star took out additional loans for her sophomore year because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to help her out. I ended up paying her rent once her first semester and from April on her second semester. I also paid all of her sorority fees. Junior year I paid her rent, utilities, and food bill, along with the sorority fees. Senior year I once again paid her tuition. And her sorority fees. And gave her money when needed. And paid all the bills for her cats. Where was he for any of that?

I remember him asking her one time to let him know if she needed anything. I think it was freshman year. She replied that she still needed to buy books. He went on to tell her some story, probably about himself, and finished up with (again), “If you need anything, let me know.”

“I literally told him exactly what I needed and he ignored it,” Rock Star told me.

I don’t believe he’s ever sent her money randomly. Maybe he has but I doubt it. And if he has I know it wasn’t a frequent occurrence.

He’s washed his hands of both of his kids but when it comes time to celebrate he thinks he should be there.

And it’s not just the money. Where was he when she called, convinced she was never going to make it into nursing school? Where was he was she was overwhelmed and wanting to drop out and come home? He was part of the reason she was overwhelmed. She felt the weight of the world on her shoulders because she knew how I struggled. She felt like she had to get straight As. She felt guilty telling me she didn’t have enough money for rent. She felt guilty anytime she had to ask for something. All of that was caused by him.

Everything she has experienced since she was 15 years old has been because of him. She lost her amazing high school experience because of him. She lost gymnastics because of him. She had to move out of her home with her roomy bedroom and her own bathroom because of him. She had to switch schools because of him. She had to worry about how to pay for college because of him. She ended up at Ball State instead of some school in Utah or Virginia because of him. Hell, she’s on anti-anxiety meds and anti depressants because of him. Just this past December she admitted she always feels like she’s not good enough. Why wasn’t she worth it? Why did her dad abandon her? How could he walk right by her and not say goodbye or tell her that he loved her? She feels like she always has to prove herself to him.

He took this young, bubbly, beautiful, confident young woman and turned her into an anxiety ridden mess. He did a number on her and her future, but by all means, let’s have him show up and take a bow. He took everything he could away from her, made things so much more difficult than they had to be. But by all means, preen about like a peacock. So proud! Daddy of the Year, right there. You were so instrumental in her upbringing.

No, you asshole, you were instrumental in attempting to orchestrate her downfall. But you didn’t succeed. I stepped in wherever you lacked. My mom stepped in wherever I lacked. I’m the one that told her she was exceptional. I’m the one that told her I was proud of her. I’m the one that was always there, always supporting her, always nurturing her, always encouraging her, always assuring her that she could do it. I’m the one that told her she was worth it and to never let her worth be measured by her father. I’m the one that told her she was going to be an amazing nurse. I’m the one that has paid for therapy, and I’m the one that has kept her going.

Here’s the funny thing. I don’t take credit for her accomplishments. I’m proud of her. I’ve supported her, both financially and emotionally. But I didn’t do it. I’m not why she succeeded. She succeeded because she’s incredibly driven. Disciplined. She knew what she wanted and she went after it. I didn’t take those classes. I didn’t do the labs or the clinicals or the homework. She did all of that. She has had an intense schedule for years. The achievement is all her.

It still chaps my ass that Jerry Lee thinks he should be able to show up and celebrate. Sit the fuck down! I’m the one that raised this kid. You were too busy off fucking your cousin and trying to impress kids that already had an involved father.

Stupid Facebook Posts

A divorced friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page. 

I’m reading this and I’m thinking to myself, “Seriously?”

It will be a cold day in Hell before I run over to Jerry Lee’s house with gifts in hand to make him breakfast and celebrate his birthday. I don’t think ol’ Harley would appreciate it either. Maybe I should tell her to rise above it and be a good example. Nah, too late for that advice. 

I also don’t want anything from him. I’m 99% sure my mom would shoot him if he came into the house and tried making breakfast for us. Any gift he attempted to present would be trashed. It wouldn’t be about me at all. It would be about him trying to look good. See? I’m a great guy! I’m scrambling eggs- and making toast!

No, despite not recognizing him on holidays and birthdays I’ve got my shit together. I don’t need to kiss his ass to prove that. I’m already raising decent human beings. I’m doing it all by myself, too. One of the ways that I’m raising decent human beings and trying to set an example as far as relationships go is by not cheating on their dad. It’s a high bar but some of us are up for that challenge.

These posts are so infuriating. They completely discount the crap some of these people have put their former spouse through. They act like we haven’t already eaten a ton of shit and chide us to eat even more. I think of my friend who moved across the country for her husband’s job, only to be told a few months later that he didn’t think he could be married to her any longer. Oh, and he had a new girlfriend. That’s why he took the new job and moved them all across the country. I think of another friend whose then husband attempted to strangle one of their daughter’s while he was drunk, and who had been abusive towards her as well. I think of the mobster’s ex and how she walked out on her kids without saying a word. “Come on, kids! Let’s run over and make your mom breakfast on her birthday! I want to show you what it’s like to have no boundaries and no self-respect!” I think of my own situation, very similar to my friend’s, where he moved us thousands of miles away and then took up with Harley less than a year later. He walked out of the house one day in February 2016 and has seen his daughter once since then; he hasn’t seen his son at all.

This is the kind of shit that makes good people who are doing the hard stuff in life doubt their choices. “Am I doing enough? Should I be more forgiving? Should I try harder? Oh my gosh- I didn’t buy my ex a birthday gift; I’m going to ruin my children. I’ll do better; I promise.”

The people that need to read this and take it to heart will never think it applies to them. The ones who are going to take it to heart are the ones that don’t need to. Stop trying to guilt them.

You want to set an example for how to treat your ex? Don’t badmouth them in front of the kids. Don’t interfere in their relationship. But even before that maybe try one of these: Don’t cheat on them. Don’t try to financially destroy them. Don’t drag out the divorce. Don’t lie and gaslight. Don’t blame the victim when you’re the one out there screwing around. Take responsibility for your actions.

I am not friends with Jerry Lee. I am not going to act like we are still married. I’m not going to set him on fire the next time I have to see him, but I’m not going to make him breakfast either. Just like I didn’t make him spaghetti for dinner after I found out about Harley. I have boundaries in place for a reason.

This person doesn’t seem to realize he and the former wife are divorced.You want to model good relationship behavior? Model it with someone you’re actually in a relationship with! You want to be an example to your kids on how to treat their mother? Maybe try working on your marriage and not getting a divorce. The horse is out of the barn at this point.

At the root of this is image management. Look how good I am! Look at all I do for my ex. Aren’t I fabulous? Don’t you wish you could be as magnanimous as me? Obviously I love my children more than you love yours. It’s too bad you can’t be a mature, respectful adult.

Yeah, fuck that. I’m not friends with people who lie to me and cheat on me. I’m not going to model eating shit sandwiches to my children.

Boundaries are a good thing. It would be nice if that was respected a little bit more.

Why Do We Force It?

Following up on my lovely post about parental alienation, I’m going to tackle the subject of forcing a relationship between the abandoning parent and the child one more time.

So often I see others admonishing a parent to extend grace to the abandoning parent. They’re told to offer up an olive branch, be the bigger person, love their child more than they hate the ex. Make that phone call. Offer up that extra time. Remind them of the school conference. The dance recital. The football game. The Honors assembly.

You hear over and over again: That’s still their other parent. You should encourage a relationship between the two of them. It’s the only mom or dad they have.

Why? Why does everyone put so much stock into this idea that because you share DNA you must have a relationship with that person regardless of how poorly they treat you? Why do we continue to sell this idea that abusive behavior is love?

I’m not suggesting that you tell your kids to cut off their other parent. What I would suggest is that you listen to your children when they tell you they want nothing to do with the other parent. You don’t force it. You don’t lie to them and tell them that this other parent loves them; you don’t know that. And even if it’s true what a shitty example of love. Love is not putting the other woman/other man ahead of your children’s feelings. When the amount of time that has passed since you last saw your child face to face can be measured in years, that is not love. Love is not telling your child you hated every minute of being a parent. Love is not walking out on your responsibilities because you put your happiness ahead of all else. Leaving your child’s other parent, moving out, disrupting their lives as they know them, moving in with another person and their children and/or having another baby, all in the time span of a few months while your child’s head is still spinning is not love. Love is not disappearing and never being heard from again. You don’t get to put another person’s kids ahead of your own, do things with them and for them that you didn’t do for your own, and then get to claim you love your children. Love is not waiting for your children to call you or text you, to reach out to you.

It’s no wonder so many people end up in dysfunctional relationships. We are sold this idea that when people love you they treat you badly. They ignore you. They minimize your needs. They put everyone and everything else before you. Then when you get into a relationship and that person does those things you think, “Oh this feels familiar. It must be love.”

It is okay to have boundaries, even at a young age. It is okay for a child to say, “This is unacceptable behavior. I don’t want to be around this person.”  As the sane parent I think it’s inappropriate to try to convince them that those feelings are wrong, or should be stifled so as to not damage a potential relationship. When someone has done something wrong admit it! Stop trying to whitewash it and convince your child that it’s completely reasonable to do the unreasonable. 

It’s also perfectly fine to tell your child, if they ask, “I don’t know why your other parent does those things,” instead of rushing to assure them that the other parent loves them. As my own son says, “He loves me? Really? He’s got a funny way of showing it.”

Again, I’m not trying to encourage people to damage a healthy relationship between a parent and child. I’m not encouraging anyone to badmouth the other parent or to create chaos where there is none. But for the love of all that’s holy, please stop trying to convince your children that people who don’t behave as though they love them, who actually do things that are very hurtful to them, love them. Stop selling abuse and toxicity as love. Stop telling your kids that people who love them hurt them and that’s perfectly normal and acceptable. Give them a chance at a healthy relationship.

Why Do We Force It?

Following up on my lovely post about parental alienation, I’m going to tackle the subject of forcing a relationship between the abandoning parent and the child one more time.

So often I see others admonishing a parent to extend grace to the abandoning parent. They’re told to offer up an olive branch, be the bigger person, love their child more than they hate the ex. Make that phone call. Offer up that extra time. Remind them of the school conference. The dance recital. The football game. The Honors assembly.

You hear over and over again: That’s still their other parent. You should encourage a relationship between the two of them. It’s the only mom or dad they have.

Why? Why does everyone put so much stock into this idea that because you share DNA you must have a relationship with that person regardless of how poorly they treat you? Why do we continue to sell this idea that abusive behavior is love?

I’m not suggesting that you tell your kids to cut off their other parent. What I would suggest is that you listen to your children when they tell you they want nothing to do with the other parent. You don’t force it. You don’t lie to them and tell them that this other parent loves them; you don’t know that. And even if it’s true what a shitty example of love. Love is not putting the other woman/other man ahead of your children’s feelings. When the amount of time that has passed since you last saw your child face to face can be measured in years, that is not love. Love is not telling your child you hated every minute of being a parent. Love is not walking out on your responsibilities because you put your happiness ahead of all else. Leaving your child’s other parent, moving out, disrupting their lives as they know them, moving in with another person and their children and/or having another baby, all in the time span of a few months while your child’s head is still spinning is not love. Love is not disappearing and never being heard from again. You don’t get to put another person’s kids ahead of your own, do things with them and for them that you didn’t do for your own, and then get to claim you love your children. Love is not waiting for your children to call you or text you, to reach out to you.

It’s no wonder so many people end up in dysfunctional relationships. We are sold this idea that when people love you they treat you badly. They ignore you. They minimize your needs. They put everyone and everything else before you. Then when you get into a relationship and that person does those things you think, “Oh this feels familiar. It must be love.”

It is okay to have boundaries, even at a young age. It is okay for a child to say, “This is unacceptable behavior. I don’t want to be around this person.”  As the sane parent I think it’s inappropriate to try to convince them that those feelings are wrong, or should be stifled so as to not damage a potential relationship. When someone has done something wrong admit it! Stop trying to whitewash it and convince your child that it’s completely reasonable to do the unreasonable. 

It’s also perfectly fine to tell your child, if they ask, “I don’t know why your other parent does those things,” instead of rushing to assure them that the other parent loves them. As my own son says, “He loves me? Really? He’s got a funny way of showing it.”

Again, I’m not trying to encourage people to damage a healthy relationship between a parent and child. I’m not encouraging anyone to badmouth the other parent or to create chaos where there is none. But for the love of all that’s holy, please stop trying to convince your children that people who don’t behave as though they love them, who actually do things that are very hurtful to them, love them. Stop selling abuse and toxicity as love. Stop telling your kids that people who love them hurt them and that’s perfectly normal and acceptable. Give them a chance at a healthy relationship.

Stop Blaming the Other Parent For Your Crappy Relationship With Your Kids

’Tis the season (’Twas the season?) for endless questions regarding the children, holidays, gifts from the ex and/or OW/OM (okay, mostly the OW), and having to hear about how nice or fun the OW/OM (okay, mostly the OW) is. Inevitably the question is always along the lines of: Is there anything I can do about this? Or, they’re just venting about what a shit sandwich it is to gulp down.

The next inevitable thing that happens? Someone comes along and tells them not to shame their children. You need to love your kids more than you hate your ex. Don’t put your kids in the middle. You have no right to take away whatever it is that the whore gave to your precious child. Dance prettier, bitch! Dance harder! Dance faster!

And then another someone comes along and doubles down on this idea. They are the person that insists that any small frown or raised eyebrow is proof of parental alienation. Saying no to a child is detrimental to their relationship with the other parent. Apparently if you are divorced or separated anyone can buy your child anything and they have free reign to bring it into your home. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to set parameters on the use of the item or not. Probably not, if I had to guess.

We, the parents left behind, are counseled to “learn how to grieve without PA abuse.” It’s all on us to avoid the so called pitfalls of parental alienation. The cheaters, of course, get a pass. They don’t need to worry about any of their behaviors. Abandoning your kids, ripping apart your family, putting a whore before your children… those are all cool. Nothing wrong with any of that.

But you! Chump! Yeah you! You need to understand that your “grieving” and your “boundaries” and your refusal to swallow down yet another dozen shit sandwiches in the name of “co-parenting” is all much scarier to your children than anything the lying, cheating, narcissistic asshole might be doing. Someone actually said that the cheated on parent can end up far more overtly scary, intimidating, abusive and/or destabilizing to their kids than the covertly abusive cheater because they are “so traumatized” that they become unstable. What utter bullshit!

People, get your heads out of your asses! 

I feel like I have to revisit this conversation every few months. Yes, parental alienation is real. It’s rare, but it’s real. I’ll go one step further and state I believe that most of the time the alienation attempts come from the parent who has already lied and cheated. It’s part and parcel of their plan to entirely decimate the discarded spouse.

I know I’m sensitive to all this bullshit because this is the exact story that Jerry Lee spins. “Oh Sam is a monster! She’s emotionally abusive and extremely manipulative. She’s poisoned my precious children against me. I am an alienated parent. I love my children to the moon and back; if not for that nasty she-beast I would have a wonderful relationship with my children because I am an amazing father who loves his kids with his heart and soul.”

Those are all lies. Oh, I believe he believes his own bullshit. But that’s exactly what it is- bullshit. He sent them both $100 and wished them a Merry Christmas through Venmo this year. Told them he loved them. He couldn’t even be bothered to call them and actually speak to them. As Picasso said, “He did his fatherly duty; he performed his obligation. Now he’s off the hook.”

In the almost five years since he walked out the door without telling his kids he was moving out- oh yeah, and leaving the fucking state!- he has made the drive to see one of his kids one time. That was Rock Star’s graduation. He texted her and offered her the opportunity to talk to him beforehand which she ignored; he never contacted his son. He spent maybe fifteen minutes, if that, with her on that day. He came out of the shadows crying his big crocodile tears because as always, it’s all about him. If you gave me a calendar I could tell you exactly how many round trips he managed to make in order to fuck his gold digging whore of a cousin. I can promise you this- it was more than one!

From what my kids tell me the rare times that he does actually text them it’s all about him, or trying to get them to feel sorry for him. He doesn’t text to check in with them or to see how their day is going. If he texts at all it’s to try to guilt them (or rather, Rock Star; I’m not sure he’s ever texted Picasso). Not once has he apologized for what he has done and the havoc he has wrecked.

He does not call. He does not send cards, especially now that both kids have Venmo. They don’t exist except for their birthday and Christmas, when he does his fatherly duty, as Picasso calls it, and takes 30 seconds out of his day to send them something via Venmo.

The day after Thanksgiving I was dealing with a major meltdown by my daughter who was upset because her dad did not even bother to text her and wish her a happy Thanksgiving, even after she reached out and wished him a happy Thanksgiving first. “He tells me he loves me and I try to give him a chance instead of hating him, and he doesn’t even bother to wish me a happy Thanksgiving.”

That is not my fault. I did not choose any of that; I did not force any of that. He is the one that walked away without ever looking back. He is the one that decided it was worth it to sacrifice his children for Harley. He chose her over them and I will not take the blame for that. That is all on him.

I have spent the last five plus years trying to keep my kids’ lives as normal as possible. I was willing to stay in a town where I knew very few people and had no family support so that my daughter could finish high school there. 

I have been the parent tasked with breaking all of the bad news to my children while Jerry Lee and Harley skipped happily off into the sunset with nary a worry.

Oh, you’re cheating on me and we’re getting a divorce? No worries; I’ll break the news to the kids.

Oh, you’ve moved out of the house? And you’ve left the state? Don’t worry. I’ll break it to the kids.

You lost your job and now we’re going to have to move again? Hey- no problem! I’ll break it to the kids. I’m getting good at this.

Our daughter isn’t going to get her license after all? Sure, I’ll be the one to deliver the news. And I’ll hold her while she cries from the disappointment.

Oh, you’ve stopped paying support again? Yeah, I’ll let our daughter know she might have to drop out of college.

Every single bit of shit news that was ever delivered I got the sucky job of delivering. I was the one that held my kids when they were upset or disappointed or sad. He was nowhere around, much too busy with the whore and the new family.

I was the one that got them settled into their new home with their Nana. I was the one registering them for school in a new district. I was the one who had to listen to my daughter say in a defeated voice, “I used to be someone. Now I’m nobody.”

I’m the one that scheduled therapy for them and got them on medication. I’m the one that Rock Star turns to when she’s falling apart because she’s stressed.

I am the one that has made countless sacrifices so that these kids could have a comfortable life. I am the one who has always been present, always been stable, could always be counted on. Me.

Maybe, instead of chiding the parent who is actually there and doing the hard work of raising the children left behind, they could be supportive of that parent. Just an idea.

Parental alienation is a hell of a lot more complicated than simply refusing to let the whore who fucked your husband give your child a gift. She’s not even a parent so how the hell is that parental alienation?

They remain a sensitive bunch. Everything is parental alienation. You won’t let your ex take his holiday AND your holiday? Parental alienation! You don’t want a creepy “family” picture of the OW, your ex, and your kids sitting around the Christmas tree sitting in your living room? Parental alienation! You dare to have boundaries? Parental alienation! You don’t want to be besties with the ex and the affair partner? Parental alienation!

In the beginning, when I was first discarded for the ‘ho, I was way too busy being the sane parent and trying to keep things as normal as possible for Rock Star and Picasso to be busy trying to alienate him. Considering we had less than a year between D-Day and moving day thanks to his firing I didn’t have a whole lot of time to work my evil magic. He left six months after his affair was discovered. Like, moved 300 miles away from his kids without saying a word, left. That was the first time I worried endlessly about what was going to happen to us because he was no longer directly depositing his money into the joint account.

Then I was really busy applying for welfare, enrolling my kids in school in a new school district, and applying for free lunches and text books because I had no job and was living off of savings. Didn’t have time to fuck with his parenting or lack thereof. 

Shortly after that I began working a job that required me to get up at 3:30 in the morning. That’s real fucking early. I don’t function that well that early in the morning. I do even worse when I have to get up at 1:30 in the morning so I can be there by 2. A month later I began working a second job. For a good 10 months or so I worked two jobs- lots of hours, not so much pay. And very little in the way of time off. Again, not really much time to play a quick round of parental alienation. Too busy working and trying to keep afloat. Especially considering he wasn’t contributing anything.

Last year I was kinda busy having a big ass needle stuck in my arm and then having my blood sucked out, the plasma separated from the red blood cells, and then the blood put back into my arm, and then turning around and doing it again later that week, twice a week, every week basically for four months.  All in order to make sure my kids got a decent Christmas because Jerry Lee couldn’t be counted on to pay his support on any kind of schedule. Didn’t have time to tell the kids how much their dad sucked. The plasma donation was pretty much a part-time job.

This year I spent a lot of time running. Changing my eating habits. Trying not to drink so much diet Coke. Jerry Lee and his pathetic attempts at parenting weren’t on my radar. My kids at the beginning of 2020 were 19 and 17. They’re now 20 and 18. I’m not necessary for any information exchanges. He is able to have a relationship with each one of them completely independent of me. I am not a cog in this wheel. If it’s not spinning that is not on me.

I’ve stayed out of their relationship. I’ve never been a factor the entire time. There are so many things I haven’t told them. I didn’t tell them because I knew all it would do is hurt them. Things like him buying a $300 dress for Harley’s daughter to go to a dance when he couldn’t send $80 my way to pay for his own daughter’s Homecoming dress. Or like how he was able to buy a $4000+ engagement ring for Harley that same month he couldn’t send money for Rock Star’s Homecoming dress. Or how he was able to celebrate Harley’s kids’ birthdays when he couldn’t do the same with his own kids. Or how he could never attend Rock Star’s gymnastics meets or cheer competitions but he could buy a fucking Cardinal t-shirt in support of the whore’s daughter and attend her cheer competitions. The iPhones he bought them. The puppies he bought them. Or how he’s so broke and has nothing in savings but can spend over $1800 on a vacation rental.

Harley is the dipshit that continues to post her drivel on social media where everyone can see it. My daughter isn’t stupid. She said recently she knows damn well he spent a hell of a lot more on “their” kids than he did on her and her brother. She knows he offered to buy Harley’s daughter a car. I don’t know how, but she knows. She knows all kinds of things that I had no idea about.

None of this is my doing. It’s all on him.

To these people who are champions of parental alienation everything falls under that category. Your ex planted listening devices in your home so you won’t accept gifts from him in your house any more? Parental alienation! Your ex and his ho have been known to make derisive comments about your child you have with your new partner, and even wish harm on this child, so you are not willing to graciously accept a gift for this child that is supposedly from your shared children? Parental alienation! Those kids are going to be devastated and don’t you know every time you let it be known that you disapprove of their other parent it says to them that you hate half of them? Again, what an utter crock of shit. 

I am a child of divorce. I knew from a very young age that my mother was not a fan of my father’s. For good reason, I might add. Never once did I say to myself, “Hmmmm… I’m half my mom and half my dad, so if my mom can’t stand my dad it therefore goes to reason that she cannot stand half of me.” Nope, not once did I think that way. That just seems weird to me. I am my own person. I am not one half my mother plus one half my father. I’m one entirely whole me.

I’ve also never looked at either of my kids and thought to myself, “Well, they are half Jerry Lee’s, so I guess I need to hate half of them.” Nope, not once. They are both unique individuals and while we both contributed our chromosomes they are not half me and half Jerry Lee. They are Picasso and Rock Star. Period.

Maybe we need to start by explaining to these children who think they are half of each parent that even though their parents each contribute chromosomes to their genetic makeup that doesn’t mean they are that parent, or even half of that parent.

If you don’t want to share holidays and special events with the ex you’re putting your kids in the middle and forcing them to choose. If you don’t want to hear about all the fun things the OW did with your kids you are putting your children in the middle and making things uncomfortable for them. If you’re not super excited about all the wonderful things your ex did for the kids, like taking them on fancy vacations and buying them expensive toys, clothes, and purses while at the same time not paying child support so you can buy them things like groceries and heat, you are not thinking about your children and letting your pettiness and bitterness rule your life. Apparently, once you become a parent, especially a divorced parent, you are no longer allowed to have boundaries or feelings, and if you do have feelings then they don’t matter.

Fuck that. If you’re the parent that stuck around and is doing the hard work then you get to have whatever feelings you want. You can draw whatever boundaries you’d like. You can create the rules that are comfortable for you.

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a parent that was cheated on and left behind, put their kid in the middle. Do they vent away in a safe place sometimes? Absolutely. But I don’t recall a single time they’ve ever said they were going to do something that was clearly alienation. They regularly bend over backwards for these people and are often encouraged to keep doing so. Keep giving and giving without expecting anything in return. That’s what a good parent does.

Instead of telling the parent that has stuck around and is doing the hard work how much they suck and how they’re doing it all wrong, why not give them a little bit of praise and support? They didn’t choose a sidepiece over their kids; that was the other parent. Hey, maybe that’s why their relationship with their kid is so shitty. Maybe it has nothing to do with parental alienation at all and everything to do with the choices they’ve made.

Dating While Divorced

I’ve seen over and over again women (it’s almost always women) say they aren’t going to date because they’re going to focus on their children and/or their children aren’t ready for them to date. Someone actually threw out this idea that once you divorce your focus should be on your children and you shouldn’t think about dating until they turn 18.

It’s a nice idea. I have no problem with someone choosing that for themselves. To be honest, before I got divorced I thought that same way. Okay, maybe not the exact same way but I did feel that there was no need to rush into another relationship right away; I also thought it was important to make sure you gave your kids the time and attention they needed instead of getting your own needs met. But as with most things there is the theory on how things should work, and then there is the real life application.

I think there is a huge gulf between jumping back into dating an hour after your spouse has left, and not dating for the next 1-18 years because you have minor children. I’m not suggesting moving the first person you meet into your home a month or two after your divorce is final. I’m also not suggesting that a person absolutely must date again after a divorce. If you have no interest in dating for whatever reason then I fully support your right to not date; this post is not about declaring that everyone should be putting themselves out there or that not dating is a horrible tragedy. It’s the opposite. I believe this notion that we do our children a disservice by dating before they graduate high school is kind of ridiculous.

As the mother of an 18 year old and a 20 year old I can tell you my kids don’t really have a lot of time for me anymore. My daughter has been exceptionally busy since beginning competitive gymnastics back when she was still in elementary school. Practice 3-5 days a week. As an optional she went to school and went directly to the gym where she practiced from 3-7. She came home, ate, did homework and went to bed. That was 6th-8th grade. As she entered high school she was busy with friends, extracurriculars and sometimes even a boyfriend. She added a job to that list of things that took her away from me when she turned 16. This summer I spent five days with her. Five. Out of the entire summer. Every weekend she was either running down to Muncie to spend the weekend with her friends and her boyfriend, or her boyfriend made the trip up here. The only reason I spent five days with her and not two is because one weekend I took her, her boyfriend, and Picasso to Ohio to spend the weekend with the mobster for his birthday. That was the weekend we rented a cabin, went fishing, and went out on a pontoon boat. Aside from that- nothing! She also spent the majority of her time in the house in her room where she kept the air conditioning on a chilly 64 degrees. It’s not that I didn’t see her. We just didn’t do anything together. She worked mostly 12 hour days when she was scheduled to work. I work Monday-Friday, 8-5. Weekends she was always busy with her boyfriend.

My son still spends most of his time at home in his room. His meds seem to be working and he’s much chattier lately but he would still prefer to spend his time playing video games, drawing, watching YouTube and hanging out with his friends.

My experience isn’t uncommon. The mobster has four children. Four! His oldest son lives in New Hampshire. He rarely sees him. A and his wife, Little Miss Sunshine, are busy with careers, each other, raising his son, and hanging out with their friends. Taking off for a long weekend to drive 13 hours and see his dad isn’t a regular thing. His next oldest is married as well; even though he lives in the same town as his dad the mobster rarely sees him. He’s busy with his wife’s family and they both work full time. His third son just moved to West Virginia, about 2 hours away. Even before the move the mobster said he didn’t see much of him; he spent all of his time with his live-in girlfriend. This is kind of funny in a sad sort of way because they lived in the apartment that is above the mobster’s garage. Finally, his youngest, his only daughter, is now 19. She works full time and she spends a lot of time with her friends. There are many times he’s all by himself in that big ol’ house because T is house sitting for her brother, or is off with friends. She’s also got a new boyfriend so she’s beginning to spend time with him as well.

The point of these examples is that our kids develop lives independent of us. If we decide we owe it to them to remain single until they turn 18 there is a great chance that we’ll be sitting at home all by ourselves, waiting for our kids to throw us a freakin’ bone in the form of their undivided attention for an hour or two.  Please, child, may I buy your dinner in order to enjoy your company?

Rock Star actually tried to pull that bullshit with me towards the end of the summer. When I told her I felt like I never really got to spend any time with her this summer she actually had the audacity to blame it on me being gone to spend time with the mobster. Oh hell no! I quickly pointed out that the time in particular that she was referring to was when I went to court. I didn’t exactly have a choice in that matter. I also invited her to come along (not to court but to Virginia) and she conveniently mixed up the dates. To put it into perspective she saw her boyfriend every weekend this summer. I honestly don’t think she went a single weekend without seeing him. I, on the other hand, saw the mobster three times this summer. Three whole times in the three months she was home. One of those times was the weekend I took Rock Star and her boyfriend with me. Another time I had to go to court.

Maybe she’s not representative of all kids but there are enough of them out there that would prefer their parents don’t have lives of their own so that they are better able to be at their beck and call.

It’s not just at age 18 that they’re off on their own, leaving you to find something to do in their absence. I’ve heard a lot of parents say that once the kid gets his or her driver’s license it’s a whole different ballgame. No longer are they dependent on mom or dad to take them from Place A to Place B. I spent a lot of time in the car with my kids, especially Rock Star since she always needed to be somewhere. Once she could drive that completely changed.

How far does this extend anyway? Is it anything that might take your attention away from them? Am I allowed to volunteer? What if my kids want me to take them over to a friend’s house at the same time I’m supposed to be packing backpacks for the local food pantry? What if I take a night each week to answer phone calls at the domestic shelter? Can I go out with my friends on a Friday night? Do I get to go to grown up concerts or movies ever? Can I go listen to a band playing at a bar? Is picking up a new hobby allowed? What if I join a community theater group and I have practice every night for three months? What if I immerse myself in knitting or playing hockey or paint pouring? Can I sign up to run a race? Can I even go running several times a week? I don’t see the difference between me dating and doing any of those things. All of those activities take time away from my kids. If I’m doing any of those things instead of spending it with my kids then I’m taking time away from my kids. Are we not supposed to do anything except sit around waiting for our kids to want to do something with us?

Look, I believe I was an involved mother. I’ve received some positive reviews from my own kids. I chauffeured them around plenty. Most summers were spent on the go- museums, amusement parks, water parks, lakes, rollerskating rinks, arcades. I took them to horseback riding lessons, we hiked in the mountains and toured caves, and on Rock Star’s late start Fridays I took her out to breakfast. We went shopping and got pedicures. I went on field trips and volunteered at their school. I took them to Moab where we toured Arches National Park and The Hole In the Wall, went white water rafting and took a HUMVEE tour up on the red rocks while Jerry Lee stayed behind in the hotel room. I took them to Yellowstone another year; we toured the park and went white water rafting (again!) and horseback riding. I took them to the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, and Florida. I even made a trip up to Twin Falls, Idaho to go camping. I made numerous cross country trips with them and always did my best to stop at attractions to break up the time and make things interesting for them. I took them to the movies and to play putt putt golf and bowling and a whole lot of other things.

Of course, that was all while I was married. Then I got divorced and worked two jobs and was exhausted all the time. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning will do that to you. Yet, even if I hadn’t gotten divorced my kids would still be growing up. They’d still rather do things with friends than with me.

I’m not saying you never see your kids once they get a driver’s license or once they hit a certain age. I am saying you’re a fool to think that once they’ve hit that magical age of 18 you’re suddenly free to go build a life for yourself independent of your children. It’s far better to have an actual life outside of your kids before they graduate high school and/or college and move away.

All of those things that are listed above- volunteering, going out with friends, hobbies- I did all of those things as my kids got older. When they were pre-kindergarten age I spent most of my time with them and didn’t do very much on my own at all. Then again, I didn’t have a supportive husband. But once they got a little older I started to spread my wings. Yes, most of the volunteering I did centered around their school and was done while they were in school. And true, most of the time I went out with friends I did so when they were in school as well. But there were the occasional times that I wasn’t around in the evening. They survived.

I wouldn’t recommend that a person who is married close themselves off that much and live a life completely dominated by child rearing. I sure as hell don’t recommend it for a person who has divorced and is forging a life with no other parent to help out.

I think the mobster and I have done a very good job of balancing our relationship and our kids. From the very beginning we agreed that the kids came first. That’s why no one moved when we had kids in high school. At our best we got to see each other every other weekend; that left plenty of time to do things with our kids. Most of the time we did not see each other every other weekend; it could be 4-6 weeks between get togethers. If either of us had a kid related event we scheduled around that. One weekend that meant meeting up on a Saturday instead of our usual Friday because my daughter had Prom on Friday night and I wanted to see her and take pictures. Another weekend he didn’t leave to meet up with me until after his daughter’s softball game. There were weekends we had planned to get together and he had forgotten it was his daughter’s birthday so the weekend together was canceled. We’ve stopped phone calls in the middle of the conversation because a child needed us, and we’ve delayed calling because we’ve been busy talking to our kids. It is possible to balance dating/being in a new relationship and raising your kids.

I want to say once more that I don’t think you absolutely must date. I know there are plenty of single women and men out there that have no desire to do so. They find the single life suits them just fine. For those people I say, “Good for you!” I wouldn’t advise that they change a thing. But I do have a problem with this idea that if you have children under the age of 18 and you choose to date, you are somehow not focusing on your kids and they are suffering for it.

If I can spend time with friends or take up a new hobby or spend time volunteering and not somehow take away from my children, then I can go on a few dates and/or begin a new relationship. And if the people who think you shouldn’t date also think you shouldn’t do anything lest it take away from your kids… well, I would advise everyone to have a life outside of their children. It’s not a bad thing for them to realize you are a person, too, and that you have things you like to do. Sometimes you might even do those things without them <gasp>! If you spend every moment of your life focusing on your kids, and only focusing on your kids, you are going to end up a very lonely person.

Your kids are going to grow up; they’re not going to live with you forever. They’re not even going to want to spend all of their time with you. Their own boyfriend or girlfriend, sports, high school activities, and weekends spent with their friends are going to take precedence. Getting their license is going to be a game changer. Enjoy them! Cherish all of those memories that you get to make with them. Gobble up every minute of time you get with them. Celebrate their achievements. By all means, put them first. At the same time, don’t be afraid to spread your own wings and develop a life of your own- with or without a new partner. It’s a lot of pressure on kids to be the center of their parent’s world.

My Evil Plan Worked!

I think I might have shared with you that Jerry Lee managed to send his daughter money for her birthday, along with a message on Venmo about how proud he is of her and what a lovely young woman she is becoming.

While driving with Picasso a week or so ago he asked how much he had sent her. I told him the truth. He replied that he wondered if his dad would send him anything. I told him that his dad seems to like Venmo so maybe if he had an account his dad would send him money through it. His next question was, “How would he even know I was on it? I don’t have contact with him and I’m not on Facebook.” I explained to him that his dad could see every transaction I made unless I chose to make it private. I let him know I would send him $5 just so that his dad could see that he now had a Venmo account. Maybe then he would treat his children equally. Perhaps pressing a couple of buttons might be easier for the poor dear than actually going out and purchasing something and then getting it in the mail. Stamps are hard to find, y’all.

As we took off for our weekend in Ohio Picasso got his Venmo account set up and a few days later I sent him the promised $5.

July 1st was his birthday. I texted him a happy birthday and when I came home he came out of his room and announced to me, “Your plan worked!” Stupid me, I had to ask him, “What plan?” And that’s when he told me, “Your plan to lure Jerry Lee from out of the shadows.”

He actually sent his son money for his birthday. On his actual birthday, too. Of course now I think it was just to butter him up before hitting us with the whole, “I don’t owe any child support anymore because he’s 18!” nonsense.

Happy Birthday, Picasso! You’re a man now. Be a better one than your dad.