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.

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.

Serving the Punch

I need to add an addendum to my post, Quarantine Craziness, Part 1. Remember how I was telling you that my mother was civil when she had to be? That was not a lie. She was civil. And she did allow my father and step-mother in her home on occasion.

A little background. My stepmother’s name is Mary. I feel comfortable using her name because it’s a very common name. It’s not like anyone is going to say, “Oh my God! Mary! I know exactly who that is!” If her name was Sabina or Pocahontas or Beyonce I could see coming up with an alias, but it is literally one of the most common names out there.

Mary is a very odd person who knows everything. As my brother once said, “Oh good God! She’s a lawyer, a doctor, a judge, a farmer. She knows everything about everything!” When Rock Star was running track her junior year she told me she would sometimes get weather reports from her and reminders to wear sunscreen. She asked me before I got married if I would be interested in having a plain gold wedding band so that if I wanted to garden or otherwise get my hands dirty I could still wear a wedding band and not have to worry about getting my nice ring dirty. Like I even garden! She one time sent a bag of peaches to my younger brother and included instructions on how to eat them. I kid you not. For years I kept a copy of that on my refrigerator because people could not believe she gave him instructions.

Remove pit and slice into pieces OR wash and eat like an apple.

I may not have the verbiage exactly as it was but I know the second part of the instructions is accurate. That was actually one of the few times Jerry Lee showed his sense of humor. “I need more information. If she thinks I’m so stupid I don’t know how to eat a peach, what makes her think I know how to eat an apple?”

I would not testify to this in a court of law but I’m fairly certain my high school graduation was the first time my mom ever invited them to a function she was having. My dad and grandparents lived two hours away from us so on graduation day they all came up. My mom threw my graduation party and took care of all of it and was gracious enough to extend an invite to her ex-husband and the AP turned wife.

I have to say, I was not that gracious for my own daughter’s celebration. It’s not like she wanted him there, of course, but even if she had I wouldn’t have done it. At least I don’t think I would have.

Anyway, at some point before my actual graduation my stepmom was asking me if there was anything she could do. She wanted to help but she didn’t want to be in the way or overstep; she was very big on etiquette, which is kind of funny when you think about it. I’m pretty sure Miss Manners would say it’s not polite to sleep with another woman’s husband, and well, sleeping with someone else’s husband is a huge overstep. Yes, I know I had an affair with your husband but I don’t want to overstep my bounds. Would you be okay with me serving the punch at your daughter’s graduation party?

That is what she settled on. She was wondering if perhaps she should offer to man the punch bowl. So I went home and told my mom that Mary was wondering if she should serve the punch. This has led to a long time inside joke. My mother replied, “I’ll serve her the punch alright!” as she punched the air.

To this day we laugh about it. I can’t drink punch without thinking about it either.

By the way, no one served the punch. My mom remained very civil and, well it was a sunny day and we had peaches so Mary was kept busy running around reminding people to put on sunscreen and educating them on how to eat a peach. Take the easy way- eat it just like an apple.

P.S. It was a sunny day but there were no peaches. I just made that up so that I could end my post.

Quarantine Craziness, Part 2

I realize Chump Lady has a niche audience. She’s amassed an incredible following and it can be very easy to dismiss them as a bunch of rabid, group thinking know it alls who only preach divorce, distance, and disdain. However, what most of them (us) have in common is that we’ve already been through this and it didn’t end well.

When the people tell newbies who are trying to figure out whether they should leave or try to work things through, they’re telling them to get out because they’ve already tried the reconciliation thing. There are very few people on that site who kicked the cheater out immediately after finding out about the infidelity. Almost all of them are repeat chumps. They tell the newbies to get out because they’ve been there. They’ve forgiven the cheater who wasn’t sorry. They’ve forgiven the cheater who lied and made promises, only to find out they took it further underground. They’ve endured the repeat D-Days, some of them coming 2… 7… 10… 20 years later. They can tell the newbies their stories of all the humiliating things they did while doing the so-called “pick me dance”. So many who say, “I can’t believe how I gave and gave and gave, how I made my needs smaller and smaller, for a person who didn’t care.”

The people that seem to find her are the ones who forgave their cheater, who thought they had the exception, only to find out the cheater was only buying time to set them up. Drained college funds. Drained retirement funds. Switched jobs to decrease their income. Used them until the money dried up and then moved on to greener pastures. The people who are screaming, “Don’t trust him/her!” are the ones who will never be able to afford to retire because they trusted a cheater.

When they urge the newbies to protect themselves- to get a post-nuptial if they’re going to stay, to do a credit check, to verify accounts- it’s because they learned through financial devastation about the need to do those things. When they say don’t quit your job, don’t move across the country, don’t take on their debts, don’t declare bankruptcy with them, don’t give them second and third and fourth chances, don’t take pity on them it’s because they’ve done those things and they have lived to regret it.

When they tell the newbies to maintain no contact or gray rock it’s because they’ve already learned the hard way. They came to realize the first step is creating space between you and the cheater; it’s difficult to fall for their bullshit when they’re not around. They’ve learned that contacting the employers, the in-laws, the affair partner’s family, generally doesn’t pay off. They’ve learned that any kind of interaction gives the cheater kibbles and maintains their centrality. They know that phoning or texting or emailing angry or maudlin outbursts is not going to benefit you; if anything, it’s going to make you feel worse. They know that begging your ex to take an interest in their children or to do as they promised does nothing except infuriate you because it sure as hell doesn’t change the cheater’s behavior. They realize that trying to figure out why the cheater did something is pointless. They know that arguing with them or trying to reason with them is a waste of time. They know this because they’ve lived it. It’s not because they’re angry, bitter people who want everyone around them to be just as miserable. They’re trying to save people some grief and misery.

Imagine this. I have an office building that overlooks an isolated sandy beach. The sand is white and pristine. The waters are a deep blue. It’s very inviting. As I stand there, looking outside my window, I see someone venture onto the beach. I see that person wade into the water. That person is swimming happily, minding his or her own business. Suddenly, from out of nowhere a shark attacks the person, throws him up in the air, and then gobbles him down in one bite. Naturally, I would be horrified. I call the police. They investigate. No body, no crime. They don’t see the shark. No signs are posted. I’m just a crazy woman.

A few days later I see another person venture onto the beach. Again, the person goes into the water, is having a great time and then BAM! Shark attack. Person devoured.

It happens again and again.

I start posting banners outside my office window, “Don’t go into the water! Shark!” People continue to dismiss me and they continue to get eaten.

Finally, I go down to the beach myself. When someone dares to dip their toes in the sand and head towards the water I implore them not to get in the water. “There’s a shark in there. It’s killed dozens of people in the last month. DO NOT GO IN! You are going to die!”

Am I telling that person not to go in the water because I’m a heartless monster who wants to prevent people from enjoying a refreshing swim? Am I trying to deny them their bliss? Am I angry or jealous that they don’t have to be stuck in an office all day and can take time off to swim?  NO! I know there’s a fucking shark in the water and this person is going to be chum. I’m trying to prevent a death, not stop them from having fun.

That’s how I view the fans of Chump Lady. They’ve seen the shark. They know the danger.

I think also that what some people don’t get is that for many of her followers the concept of a tidy, mutual conscious uncoupling has not been possible. It’s not because we are bitter bunnies who refuse to seek “a future relationship where we can both be happy for each other and our children and show them happiness and being whole are vital to a person’s future.” It’s because the people we are divorcing suck!

As one person put it: He tried to kill me so that’s going to be a hard no on any interaction.

I have a friend who had a police officer pull her aside and tell her, quite bluntly that her address was flagged as a frequent domestic violence call and when it came up they treated it as a potentially fatal call. They even told her, “One day we’re going to get that call and when we show up we’re going to find he’s killed you or one your girls.”

This man attempted to strangle one of his daughters. He’s a violent alcoholic who indulged in a three year long affair. She does not need to share birthday dinners with him. She does not need to model gracefully moving on or civility towards him. She needs to get the fuck away and stay the fuck away. Period. And she has.

The mobster has dealt with his STBX telling people that he was controlling, he made her dress a certain way, and that he was physically and emotionally abusive towards her and towards their kids. Why would he want to maintain a friendship with someone like that? Why would he want to share holidays or care one little bit about how she’s doing?

In my own situation I can still clearly remember Jerry Lee coming downstairs after I had given him a bill for the monthly living expenses. After telling me he couldn’t pay his half (yeah, when you blow over four grand on an engagement ring for your whore cousin it can be difficult to pay your share of the household bills) he told me he could give me $750, take it or leave it. Then he so graciously let me know that this could all still be civil.

The jackass was living in the family home. He cut me off financially and gave me only what his lawyer had told him he would have to pay. I got less than 50% of his paycheck and I was responsible for 100% of the bills. We had a $2100 monthly mortgage, utilities that ran around $400-$500 per month, and multiple credit cards. Plus, a pool loan. The money he was told he would end up paying me didn’t always fully cover the household bills. Meanwhile, he had approximately $5000 a month to blow on Harley and her kids. He didn’t give a fuck if his own kids went without.

I never yelled at him. I never dumped his shit on the front lawn. I never showed up at his place of employment, screaming and outing him as the lying cheater he was. I didn’t harass him or her. As far as I’m concerned I was the perfect STBX. I took care of the bills and the kids. Never bothered him. Never made life miserable for him. He, on the other hand, used our house as an extended stay hotel while he left every weekend to go fuck his cousin and played the sad sausage to everyone who would listen.

How much more civil could I have been?

We’ve seen this rouse time and time again; that’s why we don’t buy it. It’s why we urge others who are new to this to step away and refuse to engage. We’ve experienced giving them an inch and them taking a mile. We’ve experienced reaching out and doing something kind or thoughtful and having it thrown back into our faces. Apparently, some people love that shit! Abuse me some more! I want to show people what a great person I am!

For others it’s simply recognizing that this person is toxic and you need to get away. There’s nothing to work with. Nothing you say is going to make a difference. Nothing you do is going to make a difference.

I think for most people it’s very difficult to go against our basic instincts. We have been conditioned to give chance after chance. We want to try, try, and try again. We feel it’s our duty to exhaust every potential solution. What if I don’t forgive my cheater and this time, the ninth time, is the time it finally stops and we end up happily married for the rest of our lives? If they’ve already cheated nine times I’m pretty sure your chances of discovering it a tenth time are pretty high, but so many are determined to give one more chance. Chances one through eight notwithstanding. I also think it’s very scary to realize you don’t control anything. You can forgive until your brain malfunctions, until your heart stops beating, until your eyes glaze over, but it doesn’t mean a thing in a lot of cases.

Yet, it’s still pushed. You’re doing your kids a disservice if you aren’t friendly towards one another. Your children will be scarred for life if you aren’t sitting together at their concerts or school plays or football games. We took smiling divorce selfies at the courthouse because even though we’re divorced we are still family and that will never, ever change- even when one or both of us gets remarried, even if one or both of us goes on to have more children, even if one of us moves away with the new, improved family. No one can even tell we’re divorced because we do everything together- parent teacher conferences, volunteering, extracurricular activities; we’re the envy of everyone! I let my ex live with me on the weekends for the sake of my children and I accompany them on all of their outings like we’re still one big happy family even though he has a mistress and a love child six hours away in the town he moved to away from his original children. Only bitter exes who can’t get over the divorce refuse to host joint birthday parties, vacation together, go out to dinner together, and spend the holidays together as one big happy family. I’m sorry you’re not demonstrating to your children how to gracefully move on and let someone go; they’re probably going to be in dysfunctional relationships and will never forgive you. My children admire me because they can see all the sacrifices I have made for them, and how I will always put their comfort and needs ahead of my own, even if that means every time my ex asks me for something I jump up immediately and make sure it’s done. No matter how humiliating, painful, or debilitating the request may be I will always do it and I will never think about my own physical or emotional well-being. Because I’m a good parent. Unlike you, you bitter bunny who can’t move on.

To be continued…

Quarantine Craziness!

If any of you read Chump Lady then you probably saw Thursday’s post about Bruce Willis self-quarantining with his ex wife, Demi Moore, and their three adult children. If you’re familiar with Chump Lady then you can probably guess her reaction. She thought it was crazy and stupid.

I, personally, don’t care whether they’re all stuck together or not. Bruce and Demi have always had a crazy type of post-divorce relationship. They’ve always made a show of being a united front for their three girls, at least publicly. Hell, maybe privately too; I don’t know them so I can’t say with certainty. They were the supposed goal of post divorce relationships, even when she got together with the much younger Ashton Kutcher. It was all one big happy family with the girls calling Ashton “MOD”, or, my other dad. I did feel a bit vindicated when it was revealed after Demi and Ashton broke up that Bruce had always thought the guy was a jerk. I also feel fairly confident that “their other dad” doesn’t have much of a relationship with “his” daughters now that he has remarried and has two children of his own.

Tracy did bring up one valid point though, which I hadn’t really thought about. Bruce is remarried and has two young daughters with the current Mrs. Willis. Why is he not with them?

I don’t really care. Honestly. What I did find interesting in all the comments was someone who decided to chime in with the news that she had left Chump Nation because it felt like a cult. Despite being cheated on she and her cheater remain friendly and she felt like Chump Lady didn’t approve. She went on to say that Chump Lady wants everyone to hate their ex and basically shames those who don’t. Another commenter chimed in with, “Exes CAN be caring friends. It DOES happen.” And then went on to imply that Chump Lady wants everyone to be pissed off at their ex.

Um… no she doesn’t. She’s pretty clear on this. Does she want you to get angry and use your anger to propel you through the hard parts of this shit show? Absolutely! Does she want you to stay there and wallow in your misery and the unfairness of it all? Not at all. Her standard go to advice is that the pain is finite. It hurts like a sonofabitch but it will end. On some random Tuesday. Her goal for her readers? To reach Meh, that glorious state where you don’t care what your fuckwit is doing or who they’re doing it with. You’re not angry. You’re not vengeful. You are way too busy living your new amazing life.

I can believe she doesn’t see the point in remaining friends with your ex. Then again, her first ex, the father of her child, is a hoarder with mental issues who sued her pro se for custody continuously despite rarely seeing his own child and being financially negligent; and her second ex was a serial cheating sociopath. Not a lot to work with.

She’s also not a big fan of the whole “conscious uncoupling”. I’m right there with her. If infidelity wasn’t a part of your divorce I can see perhaps remaining friendly. Otherwise, my question has always been: Why would I want friends like these?

She firmly believes you don’t have a lot to work with when your spouse cheats. She doesn’t think most of them are genuinely remorseful; they just don’t like consequences so they’ll say or do whatever is needed to prevent said consequences. And she has said many times that cheating is not about the marriage rather it’s about entitlement and shitty character.

I understand she’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ll even let you in on a little secret: I don’t agree with everything she says. The Bruce and Demi self-quarantine? I don’t care. And despite her insistence that they’re probably having sex and the new wife should file for divorce, I don’t think that’s true. Her views on emotional affairs? Don’t necessarily agree, although she has changed her stance over the years. This idea that a 50 or 60 year old has just as much of a chance to find love again as a 20 or 30 year old? Nope. Don’t agree. I also don’t think she necessarily gives credence to all the different variables people have in their lives. It sometimes feels like it’s a one size fits all approach. I tend to think that obstacles facing a 60 year old whose marriage has disintegrated after 35 years are probably different from the 30 year old who is divorcing after five years. I tend to think that the woman who has been a stay at home mom for 15 years is going to find it financially more difficult than the woman who is the main breadwinner in her family. Despite my minor disagreements I’m not offended by her or her message. I take what I can use and I leave the rest. Her tag line is very clear: Leave a cheater, gain a life.

Apparently though there are some people out there that are very, very offended by the fact that Chump Lady exists. They’re offended by the fact that she preaches leaving instead of reconciliation. They’re offended that she doesn’t encourage friendship and “cooperation”, but rather gray rock and no contact. They’re offended at the thought of no longer untangling the skein, or giving up their spot on the marriage police. They also seem to be offended by the fact she believes instead of investing in a relationship with a person who has lied to you, cheated on you, and stabbed you in the back you should invest in yourself.

My first thought on the commenter who was complaining Chump Lady wants everyone to hate their ex and all of those who are offended by the fact that she doesn’t believe in reconciliation is, “Who the fuck cares?” Seriously! There are 11,569,214 websites out there devoted to reconciling with your lying cheater, aka your wayward spouse. There are almost as many blogs written by betrayed spouses who are reconciling after infidelity. Chump Lady is ONE website that doesn’t preach reconciling at all costs. Actually, if you read her you know she doesn’t preach reconciling at any cost. But it’s one website! One website out of millions. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find blogs written by divorced women? Most of the blogs I have found are written by women (almost overwhelmingly women) that are reconciling. Most websites are geared towards reconciliation. It’s a foregone conclusion that you want to save your marriage.

As for being friends with your ex? That is the message we are bombarded with every. single. day! Friendly exes are held up as the golden standard. Look, they vacation together! They spend holidays together! I believe in putting my children’s needs ahead of my own; that’s why I threw the OW a baby shower. We’re besties now- because it’s best for the children. I live with my ex on the weekends- for the children.

We get literally one website that tells us it’s okay to not be buddy buddy with someone who has abused you. One website that tells us it’s okay if we don’t want to double date with the ex and the replacement, or host parties together, or vacation together. We get one website that tells us it’s okay not to engage, to not waste our breath. One website out of 11,569,214 that tells us it’s not us, it’s them. That we don’t control them and there wasn’t anything we did or didn’t do to make them cheat on us. And even there you find people who want to talk about forgiveness and thinking of the children. Like those of us who aren’t willing to have our ex and the OW over for dinner must not love our children. Like those of us who would rather crawl through raw sewage than sit with our ex and the affair partner never think of our children or refuse to put their needs ahead of our own.

There’s a woman who is hosting dinner for her husband (not divorced yet) and his pregnant girlfriend/mistress because custody orders are still in place and if she does dinners with them then Daddy Dearest won’t push the issue and insist they transfer the child between homes during this pandemic. Many people have responded with, “No. Not gonna happen.” She continues to insist she is putting her child’s needs ahead of her own and doing what it takes to help her child be comfortable. Then along comes someone who tells her what a wonderful thing she’s doing, how it’s so great that she can put her child ahead of her own ego and anger.

There it is again. That assumption that people can’t let go, that they’re mired down by their anger. If only you would forgive everything would be wonderful. Adult children of divorced parents NEVER complain about their parents being civil to one another. They are only grateful Mommy and Daddy could put aside whatever petty issues they may have had which led to this divorce so that everyone could go to Benihana’s after the school play or they could have both of their parents there on Christmas morning.

Ah yes, the kids are rubbing the sleep out of their eyes as they roll out of bed in their matching pajamas. They run down the stairs to the sight of their giant Christmas tree decorated to the nines and full of blinking lights. Presents overflowing. There’s Mommy in her sweats and t-shirt. She’s been up all night getting things ready for the big reveal and has been busy making breakfast for everyone. And then there’s Daddy and his whore, both dressed in their Christmas finest, with her practically sitting on his lap, her hand firmly holding onto his as if to claim him. Mommy is dutifully serving Daddy and the whore that helped demolish her family like the good subservient loser that she is. They all laugh and coo over the kids as they open their gifts, patting themselves on the back because they’re so evolved and love their children so much more than those bitter exes that spend the holidays in separate homes. Then Daddy and the replacement say it’s time for them to go. Maybe they take the kids with them for more festivities. Maybe they head home to their own quiet, clean house to spend the rest of the day in bed, fucking like rabbits before going out for Chinese food and going to the movies. Meanwhile, Mom is left to clean up the kitchen and the mess of wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows and assemble the toys or find batteries. Wow- sounds like an amazing holiday.

The sad part is that this is the narrative preached by so many. This is the only way to teach civility, letting go, moving on, exhibiting grace. It’s also the only way you can demonstrate that your children’s well being is the most important thing.

You know what? I AM a child of divorce. I never once wanted those things. I never expected my parents to act as a unit now that they were divorced. I don’t know who all these kids are that think even though Mommy and Daddy are divorced they’re still going to do everything together. My dad cheated on my mom. For years my mother could not stand him… or her. I still remember after Rock Star’s fourth or fifth birthday party when everyone had gone home my mom telling me she had been talking to my dad and she had to find something else to do because she was having a good time talking to him and it almost made her forget how much she couldn’t stand him. They separated when I was in fourth grade. I had my first child at 31. This was twenty plus years later.

I’m not damaged by the fact that we didn’t spend holidays together or that my parents weren’t super chummy. It was just the way it was. My mother was civil when she had to be. She preferred to not be around him. He and the OW turned wife were invited to her home for my graduation party. I think that was probably the first time they were in the same space for a prolonged period of time. I’m not sure they said a single word to one another at my wedding. You know what? I didn’t even notice. It did not affect me or my big day. They were able to be in the same space when we started having kids and the kids had birthday parties. Again, she was civil when she had to be. She was not friendly. She kept people around her and kept busy when they were there in the same space. I’ve never had a problem with that. I’ve never thought less of her. I’ve never wondered, “Gee, why didn’t my parents take us on a family vacation after they got divorced?”

I have always believed you do not cease to be a person with feelings and emotions once you have children. Yet, so often what we’re told is good parents eat shit sandwiches. Good parents let people walk all over them for the sake of their children. You don’t get to feel hurt. You don’t get to feel angry. You don’t get to draw boundaries. You’re a parent. Whatever your kid wants you should give them. Don’t worry about the psychological toll it may take on you.

I say, “Balderdash!” I much prefer Chump Lady’s message. Let us have our ONE damn site out of millions. If we’re all wrong who the fuck cares? It’s not like there aren’t millions upon millions of websites and blogs that are going to push reconciliation and friendliness between exes.

To be continued…

FAFSA Hell

If you are a parent and you’ve had to fill this ridiculous thing out I salute you. It always takes me at least an hour to do what should take me 10-15 minutes tops.

This year was no different. We started off with the username and password from last year not being correct. So I had to first change my username. Then find out my password wasn’t correct. Change my password. Then find out I can’t even get to the fucking site because my browser isn’t compatible. I updated that three or four times. Still couldn’t get in. Then I finally get in and I can’t upload my tax information to her form. Of course I can’t! Why would anything go smoothly? I then spend almost an hour looking up my tax information from 2018. Thank God for that interstate meeting that never went anywhere back in September.

All of this hell and my guess is, after asking me how much I received in child support (Child support? Really?) and how much I currently have in the bank and then needing to give them my adjusted gross earnings for 2018 I’m fucked. No, my daughter is fucked. I would be surprised if they even offer her loans this coming year.

I swear to God before this is all over I’m going to march into that financial aid office and tell them to take her goddamn name off their call lists. She doesn’t need to give that fucking a school another dime once she graduates. She gave them all their money upfront. Call all the kids you gave a free ride to; leave my kid the fuck alone!

What Ever Happened To…

I came across one of my old posts, Living With a Cheater on the Weekends… For the Children (Of Course!) and I got to wondering what had happened to that writer, Jaimie Seaton.

If you missed it the first time around the story is this: Daddy cheated, got his much younger mistress pregnant, and left his wife for the mistress. One day when Mommy was dropping the kids off in Daddy’s new town one of the kids wanted to know why she wasn’t going to accompany them on their adventure. And thus set off the new direction of her life. She began going with them on their weekends and letting him stay in her house for the weekend when he came to see their children.

People were divided over whether she was a saint who put her children’s needs ahead of her own anger or if she was a controlling nutjob who was depriving the new baby of her daddy every weekend and denying the OW a chance to bond with the kids.

That was written back in 2016. I found a podcast that featured an interview with her about that article so I had a little more background info. Nonetheless, I was curious so I googled her.

The daughter is off to college in Europe but Daddy Dearest still visits every other weekend and still stays with Mommy.

A little over a year ago she wrote a new piece entitled, How My Ex-Husband Accidentally Became My Good Friend.

Six years later we’re divorced, and he still drives up, alternating weekends between his new home and family, and our children. He arrives on Friday night or Saturday morning and comes straight to my house, parking his car and letting himself in the front door. When he calls out his arrival, the dogs rush to greet him, and my son darts from his room and into his father’s arms. When he arrives on Saturday, he makes himself a cup of coffee and we sit outside and talk about the week: how the children are doing, changes I’ve made to the house, the latest happenings at our jobs. Invariable, we fall into a discussion of the week’s news; dissecting the latest nugget of information from the Mueller investigation, or weighing the chances of various candidates in the midterm elections. We linger so long in these conversations that my son has to interrupt to remind us that his father came to see him, not me.

When he’s here, our home feels complete. For two weeks at a time, I am alone, struggling to juggle a full-time job with taking care of the children; driving my 15 year old son to activities, trying to snatch a few moments of conversation with my perpetually on-the-go 18 year old daughter. I do my best to keep up with the house, with cooking, with mowing the lawn, but I always fall short; it’s too much for one person. When he is home, I have a part-time partner to share in discipling the kids or helping with homework. There is someone to run to the store for milk, or cook dinner. I am finally free to go to a movie or simply sit outside and write. In the afternoons I often fall asleep on the sofa reading a book. Because I can. Because my children have their father.

Oh my. Where to start?

Look, if you want to remain friends with a person who lies to you, cheats on you, throws you under the bus, and blows up your entire life after creating a new family, be my guest. I don’t claim to understand it but if it works for you, awesome.

But let’s get real. He is not “home”. His home is in Manhattan with his mistress and their new shared child. He’s visiting. And the youngest kid is at least 15 at the time of this writing. She can’t take a nap or go to the movies without another adult in the home? Is she afraid her 15 year old is going to wander off, dump out all the shampoo, or get into the household poisons? Since my youngest has been 15 he spends the majority of his time in his room. I go out to dinner. I go to the gym. I go out with my friends. Never once have I thought, “I can’t leave my little baby alone. Who will watch him?” He’s 15. He’s going to watch himself.

She claims she doesn’t want him back and perhaps she doesn’t. As she has said in podcasts and in other articles she misses the life she had. So maybe this is a way for her to get that back for a little while. They sit around drinking coffee, discussing the nearly grown children, their careers, and current events. Their son has to pop in to remind them that Dad is here to see him and not Mom. In fact, in a podcast interview she admits that now when she asks if she can go with them to dinner or breakfast her son frequently responds with, “No!” with the follow up that if she comes along he won’t get to spend any time with his dad because they’ll spend the whole time talking.

She talks about a recent event where the two of them went car shopping together and how she later told him she was never going to do that without him again.

She says they talk almost every day.

He reads her work and gives his opinion on it, which she appreciates because in the very beginning of their relationship he was always her proofreader and proved to have a valuable eye when it came to such things.

He readily acts as her handyman and fixes stuff around the house. Apparently cooks dinner and runs errands as well.

One of the things that she mentions is that this didn’t happen overnight. She had a lot of anger and says it remains a very painful situation. But she also didn’t want her kids to deal with parents who couldn’t be in the same room. She didn’t want her kids to have to spend their weekends in hotel rooms with their father.

Personally, I feel that’s one of the consequences of cheating on your spouse and leaving them and your children behind to create a new family. Kids might have to spend the weekend in a hotel. Kids might get dropped off at Starbucks to spend the weekend with one parent and then the other parent picks them up at the end of the weekend.

I don’t think it’s a horrible thing to explain to your child that when people treat you badly it is okay to no longer want that person in your life. It’s okay and healthy. Nothing wrong with explaining, “Daddy hurt me very badly. I don’t choose to keep people in my life that have hurt me and lied to me and betrayed me. There will come a day when someone in your life does something very hurtful and if you decide their behavior is a deal breaker you have every right to no longer let that person be a part of your life.” I think teaching children about boundaries is a good thing.

I also feel you’re almost setting your kids up for failure if you teach them there are no consequences to cheating on your spouse.

These kids have seen their mom open their home up to their father, engage in long conversations with him when he’s clearly moved on (he lives 5-6 hours away), treat him like a spouse as opposed to an ex-spouse, and eat shit sundae after shit sundae all in the name of making sure her precious darlings never have to suffer the consequences of having divorced parents. What happens if the lesson they internalize is not grace under pressure but rather they can do whatever they wish without consequence? And what happens further if the person they cheat on isn’t as noble as their own shit eating mom? That’s a hard lesson to learn on the fly.

A lot of people commented about her controlling nature from the first article and believed that Daddy should be able to pick up the kids and take them to his new home with the OW and the love child.

I said it before and I’ll say it again, Daddy is perfectly comfortable with the way things are. I cannot imagine that there is any judge out there who would order visitation take place apart from the new family forever. Yet here they are, six years later, and he’s still leaving the new family to go spend the weekend with the ex and the originals.

I’ve got to hand it to her. Most people are not so fortunate as to be able to keep the OP away from their kids. I don’t know how she got him to agree to it but she did. It sounds like those kids have never met the OW or the new sibling. Just to be clear, I don’t have a problem with that.

Naturally, she speaks of how exhausting it is to carry that kind of anger around forever. I disagree. It’s not exhausting at all. Because it’s not about going around angry forever. It’s about getting the toxins out of your life and living a life free of that.

Later on in the podcast interview she talks about how difficult it is to find someone with whom she can share her life, and in the same breath says it’s a huge red flag for her when men talk ill of their exes.

You know, at one point I thought the same way. I guess I’m not sure where to draw the line. I don’t have particularly nice things to say about Jerry Lee. He cheated. He moved us across the country to get closer to his mistress. He cheated again (if he ever stopped). He abandoned his kids financially and emotionally. I’m not sure what kind things I should be saying in this instance. He made good money. That’s about all I’ve got. He had a great sense of humor when he wasn’t moping around. Sometimes there really is nothing good to be said.

I do give him credit for the few things he did. I do my best not to speak ill of him but I’ve often said my kids are older and it’s a hell of a lot harder to lie to them. I don’t have the time or energy to try to make him and his behavior look good. I’ve reminded them of good things he’s done and vacations he took with them. I’ve corrected misinformation. I’ve told both of them that I understand them wanting to have a relationship with him, that he’s their father and it’s not a betrayal of me if they wish to have a relationship with him. That’s as far as I can go because I’m not going to lie for him and I don’t think it does my children any favors to lie for him.

I think the biggest reason she doesn’t have anyone else in her life is because her life is filled up with the ex. He’s the one that goes car shopping with her. He’s the one she talks to about her job. He’s the one that gives her advice on her articles. They talk almost daily. He runs errands. He cooks. He lets himself in and the dogs greet him before he goes and fixes himself a cup of coffee and they spend the next hour or two shooting the breeze. How would she ever fit another man into this? She even admits that some of the men she’s dated have told her she needs to get him out of her life.

Her philosophy is that it is a good thing when the exes have a good relationship. I can see that to a certain extent. Would I want to be with someone who’s ex shows up on their front porch, screaming obscenities and calling the police on them on a weekly basis? It would not be ideal. Is it easier if you can have a civil conversation and be flexible with the schedules? Absolutely. Is it easier on the kids if you can both be in the same room without flinging insults or acting like the other doesn’t exist? Probably. But I can assure you I would take the mobster’s ex sending crazy, threatening texts any day over the mobster going out to dinner or spending the weekend with her. That is a flat out no. If he remained that embroiled in her life then he would not have time for me.

I find it interesting though that in all this talk about how her kids never have to choose between their parents and how both of them are invested in the two kids and are able to attend all of these important events in their lives there is never talk about the OW joining them. That is a very important piece of the puzzle. It works because she has managed to exclude the OW and the love child and Daddy has gone along with it. Yes, she is proud of the fact that she planned a graduation dinner for her daughter and instead of her daughter having two separate celebrations for this milestone, she had one with both of her parents there. She’s proud of the fact that she can sign her ex-husband up to help with her son’s drama/singing activities. They sell tickets and concessions together, and sit together at the performances. Yet, in neither of those situations does she have to deal with the OW. Mom and Dad are at these events and OW is conveniently edited out of the picture. That doesn’t usually happen. Most of the time the cheater insists upon including the OP. In Jaimie’s case she’s not only able to put aside her anger to come together and do these things together for her children, but also she’s able to pretend the OW doesn’t exist and they’re still a couple, albeit a divorced couple.

I think when it comes down to it that’s the driving force behind this. She disclosed in the podcast interview I listened to that her ex and the OW are still not married. She also admitted that the OW hates the relationship Jaimie shares with her ex, and that she (the OW) often sends profane laden texts to her, telling her that they need to act more like a divorced couple and that he’s not her husband anymore.

There you have it. A delicious triangle that will go on and on. Her ex is a cake eater extraordinaire. He dumps his wife for the pregnant mistress. The wife eats shit sundaes on behalf of her children, letting Daddy Dearest camp out at her home while he dodges any kind of consequences. This, of course, does not sit well with the OW. She’s now forced to dance, dance, dance to get this buffoon to pick her once and for all because let’s face it, even though he “chose” her he hasn’t completely discarded the wife and he’s not marrying her, even after the divorce. Why do you still talk to her, dammit? And why won’t you marry me? Your divorce took four years and I waited patiently but now you’re free. You have no excuse! Meanwhile, the wife, who has been humiliated and discarded, gets the chance to stick it to the mistress every other weekend; you know she’s got to be uncomfortable with their weekends spent together. She knows he’s a cheater because he cheated with her. Now he’s spending every other weekend in his ex-wife’s home, letting himself in with his own key, greeting the family dogs, and chillaxing with a cup of coffee while he and the ex spend hours chatting. All for the children of course. Plus she also seems to get to call the shots when it comes to the children; she has effectively banished the OW and her child.

Ex-Wife: No, you will not expose my children to that cheating whore. If you want to see your children you will see them without her or her child around.

Ex-Husband: Okay. Sorry, love of my life, nothing I can do. She won’t bend.

Mistress: But I’m your partner now!

Ex-Wife: Ha ha ha- we’re out car shopping and having lengthy discussions on the Trump impeachment hearings.

Mistress: You need to act more like a divorced couple. He’s not your husband anymore! He’s my partner.

Ex-Wife: Bless your heart. Couldn’t get him to marry you, could you? Always the mistress, never the wife.

Mistress: Why are you talking to her anyway? You left her for me. You act more like a married couple with her than you do with me!

Ex-Husband: Baby, it’s for the children! It won’t always be this way. Only three more years!

Mistress: Stay away from my man!

Ex-Wife: Shouldn’t have fucked my husband, you trollop. Buffoon, come fix my kitchen sink and read my newest article.

Ex-Husband: [to the ex-wife] Yes, dear. [to the mistress] Dance, bitch. We’re not married yet. I could still go back to my ex.

Rinse and repeat. Yes, one fine triangle.

This Is Why Tuesday Never Comes

My daughter called me at work today. I had just clocked back in from lunch when I noticed she was calling on my cell phone. I quietly answered and told her to call my work phone. She told me it was something serious and she would just call me back after I got off of work.

Um, no. I stepped away from my desk to find out what was going on with my girl.

“You can go back to work, Mom. I’m not hurt. I can talk to you later.”

I assured her that I could talk to her right now and I wanted to know what was going on. At which point she burst into tears.

She was freaking out about rent. She’s coming home over Thanksgiving break and working at the hospital but she doesn’t get paid until after her rent is due. She was going to be $200 short.

I reminded her that I already knew she was going to be short and I had been planning on helping her pay it. I just needed to know when she needed it.

She kept telling me she was stupid and felt bad for asking me for help.

I had to tell her once again that I was not dead broke. I am not living pay check to pay check. I am being smart and I’m being cautious, which is why I try not to spend a lot of money, but I have money in my account and I can help if needed.

The next crisis was school. She has two papers and a test due before she goes home next week. She told me she didn’t think she could do it anymore and she wanted to come home.

Once again I remind her that she is the most organized, goal oriented person I know. I tell her she can do anything and I have every confidence that she will get through this. I tell her to break it down into little pieces. Write down what needs to get done. Tackle whatever is due first. Then move on to the next thing.

I told her she needed to focus on getting through these last few weeks of the semester. Once that’s over the hardest part will be done. No more five hour credit classes. Chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology will all be done. She can breathe a little more next semester. She’ll apply to nursing school, get in, and from there on out she’ll be working with patients, which she loves.

I made her tell me she was awesome and then I made her tell me she could do this.

By the time we got off the phone I felt she was doing much better.

And then I got the messages from her two best friends. They both reached out to me in a group text to tell me they were worried about her. They said she had been very closed off, wouldn’t talk to them, and hadn’t been herself lately. They wanted to know if there was anything they could do to help her.

My stomach dropped. It must be bad if her friends are contacting me.

I keep telling myself that she is fine. She has her ups and her downs. She’s always been a perfectionist. She’s always been driven. This is the kid that placed 2nd in the state on balance beam and was pissed because she didn’t take home first.

“Rock Star, out of all of the girls your age in Utah you placed second! That’s amazing.”

“I didn’t come to take second. I came to win.”

I can handle her freaking out and crying. I know she can fall apart on me and pick herself back up and continue on.

When I’m getting messages from her friends telling me they’re worried about her… I begin to freak out a little myself.

For any of you who follow Chump Lady you know that one of the things she’s often asked is, “When will it stop hurting?” Her reply has become, “Tuesday. It will stop on Tuesday.” She’s not sure which Tuesday, of course, but it will eventually stop.

To be clear, I am not pining away for the ex. Sadly though, he still has the power to hurt me through my children. Fearing that my daughter might end up a suicide statistic hurts me.

My daughter should not be worried about how to pay her rent. She should not feel as though she has somehow failed if she needs to come to me and ask for financial help.

I hate him for that. I hate him for not making sure his kids have everything they need.

You want to make sure I never get another dime of your money? That’s fine. Pay your goddamn kids directly! Give them what they need instead of trying to bribe someone else’s kids. It doesn’t matter how fucking good you are to the mulligans. You have failed your own kids.

I’m going to take my own advice. Break this up into little pieces. Survive one crisis and then tackle the other. By all accounts it sounds like she is doing much better. I texted her friends back and let them know what was going on. By the time I finally had a chance to get back to them they told me she was more like her old self and she was laughing and talking to them.

The mobster called her and talked to her. He reported that she sounded better as well. Of course, as he acknowledged it’s a lot easier to fall apart on mom. He didn’t expect her to open up and fall apart on him. But he gave her a pep talk and let her know how worried I was and how worried her friends were.

One foot in front of the other. Tuesday will come one day.