holidays and long-distance parenting

November 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Halloween came and went with it’s usual muted pangs of detachment and exclusion.

It’s such a shit holiday. I’ve always hated it, long before any s-kids were in the picture. It’s only fun until you’re 10 years old, and from that point on it becomes this long string of slutty nurses and awkward home decor. There was this tiny bright moment before everything went to shit where we actually got to celebrate the holiday with the kids, complete with costumes, candy, standing in the cold, the whole nine. It was kind-of fantastic, actually, to see such joy on their faces and to be the home base they ran to after every door, eager to show each and every score. What’s not to like about that?

Part of me wishes we had never had that moment. Now that they’re gone, I know exactly what we’re missing. Exactly what we’ll never get to be a part of. Oh sure, we got to buy some pieces of each kid’s costume, but it was a press the Checkout button online kind of participation. Really, the only kind of participation their mom will allow us. But there is no return on the investment. No pictures of their faces, of how they looked in their costumes, no phone call after. I wonder if they missed us at all or if we’re such a small part of their lives anymore that they forget we’d like to have those moments with them.

And, oh, you’d like to think, you’ll get yours, don’t worry. They’re coming for Thanksgiving. But do you know what the shitty part of it is? We’ll be so glad to see them, but they will spend the entire time feeling like they are missing out on their “real” family and on all the traditions she’s built with them. I don’t fault them for that; of course the house you live in 80% of the year feels like their “real” home.

Who is winning at what here, exactly?

I will try my damndest to make it special and happy for them, but I know they will feel those pangs of regret. I just can’t help but wonder if she doesn’t help those pangs along, feeding them little poisonous lines that sow discontent in their minds. It’s not enough to have them all of the time, she has to make sure that she knows when they’re not with her, they’re miserable.

Holidays are so hard. Nothing ever feels like enough because of the simple fact that we aren’t there all of the time. We live across the country. She got what she wanted. Now no one is happy.

Stamina

October 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Some days I feel combative, ready to suit up, to go to battle for my husband and the kids. Bring it on! I want to see her crumble.

Other days, most days really, I just want to slip by unnoticed. I want to go about this (step)parenthood thing without confrontation, without trouble, without such a goddamn fight all of the time. I just want my husband to be able to send her a simple email without having to hold our collective breaths for the inevitable irate response.

I wish it were simpler. I wish it were quieter. I wish that it wouldn’t take an arbitrator to resolve nearly every freaking issue.

It’s easy to push all the blame on her. If only she’d be cooperative! And you know, for the most part, she is to blame. But we have a choice each time, to fight it, to get mad about it, or not. Obviously to choose not to fight means to give up in a lot of instances.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to just stop fighting it.

I know they deserve every ounce of fight we have in us. I just wonder how much we have left.

 

Venting: An imaginary letter to his ex-wife

October 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

So, please. Explain it to me.

You did everything you could to take those kids away from him. Worked as hard as you could to drive a wedge in between him and them, poisoning their thoughts, exploiting the law and his financial limits, completely breaking his spirit, outright lying and saying things just because you could, and yet you still think you have the right in any of this to play the victim or act like you deserve the upper hand.

Explain to me how a wife decides that being married is optional and only something to put yourself into if you don’t have a boyfriend or a means to pay for your fake tan. Explain to me how a wife can be the victim in a situation when she is actively fucking men in bars, brings a threesome to her marital bed, hides STDs from her husband, claims “rape” when she feels bad about cheating on her husband, and so many other sins it makes me sick. Explain to me how you could turn that into something HE had to apologize to YOU for. How are you the one that was treated wrong in any of this? What makes it right for you to act like he owes you a SINGLE THING? How did those actions add up to “he’s a bad father” or “he mistreated me” for you? How did you equate that in your brain into trying to destroy him so that you could feel better about the fairy tale life you were deluding yourself to believe you had found? All it sounds like to me is that you have been a manipulative, emotionally abusive waste of a human being.

Tell me how you figure in your tiny, warped brain that you running across the country to avoid all of this coming back full-circle on you means that you are justified in forcing him to pay hundreds of extra dollars every time you’ll even deign to allow him to see his kids? How that makes it right in your mind that you can cut him off from talking to them, seeing their faces online, having any sort of connection at all? How do you still think you have anything to be mad about, or to be victimized over, or to be pious about? You fucking got your way, you stupid bitch. Why can’t you just leave it at that and move on?

I don’t know if I would ever like you as a person in real life. But I do know that I can never excuse the way that you treat him and everyone else around you. Someday you will feel loss and you will know what it feels like to be used.

And I hope it crushes you.

Using the internet to learn about my husband’s ex: Why I am not a stalker

October 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like to have an actual open relationship with my husband’s ex. It’s not that I want to know everything that happens in her life, but I’d like to know her beyond the six times I’ve seen her in court. I’d like to have more conversations than the few times she’s tried to hold me over a barrel on the phone when she doesn’t like how things are going when the s-kids are with us. I’d like her to just see me as a human being, talk to me like a normal person. She doesn’t have to like me, but we have these kids in common…shouldn’t she at least try? And hell, even if it wasn’t me having the relationship, I’d just like to have some goddamn open communication between our two houses rather than this thick black curtain the moment we send them home. There is some comfort to be had in knowing what life is like for the s-kids when we send them home. Are they happy? What kind of games do they play? What kind of clothes do they wear? At the very least, I’d like to know if things are still as terrible as they were when my husband was a part of her household (I think as second wives we all secretly crave for validation of our husbands’ side of the story, right?)  Somehow, what happens is that living in the dark about the s-kids creates this almost insatiable desire to know just what kind of person this ex-wife is, anyways.

Enter social media and the age of the internet.

You can find out a lot about a person through the power of Google. Even if that person doesn’t have much of an online presence or really want to be found. And the more that the person tries to cover her tracks, the better you become at finding all the breadcrumbs she doesn’t realize she’s leaving all over the internet, and the more you, the searcher, start to feel like a bit of a stalker. It’s human instinct, right? Eve tasted the apple because God told her not to.

I live in constant fear that somehow I will be found out and that looking at public information on the internet to try and get to know and understand the mother of my stepchildren will end up portraying me as a dangerous, harassing criminal instead of a normal, inquisitive human being. I try to quit looking altogether, but then we don’t hear from the s-kids and curiosity gets the better of me and I find myself looking at her newest profile picture staring at all of her flaws and wondering if she hates herself when she looks in the mirror, if she’s as insecure as her actions portray, just who, exactly, in the hell she thinks she is. I don’t think I am stalker, not by any criminal definition, at any rate. I just want to know more. I crave it. I feel compelled to find out as much as I can because otherwise I know nothing and I’m left to make assumptions, and I can’t help but assume the worst.

But then, I know that I am guilty of creating the same enigma. Everything about my real life online presence is on strict privacy lockdown. I do a regular monthly Google search to go erase any crumbs I’ve inadvertently left behind, I have a decoy (searchable, public) Facebook profile to keep her from prying into my real one, everything I do in public is under one of several pseudonyms and if a site requires I use my real name and location, then I just don’t use that site. I don’t want her looking at me, making judgments about me or assumptions about how I run my household, I just plain don’t want her in my life. I don’t trust her to not be who I have known her to be and I don’t want to make my friends and family open game for her to harass and manipulate at will.

Any yet, there is still that fantasy. What if tomorrow I just changed my privacy settings to public? What if I changed my name on Twitter to my real name? What if I stopped living in fear…would she respond in kind? I always have to question just how much of this situation I am imagining, how much is real, and how much my own actions are contributing to it. I feel like we are locked in some sort of distrustful stalemate and I it is exhausting to be so guarded all the time.

I know that things will likely never change, or at least not in the immediate future. The boundaries we have created are a result of learning the hard way and I’m none to eager to open myself up to get burned anytime soon. I guess I can’t blame her for feeling the same protectedness over her life, even if I have never done anything to violate her trust except marry her ex-husband.

Long-distance parenting & feeling disconnected

October 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

We’re right smack dab in the middle of the long winter bewteen s-kid visits. 2 months since we put them on plane, 2 months until we’ll pick them up at the airport again. It has been long enough that we all feel so disconnected. The kids don’t want to talk to us when we call, we have this whole life that doesn’t even factor into having kids.

I hate and I love this part. I love going back to Life As We Know It. I don’t have to worry about planning every meal, make sure everyone gets their teeth brushed and underwear changed. I don’t have to worry about the Ex playing games, calling and inciting panic and anxiety on a daily basis. I can go on a date with my husband every night, watch the tv shows I like without worrying about the offensive language, and walk around my house naked whenever I choose with naught but the cat to judge me. It’s much simpler, much less fuss. But I hate that when coworkers start swapping kid stories, trying to join in and tell my stories are like telling stories from someone else’s life. I think they were pains in the asses about getting ready to go somewhere in the car just like my coworkers’ kids, but all I bring to mind are these little snippets of driving to the grocery store while the younger one talks about doing her nails in the back seat, or everyone singing along to Flo Rida as we cruise down the freeway on our way somewhere fun. I hate seeing their rooms completely untouched for months on end and not knowing if I’m buying the right sizes of clothes for when they get here next. It’s such a strange way to miss them, from a distance.

It’s impossible to feel connected over this much distance with so many obstacles getting in the way (ahem, their mom) before the sheer distance even becomes a factor. I feel hopeless sometimes, wondering if, by the time they’re old enough to be able to initiate contact and have their own email addresses, that they’ll even want to try. I worry that these long periods of disconnectedness, on top of the challenges of the years leading up to their move, will leave them completely unable and unwilling to have anything to do with us. I worry that we can do everything right and it still won’t matter. I think  I worry most that some of those fears are not just idle worries but very realistic possibilities.

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