I’m tired. I’m tired of being sad-mad. This ad appeared on my Facebook page today, and after seeing it, I assumed this exact same posture.
Yes, my first post-divorce breakup has been hard. But if that wasn’t enough of an emotional burden this week, my vindictive ex-husband pulled a doozy. He stole my Mother’s Day.
Even though it is my court-appointed right to have the children on Mother’s day, last year, it fell over his weekend and I opted out. I had my 2 and 5-year-old 75% of the time back then, and I was fielding weekly emails from the ex calling me things like, “a wasteland of a human being.” So yeah, I went away for the weekend and opted out of the holiday all together. I don’t live near my own mother, so there was no family with which to celebrate.
This year, Mother’s Day fell on his weekend again, so he began asking me on the Wednesday before Mother’s Day if I was going to take the kids. I honestly hadn’t decided. Again, my family lives 1400 miles away and I had no plans to celebrate. I figured their paternal grandmother might enjoy being with them on Mother’s Day. And I’d taken the kids out-of-town the weekend before for a pre-mother’s day celebration all our own. Which was glorious. So when he asked me, I didn’t answer, because I didn’t know. Then another rude email came the next day asking me again. And I decided to respond the same way he responds to my requests for information. I said something really snarky which didn’t answer his question at all. A taste of his own medicine. Poor form, I know.
Then he responded by saying he wasn’t going to allow me to have the children, and then added a jab about them spending it with his girlfriend, “the other mother in their lives.”
That night I asked my almost 6-year-old what she wanted to do for Mother’s Day. I regret this. I should never have asked her opinion, but I wanted input as to if she even cared about this Hallmark holiday at the age of almost six. I said she could stay with daddy and probably spend it with grandma, or come with me. I told her that I wouldn’t be upset either way and I just wanted her to have fun. She said she wanted to stay with me. So I said okay. When I dropped her off at school on Friday morning, I told her I’d see her on Mother’s Day.
Saturday morning at 8am I emailed him and told him I would pick the kids up at 3pm the next day. He responded saying, “you don’t dictate my day.” And that he wasn’t going to allow them to come with me because “you didn’t respond when I asked.”
I said he had no right to take it away, that is was a court order, and just tell me where they would be, and I’ll pick them up. He did not respond. Not only did he not respond, but he didn’t even let them call me on Mother’s Day. Honestly, I didn’t ask to talk to them. I didn’t want to be crushed more than I already was when he would refuse to respond like he has done so many other times I’ve asked to talk to the children. I heard later that they spent the day doing “whatever Diana wanted since she’s a mother.” They went to the beach. Had dinner at her house. No big plans.
I had to make a decision about what to say to my daughter. I thought long and hard about it. I decided that I needed our daughter to know that I wanted to be with her on Mother’s Day. That I promised her, and my word is solid.
I told her this, and the questions began. Eventually, the questions led to a realization that her father lied to her. In that moment, I was crushed. I felt her pain. My heart broke right along with hers. She loves him, as she should, and to realize that you can’t trust one of your parents whom you love, is a horrible, horrible feeling. And I didn’t want that to ever happen. But I needed her to know that she could trust ME. And if I say I’m going to be somewhere and I’m not there, then it isn’t because I didn’t try.
I’ve consulted counselors. I’ve read any number of articles on how to co-parent with an abusive ex. There are some helpful guides out there, but there is no concrete guide for every situation. However, the prognosis for the children is nearly always the same. Children suffer when their parents continue to fight. Children suffer when they are put in the middle.
I don’t want my children to be in the middle. I have tried so hard to protect them from being in the middle.
Since having that talk with my daughter, we’ve had many other talks about how this was not her fault, that she can’t fix it and it’s not her job. I’ve told her over and over that her daddy loves her even if he doesn’t like me, that she should never EVER feel like she has to choose who to love. She should love both of us, because we both love her. But she also deserves to know the truth. And yes, the truth is a slippery slope in situations like these. Who’s truth does she need to know? Mine, or his?
I have never said a bad word to my children about their father. I have not called him a single name, or said anything other than, “your daddy loves you very much.” And even when I told her the truth about Mother’s Day, I simply said, your daddy did something that wasn’t right. He shouldn’t have done that. And my almost 6-year-old apologized for her father’s behavior. It was all I could do to not break down into a puddle on the floor.
Because she should NEVER have to apologize for someone else’s poor behavior. Never.
I’m so tired, guys. I’m so tired of being sad-mad. Facebook is right, I deserve to be happy.