Just Me

I needed the time to heal. It took me so long to get over J.D. to get over the lies. I have never had a break up when the ex and I didn’t apologize, forgive and become amicable. I still exchange yearly emails with one of ex’s.  I have never had the hate and animosity that followed J.D. and I.

I spent the last 5 years in therapy, in groups and classes, looking at myself, pulling myself apart like some Thanksgiving turkey, looking for what it was about me that contributed to this. I read all the books and completed the workbooks, I have dug down and shoveled the shit and did the work. I refused to be involved in any relationship, but to solely focus on myself and my son.

I have had one long relationship since I was 19, with 3 different husbands. At 36, I was alone with myself.  I needed that, needed that silence that place without the them and just me. It ugly business to peel myself apart to see what lay underneath all that I presented to the world.

Five years later, I am left with me finally.

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Chandler and Monica

I have been binge watching T.V on Netflix. After my son goes to bed, I spend several hours watching old episodes of shows. I was  watching Friends, the episode where Monica and Chandler and get married. When the showed aired, I was in the military, and in one dysfunctional marriage or another. I never really watched the shows. Somehow I landed on that episode,  when Monica and Chandler get married.  They of course followed the path, first comes loves then marriage then babies.  In reality does that ever really work?

My own life has strayed so far from the fantasy of T.V. I don’t have my adoring Chandler to find all my quirks endearing nor do I have a group of friends to keep me company at the coffee house.  Most days I like my life, but some days I miss the life I thought I was supposed to have.

I remember marrying J.D. thinking that we were actually doing this, that we were going to make it. When I told him I was pregnant, he said, “I can’t really focus on that right now, I just failed the dive portion of SEAL training.” I covered for him, saying that he was really excited, but very focused on his training. He never really got excited about the pregnancy, never even opened many of the emails I sent hi m about updates on my pregnancy. His biggest concerns was that I wasn’t eating meat and our baby would be born lacking some essential nutrients because of this.

I never noticed or acknowledged his lack of interest in me or the pregnancy. When he bought a surf board instead of a crib, I flipped out on him, but still blamed it on his being so focused on training. The reality was and is that I lied to myself and helped him cover up who he really was and is.

I don’t think I will ever get my T.V. show happy ending.

Lost Children

The world of child custody,  the fight over a child is something I never imagined I would be part of. Much of the terms used in the divorce process, custody, 50/50, ‘my weekend’, or’my time,’ is used to in relation to a child, yet those are words used to describe a possession. Why does divorce turn a child into a possession a thing to be fought over. won or lost?

I have heard so many stories of mothers (and yes I realize this happens to fathers too, but I am speaking from experience) that have lost custody. Abusers, I have learned often seek revenge on the wife by using the children, often seeking custody out of anger . J.D tried. After he told me to leave, after he told me he didn’t want to be a father or husband, he threatened me.  He told me if I didn’t bring back ‘his’ T.V he would charge me  with kidnapping our son.  He tried to blackmail me, give me $3000 and I will let you ‘keep Jude.’ He told my parents that if they wanted me to take Jude out of the state they first had to give him money. He told me he could take Jude and I would never see him again. I didn’t believe him at first, but after being in the world of divorce and parenthood, I believe him.

I think had he had a lawyer and had he said the right things he could have ‘won’ Jude.  Jude wasn’t and is never a person to  J.D. Jude is a possession to be used to get back at me. Jude was all that I cared about and J.D tried to use that. His weapon, his threats, ‘give me money or a T.V and I won’t take Jude from you’ scared me. Those words he said to me several times over the course of 3 months after I left him. I grew to fear that he would take Jude, fear that I would have to make a choice.

For me it has yet (I won’t say never) come to that. As of now a judge has determined I am the fit parent and has awarded me the right to raise my son. But what about those that have lost the right to parent? Did they deserve that?

The Dirty Topic of Child Support

Child support, such a difficult issue in divorce. I have heard the stories of men (some women) paying high amounts of child support and being unable to pay their bills due to their child support. I have heard of  woman (again some men) that are using child support to get their hair and nails done while their children go without.

Neither stories reflect my  experience.

I was a child of divorce. My father paid $300 a month in child support for my sister and I, despite making $60,000 a year. When my sister or I asked him to buy us something his response was often, “ask your mother she has all my money.” My mother worked two jobs to pay the bills. Often dinner consisted of baked beans and bread for several nights in a row. She would often skip meals to make sure that my sister and I had something to eat.  I remember my father telling me that my mother should give me my half of the child support. I was, as he put it, entitled to that money and should be able to  (at age 7) spend it as I see fit. When I dared to ask my other for my $150, I was given a pretty honest look at what it cost to take care of me. Way more than $150 I learned.

In my current situation I am given child support based on J.D’s income of $70,000 a year.  He pays $750 a month, the minimum for his income. Considering I am raising Jude on my own, 100% of the time, I don’t really see it as fair. Last year he purchased a house for $420,000. I can’t even imagine what those payments are like.  He pays child support only because the state garnishes his wages. He skipped out on paying for 2 months. Since he is in the Navy it wasn’t hard for the state to begin garnishing. I hate that I depend on that money each month. I wish I didn’t need it. I know that there are families in situations that are worse than mine. I have read the stories of fathers (and some mothers) failing to provide any support for their child. I don’t get that, it wasn’t one person making that baby. It shouldn’t be just one person providing all the support.

I want Jude to have experiences that I didn’t have as a child, but those things cost and it is difficult for me to provide him those experiences.

 

The Best Mom

When Jude was born I had no clue what I was doing. I had prepared, read a few books, and bought all the required items, but I had no idea what I was actually doing. The first night home from the hospital he cried every time, I put him down. My mom and I took turns staying awake holding him. At one point during the next 10 days, I was desperately trying to figure out how I was supposed to sleep and get up every few hours to nurse and stay awake while I nursed him. This just seemed impossible. I finally stumble upon the idea of Attachment Parenting and co-sleeping. That made all the difference in the world. I purchased a sling and co-sleeper. I carried J.D in a sling and nursed him on demand. At night I stayed awake for his midnight feeding and then off to sleep I went until 7 a.m. He nursed the night away when he wanted and I got some sleep.

J.D was in San Diego during this time. He was in Navy Seal training and had come for Jude’s birth and for 10 days at Christmas. From January to July I was in Las Vegas and J.D was in San Diego. I remember telling J.D about Attachment Parenting and co-sleeping. He said that was fine with co-sleeping, but he wasn’t comfortable with a baby in the bed and really Jude should be in his own crib.

I know had J.D and I stayed together I would not have been a very good mom. I was divided on trying to make him happy and put the needs of my son first. I remember J.D telling me when Jude was 3 months old that it seemed like I was more interested in the baby than in him. Um really? He told me he couldn’t wait for him and I to get back to how we were. I didn’t question that, thinking that somehow I could balance my son and my asshole husband.

When I moved to San Diego, he talked of buying a motorcycle. I asked how exactly that would work with our son. His solution was that he would ride the bike to work and then we could get a baby sitter for the weekends and take off on the bike. He wanted me to join a gym with him and start working out like we had done before Jude was born. Once again, I asked him how that was going to work. He said I could meet him at the gym when he got off work. I said, “So you will work until 5 or 6 and then we will meet at the gym and work out  until 7 or 8 and then we go home and Jude goes to bed?” He said that sounded fine as Jude was a baby, and not likely to miss out or care.

No way would I have been able to spend time with my son and meet any of his needs had I stayed married to J.D. J.D had no concept of a child or putting anyone except himself first. At least once a day I am thankful my marriage imploded and I got the opportunity to be the best mom I can be.

All Quiet

It’s been quiet. For once in the last 5 years, it has been calm. When I left J.D. I was so afraid, I feared things getting ugly. In my co-dependency I wanted to help and fix. I tried to fix his cheating, help him with  his screwed up new girlfriend, while we were still married. I was so afraid of having him leave my life and so afraid of being a single mother, of being alone and on my own. I feared my son being raised without his father. I wanted to hang on to the image of a family, a mom and dad for my son.

I spent so much time attempting to fix J.D., talking to him on the phone, listening to him cry and moan about his screwed up childhood and his messed up life. I tried to fix his life while he was trying to destroy mine. Oh the irony!

It is freeing to be in this stage of my life. To know J.D’s choices no longer effect me or my son. His inability to hang on to a job or control his spending, no longer my problem. His inability to keep from soliciting strangers on Craig’s List or exchanging phone numbers with anyone under the age of 24? No longer my problem to deal with. I remember after the first time I found a text from a girl to J.D. “Hey sexy, I miss your sweet ass!!” I sat on the floor at 2 a.m. looking at that text wondering who this girl was. I wondered if I should delete the text, but I knew there would be more. I wondered if I should text back, call her and scream at her, but I knew that wouldn’t change anything. It wasn’t this girl it was J.D. I knew that, I knew in that moment, the problem wasn’t me or the girl, but J.D. What did I do with that text? I woke J.D up and listened to his excuse,  ‘She’s just a girl from a college class. That’s how people talk to each other. You don’t get it because you have issues, but that is how friends joke around.’ I accepted that, took the blame. I buried my head, waited for the the next explosion and slowly destroyed who I was.

 

Just One for Me

Jude is my first and only child. I often thought that I would have one more. J.D, my ex-husband only wanted one child, a boy and he was done. I always knew I would be a mother to a son and I rarely wished I had a daughter. Occasionally I was sucked in by all the adorable girl clothes, but a quick check of price tags and the longing for girl seemed to magically disappear.

This year I will be 42, and Jude will be 6. I know that I won’t have another child, most days I am just fine with that, grateful  to have Jude. Today I saw on Facebook (or Fakebook) that a friend is pregnant with her 3rd child. She has two boys and of course is hoping for a girl. She has the ‘perfect’ life. Her and her husband are teachers and what they can’t afford her wealthy parents purchase. When she graduated high school she got a new BMW, diamond earrings when she graduated college and half the money needed for a new home when she got married. Her parents watch the kids while she works and help out with day care costs for the oldest one that just turned 3. I’ve known Gio for about 8 years. Oddly enough my ex-husband introduced us. They knew each other through mutual friends. Gio was just completing her student teaching when I met her.  She used to bring me little gifts at school because I would help her out with things. I always considered Gio a friend, we weren’t real close, but we ran in the same in circles. She came to my baby shower and made me the neatest diaper cake.  I was and have been somewhat envious of her.

A few years ago we were invited to the same birthday for friends of ours. It was the first time she had seen me since J.D and I had divorced. She was surprised when I told her some of the details of my divorce from J.D. She said that J.D had always been a flirt, but cheating just seemed so out of character for him.  She told me her marriage wasn’t so great, that her husband, Ryan had a gambling addiction. A gambling addict in Vegas! She went on to say that her parents were always having to bail them out because he would spend entire pay checks gambling. She said they now have a system where his money goes into an account that he had no access too.  I felt sorry for her, living with someone that you can’t trust. I asked her if she had plans on leaving. Gio looked at me oddly and said, “Like divorce? No, I wouldn’t.” I was surprised. I can’t imagine living with a gambling addict and not being able to trust him.  She went on to have a 2nd and now a 3rd child with this guy. I wonder the price she pays to stay in that marriage. I know I couldn’t pay the price for my marriage.

Vacuum Cleaners

My son likes the new vacuum cleaner that I bought. He asks to vacuum everyday. It completely makes me laugh seeing him decked out in his construction hat, and googles to vacuum. The protective gear is in case any dust should get in his eye or something fall on his head. He’s 5 and seriously just cracks me up.

I love that he is so helpful. We don’t call things chores, but contributions. He is part of a family and in this family we contribute. We discussed my contributions (rent, food, gas, clothes, toys, etc.) and his, keeping his room clean, putting away the silverware. The new vacuum cleaner is now his contribution too. He told me he needed to vacuum because I missed spots. Seriously!! I am glad he has an interest in keeping things neat, I know I am horrible at housekeeping and dream of hiring a maid. I will honestly admit that I am slop. When my son was 4 I asked him to clean up the clothes on his bedroom floor. He called  me a hypocrite (yes he really did). He said, “Mom you’re a hypocrite.Look at your room, you have clothes all over the floor.” I had no words!! But of course he was right, my clothes often make it to the floor and maybe the laundry basket when I do laundry.

I imagine my son as a young man, this boy, this man that I am raising and I wonder how much he will keep of who he is now. I wonder how the things he sees now and hears will shape him when he is 12, 15, and 20. How much will these memories mean to him?

Silence

Since I changed my number and asked J.D to use Skype we’ve heard nothing. My son asked to call J.D, we did three times and he never returned any of our calls. I am relieved and somewhat sad. Relieved because I don’t believe J.D cared about Jude, but only about hurting me and somehow getting back at me. Sad because I always hoped J.D would be a good Dad or at least try to be.

Having Jude changed me so much, it changed my thinking and my priorities. I wanted to be a better person for Jude. How is it possible that for J.D it did nothing? He used to say that he joined the Navy because of Jude. Jude didn’t come along until 2 years after J.D joined the Navy so that was a lie. Then he told me he spent so much time at work to be a better Navy Seal so he could make promotions and make money for Jude. Yet Jude never saw anything extra in the way of money. I told J.D, what Jude needs is you. Simply you and your time. In reality it is better that  Jude have as little as possible with Captain Narco.

 

I

Case Closed

I got a new number, one that my ex can use to call our son. I can keep better track of his calls since at least weekly he says he calls and doesn’t. I end up wading through my phone bill, to see if he did or not. I got one number just for my ex to call our son.  I also set up Skype so my son and ex can talk on the computer. They were doing Face-Time, but I am not thrilled with giving my 5 year-old my phone. Honestly, better all around if you ask me. I sent my ex the info. on the the new number and the Skype account. This is what he sent me:
I received your email regarding the contact info and understand the change in number for phone calls. However, our times, days and mode of communication will not change. According to the court mandated agreement, Monday and Wednesday at 7pm and Sunday at 930am, I am to FaceTime with my son. If you or I are not able to make the call, texting will be sufficient, also mandated by the court, since while I am at work I do not have access to email. 
This is no longer your decision to make or mandate policy. The court has already determined and mandated this process. I will not revisit this issue again and do consider it closed. 
A few things:  we have no court order about days, times and ‘mode of communication’. We had discussed phone calls in mediation, but  J.D went bat shit crazy when I tried to get him to agree to regular times. According to him he should be able to call whenever. “I can call and she can get my son.” The mediator got us to agree to some times, but at the conclusion of the conversation, J.D got pissed and hung up. So everything in mediation was considered void. He has since asked to to speak Jude 3 times a week, but at least once a week he doesn’t call. The other day Jude and I were waiting for J.D. call. We sat by the phone from 9-10am. The appointed call time was 9am. Finally I told Jude it looks like J.D isn’t calling. On Monday when Jude talked to J.D he asked him why he had not called on Sunday. J.D said, “Oh I called! I always call. If your mom says I don’t call, I do.”  Skype and a phone number dedicated to his call will make this some easier.
His response borders on crazy.  His words pissed me off. How dare he just tell me what I am going to do. No consideration for what is easier for Jude, he has been an absent parent for 5 years, never once  apologized for what he did, simply blamed me. Now he wants to dictate things that concern Jude, a child that hasn’t seen his father in over a year. He demands and threatens, I can’t have a conversation with him. He hates me more than he loves our son.
 I honestly wish he could get help for his issues, take some parenting classes, accept his part in all of this and sit down with and a third party and talk to me. That would require maturity and honesty, something he lacks.