The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Monday by Any Other Name...

Today was my first day back to work since my minor outpatient surgery last Wednesday. It wasn't a bad plan, honestly, but there were a few noticeable snags. Perhaps because it's Monday. But, whatcha gonna do?

I sleep on my stomach. I don't know what that means about my personality. I don't really care. But during the last few months of each of my previous pregnancies, and after the birth of my last (by c-section), it was unbearable not to be able to sleep on my stomach. I have been, since Wednesday, wrestling around the bed, night after night, with any number of pillows, trying to find the magical secondary position that will take me to Slumbertown. It's just not working. I've come close a few times. And, not ironically, a little medication before retiring, makes me slightly more open to new positions. Just file all of that in the Too Much Information file.

So, this morning, I was more than a little sleepy when the alarm clock went off at 5AM. Which may, or may not, have contributed to the nausea I was feeling. After I threw up, I felt a little better, but was still moving slowly and still slightly sore from the surgery. And don't forget, sleepy. So, I headed out to work. I had decided to forego any pain meds before driving to work for obvious safety reasons, but they were on my mind.

I hadn't been in the office since Tuesday and went in and sat through our weekly Monday morning production meeting. All the updates, etc. Back to my office (and finally a pain pill) and I started going through voicemail and email messages. Nothing too critical, but a few things that needed my attention today. I had asked, at the production meeting, about some contracts I'd typed on Tuesday going out, apparently, they were put in the mail on Friday and hadn't gone out yet. I went to make sure the mailings were accurate and, of course, they were not, standard documents that are supposed to go out with the contracts hadn't been included, multiple signature copies hadn't been included, etc. (Sometimes you wonder how these people did this before you got there, you know?) Anyway, I'm working on this stuff and my cellphone rings.

It was my youngest daughter's school. Apparently, she was complaining that her stomach hurt and she was running a fever of 100. I checked my watch. 9:27. Well, that's a full day all right. I had to go get her. But she hadn't been ill the night before and had been fine that morning before school. I knew I had mediation at 2:00PM (that I'd rescheduled from Thursday, because I was SERIOUSLY dreaming to think I could have done that the day after the surgery I had), so I called my dad (who is retired) and asked him if he was busy today. He said he needed to get some groceries and check on one of my uncles (my mom's younger brother, who goes on binges from time to time). No one had heard from him in a few weeks and he was going to run by his apartment and check on him. This happens every few months. No biggie. But all of that could be done before 1:30 and he could come and stay with my little bit while I was at mediation. Great.

So, I headed out and picked her up. Brought her home and checked her temp. Hmmm, 98. And she wanted to watch tv and said she was hungry. I got her some jello, thinking if her stomach was upset, that might be something easy on it. As soon as she was finished, she wanted something else. I held her off for about 45 minutes and then made some chicken noodle soup which she devoured most ravenously. Heh. The only thing that kid had was a bad case of "Monday".

My dad showed up at 1:15 (a little early) and said he was going to take my daughter with him. He was going to pick my mom up early from work to let her know that he'd found my uncle dead when he went to check in on him this morning.

This isn't just any Monday, you know. It's a Mega Monday!

No idea on the cause of death yet. He had any number of medical problems, including some cancer. So, I think they've all decided that was it.

Anyway, off they went. And shortly thereafter, I headed to my two hour mediation, which netted pretty much exactly what I expected it to. Nothing. My very darling daughters have become rather disenchanted with their father and have asked me to make some modifications to the current custody schedule. Modifications which their father adamently opposes.

So my attorney and I sat across from my ex and his, with an overpriced mediator at the head of the table. And we talked about where my kids were going to live. We had hoped, during the two hour session, to come to a resolution that would work for all of us and avoid going to court. He resolutely refuses to let the kids live with me full time. And, the only reason in the world I can see for it, is finances. I am not trying to minimize that. But, I don't understand why his children aren't higher on his list. Well, I do. He's always been incredibly selfish. But the damage he's doing to them is killing me.

Follow this, if you can, and explain to me his reasoning. Come on. I defy any of you to do it.

Round #1 - The kids and I propose a schedule that has them at his house every other weekend, with a week night sleepover each week they are with me. He doesn't like that. Not enough time with him.

Round #2 - He proposes having the kids for one full week each month, with an additional weekend during the three week period they are with me. I'm not crazy about it. But I have already talked to the kids about this option (which he emailed me over the previous weekend), and they HATE it. They say seven days in the month is PLENTY.

Round #3 - We come back with one full week each month with him and no additional days. He squeals that "it's too long to go without seeing him." No judge is going to allow three weeks without seeing his kids. For the record, we agree. That's why we suggested what we did in Round #1. Grrr!!!

Round #4 - We come back with one full week each month and one evening each of the three weeks they are with me. I suggested Tuesday nights, since my youngest will be, I assume, starting religion classes in the fall and they are on Tuesday night. We proposed that he could get them when he got off from work and have them until bedtime. It would be a matter of about three hours, but enough time for dinner and to do something together. His response. Not enough time.

Yeah, it was getting pretty old by now and I was trying to keep my skates quiet under the conference room table. But it was getting harder.


Round #5 - He came back with one full week with him, three weeks with me. Except that his week was 11 days long. I should have agreed, as long as he could actually PRODUCE an 11 day week. But he was looking for a Thursday, that ran through the weekend, the following week, and until the Sunday following that. But, did not, in any way, address the lengthy (now 2 1/2 week) period that the kids would be with me and not see him. It was becoming maddening. We were trying to work out issues he had and then he just kept changing the issues. Our response? Well, we talked about doing a Friday evening (cutting off the Thursday) to the Sunday he wanted, but having them come back early in the day. But, I was fretting. Feeling I was selling out the kids and that it wasn't going to be what they wanted. And we just didn't understand, at all, how this remotely addressed the issue with the lengthy period he would go without seeing them.

I looked at my watch and my attorney said, "Do you want to call your kids and see how they feel about it?". I had made everyone aware that I was speaking for them as they had no legal voice and didn't feel comfortable "selling them out". So, when I called them and explained the negotiations, explained that all of this could be settled in the next few weeks if they wanted it (as opposed to...what I learned might be...a YEAR), and asked them how they felt about it, they were stronger than ever in their convictions. They Refuse To Be Under His Inappropriately Controlling And Manipulative Thumb. And they're getting damned mad about it, too.

So our reponse to the mediator, at the end of Round #5, was No Deal. We had offered two options and the kids were more important to me. I am not going to let them down. If we need to go to court and let the Judge hear how upset they are, all the problems they are having with him...if he wants to put them, all of us, through that, I guess that's where this goes next.

The mediator offered that perhaps he wasn't hearing the same thing from the kids that I was. And asked if I thought it would be productive to have my two oldest daughters sit down with both me and their father and discuss this. I offered that my apartment was five minutes from the mediator's office and the kids were home now. Let's go. My ex, was not as enthusiastic and indicated that he would like to set it up for tomorrow at 6PM, and specifically wanted me to know that (1) no girlfriends or boyfriends (or Highlanders for those of you who didn't catch that) were to participate in the discussion and (2) while the children's wishes should be considered, the decision was ultimately that of the adults and that everyone should remember that.

Ah, that's right. Now, he's finally getting closer to saying he doesn't care what they think. I've been trying to get him to say it (as it's so clear that's how he feels) for a week. But he won't. I'm not sure how things will go tomorrow.

Here are a couple notes, though. My oldest daughter, upon bringing her up to speed with how things went today, is saying that she does not want to go back when it's her next rotation with her dad. She does not want to go back again. Period. Helpful?

I've tried to explain to him, that he's doing serious and irreparable damage to his relationship with his NEARLY ADULT daughters. By insisting on disregarding how they feel in this, and attempting to force them to spend time with him when he is not as adept at parenting, makes hurtful and inappropriate decisions regarding their privacy, social lives, and the level of respect that he shows them, and makes it clear that their opinions and feelings are insignificant to him, they are already counting the days until they don't have to go back.

They have both indicated that once they are legal, he is pushing them to the point where they will no longer want to have ANY relationship with him. I've talked to him before about this. About what he is doing and how he needs to handle this differently. He says he feels that when the girls look back at this, years later, they would feel worse if he hadn't fought to keep them. If, he just let them go without a second thought would be worse. And while I completely understand that argument, really I do, I think there are so many better ways to accomplish what he wants to accomplish without risking losing them forever. And he simply will not listen to me about it.

I know he has spoken with my middle daughter's therapist about it (she's seeing the therapist about several issues, one of which is the custody thing), and my oldest daughter said she had spoken to his girlfriend about it. So, I have to assume he's gotten feedback from her that should be something he regards. Even his normally bad judgment wouldn't have him making such tragic mistakes. The only answer I can figure out is finances. And apparently, he feels strongly enough about it, to throw away his relationships with them. Or at least to risk it.

And that's just sad. I've played go between for them for 16 months now and I'm continuing to try to help them have a better relationship. He just doesn't see that he has to do any of the work in making that a reality.

Rather than go on and on infinitum (which I could and you all know I would), I'll just say that we'll see how things go tomorrow evening.

In the meantime, I really hope I can work a full day tomorrow. I'll bet my bosses do, too. Yay, Tuesday!!


Blogger Tony Collett said...

I hate it when you're right, Tammy.
If you decide to follow Dolly Parton's suggestion from "9 To 5" to "hire a couple of wranglers to beat the shit out of him" I'm still unemployed and about a couple of hours away...
^_^ (in case there's any legal types looking at this)

3/27/2006 10:18 PM  
Blogger MJ Norton said...

What misery.

I have my own problems, but I am so very happy to not be dealing with this set of problems. Unless he makes a strong turn in this he's going to find such time as he does get with the girls to be sheer anguish. Sure, we all realize it -- and I can't help but think he realizes it, too -- but he's apparently not seeing any other way out of it.

I see another bitter estrangement coming out of this, which is sad all around.

So, is H going to go bowling tomorrow night or something? ;)

3/28/2006 12:12 AM  
Blogger Highlander said...

H works until 7:30 tonight, so, I won't be around for the festivities. Otherwise, good luck on not having me part of the conversation... it's my damn house, after all.

However, as I'll be out of the way, I won't have anything to say. I've tried to caution all the women here to be cool and keep their heads, because when you get in The Evil Ex's face about stuff, he only digs in deeper... but beyond that, there is little I can do directly.

3/28/2006 6:13 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

Ok, before you read this, realize that it is based on what you have posted. If you were just venting, then I am probably overstepping and being too harsh.

I've played go between for them for 16 months now and I'm continuing to try to help them have a better relationship. He just doesn't see that he has to do any of the work in making that a reality.

Stop this right now, at least with your two oldest. They KNOW he is a jerk.

And he can continue to be a jerk, because you are trying to facilitate a relationship between them and him. You're doing his job!

I know you want them to have a good relationship with their father, but 1/2 of that is up to him. You can't make him be a good dad. I know this breaks your heart, but he has to step up.

Just tell your daughters that he loves them, but sometimes he acts like a jerk. But he is still their father, and jerk or not, they will have to deal with him.

If nothing else, it will give them good experience for dealing with bosses when they have to work.

3/28/2006 9:27 AM  
Blogger Opus P. Penguin said...

Oh, yikes.

If I were you I'd be going for the pain pills and a cocktail after that.

3/28/2006 2:19 PM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

Tony -

I'm too poor to hire out this stuff right now, but send me a resume...;)

Mike -

He feels I am manipulating him. Probably that I'm brainwashing the kids. But none of that is happening in the real world. The price he is stepping up to pay is astronomical. I'd never make that mistake.

Highlander -

The implants should work nicely...;) But, seriously, want to say that I appreciate the advice and that you know, only too well, what a house full of hot-headed women-folk is like. Good luck cooling us down. But, we're gonna try, because you're right. Unfortunately, the ex and I both dig in deeper in these conflicts. And it makes it next to impossible to resolve.

Julia -

First, you have not offended me in the least. I don't want to be one of those ex-wives/mothers that talks badly about my kids' dad. For the record, when we moved forward with this situation, about 7-8 weeks ago, is when I stopped being the peacemaker. I've spent far too much time encouraging my children to work things out with him, give him more time, reminding them that he loves them and that he's making the effort. And then going to him and reporting that there is a problem and that he needs to work it out. My children should not be made to be his guinea pigs.

It might have been easier, had we been able to stay friends. I did everything humanly possible to make that happen. He took all of my gestures and then took every opportunity to disrespect me that he could. It's just not worth it anymore. I can do it better myself.

He loves them. I know it. And I don't want them to not have a relationship with him. But, as you say, it's up to him what kind of relationship he can make with them. And until he figures out how to do that, it's all moot.

And thanks to everyone for your support. I really appreciate it right now.

3/28/2006 2:28 PM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

Oops! Opus you snuck one in on me!

I think I ended up just going to bed early. Some snuggling with my boy helped immensely. And, then he got up early with the kids and let me get a little more time in the sack this morning. He's doing everything he can. That's for sure!!

3/28/2006 2:30 PM  
Blogger Marci said...

Good luck Tammy. What an ass. You know the girls will one day be able to get past it enough to still think of him as their dad, ass or not. And, it's really making them grow up faster and learning to deal with "Difficult People", maybe? You know me, I'd try to find a light side to a piece of crap. Like I just did. Try, I mean.

3/28/2006 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

*sighs and shakes his head sadly*

One can only hope that what happens with his oldest daughters (as seems inevitable now) opens his eyes in time to let him keep a good relationship with the youngest. That may be expecting a bit too much. Learning from mistakes only happens when you acknowledge making them in the first place.

You've done more than anyone could reasonably expect. He won't thank you, and he'll never believe you did anything put drive a wedge between him and his oldest daughters, because that's easier that taking a good hard look in the mirror and pointing the finger of blame in the right direction. And when his failure to change, to accept his own shortcomings and work to correct them turns his youngest against him as well, he will almost certainly blame you again.

On behalf of all men everywhere, I'm soory about that.

3/29/2006 12:25 AM  

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