Trials and Tribulations

It ain’t easy being the parent without primary housing responsibilities. I won’t use terms like “custody” or “custodial” because we have not settled all of that officially.

But, it has its issues. One issue is finances. We argue over finances, tax claims, purchasing responsibilities, etc. We make agreements, one person renegs, and things fall apart. We were doing well before, but I think changes happened because of decisions I have made in my personal life that he does not agree with. He seems to be taking a more adversarial approach with me.

Another issue is time. When your child isn’t with you daily, it becomes easier to disconnect from parental obligations. When you only see your child on weekends, it is often like the child is temporarily stepping into your life, so you don’t make a lot of changes. I realized that in my new house, nothing indicates that I have a child. There are no toys scattered, no child’s bed, no pictures even save one magnet on my fridge. It isn’t a kid-friendly home by any means.

A final issue is missed opportunities. I miss everything. Part of it is because his father fails to inform me of when things happen. He claims he doesn’t want to interfere or intrude in my life. What? This is my son we’re talking about. How is telling me about a school event or development intrusion? It’s like he shuts me out intentionally. I resent that. And recognize that it makes me feel even more disconnected than I felt when he was around all of the time.

I realized things were becoming a grave issue when 4 days passed and I hadn’t spoken to him once. I’d asked his father to get him into the habit of calling me and not relying on me to call him. This isnt to say I have a problem with calling him, but I want him to begin to get used to the idea that whenever he wants to talk to me, he can pick up the phone and call me. His father agreed. I asked him this over a month ago and he has only called me twice. I got so caught up in my day-to-day life that days passed without me speaking to him and I hadn’t even really been impacted by it. I’d called a few times but either his father didn’t answer or he was in the bath or he was asleep.

I’m not feeling this at all.

He tells me that he has every intention of keeping him at least through the 4th grade. 5 more years of this? I don’t know man… what will it do to our relationship? And why do I feel more and more comfortable with that  idea?

I don’t know if that makes me a bad parent or just indicates that maybe I recognize what is best for my son in the long run.

In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for text-messaged pictures of what he is doing.

I had to ask if that was me, or daddy’s new girlfriend…

10 thoughts on “Trials and Tribulations

  1. This sounds horrifying. I am literally afraid for what this is doing to you emotionally. I know that you want the best for your son. I also know that sometimes too much change is detrimental for children. However, I feel like this is a case of necessary change and a little chaos (meaning more co-habitation) may go a long way here. “Children adapt!,” as my elementary school librarian (a veteran teacher) told me in the grocery store once when I was lamenting about moving Mekhi around as much as I did. If it is hurting you, it is undoubtedly hurting him.

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    1. HE seems to be doing well, better than he has been. He is making great progress with school and his social interactions. He is developing amazingly!! He reads over my shoulders and there are few words he doesn’t know. The first time he did that, I was so amazed like “When did he learn how to read??” which further reinforced the idea that… I’m out of the loop.

      I’ve been in a darker place lately, so I know I’m not emotionally able to take on more. It sucks, but I have to acknowledge my limits. It really is best for him, for all parties involved, that things stay as they are. Whenever I break out of this and begin to see the “light”, I’ll make something happen.

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  2. Damn, homie. I feel your pain, and see it from both angles. I am the “custodial” parent who just doesn’t really consider the other parent because of many reasons, but including the fact that in my mind, he is just not doing “the work” of parenting. Therefore, you gets none of the benefits.
    However, that is a problem. More for my son that for me, because I can endure a few moments of “ugh – hate him, can’t wait until this is over”, but my son sees those same moments as “Yaaay! My mommy and Daddy love me”. So, despite whatever animosity there may be, I suck it up for him to have those joyous moments.
    We have similar fights (and trade who claims him every year), and who buys what (he is in charge of pants and I do tops).
    After all that we have been through, if we can come to those agreements, then anyone can. Trust.
    In the meantime, I hope that you don’t leave the relationship with your son in the hands of someone who wasn’t good to you.

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  3. I am dealing with some of the things you have described…but I have 3 kids in the middle of things. Have you reached out to the teachers and asked them to cc you on all correspondence in regards to your child? Have you tried establishing your own seperate relationship with his teachers? You also have every right to have your own parent/teacher conferences with or without your ex. Some teachers will even do conference calls and emails….if they refuse to, go over their heads to the principal (their boss). That may help you get a feel of what is going on with Garvey at school. You don’t have to wait for ‘him’ to remember to tell you stuff. Your child is young and if he doesn’t remember to call you, call him everynight at the same time so he will look for the call.
    Empower yourself!!!! Good Luck!

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    1. We meet with the teachers. That isn’t the issue. Its about knowing about projects he is doing, trips he takes (unless he needs me to be a parent escort), places he goes, movies he sees… I don’t know much of anything. We’ve spoken about it, he agreed to share everything, he doesn’t. I understand it is an adjustment for him as well, as he’s never been in the position to be the primary caregiver. He says he just feels the need to do everything. I also think he still feels some guilt about things and feels he HAS to do everything. Also, having a girlfriend with whom he lives probably makes it feel like he has the “maternal” part covered. If he were single, I think I’d have more interaction.

      As I said, there were some personal decisions I made that he doesnt like (not that he has any say in them) and I think its causing him to just be distant. He realized he can’t have everything he wants.

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  4. I agree with WTS…you may need to go around your ex to establish your relationship and insert yourself into G’s life. I love the idea of setting up a set time every day to talk, even if it’s you calling every day. I live with my kids, but they don’t think about me when I’m not around. They are little – it’s too much of a responsibility to expect them to call. And your ex seems like he can’t be relied upon to take the initiative. But he must make your son available at a set time every day.

    You also should make your house more kid-friendly. Where does he sleep when he comes over? He should have his own space – even if it’s not a bedroom, it should be G-friendly with a toddler bed, toy chest, toys, and stuff for him. Your house should feel like as much like his house like his dad’s house.

    You should also establish a relationship with the teachers. Although my husband picks up the kids every day, I make a point to get in there at least twice a month to show my face, let them know I’m a part of what’s going on too. Explain your co-parenting situation – some teachers might be willing to do a weekly summary of G’s experience.

    You say you feel more and more comfortable with the idea – the idea of him being with his dad through 4th grade? That makes sense. But it doesn’t seem that you are comfortable with this relationship. You can do things to fix it. But you have to do them now. As he gets older, it will be harder.

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    1. I don’t have space for a toddler bed and he wont sleep in it anyway. I tried with his old bed. He sleeps in my bed and I like that. I don’t have any problem with him sleeping with me. It’s the closest I get to him.

      He does have a toy chest, I just dont leave it out when he isnt here. the difference with his dad’s house is that he shares a bedroom with her son, who is about 3 years older than him. Her son is spoiled rotten so every toy imaginable is there. I dont have the disposable money for all of that (after he changed the financial game for me). His father was supposed to help me buy him a Wii… still waiting on that.

      I’m just not convinced I’m an essential part in his life. I’ve never felt that way. We’ve always been somewhat disconnected, since he was born. I’ve written about it here. Sometimes I feel like I was just a vessel to give him life, but he is his father’s child. With every day that passes, I feel like I’m growing more comfortable with it. And i realized, I’m more pissed about the way his father is handling the situation than I am about the situation itself.

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      1. I would say you’re his mother, you love him, and you take good care of him; of course you’re an essential part of his life, whether or not you’re as close to him as you would like.

        But less important than what I would say is what you have said. You may have posted about feeling disconnected from him, but you’ve also posted about how much you love him, how much he inspires you, and how much time you spend really thinking about how to give him the best life possible. Obviously reading a few of your posts doesn’t make any of us experts on your life and your relationship with your son. At the same time, sometimes we look back and rewrite history to make it more congruent with current narratives. I would encourage you to not just consider the times that you’ve felt disconnected from him, but also the times when you felt so close. 🙂

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  5. Let’s be honest here, if you were a non-custodial dad people who shrug it off and say you were trying and doing enough. Instead because you are a woman people expect you HAVE to try harder and insert yourself and make your presence known. Why?

    As any mom who has primary how often she picks up the phone to tell her ex about her child’s well being, doctor’s visits and just everyday stuff? it doesn’t happen not because of resentment because there truly is no desire to share. It happened you experienced it you didn’t call your momma why you calling your ex?

    If you want to be involved you have to be proactive, you just have to, kids aren’t going to reach out as often and when they age instead of them thinking about how often they call they only thing about how often they received the call. Children are self-centered. I still have to remind my 13yo to call her father and half the time her response is “i think i called him last I’ll wait”.

    The point is you have to direct your involvement levels to your own comfortability. If what you have now isn’t enough, try harder, if tis good enough for you, keep it status quo.

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  6. I agree with WTS and Kia. You are not the victim in this circumstance. You are the adult and it’s a parent’s job to pursue their child’s heart. The choices that you and your ex made have created a less than ideal situation. It is what it is. What you want is an involved role in your son’s life and you have everything you need to create that. You can’t use the excuse of lowered disposable income and an ex who doesn’t remember to call as legitimate reasons to not maintain your consistent presence in his life. It sounds like you already know that this is too important of an issue to let things continue as they are, but it also sounds like you’re waiting for your ex to be proactive about keeping up his end of the bargain (having G call and inform you regularly). Until your co-parenting relationship gets to that level, experience has proven that it just won’t happen that way and to think that it will if you complain about it long enough is not logical. You’ve alluded to the fact that your relationship with your ex is strained and while it’s not right for him to use his issues against you to affect G’s relationship with you, it happens and human beings do it to each other all the time. But even with this, you still have the power to have an awesome relationship with G. But having his parents living in separate homes is a situation you two created. You need to be the one calling until he’s developed the habit on his own. He’s 4. 4 year-olds don’t naturally automatically remember to call ANYONE regularly. You will need to cultivate this habit in him. You, not your ex. You and your ex are currently not in a partnership. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be when it comes to G, but I’m saying that right now you are not. So given that fact, what steps can YOU do given that you have a less than cooperative co-parent. I heard you say that you are in a dark place right now. That will absolutely have an effect on your parenting, so make sure you take care of yourself and heal whatever it is that needs healing. But a lack of connection with G means YOU have to do things differently if you’re going to have the kind of relationship that you have every right to have. ALL children long to know that their mothers actively pursue their hearts. With you not living with him most of the time, he’s going to follow your cues… and draw conclusions from them. You have an opportunity to give him absolutely no reason to doubt that his mother desires his heart. He’s 4. It’s on you.

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