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Archive for the ‘ex-husband’ Category

I wonder how that feels to a kid?

You’re in school, you’re at home (your primary home, at least), and everyone is talking about this political process.  Talking about what happens as it happens state-by-state, reenacting the events.  You’re getting assignments which include watching debates, researching candidates, puzzling through the delegate system.  You’re excited and eager.  You can’t wait to vote in 7 and 9 years, so that you can be involved in a more meaningful way in this exciting and interesting, engaging event.

And then you travel to see someone who is important to you, and you try to talk to them about this excitement that you have, and you ask them if perhaps you can go with them when they participate. 

And this is how they respond:  The Primaries are not Important. 

______________________________________

I told Beloved I feared such a comment (and refusal to participate and/or include the kids – despite the fact that I let the ex know what is going on at school and home around the election, and how psyched the kids are about it) would result in a nasty attitude at school, as the political process is continuously seen as important and an awesome learning experience and civics lesson. 

He told me that I’m a fool if I think that our girls are so easily swayed.  That one small comment from someone 1/2 way across the country could change their minds so quickly.

I suppose he’s right. 

But still.  I reserve the right to complain. 

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The girls are leaving tonight.  It’s February vacation, and they’re spending it with their father in the Middle of the Country.  (I think – the weather is bad there, and I’m not certain that their plane will get off the ground.)

In the past, these trips were full of drama.  Tears, stomach aches, begging and pleading “don’t make me go!”

Today, they’re picking out their clothes, calling to find out what plans their week will bring so they can choose accordingly, and basically taking the whole thing in stride.

Two trips ago, our goodbye in the airport was a little rushed by the flight attendant.  Boarding time just sort of snuck up on us, and we had to quick hug and say “see ya.”  The girls called when they landed and commented on the weirdness.  The sadness of the rushed goodbye.

But then they had a great time.  Some relationships were healed, some changes were made (on their dad’s end), and the trip was a good one.

Last time they went, the goodbyes were again pretty quick and lacked drama.  It felt right then.  They were returning in less than a week, and they were looking forward to their time.

In some ways, there seems to be something missing.  This peaceful acceptance of their trip feels strange.  But I can’t find anything bad about it.  I think there was a bit of stroking to my (and Beloved’s) ego when the girls were miserable over leaving.  But I don’t think either of us are selfish enough to want the girls to be unhappy.  I don’t want them to have issues surrounding their father.

The acceptance that they’ve found does not at all infringe on mine and Beloved’s role in their lives.  They have settled into extremely different relationships with their father and his wife than they have in this house.  Perhaps the trouble E was having eighteen months ago resulted from a lack of understanding that the roles and relationships are different.  She was expecting from them what she got from us.  She isn’t going to get that.  She wouldn’t get it if she lived with him all year, and she certainly won’t get it during these small windows.  And if she did live with him all the time (year round), then there would likely be giant holes in her life.  But she doesn’t.  She now can tolerate the stunted emotional involvement of her father, and enjoy what he does have to offer.

And J always has a level of acceptance.  She has always been great at seeing the positive people have to offer, and basking in that, rather than honing in on the negative.  She has missed me more than E does when they are gone, but has complained less about her father.  The miserable conversations I had with them in the past had consisted of J sobbing over missing me tucking her in, and scratching her back, and hugging her, and talking with her.  With E, it was the thing her father said, the thing he did, the choices he made, the activities they weren’t doing.  Much more complaining about him than wanting me.

Okay – being completely honest – it does bother me that he gets away with it now.  I don’t (and obviously didn’t) find it acceptable that he doesn’t mind if he goes months on end without talking to the girls.  I don’t find it acceptable that when he has one week with them, after four months of not seeing them, that he will spend three of those nights out with friends, leaving the girls behind with either a babysitter, family members, or more frequently as they get older, the television. I don’t find it acceptable that he and his wife don’t tuck the girls in at night; that they spend much time in the evenings in their room with the door shut while the girls are left to occupy themselves.  I don’t find it acceptable that he doesn’t give a shit about J’s taste/fear with movies and television shows, often sending her home with nightmares because he doesn’t listen, and laughs her preferences away.  I don’t find it acceptable that he refuses to take them to the library or supply them with books; or that he refuses to manage their summer homework commenting that “time with their father is infinitely more valuable than busy work from strangers.”

But if the girls find this unacceptable, then they have a lifetime of unhappiness.  It is best for them to accept it, and perhaps be glad that it is their lot in life for less than 1/4th of the year.

And when I start to begrudge (them?  him?) the newly found contentment, I will just replay some choice quotes over and over in my mind:

Yeah, Daddy has long hair now.  It gets really greasy.  [pause]  So does his nose.

If we forgot socks, Dad would never buy us new ones.  He would just make us put the pair we wore in the washing machine every day.  Or just re-wear them all week.

Heh heh.

______________________________________________ 

I must also admit, I am perfectly fine with this trip.

One week is just not enough to miss them horribly – I save that for the summer.  Beloved and I were not able to celebrate our anniversary or Valentine’s Day, as I don’t really have a babysitter right now.  And the girls just feel too old to take the step toward establishing a good babysitter relationship with anyone.  But not old enough to be left alone for an entire evening.

So we’re going to go out to  a nice dinner.

And we’re going to meet with an accountant to get our taxes done.

And we’re going to have sex in the living room.  Or at least with the bedroom door open.

We’ll both catch up with work/writing.

We’ll enjoy the break from making a vegetarian version of every meal.

I will definitely enjoy not being yelled at by my 11 year old (please recognize, as Beloved will be happy to expand upon, I use the word “yell” loosely.  For me, I am ‘yelled at’ when someone uses an unkind tone, or if their words say something which I may construe as insulting or critical.  While I do not allow my 11 year old to raise her voice at me or otherwise exhibit obvious disrespect, the tone and the irritation and the exasperation are coming fast and furious in the past few months.  I feel yelled at.)

It’s okay that the girls are looking forward to their visit with their father.  Because so am I.

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I am lonely.  It is 9:53 p.m., and I don’t know what to do with myself.  Where is my HUSBAND?

And seriously, this morning, when I was woken up by weird lightning and thunder in the midst of a snow storm, and woke up a little later to drag the kids out of bed so I could take them to a friend’s house (a la school cancellation), and then when I had to yell at J because I discovered in a most inconvenient way (snow boots full of approximately 2 inches of water as we’re ready to walk out the door so I can make it to work on time and I instead have to remove the wool insert and put them in the dryer for 40 minutes so the child can leave the house in the midst of said snowstorm) that she 100% disobeyed my very very very clear instructions on her way out the door to the park with a friend on Saturday

– [deep breath] –

I was fine.  Really, not sarcastically, FINE.  I could handle it.

But now, at 9:53 – I don’t know what to do with myself.  Do I watch t.v.?  But I don’t watch t.v.  Do I read a book?  But I don’t usually read until I am tired, and I’m not tired.  And I usually read until Beloved comes in and scratches my back, and there’s no back-scratching happening this week (or next, really), and it makes me lonely.

But at the same time, it makes me happy that I am lonely.

Once before, I was married.  He used to leave town a lot.  It was nothing but relief.  I was not lonely.  I was happy.  But then when he came home, I was sad.  I was sad because life felt no different than when he was gone, except I felt rejected.  Dejected. The kids didn’t have anything in their day that they didn’t have when their father was out of town.  I had no more help, no more companionship – no partnership.

Even when he was gone for (literally) 7 months.

My life was the same.

Not anymore!!

We all have a gaping hole in our lives.  The girls are lonely for him, too.  They comment on the quietness of the house.  They ask every day if he called, if he’s okay.  They want to send him stuff.  J is concerned my slacker-self won’t get on the ball before he leaves for home.  [She may be right.]

They never ask to call the X.  They never ask to send him stuff.  They NEVER say they miss him.

And I don’t think it’s because they’re afraid to share with me, because I try so hard to be open and to talk with them and to let them voice their feelings.  Maybe I am not as good as I think I am, but – even when he does call, they don’t want to talk to him.

Beloved fills our lives; his absence is felt.  We are okay, because we are strong people – but we miss him.

And we love him.

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There’s more snow forecast for Thursday day through Friday night.  I think I’ll be okay again.  I’m most worried about the fact that I’m supposed to be driving to my folks’ house on Friday evening, and we’re slated for the Lion King on Broadway on Saturday.  I can’t NOT drive down on Friday.

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And quite frankly – no. I’m not sad.

We had our holiday. It was the day marked on our calendar all year. We had a fantastic holiday – with a delicious dinner, family and fun gifts. It was everything we had hoped for.

Today did not feel like a holiday.

[Oddly, and perhaps the topic of another post – it doesn’t feel as much like a holiday in public, either, as I’m used to.  Anyone else feel like there’s a bit of spark missing?]

The girls left wondering what sorts of stuff they’d accumulate while gone, dreading the heat, and looking forward to seeing loved ones.

One conversation:

Me [to E]: Are you excited to go to [state]?

E: YES!!!!

Me: What would you do if the flight was canceled right now?

E: JUMP FOR JOY!!

Me: Honey – you just said you were excited

E: That’s because that’s what you wanted me to say. You want me to be happy, and excited, and so that’s what I said, but I’d rather stay home.

Oh. Okay.

J was a little nervous last night that the plane would crash. Which made me a bit nervous. To say the least. I cuddled with her in her bed until she fell asleep, feeling safe in her mommy’s arms, and there was little sign of the fear this a.m.

They got on the plane without incident. And I know they’ll have a good time, because a) they often do, and b) they’re at their grandmother’s house, and she works hard to spend time with them and make sure they have a good time. In age appropriate wys.

They brought gifts, they brought summer clothes. They’ll have fun.

Meanwhile …

Beloved and I went shopping at Whole Foods on our way back from the airport, and we bought filet mignon, scallops, jumbo shrimp, the fixins for scalloped potatoes, asparagus, fancy olives, fancy cheeses, and anything else that was too-expensive-for-kids and delicious.

Then we came home and took a giant NAP (I am a bit under the weather, and airport-wake-up-time was 5 a.m.) We got up, and I went to the liquor store to buy the ingredients for gimlets and martinis, since my parents endowed me with a new bar set, and then we went to a MOVIE!

We saw No Country for Old Men. I liked it. I think Beloved did, too.

Then he made bacon-wrapped scallops and grilled asparagus, and I tried a specialty Gimlet featured at a bar up the street (it’s yummy … a traditional gimlet with a splash of Chambord Liquer to color/taste things up a bit).

Christmas day’s agenda?

  1. sleep until we don’t feel tired anymore
  2. go see “I Am Legend”
  3. Then skip over to “Sweeney Todd”
  4. Come home – where I may do work. Like, lawyer-work.
  5. He will make dinner — the filets, the potatoes, some green beans.
  6. While I nibble on cheese and olives and make more gimlets. We found the martinis to be way too strong and straight. I should check into the fruity ones for another time – but for now, all the stores are closed.
  7. Then we’ll watch a movie at home.

No stress, no pressure.

Just the two of us, good movies and good food – while knowing that the girls are spending time with people who love them, and that they are happy.

If they’re not happy – E has her cell phone on her, and she can let me know without permission or supervision.

Ahhhh, children growing up. How nice.

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The girls’ school publishes a directory every year. It lists the kids by class, with their contact information – addresses, phone numbers, emails. I use these directories constantly. I can easily tell you which teacher my kids’ friends had for the past 3 years, because I often can only find LAST year’s directory, and have to wrack my brain to remember.

My biggest stress about this year’s directory was my e-mail address. I wanted to have my .mac address, not my yahoo address, b/c my yahoo address is stupid, and sends any messages with more than 2 recipients into the spam folder, and then I don’t get important information.

They sent home forms with each kid – what info do you want in the directory?

Beloved and I each filled one out. He listed his name, with his juno email address, my name, with my YAHOO address, and our address.

I filled one out the next day and put my .mac address, and asked him what he had put, and freaked when he told me.

BUt then … I did some volunteer/extra curricular activity thing that required that I get a list of e-mail addresses from the directory people, and when I saw that she had my Yahoo address, I had her change it.

Yippee!

Right?

Nope.

Yeah, my .mac address is listed.

But guess what else?

The other adult living in my home?

According to this thing – is the ex. Not Beloved.

what the FUCK???

The ex has NEVER been listed in the directory.

It’s the DIRECTORY. It’s about who you call to ask if the kid can come over.

Who you e-mail to get class gift $$.

It’s not a fucking genetic tracker.

Who the HELL made that decision?

Why send out forms? Just to then decide “oh, this family has 3 last names, that makes no sense, I’ll just DELETE ONE OF THEM, and presume that the man in the house is this dude with a middle of the country address, area code, and college-related e-mail address.”

No, they weren’t even that smart,

b/c it’s still Beloved’s e-mail address.

Even though it has his fucking NAME in it.

There is 100% nothing I can do about this year’s directory. It went out to hundreds of families.

But I’m pissed, and I’m thinking of raising a stink, and making sure it doesn’t happen next year.

We’re going t have people calling us and when Beloved answers, they’re going to say, “Hi, is this [x’s stupid ugly first name]?”

Uh no, it’s Zuska’s OTHER man.

I would like to presume that our forms got lost, and the person had to try and figure out what to do on their own. And she got confused (she’s not someone I know, her kids are way younger), and just pulled information from the OTHER info sheet – the one that has emergency contact info and parents’ health history.

I would not like to presume that someone decided for me that the girls’ father was more appropriately listed, in lieu of their step-father.

Because their FATHER visits them less than once a year – while having plenty of time to go to London, Germany, Turkey, California, etc. Their FATHER has no clue who their friends are, never drives them to rehearsals, never takes care of them when they’re sick. Their FATHER doesn’t even call them more than once every 2-3 months, and has no clue what their interests are, and is still harassing me to get him an account number off a magazine he ordered last year so he can renew J’s subscription – as her only holiday gift from him.

Their stepFATHER, however, is constantly there for them, helps them with their homework, finds them new reading material on a freaking daily basis (b/c yes, they read that much – even though the ex complained to me last summer that “they don’t read very much.” Fucker), cooks them special meals based on their dietary preferences, cuddles with them during movies, finds the cool Christmas specials on t.v., makes them gifts, finds projects to do with them so they have gifts to give to extended family, has the rank of one of the “favorite dads” amongst their friends b/c he makes them laugh … and on and on and on.

So, did someone really decide for us? Did they really decide that I had no business leaving the ex out of the DIRECTORY? The “this is how to get in touch with the child and her family on a day-to-day basis” book?

Yeah, I’m irked.

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When E was in 2nd grade, I read her some books.  3 books.  Outloud.  Every night, after her sister went to bed, we curled up in my bed, and read a story.

I was a single mom at the time.  For some of the year, we lived just the 3 of us, and for some of the year, my sister and her son were in the house.  I think my sister listened in on some, when she was around.

First we read the Golden Compass.

Then the Subtle Knife.

Then the Amber Spyglass.

Yes, she was 7.  Or 8.  I’m not sure which.

And I read her stories about souls being wrenched out of humans, and of religion as evil, and of young, young love.  Stories of hell, of death, of courage and strength.  Stories that wrestled with the fabric of the universe, with the afterlife, with the “what ifs” of other worlds.

Beloved has chastised me for this ever since.

I may protest a bit too much when I say, “yeah, and it was FINE!  She loved the books!  I read them outloud – we talked all through – she asked questions, it was FINE!!!”

But now she’s 11, and the first book (or as E will complain loudly about – 3/4ths of the first book) is now a movie.

We went to see it today.

Just the 2 of us, because I don’t allow my children to see movies before they read a book.  At least a good book.  I refuse to have anything to do with their mental pictures being created by Hollywood instead of by their beautiful brains.  (Oh, and E re-read it on her own during 5th grade).

Sometimes their father flips me the bird and takes them anyway.

But that’s because he can be a fucker, when he wants to.

________________________________ 

There was a scene that struck home my old love of the books:

The 12 year old girl was having an altercation with her benefactor; unaware that the icy, nasty, manipulative woman is her mother.  Until that point, their relationship was cordial, and the girl felt lucky to be taken in by a wealthy woman, after having lived in the care of a college – scholars and servants.

But there was a test of wills.

Between the woman and the child, there was a cold stare, a defiant glare, and at the most, the grabbing of the child’s arm.

Their little daemons, though – these animal-formed physical manifestations of the humans’ SOULS.  Souls!!  The woman’s daemon attackd the child’s, pinning it to the ground.  The kids’ daemon (in cat form) took a fully submissive pose, despite it’s hair on ends, and regretfully gave in to the attack.  A full-on attack.

And I thought – wow.  You see a mom bitch at her kid in public, in thier house.  You may see a kid slightly shrink back.  Perhaps a little bit of numbness in the eyes.  You may think, “wow, that tone seemed kind of harsh.”  But you don’t see the absolute wrestling match of the wills.

But it goes on all the time.

It would be really helpful, I think, if we had that window into each other.

I want a daemon.

But I also want everyone else to have one, too.

______________________________ 

I do not recommend the movie.  Not until you read all THREE books.  They are incredible.   Then I will tell you that the movie was pretty well done.  The characters were nicely drawn, the plot quickened, but far from stripped.  It was stripped of some subtlety, but I think that was a pass to the Catholic Church.  Who obviously never read the damned books.

___________________________

Afterward, E and I went and bought her a MacBook.  That was fun, too.

Finally, around 4:30 p.m., we were home again.  We had big plans to decorate the tree (J and Beloved put it up today), but instead, J had a weird, random crying fit that she had forgotten to type a report (due Weds.)  That took some time.  First to get the old Dell computer to respond to any key strokes or mouse clicks (seriously, it took an HOUR), then to get her to stop the crying, and then for her to do the actual work.

Hopefully we’ll decorate our solstice shrub tomorrow (our celebration of the season, and not of anyone’s birth-so-he-can-die-for-me).  I have been watching my co-workers one-by-one leave “new associate transition period” and enter “regular associate slammed-with-work period” and fear that my turn is around the bend.  Will I have to post-pone tree trimming?  Will I have to cancel my Christmas weekend with my parents next weekend?  Will I have to give up a vacation day the week after?  I sort of feel like all of those are possibilities, from what I’ve seen.

We shall see.

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The Middle of the Country

Looks like I’ll be going on my first business trip.  It’s a quick overnight for a 1-day deposition.

The weird part … it’s in the Middle of the Country.  You know, where my ex lives?  It’s in his very town.

What are the odds of that?  My first assignment, my first trip – all right there.  In the place where my kids hang out in the summers.

Then, today, I was assigned a new doo-hickey.

Guess where IT is taking place?

The Middle of the Country.

what the fuck?

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I was in the midst of orientation.  I was chatting with a friend.  We had 10 or 15 free moments, and decided to get some water and have a seat in squishy seats to talk on a more-than-superficial level.  I pulled out my cell phone, having some slight separation anxiety from the fam after my 6 weeks of intense involvement.

1 missed call.

The number is local.  I don’t recognize it.  I’m 1/2 worried.  I tell my friend that I need to quickly check in with Beloved, because the # was local, and they didn’t leave a message.  She understood completely.

“Hi Beloved.  I had a missed call – I didn’t know the number – did you get a call?”

[Beloved’s maniacal laughter fills the cell phone air waves.]

“Uh.  Is every thing okay?”

“Do you have time to talk?”

“Not tons, but I’m on a break.”

“Well, something happened at the school, and they had to evacuate, and the after-school program could not keep the kids, and so I have E, J, and assorted friends of each.”

[Stunned silence]

“Will there be school tomorrow?”

“We don’t know yet.”

“Uhh, I have to go, it’s time for my afternoon session – are you okay?”

“We’re fine.  Don’t worry about it.”

So I relay the messages to my friend.  She is impressed with Beloved, and remarks on how much the assorted friends’ parents owe him.  I  point out that we are already owed, because I have been this uber-present parent who was more than willing to pull in the kids of others on multiple ocassions.

I return to orientation – a little freaked out, but content in the knowledge that Beloved has it under control.

Then my phone rings again (or rather, it’s screen lights up, since it’s silenced).  I answer, as the session hadn’t started yet.  It’s a recording from the principal – the school is closed tomorrow.

My second day of work, and the school shuts down.  Beloved works on Tuesdays.  Nice.

As I’m listening to the principal apologize for “any inconvenience this may cause” my  phone beeps in my ear … It’s the X on the other line.

“I got a message from the girls’ school, I assume you got the same one, is everything okay?”

“They’re fine, they’ve been home with Beloved for hours now.”

“They don’t have school tomorrow – do you have somewhere for them to go?”

“I assume Beloved won’t go to work, or we’ll work things out with friends.  It will be fine.”

“Have you started work?”

“Yeah.  Today.  Right now.  I have to go.”

“Oh, wow.  Okay.  Bye.” 

Is this really happening?

Oh, now it’s time for a survival exercise.  A teambuilding exercise.  Yes, I can argue and debate over which is the most crucial item while wondering how my children will be cared for tomorrow.  My friend and I ponder the merits of the compass over the matches.  She whispers, “the firm has a back up day care, maybe you could ask about that?”  I whisper back, “I don’t think we need it – Beloved probably won’t go to work, or if he has to, the girls can sleep in and then meet him there, and perhaps hang out at the library for a while.  It will be okay.”

We have another break – I call Beloved again.  He really is more than fine.  He could be happier – he had things to do with his day that got pushed aside, but he’s ok.

Turns out he did call his boss and let her know that tomorrow just isn’t going to work for him.  The kids’ school exploded (my exaggeration of the issue), and I am on Day #2 of playing a lawyer in the Real World.  She totally understands – her store being 1/2 block from the kids’ school, she knew something was going on.

It’s E’s birthday tomorrow – and she will NOT be spending it in school.  She will instead be spending a chunk of the day at her friend’s house, another chunk at home with Beloved, and another chunk at soccer practice.
Her friend – whose father is freaking out because his wife is out of town on business, and he has patients to see tomorrow, and 2 kids to figure out care for.  He’s working it out.

And J is also going to a friend’s house.

Her friend – whose father is freaking out because he has a 9:30 meeting and then was planning on working from home until the kids got out of school.

Yes, it seems that this disaster is falling squarely on the shoulders of the fathers.  While us mothers go to our respective jobs and tend to our non-kid-related responsibilities.

There’s something in the water in this town, I think – something that contributes to good choices in mates.

We’re lucky ladies, I think.

I know I am.  Eternally grateful.

Guess where Beloved is now?

At the store – buying food, in case kids end up here.

What a day!!

I sure hope school opens on Wednesday.

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Good News Monday

This is not a lousy Monday.  I am sort of not surprised, since it is a positive thing in our lives (considering our personalities) to start our day off with a place we MUST be.  Or else we are capable of just knocking around the house until noon (even if I am up and at the gym and then home again before the kids get up, it feels lazy).

The girls enjoyed Day 1 of their camp thing.  I enjoyed Day 1 of 3 hours of Zuska-time.

But the really good stuff came later.

J’s braces were approved!  This is such good news.  I had called (again) and raised hell, finally with the right person.  She apologized profusely, checked the insurance status on line, and eventually took ownership for the mistake – she was actually the one who screwed up.  Apparently, she is high up enough that I was able to convince her that this could not be made right unless she skipped us ahead with the appointments.  She apparently decided that she wanted to make it right, and we have appointments in the next 3 weeks, the final one being the day that J will have silver shiny things on her teeth, and is 4 days before my first day of work.

Can we please say – yee ha???

 YEE HA!!

In other news:  The X wrote me to say he’s sent all the required money for this month, but that I have to hold off on depositing it, b/c he took out a loan for the money, and has to be sure the funds arrive before I deposit it so that it does not bounce.

I honestly felt horrible.  There’s nothing I can do – the amount that he has to pay is the genuine half of the monies I’ve already paid, which is his obligation.  I really have nowhere else for the funds to come from.  So my horrible feeling did not result in any “oh, poor baby, don’t worry about it, I’ll rip the check up.”  But it did make me wonder if I can work things out so he doesn’t have to do the same thing next month.  I expressed my empathy, without saying anything about next month, and he wrote back to say, “eh, I made it sound worse than it is, I did a talk a few months ago that should have paid me by now and if they had, I would have had the funds, and this it’s not that big of a deal.”   So I don’t feel bad for him anymore.  If I was already rolling in the dough, I would, knowing me, feel horrible, and would in fact rip up the check.  But I’m not, and he’s equally responsible for these things.  Their his kids, too.

I have had things work out enough times in my life, that I have finally learned that my mantra can be “everything will work out, it always does.”  And you know what?  It always does.  Really.  Today with the finances working out, and the dentist finally falling into place (with the necessary timing), it is just confirmed.

Isn’t this just further proof?  Eh, not quite.  There are a couple other names I’d like to see the same headline for, although it isn’t bloody likely.  I guess I just have to hang my hopes on 2008.

Beloved also took a big step today – essays were written, application fees paid, mailbox visited.  Hopefully the positive tone of this day is attached to his endeavor as well.  Our fingers are crossed!

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I just spent 3 years in school, living mostly off of loans, applying for scholarships and otherwise pinching pennies and tightening economic belts.  It was hard.

My ex spent the same 3 years working a full time job in his desired field, for which he spent 9 years in post-graduate work, 7 of those 9 while being supported by ME.  While I also tended to our two babies, cleaned our house (well, barely) and cooked all his meals (for real … I used to cook).

Granted, his desired field is not a hugely lucrative one.

But if he stopped after 3 years of post-graduate work, instead of going on for the last 6, as we had originally planned, and followed through with the job he’d been offered and had accepted, he’d likely be a millionaire today.  Seeing how that certain establishment has fared since, and what level of seniority he would have.  But he chose not to.  Chose.  While I was kicking and screaming.

We divorced in a different state from the one in which I live.  In that state, a non-custodial parent is required to pay child support according to that state’s formula.  That state then, after the child support amount is arrived at, tacks on 50% of childcare costs.  This state is different in its calculations – but we have never been before a court in this state.  The agreement penned in the other state has controlled.

He has, faithfully, for the most part, paid his child support as well as 50% of the girls’ childcare, on a monthly basis.  He whines.  He complains.  But he pays.

Next month, as a result of my recent schooling, I start a new job.  I am no longer in school.  My new job is a bit more lucrative than his.  Therefore, I have proposed a new agreement.  I knew that I would no longer be depending upon his contributions to the degree that I have the time of our divorce, and so I proposed a (much) lower child support amount, and proposed that he no longer be required to contribute to child care costs.

This was not purely charitable.  I spent a summer in family court in this state (where any litigation of the issues would need to take place), and I know what would be likely, and I shot just shy of that (in his favor) with my proposal. He accepted my proposal.

I said, “this will start on November 1, which is the first month wherein I will have received a paycheck.”  He said, “That sounds fair.”

In the meantime,  I did not apply for a scholarship for childcare.  Because that would be stupid, selfish, greedy and mean.  Not only did I not apply for a scholarship, but I fully intend to contribute to the scholarship fund for my afterschool care program on a yearly basis so that parents who need the help can receive it, as I did.

Well, today my ex-husband e-mailed me in surprise that he’s expected to pay child support and anything toward child care.  He also feels that it is not “his fault” that I no longer qualify for a scholarship, and that he should not have to pay more than 1/2 of the scholarship amount.

But he never qualified for a scholarship.  His income puts him well above the threshold (not that he ever applied on his own).  When we discussed new arrangements, I made it very, very clear that September and October were not a part of the agreement – that he must adhere to the old agreement until November.  Actually – every year I have made it clear that September support is vital.  The start of the school year is insanely expensive, with new clothes, and school supplies, and beginning of the year expenses that seem to come up on a daily basis.

Wanna know why I have to bring it up every year?

Because even though the court order which is still in place clearly states that he is to pay child support every single month, I have waived it during the summer months that he has the girls.  Even though I still pay their rent, and I still accrue other expenses on their behalf.  I would rather that he have the extra money to spend with or on them when they are there, than have him send it to me.  Every year when I make it clear that I intend to do this, I drive home the importance that it all start back up in September.

I didn’t have to propose a new agreement at all.  I could have continued to receive twice what I have recently agreed to receive, with legal documents entitling me to enforce those amounts.  I could have forced him to retain an attorney in this state, and shoulder the expense of initiating a litigious process.   But I knew that would be unfair, because there’s nothing to fight over.   I’m making a sufficient salary.  The courts would adjust our arrangement.  But they wouldn’t do it retroactively.  And they wouldn’t do it prospectively.  He could not bring an action this month saying, “next month, she starts a new job.”  Nor can he bring an action in December and say, “I’ve overpaid since October.”

But because I did this, he is trying to use it to say that he shouldn’t have to pay at all this month or next.  Even though I have forwarded him the emails where he agreed to the contrary.

Damn it.

Furthermore, in the same e-mail, he said that he thinks that the (small) amount that he will be paying (as of November 1) should be put by him 100% in to a college fund.  That he should not send it to me, but rather into a trust account which I cannot access.  There are no allegations that I have misused child support in the past.  He just thinks that since I clearly am not relying on it anymore, it should 100% go into a college fund.

And that should be his only contribution to college.

Which means … he’s either not paying ANY child support for the next 7 and 9 years, or he’s not contributing anything to college.  He can’t have the same money be labeled as both.  Isn’t that called “having your cake and eating it, too” or something like that?

I think that when it comes to each month’s check, I don’t have an issue with putting it into a college fund for the girls.  Clearly, the girls need to go to college, and since their father spent 9 years of their lives in graduate school, and their mother spent 7 years putting him through said graduate school, 2 years struggling as a single mother, and 3 years as a student – they don’t have much in the way of college savings.  To say the least.

What I do have an issue with is him being able to place each dollar into two categories, and fulfilling two obligations at one time.

I will be both supporting the girls today, and saving for their future. At the same time.  With different dollars.

________________________

I can’t afford to have these discussions today.  Today, I am not employed.  Today, I am mostly living off my bar loan.*  I am not a student, I am not employed – I am in no-man’s land.  I can’t go writing off his child support or his child care obligations this month.  Nor next month.  The next month, I can — I can talk about it without hyperventilating.  I can be flexible.  This month?  It may very well mean the girls don’t have after school care.

* Beloved works part-time.  He has been for this past year.  Last year, his company moved to a suburb, and while they wanted him to go with them, it did not work for our family for his commute to triple or quadruple.  Our long-term plan had already been written – he would write at home, perhaps work part-time, and would be around for school emergencies and other home-based duties (foooooooooood).  This works for both of us, because his interest, desire and life calling is to write.  This is difficult to do while working for a large corporation and fussing with their insurance programs and hiring needs.  It works for me because I am embarking on a rather demanding career, which I hope to love.

Circumstances conspired when his company moved, and when he received a new, albeit part-time, opportunity in his field of choice to make us embrace our long-term plan a year earlier than originally planned.  The opportunities were too good, the benefits too … beneficial.  Therefore, while his income is not large, his contribution is enormous.

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