Monday, August 3, 2009

Speaking of Progress...(an X Chronicles post)

About the time I met Kori and the others, I struggled a lot with how to deal with X - and, more specifically, how to let the girls see X.

All the divorce advice says that you can't let your own failed relationship interfere with your children's relationship with the other parent. We're told that we shouldn't bad-mouth our ex. Co-parenting is the new pc word for divorced parents.

That's all well and good when both parents are willing to work at it. That's all well and good if you didn't divorce an addict (that's not in recovery).

The trouble with that for my family is that all the reasons for leaving him are reasons to keep him far, far away from the girls. I mean, really, how many experts would advise that you should let your kids spend time with crack-addict jailbirds?

Still, the question of a summer visit came up this weekend. (Two weeks before the girls' summer vacation is over, but still summer.)

Sylvia told me that last week, X had mentioned having the girls come up for their grandfather's birthday. I told her that I didn't know anything about this, and that I would have to approve of everything.

The girls are familiar with some of the rules required already: he can't drive them anywhere, since he doesn't have a valid driver's license, and he can't be the one in charge. One of his sisters usually takes on that task.

So this last Saturday, X called and spoke to the girls first, then wanted to speak to me. He said it was too late to get the cheap flights (um, yeah, that's what happens when you wait until the week before), but could his new roommate, who is a limo driver, drive down with X and bring the girls back up to Northern California. No. I don't know this guy, I don't even know if this person exists, no. Well, if he gets them up there somehow, could the girls stay for the last week of their summer vacation? No! They have field trips scheduled nearly every day that I've already paid for. X offers to cover the cost. I don't bother pointing out that I have absolutely no faith in his word. I simply say, no.

I do point out that we're not just sitting here, waiting for him to call. We have a life going here!

X says that he'll call on Sunday. Fine. Whatever.

X finally does call at 8 pm on Sunday night. Could he drive down with this friend (the one that I still don't know) and stay somewhere with the girls for the weekend? No. Could he do so if his mom comes down? I like his mom, but I know she can't drive, either (health issues). No. Could he come down and meet us at a mall? No. At a park? No. No. Forget the whole thing, X. It's not happening.

Now, for anyone who questions, why not meet him at a mall or a park and let him spend a few hours with the kids?

Well, because I know what would happen. I would be sitting in a parking lot, with two incredibly hyped up kids, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And maybe X would show up, but maybe not. Certainly not on time.

So how long should one wait? 15 minutes? A half hour? An hour? If I leave too soon, then I'm the bad guy for not waiting longer. If we wait too long, then we're most likely getting baked in the car. Either way, I have crying girls to take home, and try to somehow make up for their father not showing up. And come up with answers to questions that have no answers.

Say he does show up. If we're at a mall, he'll have no money. If we're at a park, how long do I give them? He hasn't seen them in a year. Are two to three hours in a park really going to be sufficient for the girls? No.

He simply had not thought any of this through. So the answer was no.

And what was amazing for me was how easy it was for me to say. I didn't try explaining myself. I felt no guilt for denying the girls their father. If anything, I felt relief that the latest episode was almost over. Now all that was left was dealing with Sylvia.

He asked to speak to her, and I let him (without any words of how he should handle it). When they got off, Sylvia told me that he'd said it wasn't going to happen, that she was to send him her school schedule and let him know of any school events she had coming up.

I told her not to bother with telling him about the school events. I reminded her of the time he was 2 days late. I said that, as much as she would've loved having him at some of the events of the last year, she was never looking for him, hoping he would show up. She knew not to expect him, and she enjoyed all of the events without sorrow. She understood that.

She did cry a little, and say, "I miss him so much." I just held her and said, "I know, honey. I'm sorry it didn't work out." And I told her I would send him the school schedule so that he would at least know when she was in and out of school. She said thanks and we were done.

And so we have reached a year since the girls have last seen their dad. It hasn't been a completely X Drama Free year, but in the end, I think it has been best for the girls that the disappointments have been long distance.

A few months ago marked my sixth anniversary as a single mom. I've just gone through all the posts I've done as X Chronicles, and I know that this has been the most peaceful, for all of us. And amazingly, that coincides with the same year that gave me the most growth as a single mom, and a person.

Time will only tell if the same will be true of the girls. We'll still just keep taking it all as it comes.


Kori said...

I love you, I well and truly do. You keep getting up every single morning and do what you have to do-and you are GREAT at it.

Natalie said...

You are such an inspiration. I mean that, April. I have no doubt that when your girls are in their twenties and they are thinking about you, they will have a complete understanding of WHY you did the things you did. Of course, I think they get that pretty well now because you are so good at explaining things to them, but I think when they are older they will really appreciate it. Like Kori said, keep doing what you are doing.

MindyMom said...

Sometimes I wish DBD had a drug problem or some other infliction that gave me a legal reason to keep him from intruding in LO's life. And that's all it is really; an intrusion. He's not a father, not a parent; he is an infrequent visitor that lies and manipulates and causes discord and conflict. He does have a record of domestic violence (w/me) and had a no contact order with me an LO in place for a year. It was a wonderful year.

I think you've done a great job with your girls and handling the situation. I'm taking notes for when I face similar issues as LO gets older.

Anonymous said...

Wow a whole year. I feel like I've known you for all those 6 years. I wonder what you were like when you first became a single mom.

Shiona said...

Yeah I have definitely learned a lot from you as well. Sucks about X. You are definitely handling the situation well.

Jen said...

I'm just sad that the girls (and you) have had to deal with his mess for all those years. I'm glad they'll have a peaceful, happy end to their summer.

Tara R. said...

When will all the haters who diss you for strictly managing your girls time with their dad understand it's not about him, it's ALL about their well being.

You are trying to give them a stable home life and their dad has control over his actions, no one else.

I applaud you and all the other single parents doing the best they can for their children.

won said...

Do you know what stands out for me April? It's that Sylvia so obviously trusted you in your decisions and explanations.

That speaks loudly to the way you have parented her as well as your relationship with her.

And that, is priceless.

FreedomFirst said...

I hope things keep getting better from here.

jenn said...

I know that has to be so hard to deal with. It sounds like you're doing what is right for your daughters. They'll remember that.

Laura said...

Wisdom, it doesn't only belong to the old, it belongs to those who have learned how experiences are synthesized into knowledged and then to transmit understanding. You are a very wise woman and a wonderful mother.