Figuring It Out

Monday after the boys went home I was fine until later in the evening. I had spent the day doing laundry, dishes, cleaning, and then I made their beds…HUGE mistake. That did it for me, I was a mess. I even posted on my Facebook status, “And then it hits you.” Of course I got all the regular smart-ass comments from friends and family about ducking, or opening my eyes when I play catch…and I said nope, just made the boys beds, beds that won’t be slept in for a week. The next day, my mom (ever the comedienne and best support person in the world) said that a month ago I wasn’t guaranteed a week at a time, only a few days…damn her. Why is she always right? So I replied back to that *insert sarcastic teenager tone* NO MOM…it just taught me not to make their damn beds.

I talked to the Lunch Lady a bit about the feelings and the Battle Buddy. They were both very encouraging and helpful. It feels as though this is a step to full custody, I just can’t allow my heart to get my hopes up that high. I will take this as it comes.

Unfortunately there has been a disappointment with the new job I was to start. Due to the new parenting time schedule, I am no longer a good fit as she was requiring one over night each week out of town for classes she is taking starting in January…when it rains, right?

So now, I am broke, out of work, and the boys come next week and I have to transport them back and forth to school and it is B2’s birthday on Monday, B1’s is three weeks later. Then, of course, there is Christmas coming and we don’t have so much as a tree. Yes, I’m well aware that it is the experiences that matter, not the material aspects, but the material aspects help build the traditions and memories (such as trimming the tree).

I filed some papers with social services today to see what programs are available to help in my current situation. I am considering calling my boss at the hotel to get back on a few days per week…it is better than nothing.

My Battle Buddy was extremely blessed. He found out of his ex-wife’s infidelity/pregnancy only 8 weeks ago. Their divorce was final on Tuesday. He had his lawyer draw up some papers (VERY much in his favor) and without even hardly looking them over, she signed them. He has custody, and she gets them every other weekend. All the credit cards that were in her name are her responsibility, all the ones in his are for him to worry about, he gets the house, they each get one vehicle, and she will pay him support. Earlier in the day he asked if I’d be willing to go for a long drive after court. I said I’d be around if he needed a shoulder/friend/ear. He stopped over after court and after asking if my vehicle was good on the road said, “Let’s go.” Before I could tell him I had no gas, he offered to put gas in if we could take my vehicle because his car had a tire go bad.

We ended up driving for over an hour and then stopped for something to eat. While at supper we talked about the early years of both of our marriages, our kids, our goals for the next year, hindsight, etc. Then he said, “Let’s go, I have an idea.” I told him he was pretty pushy…he reminded me he had the keys (I let him drive because I didn’t know where he wanted to drive). We went and watched Last Vegas with Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, and Danny Devito. He said we both needed a giggle after such a serious talk at supper. I haven’t had that much fun in a long time.

It’s comforting to have somebody figuring out some of the same stuff during the same time. Glad we met up when we did. He has a sick and twisted sense of humor and the Lunch Lady, Milk Man, and Peaches* thinks he will be a great addition to our madness. I tried to warn him. I told him that he and the Milk Man, and Soldier Boy (Peaches Hubby) can stay home with the kids…13 of them I think if we put them all together; never mind, I’d go to bingo with the girls too!!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘fair and equitable distribution’ as far as my divorce goes. That is the preferred language of the court. What I wonder is what is fair, what is equitable in my case? There is nearly $70k equity in the house he is living in, he got all the household goods and furnishings, I got nothing. I will work on it more as things progress.

So a few things to figure out, a few avenues to travel, more to explore.

*Peaches got her name because she was wearing some peach scented body spray or lotion…(or something, I am too traumatized to remember right now) and she grabbed my hand and rubbed it between her breasts AT THE BAR that night we were out and said, “Smell that, don’t you just love it?”

Welcome to the blog Peaches…now that you have a confirmed name, you’ll be here a lot!! LOL

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What I Heard

Acts 3:

1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

The sermon at church Sunday focused on these first ten verses of the third chapter of Acts. The youth pastor and his young assistant (who did wonderfully) preached about how John and Peter were…(where the heck did I put my notes?)…I love the fact that our church includes sermon notes as part of the bulletin. Each week I follow the sermon, take notes, and usually have some great epiphany (yes pun intended Pastor Jeff) that needs to be blogged about. I’m sure if I look through the debris in my van, I have MANY wonderful sermon notes just waiting to be blogged upon…but I digress…

A. Peter and John were heart ready. When they saw the beggar they were open to helping him, they did not rush past with they eyes to the ground. Instead, they looked right at him.

B. Peter and John are not afraid. They didn’t care what people would think of them performing God’s work in the midst of a crowd. They did not feel awkward sharing their gift, their knowledge, their understanding.

C. Peter and John are not typical. They could not give the beggar what he asked for. What if they had only walked by when they realized they did not have exactly what he was asking for. He wasn’t asking to be healed, he was asking for financial consideration. Everybody else just gave him what he asked for.

For me, when I pray, I rarely ask God to provide me with what I think I need. Who knows my needs better than the One who created me? I’m a little stressed out lately…I’m not even sure what I’d ask for…oh ya…I do…a maid. A maid who doesn’t require cash payment…never mind, I won’t go there…my last wish for a maid got me in trouble!

Sorry sweetie…I promise…no male maids…but a pedicure would sure be nice right about now.

ANYWAY…how the HECK do these posts go off the track like that? No warning…then BAM…totally off topic…back to my scheduled thought…

A long time ago I learned to not ask God for what I wanted. Instead, I ask for help understanding the journey that I am on.  Before I was ordered to move out of my home I would have prayed and prayed and prayed to be granted custody of my kids and use of the house. Being that I did not get those things, I would have been extremely disappointed in God. Not me though, I asked only for God to help the judge make the best decision possible for the sake of my children…and I believe he did.

Although some people are right now thinking I need to have my meds adjusted…just wait, hear me out…

The worst of the worst case scenario happened…Mr. Ex was granted custody and I was kicked out of the house. The lessons I learned through that were that I am strong enough to get through anything, I found out who my friends were and that they would stand by me no matter what,  that all the hard work I put in to raising my children gave them the security they needed to know that no matter what I would always be there for them. I also learned that my love for them was strong enough to last the 12 day span that I don’t see them. That once back in my arms, I don’t have to remind them they are loved, they just know it (but I remind them anyway).

Although a great take on the reading, I had a completely different take on it. I’m sure my current situation colored my view, but it is one that I think needs to be expressed.

As I’ve mentioned before I believe strongly that everything happens for a reason. I choose to believe that every experience, even those deemed negative by the majority, have a purpose.

With all the kids and I are going through at this time, I believe it is a lesson teaching my boys just how wonderful they are, teaching me how strong I am. It is my choice to embrace this struggle with as much of a positive attitude as I can manage. I know that when God’s plan is revealed I will be able to celebrate my own growth and the growth of the boys.

If I was negative through all of this, my children would not be free to express their emotions. The potential to miss all the positive things we have seen and done in these few months would be a waste. All the teachable moments would be colored with negativity.

My brother was born with Down’s Syndrome. Not once…NEVER, would I have wished him born with only 46 chromosomes. I would not have been involved with the Special Olympics as a child, I would never have been able to appreciate the little things in life…teaching him to read…little monster books were a favorite while we sat in a steamy bathroom through yet another round of croup. I don’t know if I would have been so eager to learn American Sign Language which led to a regular babysitting gig with a deaf girl…which led to me teach all of my children sign language (B2’s current obsession…you should have seen him signing like a mad-man as he pulled away in his dad’s car last week…TOO AWESOME).

This beggar was born lame for a reason…so he could be healed in God’s time. When God decided the time was right. God made him lame from birth so that so many more people could see how wonderful He was through these three men. I wish more people could embrace their journey where they are instead of always wishing for something different. Things are as they are for a reason, and they are good.

Twenty Nine Hours

It’s been 28 hours since the boys left. It was so weird to watch the transition. B2 had actually gone outside to get something out of the van. As he walked outside I got a text, “We are outside” meaning Mr. Ex and grandma were here. I walked out with B1, my arm around his shoulders. B2 came back in to the hallway saying he saw Grandma’s car outside. Not one bit of excitement, not the, “MOM, DAD’S HERE!!!” I expected. So, we go outside and there is Dad…not even a little bit focused on the kids…he is around the car and getting meds ready to administer to his mother.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? You have not seen your children in TWENTY SIX DAYS and you cannot even focus TWO MINUTES on saying hello and giving hugs?? NOT ONE HUG…NOT ONE ounce of excitement…just a simple, “Get your things…but not all your things because we don’t have room for all your things and let’s go.”

I got the boys buckled in and B2 starts hugging me hard,

B2: I’ll miss you mom.

Me: I know hun, but you can call me later.

B2: Only if Dad lets me use his phone.

Me: I know hun, but you can text me too if you want.

B2: Oh ya, I forgot.

Me: Ok Bum, I love you more than Signing Time Videos

B2: I love you more than peanut butter and Nutella Sandwhiches

Being that he has lived on those for the previous two days I’d say he thinks pretty highly of me 🙂

B1’s conversation was much more telling of the relationship their father has damaged:

B1: See ya mom, we come back on Friday, right?

Me: Yes Buddy, and you can still call and stuff.

B1: What day is it today?

Me: It’s Friday.

B1: Dad, when we get home can I go visit Z (his friend) he should be at work with his mom until 6:30.

Dad: No, we are busy.

B1: Why can’t I go see Z if you are busy, then I can be not in your way.

Dad (now angry): I said no, end of story.

B1 *shrugs*: Love you mom, see you Friday.

I had a quick breakdown when they left and cried myself to sleep. I didn’t sleep long, but at least I slept. I felt a little better when I woke up. As tough as it was, the exchange was reassuring that Mr. Ex has not learned even a little bit how to deal with the boys. They will sense this. I know my boys will know my love for them…as I’ve said before, my actions outweigh his words.

It was only a couple of hours later I got a phone call:

B1: Hey Mom, are you busy?

Me: No, why? Are you guys coming back to town?

B1: No, Dad says he’s spent too much time in a vehicle today so he’s not going back there now. Can you bring me my DS?

Me: Your DS…you want me to drive to bring you your DS?

B1: Ya, I borrowed a game from T and want to play it.

Me: Why don’t you go play with Z or you’ve got the Wii, X-box, and PS2 to play there, you can live without this one DS game.

B1: Ya, okay. Bye Mom.

Me: Bye Buddy. Love you

B1: Me too.

When they left here initially, Mr. Ex had told them he needed to come back to town later in the day to do some things. They could get their bikes and the rest of their things. As is common…he didn’t follow through.

Within Two hours I started recieving texts from Mr. Ex’s phone: gesoshd;adfhadf shdfhadfuiladfdlfjkdfaduhf;

To which I replied, “Hi B2.”

This is how he texts me. We texted like this back and forth for a good ten minutes.

When I later told my friend about the text I said that was B2 texting me…he said, yep, I would have guessed the same thing.” (B2 always insists on sending him messages when we talk via Yahoo.)

These same texts started again at 8:24 am today. I actually fell asleep texting him…I didn’t sleep worth shit last night and was just falling to sleep when he started. I’m going to hate it when he learns to spell!! These texts are much too cute to grow out of.

At 11:30 Mr. Ex texted me saying he was on his way to town and could he stop to pick up the rest of the boys belongings. I told him I was not home and would be gone until after dark. I am tired of him thinking that everybody’s schedules run around his life. There is no reason he couldn’t have called and set up a time or asked if I was going to be around.

He then sent a text asking if B1’s bike was outside. I told him to ask B1 and that I didn’t think so. I haven’t heard anything since…I was sort of expecting a “are you home now, I see your van is in here.” I was going to tell him that I was out with a friend.

So…29 hours and I’m doing okay. My kids are awesome…they are strong, they seems to be fighting back…and expecting to be heard…WOO HOO.

Thank you to The Friend and Her Husband for both texting me within minutes of me posting that the boys were gone…and checking to make sure I was okay.

Thanks to the person I appologized to yesterday who sent me an email saying my appology was very touching (apparently he DOES read them). He’s amazing…one day I’ll tell you all about him. I couldn’t have a better friend right now to kick my ass and hold my hand (ya, he does both).

Today I caught up on some sleep and then paid bills and now am still just chilling…church tomorrow will bring me much comfort. It will be my step back into life. Until then I am honoring my heart, my grief.

Love you Bubba and Bum…see you on Friday XOXO

The Countdown

There is a court hearing one week from today. Mr. Ex has made a motion to the court to amend the current temporary order in which he is required to pay me $500 in spousal maintenance. In response to his motion, we are asking the court to dismiss his motion in its entirety and have made a motion for an emergency change of custody based on his actions since the temporary order became effective on April 1.

The choices he has made over the last month are (in my eyes) more than enough to prove that he cannot nor does he have any inclination to provide the boys with a stable, nurturing home.

I am terrified of when he gets served these papers as I fear he will (finally) have a ‘reason’ to come home and he will remove the boys from my care before the judge makes a decision. The upheaval of taking them home in an ‘angry’ state will cause so much trauma for these raw hearts.

In my opinion we are talking PTSD inducing trauma. When my five-year old is asking to talk to his psychologist, and when he hears me on the phone making an appointment he says, “Make sure you tell them it’s about my Dad” you know there are issues.

Although my ‘mommy heart’ hurts that my boy is struggling, I am so proud that he is able to ask for resources that are available to him. Yesterday and today B2 has been screaming every time he answers a question everything upsets him…from what would you like for breakfast to was it fun at story hour.

My fix for this is to give him fewer choices, close in around him…make his world safe again. He was doing so well at gaining back his independence. Suddenly he is back at square one. Although I hope it is only a minor setback I worry what will happen if they go back to dad’s house.

The week away from work I believe will be a great time for me to reboot. The boys need it right now as well. They need to know that they ARE important enough to throw the rest of the world out the window for.

Hang in there boys, Mom’s got this.

An Open Letter to the Judge

Your Honor,

I understand you are a busy man; I can not even begin to know the hours you put in to your job. I am asking only for a few minutes of your time. To be able to trust you to do what is in the best interests of the children I need to know you have heard me.

Mr. Ex has, for all intents and purposes, abandoned the boys on my door step for an undetermined amount of time. This is the same man who was asking you to grant him sole custody and to not grant me even supervised visitation because he had such great concerns regarding my mental instability and their safety in my care.

Since convincing you that he is, at least temporarily, the best parent for these kids they spend more hours between daycare and babysitters than with him. I understand this is his right to parent as he sees appropriate, I only point this out as I am concerned that he is not addressing their social/emotional needs at a time when they need the most love and guidance. He is also not addressing the medical needs of Boy1. When I was ordered out of the marital home I told him that Boy1 needed to be seen by an orthopedic specialist for a hip condition. He has not yet made that appointment. This needs to be addressed sooner rather than later for the best possible outcome for Boy1.

As far as I know, Mr. Ex has not yet completed the required Parent’s Forever class. It is my sincere hope, that once completed he will better understand the needs of the children and work towards meeting them.

As stated earlier, the boys have now been in my sole care since June 2 and Mr Ex continues to extend the length of his absence. They have adjusted well and are not showing any regression at this time. We have sent cards and such to dad while he is away.

We are attending church on a weekly basis and they are forming a bond with our Pastor and other members of the congregation. Boy1 attended Safety Camp put on by the City Parks and Recreation Department and both boys are signing up today for the summer reading program at the local library.

With the short notice I was afforded, the children are spending their days with my girlfriend who used to be a licensed child care provider. She has three children of her own and her family is like family to us. Her father-in-law even took one of her boys and Boy1 fishing this week…both my boys refer to him as Grandpa. Daycare spots are a premium in this town.

In addition to the above concerns, I would like to make you aware that due to the fact that the boys do not technically live with me, I am not eligible for any county/state/federal assistance. I am fulltime employed, but making 20% above minimum wage and having to start from scratch in a new home has not been easy.

I respectfully request that you reconsider your earlier decision granting Mr. Ex temporary custody. These children need and deserve the stability of a schedule and their needs being met by a parent as opposed to various caregivers. I am only asking you to revisit the custody issue at this time. Mr. Ex. can continue to live in the marital home until that issue is addressed at trial in September.

I also request that you order a child custody evaluation as well as parenting capacity studies for both parties. It is my opinion that this is the only way to ensure the needs of the children are met effectively.

Thank you Your Honor.

Sincerely,

B1 and B2’s Mom

Struggling

I really am struggling lately. The boys are doing wonderfully. What started out as “four days to a week” of them staying with me has turned into a minimum of two weeks and most likely longer. They have settled in nicely to our living situation and are doing great. B1 spent two days last week at Safety Camp and B2…well, he’s B2. He’s lucky he’s cute AND funny! 

Their father is still at the Mayo Clinic with his mom. Her cancer has been staged as a stage 1 cancer. Apparently the doctors and surgeons are super shocked to see this as it is a cancer that is rarely discovered this early and the prognosis is not well past stage 1. They will do a surgery to remove her entire stomach plus a part of her esophagus. They could have waited for a week and gone back for the surgery on June 17; instead they opted to stay and have it done today (June 10). While this would have given the ex time to come home and reassure his boys…he has decided it better to be gone for an extended period and to just continue to push back his ‘return’ date.

If you have children, you can imagine the heart break every time they hear, “Well, it’ll be a few more days…” Now it’s up to at least another week. While he posts of Facebook about a relaxing weekend in Minneapolis with friends and golfing…his priorities…

My internal struggle has been with trying to wrap my head around the fact that he can just come and go like the wind and leave the children in his dust? How is this in ANY way providing them with a stable living environment? 

He begged and pleaded and convinced the judge that I was an unfit mother…that he deserved to be the primary caregiver for these young boys. How then, does he justify (even to himself) to leave them with me for an undetermined period…if I am so unfit…how…why???

I just can’t wrap my head around this one. I just can’t. I know worrying about it, fretting about it doesn’t change anything. 

Also in the last week I was served notice that he is taking me back to court to amend the temporary order currently in place. He is arguing that he should not have to pay me spousal maintenance. He was ordered to pay me $500/month beginning April 1. To date he hasn’t paid anything. I am not surprised to be getting this notice. I am thankful to not have to wait until September to get back in front of the judge. I am hoping the judge will see what a vindictive manipulative man we are dealing with. I have kept track of phone calls, visits, denials of visits…his ultimate lack of fostering a relationship between me and the kids, the lack of stability in his parenting.

I took nearly a week to respond to my lawyer regarding the motion. I wanted to not go nuts trying to prove I’m not nuts…if you know what I mean. I responded with five pages of evidence-based fact. Hopefully, this will allow the judge to see what I am trying to deal with as I provide the best life I can for the boys.

Our court date is July 2. Please, please pray that my children’s best interests are met. I think I know what their best interests are, and so does their father. So, I only ask  you to pray not for a victory for myself or him, only for our children, and their futures. This isn’t about winning, it is about giving these kids a fighting chance at a happy future.

I will keep trying to write…but this one definitely has my brain in knots.