Rant

I do my absolute best keeping things positive and seeing the lighter side of my current situation. I might ask why me every now and then and usually answer myself that I’d rather it be me than my sisters, my mother, or any of my friends.

Today though, I’m pissed. I’m sick and tired of cancer.

On Monday I will leave my boys AGAIN and head back to the USA. I will fly to Winnipeg then drive home (should arrive about midnight). Tuesday I will procrastinate as long as possible until I finally get off my butt and take off to drive the 384 miles to Rochester, alone; again.

I have done every one of these trips solo. Yes I’ve had offers of people to come with me, I just choose to do it alone. It’s easier in a lot of ways to do it alone. Then I can process my emotions without a filter. I don’t have to worry about how anybody else is doing or that they feel like they have to take care of me.

The other reason is that I would hate for my reality to become real for other people. I am broke; actually beyond broke. People often realize what broke really looks like. Here is what broke really means:

  • Stopping for gas and ONLY gas. No snacks, no coffee, no drinks, no anything.
  • Checking in to my room and staying there (unless I go for a walk).
  • Not running to the corner store for a few comforts or a candy bar or bag of chips.
  • Looking longingly at that Sudoku book in the check out at the grocery store thumbing through it, and putting it back because that $4.95 is so far out of your budget that it makes you cringe.
  • You would rather drive late in the day when you have an early morning appointment so that instead of spending the night in a hotel, you drive until you need sleep and find a public rest area to grab a couple hours of sleep in the back seat.
  • Staying home when my friends invite me out because eating is where we usually gather and ordering water while everybody else orders drinks and apps brings on the pity looks.
  • Except for church, there are no social outings.
  • Not having cable TV (which means no television at all where we live)
  • Cutting the internet while the boys are gone because it’s $40 you just don’t have
  • Leaving the AC off even though it is currently 90*F in your apartment because you electricity bill is already three months behind.

Welcome to the side of cancer that is hell. It sucks. I can’t work, I can’t do anything. It hit me the other day that once the boys start school I can’t even take them for my visitation as it will be impossible for me to drive them back and forth to school and their father will not give a shit, only see it as an advantage to himself. He won’t care that the boys need the emotional connection to me as they get no emotional support from him regarding this journey.

It means that B2 will likely not play hockey this year, and I won’t be coaching, because I can’t afford it and the ex refuses to help pay for it OR provide transportation. Even while undergoing chemo last winter I had to drive 90 miles for him to attend a 45 minute practice because according the his father, hockey practice didn’t fit in to HIS schedule. It didn’t matter that all the kid talked about from October through April was hockey. It didn’t matter that there was a significant drop in behavioral issues throughout the hockey season, that the grades improved…all that mattered was that HE doesn’t want to be involved with hockey therefore, he will make it as difficult as possible for B2 to be involved.

Did I mention that at the beginning of the year, B2 could hardly stand on skates and was placed in Level one (as all first year kids are) and he along with only ONE other kid of the 28 child roster moved all the way to level THREE in one season? Ya, he done good. The kids usually spend one year at each level, B2 spent a total of two practices at level two before they shipped him to level three.

I’m ranting…and sick and tired of the bullshit that is cancer.

If it weren’t for cancer I would be back in court asking for full custody after social services has been to his house FOUR times in t last year to educate him that the boys are too young to be left home alone…FOUR TIMES.

I’ve been out of work since January. Hockey registration is in October. If I am LUCKY I can look for work starting near the end of September. There is no way I will be able to have bills caught up and enough money to pay for registration and the means to provide transportation back and forth for school and hockey…fuck cancer.

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This Could Get Interesting

The ex signed the boys up for Summer Rec baseball in the town where he lives. I am glad to see them involved and enjoying it.

Today after their game, B1 called to tell me they lost and said that B2 played right center field (whatever that means) and that when a kid hit the ball to him he forgot to throw it in and instead ran to the home plate from the outfield…and BEAT the kid!! He told me “…his tiny legs were going so fast Mom…”  Apparently the batter was B1’s age or older (9) and B2 is only 6! LOL

But I digress…as usual

Summer Rec takes place beginning at 9 am and for away games the bus sometimes leaves as early as 7:45. I am now working in the town where I live. I made it clear to the ex that I would not be able to get them to ball when they are with me due to my schedule and was willing to exchange parenting time so that the boys stayed exclusively with him through the ball season and I would exercise parenting time every other weekend. When ball finishes up, I would take the boys exclusively to make up for the time I missed with him exercising every other weekend through that time.

Although the divorce decree clearly states it is the responsibility of the parent with parenting time to provide transportation to and from the children’s activities, it also states that the parties are to work together in the best interests of the children.

I was told what my duties as a parent were when we exchanged the kids yesterday (to get them to baseball during my time) and a few other things…apparently I don’t know how to read or understand the divorce decree “…as it says right in there…” And right in front of the boys…good one dad…good job motherfucker.

This morning I sent the following email to the parenting time expeditor and the ex:

This email is regarding the boys playing summer rec baseball in Dad’s town.
 
I understand that it is reasonable for the boys to be involved every week with their friends and team in this sport. Up until this last week there had been no issue with the boys missing the week they are with me due to my work schedule. They understand that there are things that are not the same when mom and dad are divorced and living in different towns.
 
I also believe it is in the boys best interest that I remain employed to support them. My current work schedule prevents me from taking a minimum two and a half hours off three or four days per week.
 
I am still offering to switch parenting time so the boys spend the weekdays in Dad’s town so they don’t have to miss any baseball games or practices (I offered this when they were first signed up). I will continue every other weekend parenting time through those weeks and will then make up my weeks missed after the season is over; allowing parenting time with Dad every other weekend during that time.
 
I do not think it reasonable to be told what my duties as a parent are while exchanging the children in Exchange Location as happened during the exchange Sunday, July 6, 2014 in front of the children. While I understand the court decree states it is the parent who has parenting time’s responsibility to transport the children to their activities, it is sometimes necessary to make changes for the best interests of the children as it is the CHILDREN’S time, not the parent’s which is the priority.
 
Mom
 
I have no idea what will come of this…I just don’t need the threat of being taken to court over Summer Rec baseball or whatever the next petty thing he comes up with…
 
With our parenting time expeditor, we are to try and make these decisions on our own, amongst ourselves but include him in the emails we exchange so he can have all necessary info if and when he needs to make a decision.
 
Will I miss the heck out of the kids when they are with Dad and I only get every other weekend??? You know I will…I will also make sure our weekends are full of mini golf, fishing, bike rides, adventures, and cool stuff to enjoy every minute of what time we have.
 

Expeditor

No idea when life got so busy…but it has lately.

My divorce is final, the papers arrived in the mail on Saturday last week. FINALLY FINAL.

Custody is legally and physically 50/50 which means we are both granted equal decision making and parenting time with the boys. We were also ordered a parenting time expeditor which is a person who will make decisions on the boys behalf that is in their best interests. Although I believe that what I ask of the expeditor will eventually be the outcome, the fact of having to go through a mediator to make simple decisions is so unbelievably childish in my opinion.

First up…summer vacation. The boys are finished school today and I have requested (for over a month now) to change the visitation schedule from weekly to biweekly (two weeks with each parent). This cuts down on transitions for the boys and allows for easier scheduling and such.

To date I have received no answer. I keep getting “I’ll think about it” from their dad. Today I sent the request to the expeditor. He will review my request and then contact the ex for his response. We also have to PAY for this service…billed in 10 minute increments at $150/hr. Anybody else see the ridiculousness of the situation? We have to pay a stranger $150/hr to make decisions on how the kids should spend the summer???

It will be nice to have a third party involved…maybe I am completely off base when it comes to what is right/reasonable for the boys. I’m willing to be told that from a neutral party. I also have a significant request I will go straight to him with as I know the other parent will vehemently deny that idea. That will get extremely ugly…not looking forward to that.

The expeditor has the ability to make binding decisions…it can only mean great things for the boys.

 

Home Alone

I don’t have a problem with teaching children responsibility and independence. I DO have a problem with leaving a nine year old home to babysit his six year old brother when the parent is not even available to pick them up from daycare to drop them off at home…how can he claim to be available if they need something important (because apparently picking them up from daycare before they close is NOT important).

The other night the ex did not pick the boys up from daycare (she is licensed as well as one of his very close friends) so I can only assume that by prior arrangement she was to drop the boys off at home after she was closed for the day (5:30pm). The distance from his place of work to her daycare is about two and a half blocks. The distance from his work to his house is about three (maybe four) blocks. He could not be bothered to pick them up at daycare and take them home…but claims to be available to them if they had called needing anything.

On TOP of this information…I’m not sure his daycare is even licensed to transport children in a personal vehicle or whether or not they had car seats in use (both boys are still required to be in booster seats according to their height).

From 5:30 pm until 8:30pm the boys (ages six and nine) were left home alone. They have a bedtime at my house of 8:00pm. They are sleeping within 10 minutes of going to bed (it’s ok…be jealous). I understand that their bedtime at his house is not until 9:00pm. I do believe that they need to be fed supper before they go to bed and that neither one of them should be anywhere near anything that gets hot with no supervision…AT ALL.

I also know my boys…I know that if B1 and B2 started wrestling and B2 got hurt…B1 would feel EXTREMELY guilty and would try to take care of it on his own before calling dad…case in point…the other day they had been wrestling in the bedroom at my place and when I heard B2 start to cry I could tell it was muffled. When I went to investigate, B1 had his hand over his mouth trying to get him to stop so he didn’t get in trouble…it doesn’t take long for things to escalate at that point to all out war between two very active boys. They just don’t even have the brain capacity to take a step back and review the situation.

March 7, he also left them home alone so he could decorate a local venue for a benefit being held for his mother. FIVE HOURS they were home alone…again…no supper. B2 fell asleep on the living room floor for a little while and then woke up again after a while. B1 stayed up until dad got home at 11:30 pm.

As it is apparent that he has no clue on how to parent children I have decided to NOT sign the mediation agreement and to ask the court for full custody. I just can’t, in good faith, allow my children to live under those circumstances without giving it all I have.

Lord, as I go through this next few days and weeks, please continue to fill me with your love and guidance so I can make decisions that put you first. Help me to stay on the path you have laid in front of me with strength, grace, love and honor.

Week One

Using my iPod to make this post so forgive the shortness.

The boys and I are finishing up our first week of the new parenting time schedule and I am beyond pleased with it.

The biggest challenge we face is reducing/setting limits on time they are allowed to spend in front of the TV and playing video games. At dad’s house they are allowed to wake up at whatever time and play video games until they have to get ready for school. This means the nine year old got up at 5:30am the first school day and then was super upset when I said no video games in the mornings before school. Not a great way to start the first morning, but he came out of it fairly quick. Day two he woke at 6:00am and we had the same discussion. Day three, he slept until the alarm clock went off.

I did not have even one homework meltdown all week. I’m used to getting no less than three calls per week from B1 in the middle of a meltdown during homework time.

He needs to know what my expectations are of him. It’s a huge adjustment on my part as well to remain super vigilant and not be overbearing. I cherish the opportunity and take it very seriously. It’s not hard, just time consuming.

We made a list of all the commitments we had for the week plus daily lists. It kept us on track and minimized any ‘oh crap we should be…’ moments.

I am trying to get B1 involved in activities in this town but he struggles as he doesn’t want to be involved only to miss every other week because he is at Dad’s house. I told him that it is not unreasonable to expect dad to transport him to town one evening every other week for Boy Scouts or another activity. I did not bring up that I drive nearly 400 miles on my week to transport them for school, it’s not a contest…

On Saturday night I asked B2 if he was excited to go back to dad’s house on Monday and told him I would pick him up the following Monday. He asked if he could just go to dad’s on Monday and Tuesday then come back here on Wednesday.

One thing I noticed was that the boys now seem to wonder where to call home. I refer to here as our place and dad’s as ‘their house in x town’. I want them to have a sense of home, not just mom’s house or dad’s house, but their home. No child should feel like they don’t have a base.

Battle Buddy

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have a new battle buddy. Fortunately because we each have many similarities in our situations, unfortunately though because there are four more children who are now faced with an unbelievable situation. I met him about a year ago while he was doing some renovation work at the hotel where I worked. Just casual acquaintances at best. Friends enough to greet each other in public and remember each others names and talk about our kids, but not hang-out type friends.

There was always a friendly amount of flirting with him when he was at the job (which wasn’t often). He was safe to flirt with…he was married, had been with his wife for 20 years, had four children with her, I didn’t mind stroking his ego, he is one of those soft spoken guys who obviously had no clue just how much people liked him. He is a rare breed for sure; a man immersed in the lives of his children, always working to making his marriage as good as it could be, even in difficult times, and always professional.

While at church last weekend I saw him and greeted him. One of the women from the bible study group I attended came up behind me and asked, “And how do you know him?” I jokingly told her I had tried picking him up at a hotel one time until I found out he was married. “For another eight days” he mumbled. I apologized for putting my foot in my mouth and said I had no idea he was getting a divorce. Well, apparently he didn’t either until about six weeks ago. Turns out the bible study friend is his mother! lol Small world ain’t it??

At one point during the bible study discussion a few weeks ago as we talked of forgiveness and letting go and learning to be positive the mom had looked at me and said, “Hmmm, you should talk to my son.”

So then I said, “Is THIS the son I am supposed to talk with?” Sure enough…what are the odds? So he and I updated each other on our respective situations and it was easy to see the hurt and shock still in his eyes. At the end of the conversation we parted ways and I didn’t give it a second thought when his mother asked for my phone number (we are in bible study together, remember).

Later than day I told the Lunch Lady about the conversation (he and her also have two children the same age so they are in the same circles at school). His situation is heartbreaking. He realized the marriage had changed in late summer and took the initiative to get he and his wife in to counseling. On the third visit she announced to him that she wanted a divorce and that she was two months pregnant by another man with whom she’d been seeing for over a year. She then moved out of the family home, has rarely seen her children since moving out and the divorce will be final next week. Three months ago things were fine…now he is a single father with four children. Quite the blow. She gave him custody of the kids, the house, and just walked out on their life, their family.

Later on Sunday I received a text message, “Are you sleeping?” from a strange number. I asked who it was and it was him, he needed to talk and his mom had given my number…I am so naive! We talked for a while about his situation and dealing with feelings and children, and the roller coaster his brain and heart are riding. Being a few steps ahead of him as far as the emotional processing of every thing it was easy to give him honest feedback and a few insider things to be aware of with the kids and each of their developmental stages. He was receptive of the information and sounded grateful to have a battle buddy. I told him that I don’t know his wife, have never met her, and will never judge her (or him) for the choices they make. I would be a neutral party to bounce ideas off and if he needed to vent he now knew how to get a hold of me. I told him to also run it through his brain the ‘what if’ scenarios if she decides to try to reconcile. I don’t think anybody had approached that possibility with him, but I could tell he was thinking it. I said there is always hope for reconciliation until one of them is six feet under. Almost funny coming from me.

The next day his mom and I had a lunch date and we talked about my situation and how she hopes he will return to church on a more regular basis as he works through this situation. I said I can be his friend, and a sounding board and hopefully a support as far as church goes.

I have to admit, the similarities of our situations makes our conversations easy. Today after I took the boys to school we talked about when I found out I had to move out of the house and the blow that was to my heart and ego. I rarely hurt when I talk of it, but talking to him about it, it was no longer as matter of fact as I make it sound. For him to openly acknowledge the hurt and agony I felt without attempting to sugar coat, side step, or justify the situation was agonizing and comforting at the same time. We are Battle Buddies, fighting the same war in our hearts and brains. With time I am hoping that sharing our individual grief journeys will strengthen us for ourselves, our children, and our partners.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to hope that even one person would find out they are not alone in their journey. I never expected somebody to return the favor. Always the helper, never the helpee…it’s how I try to portray myself. Never allowing my weakness to be revealed anywhere other than maybe here where I can pretend nobody reads it and confident that even if they do they will be much too uncomfortable to bring it up in person…people tend to not enjoy tough talks.

Welcome to my Battle Buddy…and thank you for the gift you have given me, the gift of friendship.

Begin Again

I don’t even know how I’m going to get y’all caught up on the awesomeness that has been my last week, but I will try my best.

FIRST…yes, I remembered to wear a sweatshirt to blog today no thanks to any reminders from my friends who read this blog…LOL

Life is about to make some HUGE changes for me. The hearing we had in July was FINALLY ruled on. The judge has changed the custody arrangement to give me 50% parenting time!! WOO HOO. I have to admit, it’s not ALL good though. My boys go to school in a town 22 miles from where I was able to find housing when I was forced to move out in April. I am responsible for transportation on the weeks they are in my care (one week at mom’s, one week and dad’s is the new arrangement).

So for those days I will have to drive 22 miles to take them to school, 22 miles back to town to go to work and then make that trip again at the end of the day to pick them up. This is not going to be easy on me or our budget. Right now I drive a mini-van. I am looking at selling it and getting a more economical vehicle just for the increased mileage. It’s just the boys and I for now, we don’t need a mini-van.

Their father is, shall I say, less than enthused about this new arrangement. No…he is PISSED. Not only does he lose the power over me of deciding when and where I see my children, he knows that Bubba will become much more defiant while he is at dad’s because I encourage him to speak up for himself and for what he believes is right. It’s easy to ‘beat’ that out of a child when they only get reinforcements for 2 days out of 14. When it’s 50/50 there could be trouble.

Bum already says he just wants to go to school in my town (unfortunately he has no say and for ‘right now’ I am not pushing the issue until a few more kinks are finalized).

The ex also has to pay me $1500 in alimony (for the first three months I was out of the house). He is not impressed with this either. I have no idea when this money will show up but I DO know that it will be a great big help with the increased expenses of having the boys for 7 days instead of 2.

The kids are excited to be able to attend church one more night each week (the Monday evening service). They are also excited that they now have access to things such as Boy Scouts, 4-h, AWANA, tae-kwon-do, and many other activities not available in their dad’s town.

I imagine that Bum will be wanting to  spend more and more time at my house and eventually free enough to request to not to return to his dad’s for the week days. I also believe that Dad, having no more control over the situation, will allow this to happen and eventually walk out on his boys. He did the same thing when his first ex-wife moved out of town with the children from his first marriage. He used the distance (22 miles) as an excuse to not be involved in their daily lives.

He has voiced his concern a number of times since the order came to light on Friday about how awful this is going to be for the boys…how tough it was going to be on me. Ya, like that’s EVER been his concern. My willingness to put these children ahead of everything else in my life only reflects back to him his own shortcomings as far as parenting them.

I’m not a super mom…just a mom who will move heaven and earth (and super sleepy boys at 0715) to be able to spend even a few extra evening hours with them. I am willing to cut out all my extra spending (even considering reducing my bowling commitment, maybe only bowling every other week or less) just to get ahead of the budget once I get back to work.

The change also comes at a time when both boys have birthday’s coming up (Bum in November, Bubba in December) plus Christmas so the budget is gonna be a challenge to say the least. Bubba is looking forward to being an integral part of financial planning. He loves that kind of thing. He loves setting goals and meeting them ahead of schedule. He has already learned the rewards of budgeting and planning. I love that kid’s brain!!

As far as the bunk beds donated to the boys…THEY CAME WITH MATTRESSES!!! I almost cried when the man dropped them off to our home. Super happy little men to sleep in actual beds for the first time at mom’s house. For their birthday’s I will be buying them each new bedding for their beds and donating our gently used items to the local woman’s shelter.

So much more going on, the job, the kids, the church, my friends…and it’s all good.

The boyfriend is safe and busier than you (or I) can imagine. Communication blackouts are more frequent lately for whatever reason and there are days that is hard on me. He is not surprised at the order and sees it as a stepping stone to the boys being with me full time by the time this divorce is final. I believe this as well…but my heart is a little more guarded about saying that out loud.

My laptop part may no longer be available so I am without a computer at home until further notice. Far from the top of my list of priorities…but it will be on the wish list the boys and I work on when we start our new budget!! I have not seen The Boyfriend for a month now and I won’t lie, it’s TOUGH. I send him pictures of the boys and I and the things we do…a taste of home I guess I see it as. We’ll be fine, we didn’t come this far for nothing. He still has more than six months on this deployment and although time has been going pretty fast, there are still days that take weeks to get through.

My heart is full, and happy. Change is tough, it’s hard, it’s challenging, and it’s exciting.