What I Did

After reading the comment from the previous entry, I decided that it wasn’t that big of a deal, it wasn’t that important. Unfortunately he called wanting to know my decision and I, being put on the spot, asked what was in it for me to give up a night with my boys. He asked what I wanted…then had the nerve to say he had been extremely generous on the other Monday’s by LETTING my keep them, what was in THAT for him he asked. Well, not having to pay almost half of your day’s wages in daycare would be one of the benefits. Well, he didn’t care about that…whatever. A short pissing match ensued and I said he could pick them up Monday morning at 8am.

I knew this was only me being spiteful and not the mom I wanted my kids to ever know. I sent him a text on Sunday afternoon and said that he was welcome to pick them up that night. He picked them up after supper that night.

B1 had a tough week. Saturday morning he had a minor melt down and another on Sunday (after several others during the week). Much of it has been put on the new puppy…his new scapegoat. “I just miss Scooby” is the answer I am usually thrown when he is crying. While I’m sure he does miss his dog, I am also quite confident that missing a pup is not a reason for my child to begin to tell me he wished he’d never been born…but maybe it is.

My first thought was that he wants to go back to dad’s so much because of the dog but cannot bring himself to tell me that as it might hurt my feelings; he’s that kind of kid. His father has adequately fostered that responsibility on his tiny shoulders. B2, on the other hand, doesn’t care where he is right now…as long as the world revolves around him.

So if B2 is caused enough turmoil that he now wishes he’d never been born…was the puppy worth it? Do I allow him to go home days/ hours early? I hate that I am making decisions not necessarily in the best interests of the child, but based on how the ex will twist it for the judge…my poor babies.

Maybe (and I’m just thinking out loud here so please bare with me) I need to allow him to stay at dad’s and then explain to the courts that this new addition is a blatant attempt to back me in to a corner as far as spending time with the kids or making them miserable…and I don’t like the idea of my boys being miserable. I’ll talk with the school counselor and their shrink and see what they think. I think I just answered my own question…but that doesn’t make it any less difficult.

If I could, I would allow them to bring the puppy, but my apartment does not allow pets…not even reptiles.

My heart hurts for these poor kids.

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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.

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.

HOLY CRAP

First off…remind me the next time I am coming to the library to blog to remember a sweatshirt, it is so cold in this computer lab and I can’t type with my jacket on.

So, I’ve spent a ton of time devoted to prayer lately. Our pastor encouraged us to pray some Big-Ask Prayers, and I did. I asked for the right job to come for me, and I asked for beds for the boys and myself.

Well, as always, God pulled through. I did not expect him to pull through so fast, but today I was hired as a personal care attendant for a little girl with Spina Bifida. The pay is more than I was making at the hotel, the scheduling is extremely flexible, and no weekends or holidays. Minimum 24 hours each week and the option to work 40+. Can you say PERFECT FIT??

I went to the scheduled prayer meeting at the church and was met by the pastor who had a silly grin on his face. Not only did he find bunk beds for the boys, but the youth pastor found a bed for me as well!!

Lord, I asked…You answered. You came up BIG for me. THANK YOU.

I am so overwhelmed with happiness.

Lord, I know I’ve asked some really big-ask prayers lately and I thank you for allowing others the opportunity to bless my life and my kids lives and thank you for having them choose me and the boys to bless with their radical generosity. I will continue to serve you Lord, and to bless those I am able to with my unique gifts you have blessed me with. Continue to light my path Lord so I can follow You and hear your call. Amen

The Last Monday

Today is my last Monday at my current job and the busiest day of the week for this place. There are 52 check-ins to process today. Of those 52, many of them will check in on my shift just because I have ‘trained them’ to check in when they get to town as opposed to after work to save the second shift person a huge rush when everybody gets finished with work. It will be my last time checking in ‘my people.’

Most of them already know I am leaving but there was a guest who returned over the weekend (his company had been working here all summer but they having been working another project away from here for the last couple of weeks) and when I told him this morning that Thursday was my last day all he had to say was, “Oh, Sh!t, I don’t like that idea at all.”

I feel bad for the guests who have come to rely on me to get things done for them. They know their rooms will be ready when they get here, that they will have the rooms they prefer, that I will go in and turn on the AC for them while they are at work if it is a hot day.

I have a painting company right now that loves to give me crap about the little things I take care of for them; one of the rooms needs a rollaway and housekeeping doesn’t seem to understand that this also means an extra person in the room so I always go in to make sure that they are left extra towels, soaps, shampoo, etc. I mean REALLY?? How hard is that to figure out. Well, every now and then I get busy and forget to make sure it is put in the room and these boys have NO PROBLEM trying to make me feel like crap. I tell them that if I HAD a heart it would hurt when they give me a hard time, but we all know I don’t! lol This group sent one of their new hires to the front desk one morning because he locked all the keys in their room. He came to me and I looked at him with a straight face and said, “Awwww and you think I care, that’s cute.” I thought the poor kid was gonna cry.

Last night The Boyfriend called me on his lunch break, it was good to see him after the pity party I held for myself yesterday. I told him that taking the boys home early (even if it was only 4.5 hours early) is so very hard on me. There was a festival in their town and the parade and everything that had been scheduled for Saturday was postponed to Sunday. They wanted to spend the day enjoying the festivities and I agreed to take them home early so they could do that with their dad. We watched the parade together and then I took them home.

I do this for them. Although I know divorce means that they will sometimes miss out on a few things, I do what I can to make sure they can still take part in most of it. This is a sacrifice I make, and the price my heart pays is a very high one…that’s my job, to pay the price so they don’t have to. They are paying a high enough price for everything else in their life that they have no control over, why make them pay unnecessarily?

The Boyfriend tells me all the time how proud he is of me for doing all I do. He encourages me that the boys will see things for what they are in their own time. I know this is true, and that’s why I try to not sway them in any particular direction, I follow their leads, their moods, their needs.

Yesterday morning Bubba was having a tough time…the schedule was changed, he was going home early. He wanted to go home early, he knew how fun it was going to be, but even a small, positive change is still a change and he doesn’t do well with change. I tried to tell his dad to be mindful that day as I related our morning and he just blew it off, “He seems fine to me.” He will never understand.

I’ll put money on that little man calling me tonight crying for something…

My last of three job interviews today. I am excited and a little nervous. Everything will be exactly as it is supposed to be and will work out perfectly. I am confident of that.

Can You Feel It?

My boys are the most compassionate children I have ever met. They are eager to serve others and to show people love.

This last weekend the boys were talking about a trip they are going on with their dad’s family. Bubba still hasn’t figured out why or how I am ‘kicked out of the family’ if I still have the same last name. He sees no reason why I shouldn’t be going on this trip with them because I am still his and Bum’s family and it’s been sold to them as a family trip. I explained that their family is different now than it did before.

Now, it’s like he is blessed with two families. Sometimes he will do something with Dad’s side of the family that won’t include Mom, and other times he will do things with my side of the family that won’t include Dad.

Earlier in the weekend Bum was telling me about the trip and he said, “Mom, did you know the babies are coming with us too?” I asked what he meant and he told me, “You know, all our angels, they are coming with us too.” Apparently he had asked his dad if they were going to be going with them and was told that yes, the babies are always with us wherever we go and they will be on their trip as well.

When I was in class with Bubba I was introduced to the little girl beside him. She is new to his school and I asked where she came from. She told me and then said, “But something bad happened.” The look of devastation in her eyes was striking.

A little while later she asked Bubba where he lived (she lives in the country). He told her, I live in town and I live at my mom’s house when it’s her turn. I explained, “Bubba’s mom and dad are getting a divorce…”

Her eyes got big and she whispered, “That’s exactly the same thing that happened…” I said well, then you and Bubba have somebody you each can talk to about it. Bubba turned to her and told her that they could talk in class or that they could go sit somewhere at recess and just talk privately and that if she ever needed to talk she could come to him.

The love, the compassion, the desire to help and serve…that’s my boys. I am honored that God choose me to be their mom.

Lord, continue to give my children the compassion and strength to reach out to others even while their hearts are aching.

 

What I Need

When people find out I am getting divorced I get the normal sympathies. When they find out my boys are living with their dad, they often are overcome with shock and wonder. I get everything from ‘how did that happen’ which my brain translates into “what kind of mother looses her kids” to “OMG, how are you doing?”

I’m fine…I’m one of the lucky ones. Yes, I’m very lucky. I know my boys are only 20 miles away. I know my boys are healthy, I know my boys love their dad, I know that their dad loves them, I know that the boys and I love each other.

I spent enough time beating myself up when the judge granted him temporary custody in March. I don’t have a need to continue that. I don’t need to be depressed because my boys are at their other home.

In some ways…and I mean this as no offence to parents who have lost a child, I am only trying to put a face on it for others who may not understand. In some ways it is like the first time you laugh after the death of a loved one…you catch yourself, you beat yourself up. How dare you move on, how dare my body betray me by allowing me to feel joy and happiness. I am supposed to be drowning in depression. I did that. My first weeks without the boys were absolute hell. I missed them, my heart ached, my body screamed for them in my arms.

Then I took a breath. I knew that if I was going to be able to enjoy what limited time we do have together I was going to have to learn to enjoy life without them as well. When you live in misery, you cannot just turn it off at 6pm every other Friday…it follows you, it embraces you, it drowns you.

I couldn’t focus on the look on Bubba’s face when he realized I couldn’t tell him when I would see him again the day I moved out. I couldn’t focus on Bum calling me two days later telling me he wanted things “back in order.”

What I could focus on were the positive things. The fact that this is a huge learning experience for all of us. Bubba and Bum are great kids. They needed the mom who had been lost for a long time in a miserable marriage. They needed the awesome mom that Bug and my step kids experienced when they were younger. The fun mom, the playful mom, the mom who runs through the sprinkler with them, plays Frisbee, teaches them to cook, digs for worms, and plants flowers. The mom who isn’t afraid to shout, “WE DON’T SHOOT UNARMED PEOPLE IN OUR FAMILY” out the front door not caring what the neighbors think (a rule with water guns and Nerf guns…it’s only fair).

Over the last couple of months, I’ve found that mom. I wish we had a sprinkler at our apartment but we make due. We enjoy (almost) every minute we have together…c’mon, they are real live boys they still get in trouble some times.

There are still times when I am overcome with a loneliness I cannot explain, the physical ache of my empty arms…but for the most part I am okay.

What I don’t need is people trying to tell me ‘dirt’ on their father. I don’t need people to try and tell me how the kids act or look when they see them with their other parent. That is his time. I know we don’t always look like the Cleaver family either, nor would I want to.

I need people to understand that the boys’ father’s personal life is just that…HIS personal life. It is no longer mine. Just as I don’t wish for people to ‘report to him’ on my comings and goings, I really have no desire to hear about his.

Yes we are still in the middle of an extremely nasty, dirty, mean divorce…why try to add fuel to the fire. It is the hands of the courts at this time. If you want to help, pray for the judge who is charged with determining the lives of two very unique children he has never met.

If you see my kids and they are with their other parent, please PLEASE treat them the same as you would if they were with me. Acknowledge them, hug them, talk to them…if you joke around with them when they are with me, continue that. You don’t have to like their father to love my kids, you don’t even have to like me. Nothing hurts more than your child wondering why they are invisible all of a sudden to certain people.

As the divorce is not yet final, we are still finding our new normal…we don’t even know what that might look like at this time. We are loving each other, we are loving other people, we are loving ourselves.