Over dinner last weekend, a girlfriend asked me how things were going, how I was, how the kids were. I told her we were all fine. Life seems normal. We’re in the groove. I offhandedly said something along the lines of, “of course there are always bumps in the road that come up from time to time” and in answering her subsequent “Like what?” question, I realized I have been sucking up an awful lot of annoyingly bad behavior from The Ex lately. There’s nothing that rises to the level of enabling any legal recourse, and I’ve learned (or at least, I’ve mostly learned) that there’s nothing I can say to The Ex that causes any change in his behavior, so I’ve just been sucking it up.
But the problem with just sucking it up is that after I do so, it just sits inside me festering. I don’t really think that does anyone any good because I keep carrying it around. I need to get it out. There has to be a purge somehow. It’s pointless to talk to The Ex about it. I don’t want to (and shouldn’t) talk to the kids about it. And I try pretty hard not to be the type of friend (or sister or daughter or whatever) who does nothing but bitch about her ex husband all the time. So. Right. What to do? And then I remembered that I have a place and a way to process all that junk (hi, blog!). It’s why I started this spot in the first place—to sort through and process and figure out and see the big picture somewhere removed from the inside of my head, laid out on paper where it tends to make a whole lot more sense. As I always tell my kids, “better out than in.”
So today I’m venting.
- I’m venting about how, as The Ex and The Girlfriend walked with the kids back to the resort after their beach wedding, The Girlfriend told The Ex that he looked “sexy” in the pants he was wearing. I’m venting about how, when my 6-year-old then asked his father what “sexy” meant, his father replied: “It means someone wants to have sex with you.” Really?
- I’m venting about how, when their post-wedding return flight was canceled and they all ended up spending the night in a hotel room together, and The Girlfriend announced she was going to take a shower, The Ex asked: “Do you want me to take one with you?” INAPPROPRIATE.
- I’m venting about the excessive PDA that goes on in front of my children, despite the kids telling their father it makes them uncomfortable. Butt grabbing, making out, lying entwined on the sofa, long delays behind locked bedroom doors when little ones knock and need their daddy at night … INAPPROPRIATE. For one night a week and every other weekend, is it just not possible to put it on ice temporarily?
- I’m venting about how, when Owen recently lost his front tooth at his dad’s house, The Ex forgot to leave out Tooth Fairy money that night. And when Owen asked the next morning why the Tooth Fairy didn’t come, The Ex told him there really wasn’t one. Oh, yeah, he decided to reveal there was no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny, either. The kid wasn’t ready to know that. He’s six. He’s sad he knows it now. And he’s not mature enough to keep the news from his 3-year-old sister, either. That degree of parenting laziness on The Ex’s part pisses me off. Royally.
- I’m venting about how The Ex signed Amelia up for dance lessons on his one night a week, so that The Girlfriend* could play mommy. I’m venting about how because The Ex is coaching Owen’s football team this fall, The Girlfriend created the position of “Assistant Team Mom” for herself, even though another mom had already volunteered for Team Mom and even though there has never before been an Assistant to that title. I’m venting about how she changed her last name when they got married, so it now matches the surname of my children, and how that enhances her outward appearance as their mom. I know (as someone wise pointed out to me) that the kids clearly know who their mother is and she’s not fooling them even if she’s fooling others, but I still don’t like it. And I’m venting about that, too, because I know that sounds territorial and unenlightened (according to some) and because I wish I didn’t feel that way, but I do.
- I’m venting that the football season, which would have been the perfect opportunity for The Ex and Owen to have good father-son one-on-one time is now father-stepmom-son time, and I’m venting that our children never, ever have alone time with their dad without The Girlfriend being present. I’m venting about it because THEY vent about it, and because it clearly states to them that they do not come first with their father. And in my view on parenting, that sucks.
- I’m venting that The Ex, for some unknown reason, has begun telling the kids that if anything ever happens to Mommy and Daddy, The Girlfriend will raise them so that they can live with The-Ex-Junior or The-Girlfriend-Junior whenever the little blessings come along. Um … NO. On so many fronts, on each and every front, on whether that’s going to happen or whether it’s appropriate to be telling them that, on whether it’s just a batshit crazy thing to assume without discussing it with me first, just … NO.
For those of you reading (and I know who you are) who are tempted to comment and tell me I shouldn’t be venting this way about The Ex, that I shouldn’t be threatened by the fake mommying going on, that I should welcome The Girlfriend into my happy circle of life, and that there’s nothing wrong with any of the parenting choices or situational goings-on described above … please don’t. Don’t. You may even be right on some of that, but I don’t want to hear it from you today.
I’m still supporting my kids’ relationship with their father. I’m still cooperating with him on schedules and practices and school functions and everything else. I’m still cordial and communicative when we do swap-offs. I’m still keeping my mouth closed when confronted with The Girlfriend’s oversteps. I’m putting her name on emergency school forms and permission slips because the reality is, she’ll be picking my kids up and taking as large (or larger) a role in my kids’ parenting as their father does. I’m still making it work. I’m still putting the kids first. But here, today, in my little corner, I’m realizing that this co-parenting gig, especially with someone you like very, very little and respect even less … this gig is tough. And I’m not sure it ever gets simple. It’s easier to swallow the anger and frustration when it arises, but it still arises. It may now take months of (IMO) The Ex’s poor parenting choices before I feel like blowing a gasket instead of feeling like I’m on a hair trigger with every little thing he does, but eventually his decisions concerning and surrounding our children are still going to annoy me to the nth degree. It’s easier, but it’s not easy.
So I’m just hitting that release valve a bit today. I’m just venting, because that’s all I can do.
*Technically, The Girlfriend is now The 2nd Wife, but for the sake of continuity and because really—neither The Ex nor The Girlfriend has displayed any respect for marriage anyway—she will remain “The Girlfriend” here. Which, I believe, is still the nicest of the many things I *could* call her.