First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes Mama with the baby carriage. Oh and then comes divorce and then co-parenting. Not exactly how I envisioned things going. No one imagines that on their wedding day that a day will come when the person you are promising to spend your life with will bring you so much turmoil. Not the plan, yet here it is.
He can frustrate me beyond anything because the cord he is pulling on is one that is connected to my heart, Jack. My ex can have Jack each Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm. He comes, maybe, every other Saturday. When he is on time he brings him back within three hours. Of course, I am beyond happy to get Jack back into my arms, but at the same time it is frustrating because when he leaves with Jack I am forced to be on stand-by because I know he won't bring him back at a specific time. It's not like I can go get a pedicure because he has brought him back before after 45 minutes. Yes, he travels an hour and a half and spends that little time with him. I also mark the diaper Jack is wearing and my ex has not once changed his diaper. Thankfully, Jack hasn't been gone for very long. You see, for some reason when his dad gets him Jack always comes down with some sickness and needs to come back home. Luckily for Jack and I, Jack is miraculously better once he is home. Weird, huh?
How do I survive all this and more? Let me tell ya folks. First off, it isn't easy at all and sometimes I don't do a very good job but overall I think I handle it well. Here is how.
1. I don't call him out on his lies. Oh how I want to, really badly. He puts pictures on Facebook that I sent him and then writes his own status like he took the picture. When people are responding about what a great dad he is I just close my mouth. It doesn't benefit me to say anything. Yes it would feel good to let the world know he is a fake but my focus is Jack. Getting him angry just causes him to lash out. I'm divorcing him to no longer fight with him so why would I do it now. My mom says she would have lost it by now and she asks me frequently how I can handle not choking him. I remind her that Jack is my only focus.
2. Refuse to hash out the past. Many times when we talk on the phone he will bring up past issues. There is no reason for us to discuss our past maritial issues. He isn't always happy when I say "I don't want to discuss that" but it is always best. I made the mistake in the past of trying to discuss it and well we still can't talk about it without fighting so there isn't any point.
3. Stick to the facts. A part of me is crazy curious about what he was doing out at 1:23 am and posting pictures on Facebook of him and his friends at a bar. I have to remind myself that although I am curious that it isn't my business anymore.
4. Zip your lips as much as you can. He can piss me off faster than anyone. I went to St. Louis with two friends to see Garth Brooks and he still throws it in my face. He calls me a bad mother for leaving Jack with my parents while I went out and had fun. He also said I shouldn't be asking for child support since I had the money to spend a weekend in St. Louis. When he does pay, he pays me $25 a week. Not that I have to defend myself, but I used my Christmas bonus for that trip. The $125 that he has paid so far isn't really making me rich.
5. Have a sounding board or two. I don't like to constantly complain about my ex or his lack of parenting skills but it is nice having a few selected people and a blog to turn to when I need to let it out. Usually once I rant to my best friend or mom I feel better and can move on.
6. Keep their family out of it. I have to remind myself that regardless of how wrong he is he is still their brother, uncle, son, or grandson. His family has been very supportive of me. He and his family actually had a big falling out over his family taking my side. Once I found out I texted him and told him he really should try to make things right with his family. His mom is not in great health and the idea of something happening to her and them not talking bothers me. I never bad mouth him to his family. It wouldn't do any good and in the end it would probably make things more difficult.
7. Don't turn to social media. Facebook can be the devil at a time when relationships are tumbling. He has written some mean things about me on Facebook but I refuse to do the same. For one it is just tacky. Also, I am a teacher and it isn't the best thing to look like a crazy ranting lady. I bet you are thinking this blog is social media but he doesn't read it and neither does his family. Also, believe me, I am being really nice.
8. Remind yourself that your child is most important. During Spring Break I drove Jack to a toddler fun place in the town where his dad lives. Althought it wasn't his dad's day I still invited him to join us since we were going to be in town. Well he shows up late and asks me to pay his way in. I so wanted to say no but Jack had already laid eyes on his dad and I didn't want him to miss out on him seeing his dad. I closed my lips and paid the money. I never say mean things about his dad even though I don't think he would understand but I don't want to get in the habit.
9. Try to want what is best for him. Deep down (well maybe not that deep down) I pretty much wish the ground would swallow him whole. However, if he is going to be in Jack's life then I want good things for him. If he is going to date someone then I want that person to be a good person because that person will be around my baby. To wish bad things on my ex is to wish bad for my son.
10. Be positive. The best medicine in this whole process for me is being the happiest I can be. Not every day is easy but reminding myself that I am moving us forward in a positive direction helps. Jack needs to see me happy and as adjusted as I can possibly be. When I do find myself getting brought down I take a break. Sometimes I call a friend, write, read, or just go for a drive and have a good cry. It's nice being able to get those small breaks while living with my parents.
11. Surround yourself with a great support system. Like I said earlier I don't like to dwell on this hard time. No one wants to hear someone whine and complain all the time. When it was fresh I know my closest friends were worn out from all my agony. I kept the news from my co-workers for six months because I wanted one place where things felt normal. My friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers have been so kind to me during all this. One of the postive things from all this is that my relationship with God has strengthened. He has listened to me more than anyone. I could not imagine going through all this without such wonderful people in my life.
There are days where I am not my best self. Sometimes I say things to him that I know isn't going to help things. My main focus is the health and well being of Jack but there are moments where I am weak. I forgive myself, remind myself that I am not perfect, and move on.