The antiversary update

This year I remembered the antiversary. It weighed heavily on me. Why? Because of outstanding issues that the boys are having with their father. I was conflicted this year because of the feeling of complete contempt and disgust for the person that fathered my children. The desire to go back 22 years ago and shake that young bride and say…listen..get out once you have both of your children…as soon as your youngest is born, send that horrible person packing. He will bring you nothing but financial ruin and a shattering to whatever self-image you have…he will walk all over you…cheat on you…treat you with utter disregard and disrespect…and he will do the same to his children. The one who carries on his name and the one who will spend his entire childhood hoping for his approval, to only be disappointed by the outcome.

You can’t go back in time.

I finally got rid of the gigantic wedding picture I’ve been dragging around the past six years. My father took a skill saw to it…sawed it right down the middle so now on the mantle is a picture of me from that fateful day all those years ago…but he and the frame are where they belong…in the town dump.

Our youngest son turned 18 this summer and right before his birthday he got to the breaking point with his father. He got tired of the bullying and being pushed around by his father’s wants and needs. He stood up for himself, which was incredibly scary for him, told his father that he wasn’t going to see him, even though his father tried to force the issue…and now he hasn’t spoken to him for two months.

What’s interesting is that today I received an email from the father of my children. Per our agreement, I sent him our son’s activities for the coming week. You see this got added on after the court case. That I need to give him 7 days notice of an activity for our son, you know, so he can officially disagree with it. I gave him all of the activities for the year with the costs knowing full well he’d never pay his half for any of them. After all, now wouldn’t be any different from before…but this is how he responded…

“Regarding any and all extracurricular activities, I will not consider agreeing to nor paying for anything until our custody agreement starts to be enforced. I haven’t seen <name> since the 1st weekend in June. Once we get back to a regular weekend schedule, I will then look at each extracurricular activity on a case by case basis.”

I’d fight it, but the fact is he doesn’t actually need a reason to not agree to contribute to the extracurricular expenses. He can simply state he doesn’t agree and not have to pay. That’s why my attorney ended up not having me go after him for the money he refused to contribute for both of our sons’ activities. There was no point.

Here’s the thing…once a child hits a certain age, usually by 13, the court does not force that child to go with a parent. Sure, if they’re little, you can put them into a car, whether they want to go or not, but there comes a certain point where you have to realize that you can’t make them do that anymore. I won’t and physically can’t force my now 18-year-old adult son to get into the car and drive to his father. I couldn’t do that back in June when he was 17, and I certainly can’t do it now. When my son decided to stand up for himself, I consulted with my attorney, to make sure that from a legal perspective, I was protected. I did expect to get served with contempt charges, since the father was reeling from the fact that I had taken him to court, and he had to agree to pay his portion of college for his son, and a small amount for summer camp, and the medical bills he had let go for an entire year without reimbursing me. I figured the timing was horrible for him, but as my attorney told me, if his attorney was worth anything he would have told him he didn’t have a leg to stand on since our son was 17 at the time.

I’m not standing in the way of our custody agreement. If anything, I’ve been the one to make sure that he’s had time with his kids. I agreed to half way when I moved, something I didn’t legally have to do. I made sure there was a car, when our oldest son started driving, so that they could make their way to him without any issue. I pay to insure both of them, even though we had a verbal agreement that we’d each pay for one, but of course, his words mean nothing. Not once has he offered either one of them gas money…and the last time I checked, a 51-year-old man is more than capable of getting in his own car and making some effort to see his kids.

I had to file a contempt charge to get him to pay for his portion of college, and when it came down to it, he actually got away with having to contribute so much less than we both thought. You see, the great state we live in doesn’t care about the fact that my son goes to a private university which costs more than a state school. They only care about the state costs, but they subtract the grants and scholarships that his private school gives him, so in actuality, we’re both only responsible for about $5000 a year. I think that’s total crap…and I’m helping our son because that’s what a parent is supposed to do…and I will help our younger son in the same way when he goes to college next year.

My parents paid for my college and his parents paid for his college. That was how we were both brought up…but he doesn’t feel he should pay for any college. The contempt charge forced that issue on him so he has to pay at least his portion…but lord forbid he do any more than he’s forced to do…for his children.

And that’s why this year I felt the antiversary…because the issues with him loom…the way our sons’ feel…the conversations they both need to have with him…and if I say what I’m thinking and feeling…about what I would change if I could go back in time…it would come out wrong…because I love my sons…I wouldn’t give them up for anything…and I know the mistake of being with and marrying their father gave them to me…but no matter how much time goes by…and how my life and my boys’ lives have improved tremendously…there is still the unwanted connection with him…that disgusted feeling at the pit of my stomach when I know I have to deal with an issue…and we’re almost done…child support ends in June…college and medical expenses are the only things that are left…here’s hoping next year it’s less eventful and not in my mind at all.

 

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Is it possible that Karma finally strikes?

I haven’t written in a long time. I’ve had things to talk about, but I’ve been concentrating on other aspects of my life, and my blog entries have fallen to the side. I often find myself composing possible entries while I’m driving to work, or as I am drifting to sleep. My husband often says, write it down, get it out, but by that point I’m half sleeping or I think, I’ll remember tomorrow to write it down. I never remember tomorrow to write it down, why I ever think there’s an exception to that I will never know.

Today I write about the reason I initially started this blog in the first place, the starter husband. That’s what I refer to him as now. It’s nicer, and funnier, since I use that term in a few of my stand up comedy bits. I’m a stand up comic now. It amazing how much material I have from the past and the present.

Starter husband decided that he is above the court order we have in place with regard to college. You see, our divorce decree, so ordered by the court, that we both signed and agreed to on that fateful 13th day of the month, stipulates that we each pay half of our sons’ college tuition up to the cost of in state tuition, room, and board. The total number for the 2016-2017 year was $31,280. The total for the upcoming 2017-2018 year is $32,132. He refused to pay his half last year. Kept responding to emails claiming he didn’t understand what I was asking, then trying to say our son is responsible for all of his own loans, and then completely blowing me off when I quoted section and number from our decree, and copied the text into an email back in December.

When I sent him the dollar amount for our youngest son’s last summer camp expense, his immediate response through email was “I can’t afford that.” No comment about, but I can contribute this amount toward it. Nope, he can’t afford it, so therefore there’s no more conversation about it.

This has been the issue with him. If he can’t afford something, then he doesn’t care what I do, but he’s not going to contribute his half, or any amount. And that’s  part of my frustration, ok, you can’t afford your entire half, then make an offer to contribute something. But he never makes that offer. He pays child support. That’s enough in his opinion. Besides, he has his fiancée to take care of…he doesn’t need to take responsibility for his own children.

Well, if he hadn’t pulled the I’m not paying for college issue, I would have done what I’ve done the past 5 years, paid it myself because my boys benefit from the programs that they participate in. But not this time.

He’s in contempt, and I can’t afford to cover his portion of college for our older son now, and our younger son a year from now.

I hired an attorney.

He filed an appearance with the court last week. He’s been waiting for the court to get back to him with a date so he can have starter husband served.

A strange thing happened. Yesterday, starter husband made many attempts to find me. He called, he texted, he called our oldest son, he texted. So, I thought, well, maybe my attorney notified him of his appearance. I waited until I heard back from my attorney. He didn’t notify him yet. It’s stipulated that he can be notified at the time he’s served. The question, why did he suddenly want to talk to me.

The answer…he needs a favor.

In order for him and his fiancée to buy a house, he wants to know if I will sign a document saying that his child support obligation will end on May 1st of next year, instead of mid-June. He’ll of course, continue to pay me up and through June. My response, knowing what is about to come his way, was you can pay me up front for those payments and I’d consider it. Consider, being the key word here.

He does the math and tells me he’ll need to discuss with his fiancée and get back to me. He called my cell, my house, texted me, and sent an email with an amendment to our decree, thanking me for doing this…funny thing, I never said I would…I said I’d consider it.

Of course, I sent all of this to my attorney who, as I expected, told me to sign nothing. You see, he’s being served tomorrow, we have a court date, the 13th of next month.

Looks like someone else might need a favor.

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A curvy girl and a wedding dress

Should a woman who is getting married for a second time wear an actual wedding dress?

I didn’t plan on buying an actual wedding gown for my wedding. I figured I’d go to one of the curvy girl stores and buy something off the rack, most likely in blue.

Then I started looking for curvy girl wedding gowns, and found myself drawn to a number of sites, which I think were all the same distributor, branded differently, with dresses that if you measured yourself they would make you a custom-made dress, for cheap. Why cheap?  Because they were being made in China.

I thought about it.

I’ve always thought buying an expensive dress to wear one time is a waste. I’ve marveled at the shows where women walk into a bridal shop and say they have a budget in the thousands…more incredible to me is the ones who go in and say they can spend a certain amount of money and then go even higher than they had anticipated.

So I thought about it, and decided that maybe it would be ok if I could have a dress that was made in China and no more than $300. But, I’d need to find the right style which would mean wedding dress shopping.

The issue with shopping for a wedding gown, at least in my prior experience back in the 90’s, was not ever having dresses in the curvy girl size. I also experienced a lot of body shaming by many of those sales ladies back then. The dress I purchased for the starter marriage didn’t actually fit me when I tried it on, it was basically me standing in the dress, holding it up, and making a decision. In other words it was horrifying. It was after seeing it in many different stores, barely getting it on my body, that I finally decided to buy it from a bridal salon where they were incredibly nice to me. It wasn’t that moment that every bride dreams about, the ones they make shows about, there were no tears, it was more like, this was in my price range, I kept seeing it, I liked it, they said it would look good on me once I bought it in my size, and I went with it…probably symbolic of that starter marriage, upon reflection.

This time was different. I checked with the salons in the area. Put out emails to them to find out who actually carried curvy girl sizes. I was pleasantly surprised that more of them are carrying sizes that are significantly higher than 6.

With my sister at my side, I went to my first appointment and tried on my first wedding gown. It was amazing actually being zipped up in a dress that fit. I was a bride. Such an overwhelming feeling for so many reasons. It was such a positive experience to have a sales girl be lovely and find so many dresses in my size to try on. I left there without buying anything. I thought I had found one. My sister took pictures. I didn’t have that “this is my dress” feeling. I had one that met many of my expectations but as I reviewed the photos of me in that dress I knew it wasn’t what I wanted.

Still feeling that I would end up having the dress made I went to another bridal store. She brought dress after dress out. Again, fabulous to have them all fit. To actually stand in front of a mirror in a beautiful gown in my size was as incredible during that second go around.

I still wasn’t finding it. The sales lady tried to push a few different styles on me, but my sister could tell by the look on my face that it wasn’t happening for me. Thinking I was again going home without an actual idea of what type of dress would be me, and knowing I had a limited time left in the store, I said that my issue is I’m curvy in some of the wrong places so feel like I don’t have a waste, and the dresses weren’t making me feel that way.

The sales lady said I know what you need, and brought in an ivory gold lace dress with a corset back…and it happened. Everything in that instant that I had seen on the shows and heard others say that overwhelming feeling of, it’s my dress. I felt beautiful and sexy all at once…and there were tears…how could I walk out of that store without buying that dress…and then she said the magic words…I can sell you the sample.

Right there and then I made the decision, yes, a woman getting married for a second time should feel beautiful and sexy and wonderful to walk down the aisle. There was no blue off the rack dress in my future. I was going to marry the love of my life in this dress…and every time I went back to the salon to have a fitting I fell for my dress again…and the day of my wedding…when I walked down the stairs to meet my fiancée for his first look and he started crying and said, “I wasn’t expecting all of this”, I knew I made the right choice.

 

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To be ignored and threatened

He’s at it again.

On August 14th I sent the father of my children an email regarding the agreement we had made about auto insurance. Since I have been insuring our oldest child, he is supposed to insure our youngest child. This was a discussion and an agreement made back when our oldest was getting his license. It was also a suggestion from his father. I insure one, he insures the other.

In that same email I brought up college tuition. We have an agreement in place that says we are both responsible for half the cost of room tuition and board equal to the cost of a specific state school. I took out a loan to cover my portion of this amount and asked in that email if he has done the same.

He didn’t respond to that email until Sept. 1st, which happened to be the day I moved our son to college. Where in that email he told me that based on what he has learned, based on his future step-son, that he can’t cover our son on his policy.

He also stated “I have no idea what you mean about me getting a loan” for our son.

Right…he’s not familiar with our divorce decree and custody arrangement.

I waited until Sept. 6th to respond. I told him that I would add our son to my policy, since he is unable to do so, and will let him know how much he owes me for it.

I also said the following:

“I realize you didn’t have to fill out the Fafsa, but you can create a FSA ID and then apply for a parent plus loan to cover your portion of <our son’s> tuition. It’s a better finance rate then the traditional loans available and a longer pay back period. Based on <state school> tuition, room, and board, we are both responsible for <dollar amount> of the tuition this year according to our divorce decree/custody agreement.”

It is now November 7th. There has been no response of any kind to this email.

We’ve seen each other several times since I sent him that email. I haven’t wanted to have the conversation in person. I don’t want to call him on the phone. We discuss things through email. I know he received the email.

Thanksgiving is coming up. It’s my holiday, however, the boys were invited to their cousin’s house. I always agree to that. I would never get in the way of them getting to hang out with all their cousins.

The older one is at school. He doesn’t want to come home for a night and then hit the road. He asked his father to either pick him up from school on the day school is out or he’d take the train to his relatives.

His father got angry at this request. Told him he had to come home and he’d be picked up that next day with his brother.

When our son pushed back, reminding his father that he is 18, and he can just take the train, this man, the father, threatened to call someone he allegedly knows at homeland security, and have our son added to the terrorist watch list.

My son told me the story. I was beyond angry at this type of bullying comment. He would risk our son’s future because he’s not getting his way.

Now, you might think, this must be a joke. My son didn’t think he was kidding based on the tone of the conversation they were having…and based on my experience, I can totally hear him threatening our son in this manner.

There are no words…I’m so done with this man…and yet…he still can threaten our son who is of the age not to deal with it…what’s he going to do when our son says he’s going to Israel…he’s threatening him now and he only wants to take the train a few hours.

How about the fact that he’s blatantly ignoring a legal document which he totally knows what his responsibility is supposed to be…what of our second son who will be going to college in 2 years?

And what of that legal document which states we’re supposed to go to mediation before going back to the court system? Like I want to deal with this man in mediation? Like I want to deal with any of this?

 

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Sending my oldest to college

There are a lot of blogs and articles being written right now about the emotions of sending your child off to college. Whether it be your first or only child going to their first year, or a child somewhere else in the family ranks, attending yet another year of college, there is much angst out there.

I’m feeling that angst as well. So, I’m not sure if this blog entry will offer any additional insight from the many mother’s writing articles, but what it will offer up is my chance to share my thoughts on this very emotional and pivotal moment in my own life, and that of my oldest  son, moving to college, one week from tomorrow.

What I am struck by the most is my complete lack of ability to tell when the emotions are going to sneak up on me. Sitting at the dinner table, across from my fiancée, with neither of my sons around, my eyes well up even when the conversation has nothing to do with moving him to college.

On my way back from dropping him off at Freshmen orientation back in July, a song came on the radio and I lost it. Driving on the highway, in traffic, I had to try and stop the tears from getting in my way of being able to safely operate my vehicle.

As the many posts from the many friends who have already taken this first time event or repeat event keep popping up on Facebook, I am overwhelmed with the sadness that is constantly looming under the surface, even though I am so incredibly proud of him and truly excited for the next chapter of his life.

He had to grow up rather quickly. I leaned on him probably too much as the marriage faded and the truth about his father’s affair surfaced. If I had lied to him on that fateful day that he questioned me on it, and let him live in the sheltered belief that his brother did for significantly longer, perhaps I would be having an easier time letting him go.

He’s my oldest. The son most like me. The one who talks to me, shares his stories, tells me probably more than most of his friends share with their mothers. We laugh together. We watch tv together, and now he is moving on to college, and he happened to have chosen my college. This wasn’t my doing. I never imagined he would follow in my footsteps and choose my alma mater.

He knows he’s a mama’s boy. I know he’s a mama’s boy, and I also know how incredibly important it is for me to cut the apron strings. To let him go. He’s incredibly independent. He’s the one people say won’t have any problem transitioning to living away from home, after all, he’s traveled a lot. But this is also the son who swore he’d be fine when we moved here over 4 years ago, and that took a long time to be true.

He told me that it finally hit him the other night that he is leaving for college soon, and it made his stomach lurch a little. The thought of not being around here and what that would mean for him. Starting over in a new place with new people. What it would feel like when I dropped him and his stuff off at his dorm knowing I wouldn’t be back for him for quite some time.

“Mom, I am thinking that I may need to not speak to you for the first 2 weeks I’m at college. That when you drop me off, we may exchange a brief text but that might need to be it. I don’t want to be one of those kids who goes off to college and is miserable. I may need you to do this so I can adjust.”

Hearing those words made me very sad, but what I told him was that if that is what he needs me to do in order to make his transition a smooth one, than that is what I would do for him. Inside, it was tearing me up, outside, I smiled reassuringly at him. If this is what he needs to do to let go and start his successful college career than I need to make sure I support him.

This week he’s been away. He’s making the rounds in the part of the state he started his journey in. Having last hurrahs with his friends and his cousins. He’ll be back tomorrow. I know the next week is going to be full of stuff. I’d like to think it’s all going to be one big happy time, but I know the reality. It’s about packing up all of his stuff. Putting it together in a central location. Making sure he has everything he needs. It will prove to be stressful and emotional, for everyone. He has been getting along with his brother fairly well since he returned from camp, but when stress enters, he tends to take it out on him. I want their last week before this transition to be memorable, but in a good way.

He’ll be back from college. This is the other thing that baffles my mind with the emotions, I know he’ll be back. He’ll be back for long weekends, and for winter break. He’ll be back for this summer, or at this moment, I anticipate he will be, but I guess that’s not a given. Who knows what opportunities college is going to offer him. But he’s not leaving forever…yet. That day will also come. I know it. As adults we move on and out. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

So, like everyone else in this situation, I will help my son pack and move him into a dorm to start his new life. One that I hope finds him happiness, good grades, great friends, and fabulous memories. I hope he loves college.

I did my job…one more son to ready for college…in two years…oh boy!

 

 

Posted in Emotions, Life after divorce, Single Mother, single parenting | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The needs of the father

I am the everyday parent. I was long before the divorce ever happened.

There was never a moment where he put the needs of the children before his own. The proof of that was made perfectly clear on the day I said to him, “we can share custody”, and his response was no, he’d take them two weekends a month and Wednesdays.

He wanted his life, his freedom, his new woman, and her life. He wanted to move close to her and thought he could have it all. His life the way he wanted and his children on his terms.

Then I threw a wrench in his plans. I moved. Across the state, which was my right. A right that the court said I had because I didn’t leave the state…and my move created a situation for him that he hadn’t foreseen in his big new life plan.

He gave up Wednesdays.

Two weekends a month. Unless he had something scheduled. Then it would be one weekend.

If the boys had plans and it interfered with his two weekends, there was hell to pay. Heads had to roll. It was his time. It doesn’t matter that the courts say that at the ages they are, he can’t force them to go to his place.

A few months ago he threatened our youngest child, the 16-year-old. He called him and said he wasn’t coming. There was too much going on for him at home and he needed the weekend at home. His response, “if you aren’t in the car when your brother gets here I’m going to drive to your house, physically remove you, and drive you here myself”.

I offered to get involved. I was beyond pissed off. I told him he had no right to talk to him that way and that if he actually showed up at the house I would call the police. My son wouldn’t let me call the father. Said he’d handle it. Went that weekend. Had a conversation with his father, claimed it would never happen again.

Then it did. Not the threat this time, but more bullying. Forcing the 16 and 18-year-old to go to his place, and no matter how many times I tried to encourage them to stand up to him, to make it known that they have the right to say no, they’d give in, because it’s easier than dealing with the backlash.

That’s what he does, that’s what he did. When the boys were small he’d yell at them over nothing. Say things like “my speed” when his speed was to do nothing. But they are his sons and they better respect him and do exactly what he says when he says it.

The 16-year-old used the term “emotional abuse” when talking about his father. Said he never talked about the way he was treated during counseling because he didn’t want his  counselor to report his father.

His words. Strong words. Words that make me sad and angry all at once.

And yet, our youngest is there for part of the summer because he’s going to a five-week theater camp where his father lives. He was already home for two weekends this month. Technically, he’s supposed to be with his father for this one. But his father is sending him home…because he’s been the parent for this stretch of time…and oh no…he hasn’t had a weekend alone with his fiancée since the first weekend in July. And our oldest called him and said, I’m going to come to your place on Friday night, hang out with you, and then Saturday go to a grad party near there…and instead of his father being happy to have extra time with him, he said…you’re ruining my plans. You can’t be here this weekend. You’re supposed to take your brother home.

Our oldest son said, “Dad, I’m 18 and he’s almost 17, we can find somewhere to be so we’re not interfering with your plans.”

Could you imagine what would happen if I said such things?

Divorce is supposed to be about the adults…you’re not supposed to divorce your kids. You’re not supposed to bully your kids. You’re not supposed to threaten your kids. You’re supposed to love your kids….and if you aren’t the one with primary custody…you should want to spend the time that you have with them…and if they have a conflict, instead of being a douche about it, you should accept it, tell them you love them and miss them, and then arrange your schedule to spend time with them. You’re supposed to be the adult.

Posted in Divorce, Ex Husband, Life after divorce, parenthood | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Emotional Times

It’s really hitting me hard, my oldest son graduating from high school and my youngest son learning to drive. When did they get this old?

I know, it’s a rhetorical question. We all know how aging works. We’re all doing it. It’s hard to look at them both, the young men they are and still see those adorable young boys they once were. Although, I do now have an entire wall dedicated to their faces through the years. They find it disturbing, I find it to be sentimental.

I still have moments of concern about the changes that were thrust upon them four years ago. After all, we’re almost on the anniversary of our move. The oldest has admitted he didn’t make the most of his high school career. He got super involved in an outside group and didn’t really give town people a chance. He found a few people that he got close to, in that group, but when he brought his yearbook home from Senior night a few days ago, only 4 people had signed it. I really hope he does better in college. He has told me that he will make the most of it. Get involved as well as keep his grades up, but as with everything else, it is on him to make good on that.

My younger son is losing his closest confidante to a move. He has a lot of acquaintances, but he hasn’t gotten close to many people his own age. He has socializing issues, which he works on, but to see the pain on his face as he finally told me that his friend was moving brought a feeling of pure sadness to me.

I worry about what next year will bring as one son leaves the nest, leaving the other son here alone. It has been the three of us for a very long time. Longer than even they realize. Oldest son is counting the days until he starts college, youngest son is counting the days as well. They’re in that irritating the crap out of each other mode. Where they are both anxious to start their new lives free of each other. I hope that eventually their relationship strengthens and they eventually become friends as well as brothers.

There is always that glimmer with them…sometimes it lasts longer than others. Again, it’s on them to make their relationship what it becomes in the future. I know that I would be lost without my sister in my life.

My letting go process starts. Graduation is in a week.

 

Posted in Emotions, parenthood, Single Mother, single parenting | 3 Comments