I am fighting with one of my daughters. Again. This is nothing new. It has been going on for years. And quite possibly, as so many times before; all three of them will decide that I am the equivalent of a succubus who has all but siphoned everything good out of them and ruined their life. They will start calling and/or texting each other and saying God knows what; and they will all be mad at me for something they had decided is a Federal Offense and I should be given the Lethal Injection for. I will be disowned, shunned, blocked on social media and not spoken to for weeks, months, even years, despite my attempts to patch things up; until they decide I have sufficiently suffered for telling them no, having to work, not having any PTO, not having any money, not reading their minds and knowing they would needs something, having my own life, and basically not performing like the circus monkey they seem to think I am.
Today, it’s because I haven’t done my tax returns yet. Yep. You guessed it. I am now not a NORMAL person, and have let my daughter down; just like I “ALWAYS do.”
Why would this be such a big deal? You might ask. Well, I’m not exactly sure, to be honest with you. She texted me and said she needed to do her FAFSA for fall and needed my tax return ASAP. I texted back and told her I had not done them yet. What I get back is, “Oh great….guess I’m not going to school then.” But I’m not supposed to take that in a bad light whatsoever. It means nothing, and she hasn’t said ANYTHING wrong. I tell her that I had no way of knowing she was going to need them, and she gave me no notice, and I can’t just pull one out of thin air. To which I am told, “excuse me for assuming that you would do your taxes like any other normal person.”
Great. Now I have not only thwarted her potential and crushed her dreams of going back to school, but I am also not normal.
So, I tell her that I have until the 17th to file my taxes this year and so I fail to see how I have done anything wrong, and she decides to tell me “Whatever mom. Not gonna argue with you like I’m the f*cking bad guy or something.”
It continues to go downhill like lava from a newly erupted volcano from there. Burning everything within it’s path, covering it with the heat of a nuclear bomb, then solidifying over it to ensure it never lives again.
I tell her that there’s still plenty of time for her to get ready for fall, and that the problem can be fixed if she would stop being so dramatic about it. Of course, that was a HORRIBLE thing for me to say. How dare I tell her she is being dramatic about something. I tell her that she is acting like I had my taxes done, but was just refusing to give them to her and she needed to back the hell up. To this, I get, ‘Great way to talk to your kid.” And then the SUPER great stuff starts.
I try to call her and of course she doesn’t answer so I leave a voice mail telling her that this is a problem that can be fixed if she would just calm down and talk to me, but I was not going to be told how it was my fault she can’t go back to school in the fall over something that was out of my control. To call me back.
She texts me and says she not willing to talk to me because she’s not in the mood to be bitched at for nothing. That every time she asks me for something it turns into this bullsh*t and all she did was ask for my taxes and say okay guess I’m not going to school then. That it was ME who went off on her, and that I always talk to them like they are just some f*cking kids, but not mine though. (Her words, not mine.)
It doesn’t get any better. She says I can’t help her because I haven’t filed, so she will just figure it out on her own like she always does, and she is sorry she has inconvenienced me.
This is the way it pretty much always goes with them. Especially my two youngest. There is this disappointment because I haven’t been able to come through for them in some way or given them what they wanted- which I already feel bad about; and then there is this lashing out at me for being a horrible mother, never being there for them, and being selfish, and anything else you can imagine. And the crummy part is it’s usually over something that is out of my control. But they don’t care. They believe I could have done something if I really wanted to, I guess. Like magically pull tax returns out of my back side. Or not be sick. Or not be broke, or not having to work with no more PTO left. Whatever it is that I don’t do and they think I should; it turns into how I am a horrible mother who was never there for them. Every. Single. Time.
And every single time, I have felt like I was just slapped in the face, punched in the gut, and then kicked repeatedly after I was dropped to the ground. By my own kids. And every single time, I have wondered why they would act this way or say such hateful things to me. What have I done wrong?
Oh, I am not going to win any Mother of the Year awards. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. I’ve made mistakes and there are things I wish I had done differently. But to be met with this kind of contempt and hatred time after time for not doing what they thought I should? I just don’t understand it. But I have always had a pretty good inkling that a lot of this was because of their father.
I have three beautiful girls. I love them very much, I might add. The oldest is from my first marriage to my high school…addiction. I say that because I was literally obsessed with him, and was bound and determined to have him, no matter how crappy he treated me. And believe me, he treated me crappy. The man was an alcoholic, who was also addicted to pot (and used other drugs from time to time) and saw nothing wrong with cheating on me or abusing me mentally, emotionally, or physically. Our oldest daughter was born with some difficulties and flown to another state for newborn intensive care, and was fighting for her life for four months (the first time) in said hospital. After about 3 to 3 1/2 months of her being there, he showed up with a hickey on his neck after being away in our home town for a week. It was at that moment that I decided that it was one thing for him to treat me like crap for the past three years we had been together; but he was not going to be allowed to treat that baby girl like crap too. I divorced him.
I married the youngest girls’ dad when my oldest was about five years old. He seemed like a dream come true. I had struggled and floundered for years trying to make a life for me and my daughter and had gone from one bad relationship to another. Barely scraping by, and living on welfare for a while, because she was considered disabled and needed my total care. I couldn’t work and give her the care she needed too. She had to be hooked up to IVs every night, she had an NG tube in her nose all day long for drip feeds. Life was hard. Her dad came around to see her from time to time. Mostly, he was interested in partying. He almost never paid me the measly $200 a month in child support he was ordered to pay me. So, when this new man came along and seemed to love me despite my struggles and all my flaws, it truly was like I had been rescued by Prince Charming.
After dating for a little over a year, we got married. Within a few short months after we married, he was offered a job promotion that would move us all the way from Wyoming to Roswell, New Mexico. I was a little leery of this in the beginning. My first husband was a Marine, and had drug me from Wyoming to California. I didn’t know anyone, I had no one for support, and nowhere to go when he decided to get abusive with me. My parents were all the way back in Wyoming and the phone was ok, but not the same as me being able to leave. It felt very much like I was trapped out there with a monster.
But, my second husband didn’t really drink and gave no indication that he would ever treat me that way. So, I went with him to New Mexico willingly and gladly, to start a new life. Things went very well at first. He adopted my oldest, and we had another little girl within the first couple of years. A few years later, we had our youngest. About the time we moved there, I also found out I was pregnant. Once we got all settled in and situated, I started looking for a job. This would prove to be an arduous task that never yielded any results. I was visibly showing quickly, and they all knew that I would be needing maternity leave within just a handful of months after they hired me. They just weren’t interested. It was so discouraging. After the baby was born, (a little girl) we talked about how expensive it would be to pay daycare and how practically all of my paycheck would go to the daycare; so it wasn’t even really worth it for me to work. I was still young and didn’t have a lot of work experience under my belt. It wasn’t like I was going to find a job that paid over minimum wage. He told me that he had always hoped that when he got married his wife wouldn’t have to work if she didn’t want to; and that he was fine with me being a stay at home mom. I agreed that these were our children and that we should raise them. Not a daycare. I wanted my kids to grow up with my morals, my beliefs, and my comfort, care, and understanding. Not some strangers. It was best for them the whole way around.
We made a lot of sacrifices to do that. There were plenty of times money was so tight, I would cry. I would sit down every two weeks and pay the bills and then whatever was left was used to buy groceries. And a lot of times, it wasn’t very much. I decided that nursing was best for my kids back with my first born. It was a good thing, because there was no way we could have been able to afford formula and food for ourselves too. I bought cloth diapers and a diaper pail and we found a used clothes washer to wash them with. There was no way we could afford Pampers, or any cheaper derivative thereof, either. I often bought powdered milk to mix in with regular milk, so it wouldn’t taste so bad, but it would still go further. I would buy chickens whole and cut them up myself because they were cheaper if you bought them whole. I would make a meal with the chicken and then save every single scrap to use in a stew or to make chicken and noodles with for supper the next night. We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese, and hamburger helper and there was nothing extra. It was pretty hard. Dealing with the money issues was a challenge, but we were getting by. I honestly don’t know how we managed through some situations, but we did.
My husband was an assistant manager at the Alco store. He was required to work six days a week and was easily putting in 50-60 hours each week to boot. There was no way he could get a second job. So, we made do.
We almost never fought at first. He was always what I thought was supportive of me and never gave me a hard time about anything. I did all the cooking and the cleaning and taking care of the children. I considered that to be my “job.” I was the one who got up with the babies to feed them in the middle of the night, because I knew he had to get up and go to work the next morning. I could always sneak in a nap the same time they took one if I had to. The house was always clean, the meals were always prepared, the kids were always taken care of and clean, and the laundry done-with his work clothes ironed and pressed and hanging in the closet for him. He never had to lift a finger to help; nor did I expect him to. Rarely did he offer, either.
But after a while…things just changed. When our second oldest was a still a baby, I needed to go to the grocery store to pick up a few things we needed. My husband wasn’t real thrilled with the idea of me leaving the kids with him while I went to the store; but I convinced him I could get it done faster if they stayed with him. So, he reluctantly agreed. I never did that again.
When I got home he was furious with me. “What took you so long?!” He shouted. “She cried the whole time you were gone, and I couldn’t make her stop because she doesn’t know me!”
So how is it my fault she doesn’t know you? How is your relationship with your daughter my responsibility?
Whatever. I just took the kids with me from that point on if I needed to go anywhere. But there were these little things that would always upset me. Like how he would come home from work on a hot day, and take his trousers off in the living room and then leave them there in the floor (or flung across the back of the couch) as he went upstairs to put on a pair of shorts. Or if he spilled tea on the counter (or the floor) and wouldn’t bother to wipe it up; but instead leave it there for me to clean up later. One time he opened a Dr. Pepper in the living room and it sprayed all over the place. This time, I said something. “You need to get a rag and clean that up.” I said. He glared at me and went into the kitchen and got a wet rag and came back to the living room and cleaned the pop off of the table and the rug. Then went and threw the rag back in the kitchen sink. “There’s still some on the wall over here,” I said, as I pointed at it. He glared at me again and said; “I’ll clean it up later.”
The pop stayed on that wall for months!
I refused to clean it up after him; and he refused to clean it up because I “told him what to do.” We went round and round over things like this. I told him that I didn’t go into his store and knock stuff down and leave it laying there for him to pick up because that was his job; or pick stuff up and then put it down willy-nilly wherever I felt like it because putting things back where they belong was his job.
It was useless. it was useless trying to reason with him and make him understand how disrespectful I thought his behaviors were. I finally cleaned the wall myself because I was tired of looking at it. He wasn’t going to come around to my way of thinking and trying to argue with him about it was pointless. I felt like he didn’t respect me or what I did for the family at all. I never asked him to do much of anything. He didn’t even have to take the trash out. I didn’t even take the money he earned and spend it on anything extra or for myself without asking him first. I was very respectful of him and how hard he worked, and yet it seemed like what I did was totally disregarded. (And let me be clear here. I NEVER sat around and ate bon-bons while I watched soaps. I kept busy with cleaning and caring for the kids-taking them to the library for story hour, or to the park or whatever we could afford. There was no laying around being lazy. The house was always clean and the meals cooked, etc., just like I said. (unless I was sick–or there was this time I was reading Gone With the Wind and didn’t do much but read for a couple days because I couldn’t put it down! I did do the basics though. They were fed. I kept them alive. haha But, in all seriousness, I did not take advantage of him or the fact that I was home all day.)
After about three or four years into our marriage, he had made the move to Target and moved up the ladder. We moved into a house, we actually had a little spending money here and there, and things had gotten better in a lot of ways. But there was still this issue with me feeling like his little servant girl. Since he was working retail, he didn’t get time off during holidays like a lot of other people did. And he always worked a lot of hours. There were many nights when he came home and plopped himself down in front of the TV and zoned out. It was like he wasn’t even there. The girls would come into the living room and try to talk to him and say, “Dad! Dad! Dad!” and it would be like they weren’t even there. I would finally raise my voice and say, “Hey!” He would then seem to come out of it and say, “What?” “The girls are trying to get your attention!” I would tell him.
Vacations consisted of road trips to see his family in Nebraska, or his family coming to see us. A couple of times I took the girls to see my parents in Wyoming on my own. He had to work. When we would go to Nebraska, he would go off and do things with his siblings and/or friends, while I stayed at his parent’s house with the girls. After a few years of this, I finally asked, “When do I get a vacation? I spend 24 hours a day with the girls and even when we are on vacation, it’s still my job to take care of them while you go off and have fun?” He looked at me dumbfounded. He had no response that that, and acted like he didn’t even understand what I was talking about. One time, his family came to see us and we took them to Lincoln, New Mexico to see all the Billy the Kid stuff and look around. Our second oldest was still a baby, and I was still nursing her. When we went into the upper part of the jail house to hear the guide tell us about how Billy the Kid was jailed there and escaped, I covered myself up and began to nurse our daughter. She was making sucking noises of course, and my husband looked over at me and scowled. “Keep her quiet! She’s making too much noise! Everyone can hear that!” I looked around the room and no one seemed to be looking at me or notice I was nursing my baby at all. We were sitting clear in the back. But, he kept glaring and making such a stink about me nursing her in public, that I finally took her and went outside and sat on a bench to nurse her. He and everyone else stayed inside and listened to the guy talking and then they all looked around the jail and such.
When they all came out, we went to look at the rest of the little town. I had our daughter in a stroller, but all the sidewalks were made out of wood, and had steps you had to go up and down at the end of every block. None of them offered to help me with the steps or navigate the wooden walk ways, or through the streets. Eventually, I was so far behind them, I just stopped. They were all off doing what they wanted together and had left me behind like I wasn’t even there. They didn’t even notice I wasn’t with them for a while. I may as well have stayed home with the kids while they came without me. It was like I wasn’t even there anyway. His mom finally turned around and realized I was about ready to cry and took pity on me. She came over to me and helped me with the stroller and the baby and stayed with me while he and his dad and his siblings went on without us. And it was like that when we went to Carlsbad Caverns, or wherever we went. I had the kids and took care of them and he was free to wonder off and do whatever he wanted unencumbered, every time.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved my kids and that’s why I did what I did. But even a mom needs a little break from her kids being attached at the hip 24/7.
When our youngest came along, and I just flat out told him that he needed to help because I didn’t have enough free arms for a toddler and a baby, and then he started to help out a little if we were going somewhere “fun” and doing things with groups of people. Sometimes.
Not long before I found out I was pregnant with our youngest, I had told him that I was thinking maybe I could go back to school part time. That the kids would not stay little forever and eventually leave home, and I would need to go back to work. That it might take a long time if I was only taking a class or two at a time, but that was okay, because it was a long-term plan, and they wouldn’t be grown for a while. And if I only took say, one or two classes, one or two nights a week, I would still be home with the kids most of the time and I would take the class on a night he didn’t have to work, and he could stay home with them. I thought this could work.
He threw a fit, and a whole bunch of other objections out at me. What if he had to work one of the nights I had class? Is he just supposed to tell his boss he can’t work because his wife has class? I told him if he had to work, I would just explain to my prof that I couldn’t come to class because I had no babysitter or maybe a neighbor could stay with them a couple hours. That I thought we could work it out. With every objection he put forth, I gave him a solution. Finally, he said, “I like knowing that you are home and that you are going to be here when I get off work.”
It’s only one night a week, I explained to him. I don’t understand why this is such an issue.
“I am putting my foot down.” He glared at me. “I have always let you do whatever you wanted in this marriage, and I am putting my foot down with this. I am not going to give you the money to go back to school.” I looked at him incredulously, with my mouth open. I questioned if I was in a bad dream, and this was actually happening. What does he MEAN he’s always let me do whatever I wanted? What have I ever wanted to do? When did we ever have the money for me to do anything for myself? What is he even talking about?
“You won’t finish anyway.” He continued. “You never finish anything.”
All the blood rushed out of my body to my feet in that moment. But my feet are also freezing cold, and my whole body is both tingling and numb all at the same time.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Who WAS this man? He wasn’t the man I thought I had married at all. And we had had some arguments, but lately, he was saying things that were pretty mean. I could not even begin to process what was happening. My head was swimming. My memory flashed back to a few weeks before when he had told me about how he was ashamed of me, and how hurt I was. I was never a gal who was into all the make-up and nails and being a girly girl. I did wear make-up, but not a lot of it and not every day. And my husband never seemed to mind. One day, when we had been married just a few short months and had not yet left Wyoming; he was working at Alco, and I was at home cleaning the apartment. Because I was cleaning, I was wearing some cut-off sweats, a T shirt with the arms and neck cut out of it, and I had my hair pulled up in a pony. I was of course, not wearing makeup. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, but to stay home and clean all day. And I had gone plenty of places without make up anyway. For me, that was no big deal. I thought it was no big deal for him too. Apparently, I was wrong. I just didn’t know it yet.
We were out of Ajax, or something I needed to clean, so I put some shoes on and went up to Alco to get some more. When I walked into the store, my husband was up near the front talking to a guy I new from Jr High and High School. So, I walked over to say hello. My husband was acting a bit strange, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. He started to introduce us, but his friend and I both stopped him and told him that we already knew each other from school. Then there was this awkward silence. So, I told them that I was in the middle of cleaning and had just popped up to get some Ajax, and I would let them visit. I never gave it a second thought after that. But, he apparently did. We are arguing one evening a few weeks prior to the school argument, and he proceeds to tell me that the day I showed up at Alco to get Ajax, he had just told this friend of his that he had just married the most beautiful woman in the world. Then I showed up right after he said that looking like I did, and he was VERY ASHAMED OF ME.
Then he adds that he never said anything to me before because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. GEE, thanks for sparing my feelings, buddy. I grew up with that friend of yours, and he knows perfectly well what I look like when I’m all made up. I used to see him every day in school. And if you were so worried about not hurting my feelings, why are you saying it now? How am I no longer beautiful anyway? Just because I am not all made up? I have given birth to your child, and am raising it along with another. I have taken care of your child, and you, and cooked and cleaned for you, and picked up after you, and did your laundry for you. I have washed your dirty underwear!! And I’m not beautiful to you unless I’m all made up and wearing nice clothes???
My mind comes back to the discussion at hand and how he is now telling me that I won’t finish, because I never finish anything. What did this man really think of me, anyway? That was the moment I started wondering if the marriage was going to continue. Oh, you think I never finish anything, huh? Well, watch me FINISH this marriage, you bat rastard.
I was talking to my mother a few days after that and had told her what had happened. She sent me a check and told me to go enroll. I did, and he was not happy about this, at all. The arguing got more petty, more mean, and more tiring and gruesome. It seemed like it was almost ever day before I finally left.
I found out I was pregnant not long after I went back to school. We would soon have baby girl number three. And not long after she was born, he would get a promotion that required us to move again; this time to Farmington, New Mexico. So, there was a lot to juggle. A baby, a toddler, an 8 year old, moving, and getting enrolled in a new school…and fighting with my husband the whole way. Still, I hated Roswell, and had hopes that things would get better. We found a big house that was nicer than either of us had ever lived in, in our entire lives. It had a huge yard with a lot of trees, shrubs, and vines that would need to be taken care of, but it would also be great for the girls to play in, and maybe we could even get them a small dog. I was worried about my husband being able to take care of the yard with all the hours he always had to work, but he assured me that the yard would be no problem.
We moved in. He mowed the lawn maybe twice, and then it sat there and over grew until I mowed it. The vines on the house grew so much they were hanging down from the top of the garage door and into the bay, and so I trimmed them, and on it went. I was now doing the yard work, because he somehow never seemed to get to it.
Flash forward five or six weeks later, and I hear him with his brother on the phone and telling him how great the new house is. That the yard is huge and there’s vines and bushes that need trimming; “but the wife takes care of all of it, so I don’t have to worry about it.” He says with a chuckle. The ass. He’s talking like I enjoy doing it, and it’s so much fun. Unbelievable.
I was now not only doing everything inside a home and taking care of kids; I have also taken on landscaping duties as well. I was still nursing and caring for a 3 month old baby, a toddler, an 8 year old, and taking a class two nights a week with tons of homework. I was doing all the shopping, the chauffeuring of kids around to schools and routine appointments, the cooking the cleaning, laundry, paying the bills, fixing the toilet, seeing to maintenance on the car, mowing the grass, and whatever else that needed to be done in the yard too. He went to work, came home and ate, and sat in front of the TV and ignored us, and went to bed. Unless he decided to fight with me until the wee hours of the morning about I don’t even remember what. There was always something to fight about. And I was increasingly unhappy. This man did nothing but go to work, and I had to take care of EVERYTHING else.
One day, I had made dinner for him and the girls, and gone to class when he got home from work. But when I got up to the school, I realized I had forgotten my books and my homework. So, I drove back home to get them. When I got there, he was sitting in the living room watching tv, and the house was kind of dark and more quiet than I would expect. “Where are the girls?” I asked him. “I sent them to bed.” He said. “Why?” I asked. “It’s only 6:00.” He looked away and paused, trying to think of what to say. He didn’t have a real reason for it. He just didn’t want to be bothered with watching them. I thought about telling the girls they could get up and they didn’t have to stay in bed, but I knew he would just take it out on them. “Unbelievable.” I said, as I grabbed my books and rushed back out the door.
And just when I didn’t think things could get worse, or that I could be unhappier; they did. He started yelling at the girls more, mostly our oldest, and calling them a little bitch. Of course, I wouldn’t have believed he would sink to such a level unless I had over heard it myself. But sure enough, when I was in the back of the house, I overheard him yelling at them and call them little bitches. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was not only shocked, but mad as hell.
What a total asshole this guy was turning out to be. How dare he take his unhappiness out on them. How dare he take his frustration with me out on them. What a coward. What a piece of work. Was I really that naïve? How did I miss this? How is this happening? Did I miss some signs that were there all along? Right now it’s just the verbal abuse, but I had been here before and I knew that when the manipulation and the verbal stuff was no longer working, they can and do start to get physical. I was getting really worried. How long would it be before he hit me if I didn’t do what he thought I should? What if he hit the girls? Where would he draw the line, and how would I know the girls and I were safe? No little girl could do anything that would warrant his behavior. This was unacceptable. She had done nothing anyway, other than be a kid who didn’t move as fast as he thought she should, or some other such dumb thing, like forget to pick up a toy. I didn’t understand it. This was NOT the man I THOUGHT I had married. The man I married, would never do this. But here he was. Doing just that.
Why don’t you try calling me a bitch, you little coward? No, you know better than to call me one, because I can fight back. Instead, you pick on little girls who are afraid and won’t fight back.
We had only been in Farmington maybe six months max, when one afternoon, I had laid the two youngest down for a nap, and my oldest had gone outside to play. The sliding glass door was open and she was doing something in the garage, and that door was right by the sliding glass door and open enough that I could hear her. She was talking to herself. I thought it was cute, so I moved closer to hear better. And then my heart sank. She was talking about killing herself and how she wished that she was dead. She was only 8 or 9 years old. I called her inside and asked her if she had said what I thought I had and she nodded in affirmation. I asked her what was going on and why she would say a thing like that and she began to cry and tell me it was because her daddy calls her a bitch and tells her that he hates her. I began to cry too, as I hugged her and told her to never say those things or think those things again and that daddy doesn’t know what he is saying. I tell her that it is going to stop; and from that moment on, that is what I set out to do.
I had already confronted him about calling the girls names like that and explained to him that it wasn’t ok and that he is hurting them. The fact that he was apparently continuing to do it behind my back left me broken hearted for them and furious towards him. I no longer cared what was wrong or how to fix it. I no longer cared about why he would be acting out the way he was. I no longer cared. Period.
I called my mother and told her what had been happening. I told her that I needed help and needed to get out of there but didn’t have any money or anywhere to go. She called my brother and told him as well, and they decided that they would come down and get me and the girls, and we could live in my parent’s basement until I got a job and got on my feet. I took the only credit card we had-for emergencies, and rented a U Haul truck and told them when I would need to come pick it up. This was an emergency!
My mom and brother would be there that weekend. I kept a close eye on the kids and my husband, and never left him alone with them. I acted as normal as I could, and did not tell him I was leaving him until the day my mom and brother would be arriving to get me and the girls.
He looked at me shocked and asked me if I was kidding. I told him that I wasn’t. He went back into the bedroom and cried. “Why?” he asked. “Why would you leave me? I thought everything was fine. I don’t understand. I mean, I know we have problems, but I thought they would work themselves out over time.” I shook my head and bit my lip. The time for fighting and trying to make him see anything was gone. He just truly did not get it.
And he never would.
When my mom and brother got there he moped around the house and mostly hid out in our bedroom; while my brother mumbled how he wanted to kick his ass for treating his nieces the way he had. I asked him to please not start any trouble and just get us out of there and he agreed. We got everything loaded up and the girls and I went to live in Colorado. Within a year, we would be divorced.
Occasionally, I would talk to my ex on the phone and he would try to convince me to come back. Tell me that he should have taken me out for dates, and things like that. But never once did he acknowledge that he was verbally and emotionally abusing me and our children or apologize for it. He acted like it never happened. He would tell me he thought part of our problem is I was only willing and able to think short term and not long term. That if I had thought long term and stayed, we would have been able to work things out. He never got it. I seriously doubt he gets it even now.
When I left, our youngest daughter was just nine months old. She doesn’t remember anything about what it was like when we all lived together as a family. And she has been the one most vocal about how I never should have left her dad and what a horrible mother I had been. Her older sister was just 3 at the time, and she has been pretty vocal at times and lashed out at me plenty. Only my oldest has seemed to be a little more understanding and willing to cut me some slack.
But you see, the thing is, I have never felt it was my place to dump all the things their dad had said and done on them. I never did with my oldest and her sperm donor either. It just didn’t seem right to run their father down to them, in my opinion. I thought the proper thing to do was to let them have their own relationship with their father. To make up their own minds about him and let their relationships with their dad be their own, and not mine. And now that my youngest is coming up on 25 years old, I have never told her any of this until now, though she has DEMANDED of me that I tell her why I would leave such a wonderful person as her father in the past.
And now, now that I have seen how he has taken every opportunity to play the victim with them and make me look horrible; I must question if what I did was really the right thing to do.
After I left, he called the girls occasionally, and even came to see them a couple of times. But after a few months, he didn’t call, didn’t come see them, and didn’t even bother to send a card on their birthday. He said it was just too painful for him. Right. Because it’s all about you. Not the girls. Staying in touch and letting them know they are important to you doesn’t matter, because it hurts you? That’s just dad gum skippy. What about what they need? What about you being the adult here? What about you making sure they know you love them and miss them and want to talk to them? Nope. It’s all about you.
When it was his turn to have his custody, he would take them, and then when we would meet for him to give them back to me, he would bawl like a baby. Of course, the girls would see him so upset, and they would start getting upset and crying too. They would scream and cry as they looked out the back window of the car as we pulled away and I would have to bite my lip. How could he do that to them and get them so upset like that? But he did it. Every single time he dropped them off.
I, of course, thought it was important to put on a brave face and not upset them. I thought it was important to foster their relationship with their dad and not give off any signs of worry that he would actually take good care of a 1-year old baby. Did he even know how? Would he, and could he handle it for a week? Or two? Or for the whole summer? Would he lash out and verbally abuse them again? How could I trust him not to? But I had never wanted to drag the girls through the mud over whether he was fit, abusive, or any of that stuff. I knew the judge was never going to allow me to keep the girls from their dad unless I had proof he had broken bones or left scars of some kind; and even then, a judge still wouldn’t. It was my word and my oldest daughter’s word against his. I wasn’t putting her through that. And I didn’t want to keep them from him forever either. I just wanted him to treat them better.
Since I was in Colorado and he was still in New Mexico, we set up custody as such that he would get the girls for Spring Break, Christmas Break, and for the summers. It was just too far away for us to try and get them down there more often than that. I would have them during the school year. And, of course, he was welcome to come visit them any time he wanted. We agreed to meet in Alamosa, which was about half way between where we both lived, and exchange the girls there at the McDonald’s.
It was hard to be away from them so long, especially for the whole summer, but that was the agreement we came to as to the custody of the children in the divorce. I had no choice but to pray a lot and try to trust God that he would now appreciate his time with his girls and treat them better.
I had also agreed in the divorce to take nearly $500 dollars less a month in child support, because he had called me up crying and saying he couldn’t afford it. I decided that it was better to get what he thought he could afford, than to get nothing at all because he couldn’t afford it. And my attorney sent me a couple letters warning me against doing that; but I did it anyway. And he did pay it. Every month, just like we agreed.
Over the years I never took him back to court to have it increased, even though I knew he had gotten plenty of raises and promotions and was doing well. Not once. Not even after all the times he told me I was just “living off” the child support-even though I was working, but just not managing to make good money like he did. Of course, he thought this was purposeful too.
As if I LIKE working for wages that mean we have to struggle to get by. Oh yeah, good times! Are you kidding me? Do I look like Emelda Marcos to you; with 600 pairs of shoes in my closet? Am I driving a brand new car, or even a newer one? Do you not see the places we have had to live in? And I’m just living off the child support??? If you’re so worried about giving money to ME, why aren’t the girls coming home from being with you in new clothes and shoes? You’re doing better and you still can’t buy them clothes and shoes and things to bring home with them? I agreed to a lot less child support; how bout you now give some of that to your kids since you are doing so much better now? That’s something very easy for you to have do without ever having to give a dime to me if you were so worried about how I would spend YOUR money.
How typical of every abusive man I have ever had the displeasure of meeting to treat me like crap and then not understand why I would leave. How typical of every one of them to act as if a mother is taking child support and using it for fun and games. How typical of each one of them to think that if they aren’t able to have sex with a woman any longer, he shouldn’t have to give her a dime-when it’s not even for her, but for the kids. Because that’s what it’s really about. Their entitlement. Their belief that as long as a woman does what he wants then it’s okay to take care of her or give her money. Which she usually uses to make their house a home, or to look nice for him, or for his kids. But he still sees it as giving money to her. And, as long as he still gets to sleep with her and gets to make her his little cook and maid and chauffer for his kids; as long as she is spending the money in a way that he approves of; then he has no problem with it. But if she has the audacity to leave and expect him to take care of the children he had with her? No. They still see it as giving money to HER, that they get nothing “in return” for; because money is for buying things, and if they are “spending money” they should be getting something for it in return. And that is really how they see it. And, they absolutely hate that. That’s what abusive men with no respect for women do, and that’s exactly how they think. Women are just a commodity to them and they have no use for a woman unless they want sex; and they have no desire for marriage unless they want someone to cook and clean and do the child raising. These men have no real respect for women at all. This was the disrespectful and abusive man. I knew him all too well.
But at least I had a modicum of respect for myself and for my children. I did what I thought was the right thing to do. I stuck with the amount that we had agreed on, even though the girls and I were always struggling financially. Even though he would accuse me of “living off the child support” and not doing what I could be doing job wise. Even though that by the time I paid the day care for a full time baby, a full time toddler, and an 8 year old before and after school care, I had a measly $150-$200 left of the child support he was giving me. Even though he never sent an extra dime to them for clothes, school lunches, pictures, after school activities, or anything extra they may want. He sent his child support. Took them when it was his turn to have them. And that was it. Nothing more. No extra cash for anything. No phone calls in between visiting times. Nothing.
When they got a little older and my first born was in Junior High, she was being bullied by a gang of Hispanic girls. It was so bad I had even called the police. Going to the Principal of the school only escalated things. Trying to talk to the main instigator’s mother didn’t help at all. It was horrible. They would call the house and ask to speak to her and tell me they wanted to “f*ck her up.” To my face!
She begged me to let her go live with her dad in New Mexico. I really thought that maybe that was going to be the only solution. So, I let her go. But then, of course, her two younger sisters missed her, and wanted to go live with their dad too. I didn’t know what to do. It seemed like he was doing a good job taking care of them-other than they were completely disrespectful to me every time they came back. That he never made them do any chores, he gave them pretty much whatever they wanted, and they resented me making them do anything when they came back. He was “good time daddy” who never really had to discipline them or make them get up and get ready for school or do homework, or any of the hard things like that. I had to be the battle axe, because I had them during the school year. Maybe it was time he had to take on a more difficult role, and enforce a bed time, doing homework, and things like that, instead of all that time with him being what was nothing more than a vacation.
I had decided that I wanted them to be able to live wherever they wanted when they were old enough to decide. I didn’t ever want there to be fights over where they lived. I wanted this divorce to be as drama free as possible, and for the most part, up to that point, it had been. I wanted it to be an open-door thing for them and told them they could live wherever they wanted, as long as they weren’t going back and forth during the school year.
My youngest came back one year when she was in the fourth or fifth grade and it was just me and her that year. It was so nice having her there. She expressed an interest in playing basketball after school and so we got her going in that and she seemed to really pick it up and love it. It was fun going to her games on the weekends and practices after school. We would go for walks in the evenings and talk about anything and everything. I cherished those moments and still do. That’s probably the closest we would ever be again. (At least so far.) The following year, she said she didn’t feel like she was really making any friends and she wanted to go back to live with her dad. She never came back again after that, except to visit. (I think that more than likely her dad bribed her, and she also missed her sisters.)
My oldest came back her sophomore year and finished out her high school years with me and ended up moving out with and marrying her junior high sweet heart and living in the same town as I did.
When the other two turned between twelve to fourteen, they started distancing themselves from me. I would text them and they wouldn’t answer. I would call, and they wouldn’t pick up, nor call me back. When I would ask why they aren’t responding to me they would snap at me and tell me they were busy. I figured that it was probably normal and tried not to take it to heart.
But as my youngest, especially, got older, she became more and more hateful towards me. My second oldest had her moments too. But my youngest really gave me hell.
On a visit with me that was what was probably the last time she would ever come to see me for my custody time alone, she really gave me a hard time-along with some insight as to what was really going on with her and at her father’s house. She had already been spending all her time on her cell phone when she was with me for visits anyway, and if I complained or told her she had to put it away, I was told how evil I was, and she missed her friends. That was as bad as it seemed to get until this last time she came alone, and she was about 15 or 16. After that I was told she was bringing a boyfriend with her or she wasn’t coming at all.
On this last visit where she came alone, she kept making really snarky remarks to me and insulting me. When I would ask her what her problem was, the answer was always “nothing” and that she didn’t want to fight. We went to the store and the insults continued. When we left and got in the car to leave, I slammed on the brakes after she made some other wise crack; and told her we weren’t going anywhere until she told me what was going on. We were going to sit right there in the parking lot and talk.
This girl proceeded to tell me how she didn’t understand why I left her dad and why she had to grow up without a mother. How when she got her first period or needed her first bra and all these other things, it was so awkward and how I was awful to leave her dad and make her have to grow up with out a mother. I sat there astonished. This girl was acting like I had dropped her off on her dad’s door step and never came back! I pointed out to her that she CHOSE to go live with her dad and she could have come back to live with me at any time. She wouldn’t have it. She shouldn’t have had to choose and if I just would have stayed with her dad, everything would have been fine. She wanted to know- Why did I have to leave her dad in the first place? Because she just didn’t understand it and thought it was very selfish of me to make her grow up without a mother.
I tried to tell her that I had my reasons for leaving her dad and that it really wasn’t her business, nor did I think it was a good idea to dump our relational issues on her. That again, she made the choice to go live with her dad because he would buy her things I could not afford, and she needed to take some ownership of her own choices. Her response? “Well, I am a kind of expensive child to raise.”
I already knew from my oldest daughter that their dad had told them if they would live with him that he would buy them things. He promised them braces, new bedroom furniture, and I don’t even know what all else. You see, the agreement was, that when the kids were with him, he only had to pay me one fourth of the child support we had agreed upon. So, it benefited him greatly to have them with him more than with me. And you know what? He never did any of it. My oldest got her own braces as an adult when she was nearly 30 years old. She never got any new bedroom furniture either, except a new bed, that she had to leave there when she left.
My youngest was between 15 and 18 and complaining that he had promised braces to her too, and never had gotten them for her. I told her that she needed to just keep bugging him about it and reminding him that he had promised her them until he did it. That was the extent of my derogatory speech toward her dad. He finally got her veneers, and she seemed satisfied with that. My second oldest, he never got her the braces he promised her either.
As for my youngest, her attitude towards me continued to vacillate between loving me, but from a distance; to I was a horrible person who ruined her life. And she would get more and more hateful towards me the older she got. When she was around 17 or close to 18 she called me up and told me that I was a horrible person for taking that one fourth of the child support that her dad was paying me when she wasn’t even there and that was money that she could use herself. I explained that this money was used to help me afford a bigger place that would have room for them when they were with me; and pay the utilities, ect., for that place. (It was only $200) She did not care; and went on to explain that she was tired of being told no by her dad every time she had asked him for something and he had told her that he couldn’t because he had to pay me child support.
Wait a minute. I have heard her tell me this before. Instead of her dad just telling her no, or telling her that he couldn’t afford something; he was telling her that IT WAS BECAUSE HE HAD TO PAY ME CHILD SUPPORT or that he couldn’t afford to BECAUSE he had to pay me child support. The message he was sending her was clear. He wasn’t going to give her what she wanted, and it was her MY fault! That little sonofabitch.
And there it was. All the hints I had ignored over all those years, all the times they told me that their dad was asking them if I was dating and who I was dating; and I would tell them that they didn’t need to tell their dad anything because it wasn’t any of his business. All the times he had the nerve to accuse me of living off of the child support, all the times they dropped hints that he was offering to buy them things if they lived with him and not me and so much more came rushing in. This man had played the victim to the girls. Had manipulated them; and turned them against me. And all the while, I had tried to do the right thing and keep the girls best interest at heart. Had tried to make sure I didn’t run him down or say anything bad about him….and he went around with them and played good time daddy, and sugar daddy, and let them do and have whatever they wanted and all the while made sure they knew, whether he said it or not; that their mother was a loser, their mother was no good, and their mother was irrelevant. That sonofabitch had even let my second oldest daughter drop out of high school and get her GED without telling me. I found out purely by accident and it was already done, and had been for months.
I had to make a decision; and I had to make it quick. Argue with my daughter over a measly $200, and let her use that as more ammunition to hate me; or let it go.
“You tell your dad I don’t want his money anymore.” I said.
And she obviously did, because he never gave me dime after that. And I did not care. You know why? Because from that moment on, at the very least, he could no longer tell her no for something and blame me for it because he “had to pay me child support.” From that moment on, he had to take hold of his own cajones and either tell her no or yes, but it was completely on him for a change. It was a very small victory, and it was far too late in the game. But I was taking that power he had to drag me through the mud with my daughter back. However miniscule that victory; it was still mine, and I tried to find hope in that.
All those years and years they had spent with him, and all that time he had to establish a relationship with them that I couldn’t as they got older. All those years he was able to make them think I was such a horrible woman who left him for no reason. I don’t know how or if I can ever repair the damage that was done. I don’t know how to get that back.
And now I question if the biggest mistake I made with my girls was not telling them how abusive their dad had been. The things he said, the things he did. And for my oldest daughter, I wonder that doubly as I watch her struggle with why her dad gave her up and let her be adopted by another man. As I watch her deal with having a half brother and sister she didn’t even know and why he stuck around to raise them and not her. To accept the fact that his excuse of not paying her child support was because he had two other kids to raise when SHE WAS THERE FIRST. And to add insult to injury, that was why he let her be adopted. He didn’t want the child support obligation any more.
Part of me didn’t want her to know the whole truth. The man had not only refused to support her financially, but had never even tried to be part of her life. That man never called, sent a card or letter, nor saw her FOR YEARS AT A TIME. I didn’t have it in me to hurt her any further by telling her how her father really was.
And now that we are all older, we see the mess he left in the life of his other daughter and son, too. I can only imagine what wife number two had to go through. But I think I have a pretty good idea.
And now I wonder if I should not have had more honest conversations with my girls about their dad; even when they were young. If I had not waited until they were adults to tell them what it was like for me to live with these men? How would they see me now if they knew even the small things I have just told you? How would they have seen me then? Would it have changed anything?
I can’t be sure. But I do think that maybe; just maybe, they would at least have had more accurate information to go on while their dad was covertly making them decide if it was going to be him or me.
I’m not saying that I should have gone around calling their dad a no good such and such and run him down every chance I got. But maybe, just maybe, I should have been more open and honest with them about what he was like when I was married to him.
In all honesty. Today, it’s no consolation that at least I made sure they had a good relationship with their dad. To say I did the right thing while I lost the relationships and respect of my children…I can’t honestly say it was worth it, at all. Not even close.
I kept thinking that when they grew up and got older that maybe they would see. That maybe they would come around and realize that maybe their poor, loser of a mother might have done at least a few things right. But the heartaches are still so much to bear as time goes by and nothing changes each time they get upset with me. I don’t know if I did the right thing or not. I’m not sure I ever will.
And that’s the thing. We are all just looking for answers here. They are wanting to know if they are really loved and cared for. They are wanting to know why mom and dad had to split up in the first place. I am wanting to know many of those same things myself. Did he really love me and care for me? Why couldn’t we make things work out? Was it wrong for me to leave when I saw no way to fix it? What should I have told my girls? What did I tell them that I shouldn’t have? Should I have refused to let them go live with him?
I’m not sure if any of us will ever find the answers to all of the questions we have; and I have to wonder if maybe sometimes the answers we need; they just aren’t there.