Worn Out

I’m worn out today.  I wanted to write about it.  I have a few blogs, but what I wanted to write didn’t really fit in any of them.  I considered starting a new one, but it would likely meet the same fate as the others – a few posts, then abandoned.  So I’m giving up the facade that I started this blog with.  Oh, it’s all still true, but I’m much less angry and wound up about that part of my life now.   I’m just not going to put so much effort into maintaining the stage names I gave everyone to start with.  If they happen to find their way here and don’t like reading about themselves, oh well.
A quick recap on the last six months (it’s January 2017, so that would bring us back to June 2016):
Stephen and I took the kids camping together for a week in July.  It was alot of fun and we made some great memories as a family.  Chris (my kids’ father) and Danielle (his now-former) girlfriend and their baby (Hunter) got evicted from their house and moved in with aunt (the one he moved with when he first left my house).  In October, they moved into a different apartment in another town.  Also in October, Stephen admitted to seeing other women for the last few months so that relationship was over in a heartbeat. (Cheating is not something I tolerate, at all.)  I was blindsided by this; I had no indication that anything was wrong between us.  That situation has caused me alot of heartache over the last few months – I wish I didn’t, but I still think of him daily.  My feelings are shifting a bit though, and I’m just shaking my head about his lack of respect for me lately, and (right or wrong) hoping that he misses me and that he’s sorry for the way he treated me.  Don’t misinterpret that – I wouldn’t take him back even if he came begging, but it still hurts deeply that he destroyed everything that we built, between us and with our kids.
Chris and Danielle broke up near the end of November if I remember correctly.  There’s always drama there – first the story was that he was filing for custody of Hunter and needed to get out of the house for a couple days while the shit hit the fan.  Then she broke up with him but he had nowhere to go so he was still living there til he found a place.  Then he had a sob story about how she’s been physically, emotionally, and verbally abusing him for the last year and a half. In lieu of getting a job, he started a GoFundMe page for himself to raise money for an apartment and bills and a car.  Then she apparently came home at 4am with her new boyfriend saying that she is pregnant with the new boyfriend’s kid and that Chris needed to leave.  So that was the second time in less than a month that he begged me to let him sleep on my couch. (I didn’t let him.)  Eventually, he took Hunter and went to live with his other aunt (the one he lived with right before he moved in with Danielle).  He now lives 25 minutes away from me and I won’t drive the girls there multiple times a week.  Due to circumstances there, it’s not really possible for him to have them on weekends, and I’ve taken away any overnight visits until he gets his shit together.  Twice now he’s claimed he is starting a job “next week”.  I give up; I don’t listen to him anymore.  Anything he tells me could be, and likely is, at least partially a lie.
So that’s the skinny on the drama in my life.  As a result of the above *crap*, I have few occasions where I don’t have kids home with me.
Which leads us back to the whole reason I wanted to get on here and write and vent.
It’s Sunday afternoon.  Yesterday, I took the girls to see Sing, a movie they really really wanted to see.  Then I had to run in to a store for 5 minutes and they were asked explicitly not to touch anything.  All I did while scrambling to find the things I needed was repeat the mantra of “don’t touch, don’t touch, pleeeeease don’t touch”.  By the time I was at the register I was at my wit’s end and raised my voice, to which the clerk looked at me like I was evil.  I didn’t care.  She should be glad I didn’t let them tear the place down, which they could have and would have done in 3 minutes flat, given all the breakables and “cool” shiny stuff there.
Then we had to go to the grocery store.  I shop at Aldi so it doesn’t take long – maybe 45 minutes when they are with me.  We go through the door; the whining commences.  “Held me pick out some things for your lunch box.”  “I don’t like any of these things.” (In an aisle full of cookies, snacks, crackers, fruit cups, pudding cups, candy and other diabetes inducing joys.) “Then what do you want in your lunch?” “I want to go to Wal-Mart.  They have stuff I like there.”  They have the same. damn. things. here. “Honey, they have the same things here, just different brands.  If you don’t choose some things, you won’t have anything for your lunch.”  “Then what will I eat?”  “You’ll have to buy your lunch.”  “But I haaaaaaate school food!” “Then pick out some snacks!”
The rest of the shopping trip was some variation of this, plus “stop running”, “put that down”, “don’t climb on that”, “stop spinning in circles”, and “we’re not getting toys here”.  Plus that bathrooms were out of order and V had to pee, so I was trying to move at hyperspeed so we could get somewhere else with working plumbing.
K has a book report due Tuesday.  Her procrastination skills are superbly honed for being only nine years old.  She chose the shortest biography she could find – Mark McGwire.  This child could couldn’t play baseball if you stuck her in left field with a mitt on each hand, let alone follow the game or care about a retired player.  She swears  that the book doesn’t have enough information to fulfill the requirements of her project, so she has had to google.  Repeatedly.  Which leads to watching YouTube and playing Roblox.  Redirect, redirect, redirect.  She requires a break every 30 minutes for relaxation and snacks that she hated in the grocery store yesterday.  There are three parts to the project.  One of them is finished.  The second is started.  The third might never be.
They scream at each other.  These children don’t have a normal volume – everything is playground level.  My throat and my ears hurt today.  It hurts me to talk, let alone raise my voice.  I hid in my room just to get two minutes of quiet.
K insists on watching “live” ghosthunter videos on YouTube.  This led to “creepy dolls that move”.  This, in turn, led to V getting scared and wanting to play with her dollhouse instead (ironic).  K decided she wanted to play too; I had already told her to go finish her book project.  After much protesting and full-volume arguing, both children were banished to their rooms so I could get three minutes of relative peace.
I’m worn out.  Mentally, emotionally, physically.  It is a hard job to be a parent 24/7.  I’ve been a married parent; I understand that there are many relationships where one parent does the majority of the work (because I was in one).  But now there is NO ONE to settle an argument, no one to do the yelling when my throat hurts, no one to make me a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner because I don’t feel like cooking but don’t want to go out into the arctic for takeout. (And I’m too cheap to pay for delivery very often.)  I have to be the nurturer, the disciplinarian, the teacher, the cook, the maid, the chauffer, the bank, the handyman, the doctor, the vet, the comforter – the good guy and the bad guy, all day every day.  I’m not complaining about that and I’m not saying that I don’t feel appreciated for it.  I am glad that I can do all these things and that I’ve shown myself and everyone else that I can support and manage the family that I’ve created, by myself.  People tell me that they’re proud of me, and that makes me feel good.  Even though my kids rarely express it or even act like it, I know that they appreciate at least some of what I do, and years down the road they will understand it even more.  I am mostly content where I am now – raising my kids, working on making my house mine, and building relationships with friends.  I like being the sole adult in the house – most of the time – not having to consult with anyone before I spend money or change the decor in a room or spontaneously decide that we’re getting a pizza.
But I’m still worn out.  I want fifteen minutes to read or take a power nap or just stare at the ceiling without wondering where the next outburst will come from, who will be tattling on whom for what, what the next crisis will come from.  I’m sick of constantly telling people to pick this up, put that away, clean that up.  Sunday’s chore is cleaning the bathroom – one for each kid.  It takes five minutes – it’s just a surface clean – but it will take 30 minutes because I will have to stand there cajoling and coaching and prodding and reminding that allowances depend on this.  I just don’t feel like it today.  But I know that I have to, to teach them that responsibility, that work is tied to pay and that we are responsible for pitching in and helping others.  I’m counting the hours until bedtime (5 minus 8 minutes, I’m bad at math).  I desperately want a glass of wine then, but I think my sore throat will indicate otherwise (although alcohol kills germs, right?).  I need to vacuum, and get their stuff ready for a day at Grandma and Grandpa’s tomorrow (holiday, but I work).  I just don’t wanna.  I want to whine and complain – it’s my turn.
Time to go make that grilled cheese sandwich now.

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Another Disappointment

It’s been awhile since I’ve come here to complain.  Things have been mostly quiet on this front.  There was a big dramatic scene where Carl and Denise broke up, she told him that the Spawn isn’t actually his, she altered the paternity test, she and Henry moved out but he found out they were living in a shelter and let them come back til she found a place and they’re still there because she pays half his rent (all of this is according to Carl, of course, so take it with a grain of salt), but that’s mostly it.  He still doesn’t work, doesn’t have a drivers license, and has burned all his bridges.  He doesn’t ask me for things anymore, since the time he asked me to bring him a gallon of milk and all I said was “no”, no explanation or excuse.  I’m good with that.
**UPDATE** Since I started writing this, he asked me to bring him a gallon of milk when I brought the girls up.  “No”, to which he replied “Wow OK thank you”.  I must have jinxed myself on that.
Caitlyn has been involved in arts activities all summer – musical theater camp, choir, violin.  Musical theater camp consists of two weeks of intense rehearsals followed by two performances.  The first one this year was last month.  I told Carl which two days the shows were and reserved the tickets for him (to pay for at the door – and they’re only $5).  He chose the Saturday show, so I went Friday and took my family.
Saturday afternoon comes around.  I drop Caitlyn off at the theater to get ready.  Carl sends me a message – “Laura [his aunt] was supposed to drive me, but now she has to watch Karen [Laura’s daughter]’s kids.  So I can’t go.”
Really?  Two hours before the show, and you’re going to flake out on your child?  I don’t know about you, but I would be moving heaven and earth to find a way to get there.  I told him that he would have to call her and tell her.  Sadly, she wasn’t overly surprised or upset.
I tried to find a replacement for him.  I wanted someone to be there to see her, and I wanted to help fill the seats in the theater.  On short notice, though, I couldn’t find anyone, though I did get alot of support from people who said they would have like to go had they known sooner, and to let them know about the next one.   So Vivian and I went and watched the show again.
I’m glad we did.  By the end of it, I had seen the show three times (dress rehearsal, opening night, and matinee).  Each one was different and unique.  I was able to share with Caitlyn how neat it was to see the cast do a little bit of improvisation in each show.  And I was there to support her when her father wasn’t.
We’re in the first week of the second session of summer musical theater camp.  It started Monday.  I knew that I would need to reserve tickets within the next couple days, so I went ahead and informed Carl of the days and times and asked which he would be attending (mainly so that I could arrange to be there the opposite day).  The next day, I followed up because I hadn’t gotten an answer.  His response?  “I don’t have any way to get there, so I can’t go.”
Um wait, what now?
The show is a week and a half away, and you can’t find a ride to and from your child’s musical in that time?  Seriously?
But I left it at that.  I stewed silently in front of the girls and complained loudly to anyone else who would listen.  I posted the event to Facebook with a note to message me if anyone wanted to attend.  Who comments on it but Laura – “I would love to go!”
Hmmm.  It seems that Carl made precisely zero effort to find a ride, at least with Laura.  I would think she would be the first one he would go to, given the fact that he lives in her basement.
Am I mad? A little bit.  Am I sad for Caitlyn?  Yes.  Less so for Vivian, as she barely remembers life with him in the house, with him as her “full time” father (not that he ever really was one anyway, but I always made sure he got where he needed to go when he needed to be there).  Like people have told me, he’ll dig his own hole and she has to see that.  She will need to disappointed in him before she sees what he is.  But as her mother, it hurts to have to watch that process.

Time to Grow the F*@! Up

Well, Carl, I think it’s time to grow the fuck up now, don’t you agree?
My stomach dropped when I saw that he was calling me shortly before lunchtime today.  We don’t care to hear each others’ voices and calls are made only out of dire necessity.
“Hello?””Long story short, they’re taking me to the County Holding Center for a traffic violation.  Do you have a credit card with $250 available for bail?”
“No, I don’t, I’m sorry.”
“OK, thanks, bye.”
And so several hours of confusion, anger, and a host of other emotions began.
Did I make the right decision not to bail him out?  He was crying as he said that last line, I could hear the fear in his voice.  I allowed my children’s father to go to jail.  What kind of a person am I?
I wrestled with these questions as I left my desk to go for a walk.  I talked it out with my brother, texted back and forth with a few other people.  My brother’s reactions and methodology for sorting it out was the most logical, as it often is.  What is the underlying emotion you’re feeling? Is it anger, pity, sadness?  It’s all of those, and more.
I’m angry at him for giving me all these experiences I don’t want to have, for putting me in a position to make choices I don’t want to make, for creating things that eventually will have to be explained to our children, for not stepping up and being responsible for himself over the last 19 months.
I’m sad that he seems to not be able to take care of himself, that he doesn’t seem to have learned anything about life.  I’m sad that he still relies on me, but I don’t feel any responsibility for him anymore.
I feel some pity, some empathy, for the same reasons that I’m sad. – that he can’t seem to grow up and take care of himself, that it’s gotten this far.  But at the same time, he made his bed, now he can lie in it.  I don’t need to hide his dirty laundry any more.
Over the course of a few hours, I did come to realize that it’s not my fault that he went to jail.  I didn’t prevent it from happening, but it was his actions that caused it.  He has missed at least four court dates for a simple traffic ticket.  What was minor exploded into something huge because of his inaction.  There has to come a point where you grow up and figure things out.  You can’t make it to court because you don’t have a ride, you need to call up the judge and explain yourself and at least make an effort to do something.  He spent time in a jail cell several weeks ago when he got arrested on an outstanding warrant for failing to appear on this same charge, as far as I know – that didn’t teach him anything?
I tried for almost 20 years to teach him how to take care of himself.  I did things for him, made sure things were taken care of.  Did he learn nothing from any of that?  Apparently not.  You would think he would have had to grow up quickly when he left me – he did make the decision to leave, after all.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink….
You can take care of a man, but you can’t make him think…
He’s out now, as of a couple hours ago.  I don’t know who paid his bail, though it was suggested that several people may have contributed to it.  Last I heard, he was trying to find a ride home from the Holding Center 30 miles away from his home.
I don’t know what happens next for him.  I saw his mug shot and the charge against him, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.  Now he has a bona fide record, one that will follow him for who knows how long, affecting his ability to get a job, a drivers license perhaps, and who knows what else.
I give up.  I grew up years and years ago, when I started taking care of him at the age of 17.  More so when I married him at 21, thinking that it was all temporary and he would mature and figure things out and I would help him learn the ways of the world.  Then 6 years later when we had a baby, and another one 5 years after that.  He’ll come around, it’s just a temporary rough patch, he has bad luck and things will change.
No.  It’s all him.  It’s time for him to grow the fuck up.

Like A Red Balloon

How is this fair?  You flip in and out of our children’s lives like it’s no big deal.  You’re around a couple days a week, then not for two weeks, then you demand to see them.  You don’t take them outside to play, you let them watch crap on youtube, you allow them to sit in the haze of your cigarette smoke until they reek of it.
You make promises to them, and most of the time you don’t bother to keep them.  Yesterday, when you told her you would be at open house at school tonight, you would walk there at 6:00, I was skeptical.  The way she was jumping around excited about it, I was sure you were setting her up to be disappointed.  She wanted her friends to see dad and her baby brother. (Remember when you told them that he’s their baby brother? And remember when you finally admitted to me a couple weeks ago that he’s not? Start saving up for the therapy they’re going to need to get over that when I finally tell them.)
Well, I’ll be damned, there you were, on the bench in front of the school, albeit alone.  I have to say I was much more pissed than impressed.  Not only because I had to be within 3 feet of you, be seen in public in your presence, but because of how excited they were to see you there.
I am the one who cares for them.  I’m the one they climb into bed with after a bad dream, I’m the one they ask for snacks, I’m the one cajoling and reasoning and bargaining to get homework done properly.  I’m the one they get mad at for making and enforcing rules.  I’m the one who knows their routines, their preferences, their dislikes.  I’m the one raising them to be responsible, productive adults someday.  To not be like you.  Yet, they get excited to see you there, at an event you wouldn’t have bothered to know about had you not been told about it, the first you’ve attended in over a year.
I got to follow the three of you around the school, lagging behind while they held your hands and showed you everything she’s prepared for this night.  Everything she’s been preparing for the last 6 months, while I’ve smoothed over your period absences, made up for your lack of financial support, clenched my fists and gritted my teeth while they gushed about their baby brother.
It’s not fair and it makes me mad.  I’m their primary everything, and you get to bounce in and out of it all like a bright red balloon, floating in when it’s convenient, breezing out on an excuse when it’s not.
I say it over and over again.  They’re going to see you for who you are eventually, and I don’t think they’ll like it.  I hope it’s sooner rather than later.  Karma will catch up with you too.

Justified Anger

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Correction, hell hath no fury like a mama whose baby you’ve upset.
Yesterday was Blondie’s birthday.  The two of them saw their father the day before, and he told her when they were leaving that he would Skype her the next night to wish her happy birthday.
Her official birthday is at 7:12pm and this is very serious business to her.  She desperately wanted to be on Skype with him right then.  So she Skyped.  And then tried again.  Then begged me to call on my phone.  No answer.  Another try on Skype; two more phone calls and one voicemail message left.  I sent a Facebook message.  I think we covered all the bases.
7:14pm came and she sank down on the floor, slumped, and said in a baby voice “daddy missed my birthday”.
If that doesn’t break your heart, you don’t have one.
At least I was there to hug her and kiss her hair and tell her that I was sorry her dad didn’t answer.  Because I really was.
Sorry that her father is an asshole.
Sorry that a kid who’s 9 years and 2 minutes old had to have such a harsh reality check.
Sorry because I know that’s probably not the last disappointment she’ll experience from him.
Sorry because I know he’ll probably call her up today and feed her some half-assed excuse, and she’ll believe it because she wants to, like I did for years.
Am I’m pissed.  He couldn’t take 2 minutes out of his day, no matter how busy it may or may not have been, to wish his oldest child a happy birthday.  His family didn’t bother to send a card or even a text either. (Although his grandparents sent the girls combined gifts a month or so ago.)  All of this has hurt my child’s feelings.  It has caused her disappointment that she shouldn’t have to endure, not at the tender age of 9.  And I hate him for it.
I could scream at him; send pages and pages of words expressing my feelings.  But I know that it wouldn’t do any good and may, in fact, be counterproductive.  He twists everything I say, so I’m sure it would turn into me keeping her from him on this, the day he became a father.  Or me being selfish and using the kids to hurt him.  That’s what this type of thing always turns into.
So it will be silence.
I’ve largely stopped writing here, and thought about taking it all down, because writing about him allows him to affect my life.  It gives him more attention than is necessary.  The last few weeks have been quiet on that front; he was preoccupied with his spawn.  Then he came back with a vengeance, bold and ready to fight.  I engaged, briefly, though silence would have been better.  He knows how to push my buttons and get a response so that he can keep going and going and going and going.  I’m strong enough this time, or maybe pissed off enough, to be silent with him about this.  He of all people should know that yelling is good, it means I care; but silence on my part is very, very bad.
Carl, if by some chance you happen to read this, fuck you.  You are an asshole for the way you treated your child yesterday.  Fuck you.

I Want to be a Pole Dancer!

I have had no fewer than three people tell me in the last 48 hours that I should write a book.  The thing is, I don’t think anyone would believe it.  It’s too far-fetched to even be entertaining sometimes, and flat out annoying at others.
These comments were spawned by a vent I posted.  Friday night, we were out to eat, and Blondie declared that she wants to be a pole dancer like Denise.  I told her that  that is not appropriate for kids and that she can’t say that.  She just can’t.
“But why?” she wants to know.  “It’s her job.”
Indeed it is.  And jobs aren’t bad, right?
I felt like I was running in circles trying to figure out how to tell my mostly innocent soon-to-be 9 year old child that pole dancing is not an esteemed profession, that Denise really takes her clothes off while she dances and men cheer and throw money at her.  But I couldn’t.  So I had to eventually go with a “because I said so”.  I don’t really like to do that; I do want my children to learn the how and why of things in life.  But it’s just too soon for them to learn some things.
Responses to my vent ranged from sensible (“Tell her to say she wants to be just a dancer, like ballet or tap”) to truthful (“Tell her Denise takes her clothes off to get money from men and that’s bad!”) to simply delightful (“When you get the call from school that she repeated that there, you make sure to pick Carl up on the way and drag him in there with you!”) with a generous smattering of outrage and sympathy.
I wasn’t looking for any of those things with that post; I really was just venting.  Perhaps I let too many eyes into my world sometimes; I need to let it out once in awhile.  I did take all those comments into consideration though.
Blondie doesn’t understand what pole dancing really is.  They’ve watched videos of “pole fitness” so she thinks pole dancers wear leotards and compete for trophies and medals.  Her statement was innocent, but it brings to light the damage that her father and Denise are doing, likely without meaning to, just because they’re idiots.
I don’t know what to do about it.  I can’t legally withhold visitation, because there is nothing illegal going on there (to my knowledge).  That would cause a shitty legal battle that might get messy, long, and expensive.  A friend sent me a message later that day, suggesting that I take more control over custody, get supervised visits and limit time spent with him.  That’s something that I’ve wrestled with, and I responded as such:
Is it better for the girls to have a relationship with him and eventually see him for who he is, or would they be better off without him around completely? I know that my life would be easier if he would sign away his rights, but he never will, if just to hold it over my head and use it as a sympathy card to play. I just don’t know – if I tell them they can’t see dad I’m the bad guy, but does that actually make me their protector, or am I denying them something important? It’s fucked up either way.

Tattoos and Piercings

It’s been awhile since I last wrote.  Some stuff has transpired, both in regards to the Epic Saga of Carl and in my life in general.  I’ll try to catch you up as time permits, but first things first, here’s the background you need:
Carl and Denise are no longer in their house.  I assume they got kicked out for not paying the rent, but he won’t actually tell me, because it’s none of my business.  They and their spawn and the dog moved into a teeny apartment in his aunt’s basement, where he went when he first moved out of my house.  Carl’s recent Facebook posts have included things like:
I am trying to make something happen, I have applied for almost 200 jobs and not 1call back. Does anyone know how to prepare a good resume? My resume looks like crap I think and I have no idea what to put into a cover letter. My second question is when I do find a job, can I work something out with someone for rides to and from work till I get my van back on the road when I get my taxes back? Something has to give soon. Very very soon.  [This one had an awesome response to it.  It was great.]
and
Looking to go out for my birthday tomorrow night. Would anyone be able to babysit for the night? Please message me if you might be able to help. [Before he edited it, this included the timeframe of 7pm-4am.]
and many, many requests for babysitters.
Tonight, Blondie tells me that dad is getting his lip pierced.
Um wait, what now?
You have no job, beg for rides and babysitters and jobs, yet you have the money to go get your lip pierced?  Not to mention that facial piercings are generally not helpful in finding a job.  So I asked him.  His response? Something to the tune of “Yeah so, and I’m getting a new tattoo. But not until after I get a job.  I have an interview tomorrow.”
Sometimes all you can do is shake your head…
tats and pericingsNot quite, but you know what I mean…