Too soon!

Day began with email from AH asking that conversations re the kids be via email now.  I don’t think it bodes well that we are already resorting to that (surely adults should be able to converse properly, but I suppose that, given we’ve not exactly won awards for our skills in that over the past couple of years, let’s go with the written word).

He went on to say that his boss is fine with him bringing the kids back to work on the days he will get them from school, including the alternate Tuesdays for after-school swimming lessons for the boys.  Not sure that when I was being told he could do 50-50/shared care, taking the kids to be babysat by a tablet or his work colleagues, was really what I was thinking.

Usually the rule in the house is that one of the parents cooks, the other cleans up.  Disappointed that AH thought it acceptable to drop Master 10 and Miss 5 back and leave without doing any dishes (I’d done most of them).  I got told that “he did mine on Friday” [again, that victim, ‘my life is so unfair’ gene strikes again – rather than recognising the plethora of times I’ve done more than my share].  On the upside, he must’ve thought about it as I got a text from him saying to leave them and he’d do them tomorrow.  Noice!

Had a visit from a neighbour who recently went through a separation too.  Was really nice to be able to speak to someone who’s been in a very similar situation (same number and ages of kids, hubby was the one who quit and struggled to acknowledge that he had faults too).  She seems to have come through the ‘experience’ with an amazing strength which I admire.  Early days but I will get there too.

Nice evening with the kids.  Am going to try and finish each post with 3 positives from the day:

  1. AH was man enough to correct his AH behaviour;
  2. my daughter’s laugh; and
  3. getting through a six-hour shift at work.  Got to get used to longer days and I survived my first one.

Well, wouldn’t you know it!

Firstly, am stoked that I got an apology from AH for treating me bad over the weekend when he came to see the kids tonight.  It’s something he’s always been much better than me at – apologising – yet it still came as a surprise.

I got a response to my parenting plan by email at 09:30.  Surprise, surprise … “I just get the feeling that you are working this to your advantage and I am just expected to fall in line with your decisions”.  How right was I?!

Disappointed that AH didn’t take any time to consider my reasons and, if he had a question as to why I suggested it, he didn’t bother to ask it.  It’s a ‘mantra’ one of my brothers has given and is a real simple way to avoid misconception … BE CURIOUS!  I know that my brother has said it to both AH and to me: one of us can see it’s merit; the other not so much (after all, why change perfection).  He said tonight “well your brother isn’t in this situation so he can’t really say if that would help right now”.  I said that it’s something we both need to be doing at the moment and, oh boy, did it go downhill from there!  You can never say anything to AH where he just shuts up and listens to what is said.  Everything is an accusation and must be vigorously defended.  I had to roll my eyes as the excuses kept coming and it’s one of his traits that I can’t stand.  Stop being a victim.  And while I’ve usually just not bothered to keep on talking in the past few months as it falls on deaf ears, I decide I’m not going to do that right now.  He was given advice from the counsellor he [finally!] went to see and I use this time to remind him of it … you have two options in situations: one is the calm, non-aggressive one; the other is reactive.  AH only knows the latter.  What a shame as it isn’t going to help over the next few months.


Proposal tabled

AH is in a baaaad mood so there looks to be no good time to put my revised date suggestions to him.  He let others know at the party last night that he wasn’t impressed that he had to go at 11 pm to relieve the babysitter. What did you expect with a separation?!

He asks how it was in the rental which at least provides an opening (although, since we were having dinner with the boys at the table, I wasn’t going to bring it up then).  So I tell him my suggestion.  His initial comment “you were said you were going to be here at 2 [I got back at 4.30], is this what’s going to happen every time”.  I let him know that I got tied up with something and suggest that he stops paying attention to something that is not important but to what I’ve said about the change of dates, and the reasons for it.  I say that he should go off and think about and it doesn’t need an answer now.  So he asks when are we going to sit down and work out the parenting plan.  Ummmm!  Surprised I have to point this out, but the date change I’ve proposed forms the fundamental basis of the parenting plan so, given he needs to let me know what he thinks, it’s all down to him when we can start the process.  Wonder how long before I hear anything – but considering this is possibly the first time he’s actually going to put some thought into something I’ve said, rather than just blurt out his opposition straight away, he can take as long as he likes 🙂

It’s all in the delivery

I get back to the house about 5 pm and it’s great to have the kids happy to see me.  Miss 5 comes racing down the road on her scooter hollering “Mama, Mama, Mama” as she sees me approaching.  I’m sure the neighbours aren’t thrilled with the noise but, for me, it’s beautiful!  We have our dinner but the time isn’t right or available to suggest my parenting split.

Kids tell me that AH has bought a tablet.  Utterly amazed at this as: (a) we already have a family one in the house that’s caused some MAJOR issues between me and AH as he is addicted to it (you know that spending ‘quality’ time with your kids should be more than them watching you play your games, right?!); and (b) we’ve racked up a credit card debt; and (c) I’ve had to push to be given an ‘allowance’ so that I don’t have to come running to him if I need to get clothes for the kids or new underwear for myself yet his first purchase is not cleaning products for the rental or food for the fridge, it’s a tablet.  Unbelievable prioritising!  Our relationship started with me with savings and him with large debt racked up so good to see he’s learnt something in the past 15 years, ay!

AH and I are both invited to a party at friends’ place.  For the first time, he’s organised the babysitter (some 18 months ago, while AH still studied and spent every waking hour at either work or the library, I (yes, I as AH had never met the birthday boy) was invited to a local dad’s 50th.  I got a friend to babysit and said, within earshot of AH, that ‘he’d be home by 12’ .. because every weekend, he has to study and I deal with the kids.  At 11.45 when I said to him someone had to go, he sat down and said “I’m not going, it’s your friend so you go”.  Funnily enough, since that day, I’m not all that keen to organise the babysitter for fear of being the one who will always have to leave).

I’d suggested that we go to the party together to avoid the whispers when the other person arrived and to show that we’re being adult about this.  We’ve also been asked to take a plate so I get to preparing this while he … surprise, surprise … sits on the bed and plays on the tablet.

Then arises:

(a)  Issue 1 – AH asks if we’re driving to the party.  I plan to have a drink as does he so the car would be left at the party.  “So who’ll pick up the car tomorrow”, I ask.  “Well, you will” I am told.  Not asked.  Told.  “Well, you’re the one who can, then you can bring it back here afterwards.  I can’t do it, as I have the kids”.  Last time I looked, my kids all have perfectly-functioning legs.  The party is a half-hour walk from our house so I point out that they could all go for a walk to get it.  He adds “how will you carry your beers” – I thought I might put them in a backpack and, well, carry them.  You know, if there’d been conversation about this, rather than a dictat issued to me, I wouldn’t have had a problem with getting the car the next day.  Before I could suggest we leave the car and walk, he’s organised another dad to pick us up.

(b)  Issue 2 – Master 8 asks if he can go on the computer after they’ve showered.  I say ‘yes’ (it’s a novelty to be the parent who just says ‘yes’ all the time to technology requests).  AH comes out of bathroom and tells off Master 8 and Master 10 for asking me if they could go on as apparently they’d been on heaps already and been told they’d had enough.  So AH comes into the kitchen later where I’m doing the dishes and spits out with venom “you know you undermined me”.  What?  How?  Unsure as to what he’s referring to, I ask for clarification.  “By saying the boys could go on the computer.  When they ask me, I always say ‘how long have you been on already/I need to check that that’s ok with Mama” [for the record, this is not strictly true as I would say 50% of the time, you just let them without checking – I think this, don’t say it].  I calmly say “point taken but rather than come on the attack, do you think you could have pointed it out nicely that I should have maybe asked you if they could’ve gone on.  This is all a new thing for me as I’m usually the one who’s here and who knows if they’ve already filled their quota with screen and that in future, yes, I do need to check, rather than going for the jugular”.   Never one to simply listen and HEAR the words, this goes down as well as a violent case of diarrhea and I get some further verbal back about .. actually, I can’t even remember the words but it followed the usual format of blaming me, continuing to attack and escalate the issue.  Way to set a nice atmosphere for the party.

Had nothing to do with AH at the party and managed to survive the questions of ‘how are you’ from concerned mums.  You know, if they’d asked earlier in the week, I could have dealt with it, but after the emotions of Friday, tears were welling up constantly.  I wish they weren’t – especially when I think about how, within the space of an hour, he’d made me feel earlier.  Please don’t cry tears for that prick!  Please don’t.

I suppose there some tears for friendships that are going to be lost here too.  Someone I’d class as a good friend hasn’t even asked if I’m ok.  Her partner works with AH so is aware of what’s going on but she hasn’t said a word to me.  Given the situation, I don’t plan to give her nitty-gritty and turn it into a ‘he said, she said’ scenario (we made that mistake when we split last year), but I would expect four simple letters to be said “R U OK”.  I imagine she won’t be the first person I think less of as we go through this process.  I think my faith in people is about to be rocked, and strengthened too hopefully.

Not sure if this is going to work for me!

Not being a solo mum – that I can handle, having done it pretty much while AH studied for 6 years.  I just don’t like the thought that I will wake up every weekend (or every 2 or 3 out of 4 weekends, if we continue to think along our current path) completely alone in a self-contained flat that has no emotional ties to it.  Granted, last night was only my first night and as time goes on, that could change but it just doesn’t seem fair.

AH doesn’t spend much time here as he’s at the family home until 7-ish, really only getting back here for bed.  He then will get Saturday and Sunday being fun weekend daddy.  I get hectic mornings Monday-Friday, go to work then have afternoons and evenings consumed with post-school activities.   Early bedtime on school nights won’t give any opportunity for stuff like chilling in front of a DVD or walking the beach, etc.  I feel short-changed.

My current thought: AH comes to family home Thurs evening, stays Thurs and Fri and gets relaxing weekend time Saturday evening.  I come back Saturday, 5 pm-ish and then takeover as home parent.  This way, we both get a day of the weekend to have some fun with the kids.  We also both share the weekday obligations.

Problem:  most parties amongst our group of friends are on a Saturday so would I be putting myself into a position of missing all of them?  Wonder if Cinders will agree once he realises this works in his favour!  Or will he do what he usually does and think I’m simply controlling the situation and only thinking of myself?

One week, and many headaches, on.

Regretfully, my intentions to write daily haven’t come to fruition.  Having been on my second Parenting-Through-Separation course today, it was made clear to document EVERYTHING and, whilst that seems like a cynical, deceitful thing to be doing, not doing so might come and bite me in the arse in a few months. So, by doing this, it might not feel so underhanded.

It is now Friday; 5 sleeps on from when we told the kids we were no longer going to be together.  I cried more tears on Sunday than I had in a very long time: tears for me, for failing at this marriage malarky, but buckets and buckets for those three kids who were broken.  Despite this, AH tried to discuss the parenting time-split.  His timing has never been great but if he thought I was going to sit down at the end of an emotional day and make decisions about whether he would parent two or three days of a week, he was mistaken (not to mention, heartless and beyond stupid).

On Monday, we functioned as usual, ie. I got kids up and ready for school, went to work, sorted dinner.  AH came as we’ve agreed once he’d finished work to spend time with the kids (he will come every evening and spend some time.  I’ve offered to include him in our dinner so he feels included).  Following dinner, he said his byes and left to his friends, where he’d stay for two nights, before moving into one of the rented accommodations I’d managed to find.  Kids, especially, Miss 5, were upset but it didn’t take long before we were able to read stories, get smiles and have a wonderful evening.  I went to bed feeling somewhat relieved – I’d survived Day 1 of “The New Normal” and it had been good.  Great, actually!  Day 2 was pretty much the same – again, a lovely evening once AH had departed (and even before he left; don’t get me wrong and think it was only nice once he had left the building.  We are both doing our bit to be amicable in front of the kids and, therefore, treating each other nicer than we have for a long time).  I was actually finding I could tell people out what was going on without having tears well up.  I’d recall the nasty and belittling comments I’ve had directed at me of late and got thinking “I deserve better than that”.  It was a feeling of alleviation and just HAPPINESS (and, despite being on an anti-depressant medication for some time, this was the first time I’ve felt that, for a real long time).

Found it odd that, for someone who is telling me he’s all about prioritising the kids and that he’ll fight for primary caregiver status, when I suggested on Monday that we cancel the planned babysitter for this coming Saturday for a party for local friends (given it’s the first weekend of the separation and the kids shouldn’t be left with a stranger), he baulked at the idea of him not going to the party, even though if he’s to be weekend daddy, this is something he may have to sacrifice quite often in future.  I imagine there’s been a ‘proposal’ soon to ensure Cinderella does get to the ball.

Days 3 and 4 also went smoothly.  AH came while I was a work and moved all his stuff out.  Was odd to come home to empty drawers and an empty cupboard (given he was going to be staying in the house a couple of nights a week, I expected some clothes and necessities to be left, but he’s never thought as pragmatically as me).  Was great to have an empty cupboard to put some duvets, which have been dumped on our floor every since the warmer nights have come, out of sight.

I’ve got to admit, I’m getting a bit tired (read, cranky) as my bed is being invaded each night by my very own members of the Buckwackers: either Master 8 or Miss 5 have established that my defences are down, in my effort to cut them a bit of slack while they adjust, so I’m yet to have a night of interrupted sleep.  Not to mention the damn cat who has a foot fetish – and MUST be as close to a pair as possible, even it there’s an Antarctic-sized expanse on the other side.

So today is changeover day.  AH goes back to the house.  I come to the rental.  I’ve looked forward to having my own time for a while … I don’t get much of it despite needing it.  I sat through my P-T-S course this morning and didn’t even shed a tear (rewind one week when I couldn’t say a damn thing without blubbing).  I brought my supplies to the rental (including some things that have been on my to-do list for over a year) then went back to the home to give it a much-needed clean [and this thought comes to me: why would I clean the home when I’m not going to be in it for a couple of days?  I’ll get back Sunday afternoon and I guarantee it won’t look the same.  If AH is so sure he can give 50-50 care, will I be expected to be the only one to clean the home as I’m there the majority of the time, or will it be an even split?  Will I still need to change all the linen, fold and put away all the washing, ensure school uniforms are ready for the week??  Asked AH to change Miss 5’s bedding and got a “why?” which makes me think that, yes, I am expected to continue to play house cleaner].

To this end, I suggested this evening that AH takes the kids every Tuesday to their swimming lessons so that I can put in more hours at work (I had initially suggested that he do it every 2nd Tuesday).  I don’t think it fair that I’m the one doing the morning routine, cleaning, tidying, schlepping between after-school activities and playdates – and he gets to be Good-Time, Weekend Daddy (you know, pj’s til midday, no pressure to be anywhere at a given time, parks, FUN!).  We’ll see where that goes.

I digress!!

Despite it being AH’s time to be main parent, he can’t make it to school pick-up so I offer to go for him.  Not a great start for proving “I can be primary caregiver”.  AH cooks dinner.  I can’t bring myself to take part in prayers before dinner and it gets questioned by AH.  It would seem the hypocrisy of standing in front of our families and his friends in a church 12 years ago pledging to “love and honour for the rest of my life” and being in the place we find ourselves today hasn’t yet been realised by him.

I’m saying my goodbyes to teary Miss 5 when AH lets Masters 5 & 10 get the tablet.  Now for those who don’t have young boys and a tablet, you might not know of the phenomenon that occurs when you combine the two forces: the outside world ceases to exist and eyes can only be focused on the screen in front of them.  I managed to get very short, emotion-free hugs from them and left.  Much respect for your caring parenting skills.  I’ve tried to reason that this might have been done purely to alleviate any tears from them, but it was the most awful thing to have to go through.  You prick!

Now I’m a mess.  I don’t know if it’s being in this place which is not a home, being without my kids, not having a tv, being alone, the returning feeling that I’ve failed, or all the above.  Considering it’s a Friday in NZ, I think not having a tv is actually a blessing that I should be grateful for.  I miss my kids.  I miss the house I’ve made a home.  I miss my kids.  I miss that annoying foot-loving cat.  I MISS MY KIDS!  And I hate you just a little bit, AH, for not being brave enough to acknowledge your faults and make an effort to fix them.  You took the view that you should be allowed to say whatever you wanted, rather than sometimes shutting the fuck up and thinking about whether you might have perceived something wrong, whether you should have been a little bit curious and ASKED if I meant something to come across a certain way, whether you could’ve been a grown-up and kept those nasty digs to yourself and we are now here.

God, I hope this separation gets easier.  Please tell me it does! (and I don’t mean my separation from AH – I mean my separation from the kids I carried for 38, 39 4/7 and 40 weeks respectively and have been a stay-at-home mum to ever since; while you, DESPITE MY WISH TO HOLD OFF FOR A YEAR, chose to study and leave me basically as a single parent while you slept, went to the library and let me drift further away.  Definitely NOT my separation from you, you bullying, arrogant shit).

Time for bed and some deep breathing exercises, clearly 🙂

Emotionally draining weekend … nay, year!

So what’s happened to get to this place?

Hubby – I’ll have to change that as it doesn’t seem apt now that the rings are off the fingers – and I decided almost a year to the date ago, that things weren’t good.  I asked him to move to a friend’s so that we could get some space and clarity.  He begrudingly did so.

It was disappointing a few weeks into the separation that, without even having spoken to me about what the problems were/what we could do to get back on track, AH (yes, that’s what I’ll use now, rather than the well-known ‘DH’) said in a joint marriage counselling session that he was done.  He’d drafted the childcare agreement and wanted out.  To someone who was thinking we were both working to reconciliation, this came as a complete sucker punch to the guts.

Despite this, we sat down and talked through some issues and agreed we’d try to get back on track.  Together, as a loving couple.  So far, so good.  Right?

After 6 or so weeks of him living away from the family but being able to see the kids every evening and have full care of the kids for weekends, AH came home (under some duress, regrettably) and we tried to be better spouses.

I spent some time doing individual counselling and undertaking anger classes, as I know I’m not without faults but wanted some help to change.  I loved learning the simplicity that “I can’t control what comes out of your mouth; I can only control my reaction to it”.  It’s been a handy mantra in the past year.  I also loved the knowledge that anger (which some of those who knew me would claim I was) is a mere tip of the iceberg … below it sits other emotions that are the source of the problem.  For me, hurt and exasperation were the biggest underlying causes.  They still are.

Things unfortunately slipped back into their old ways.  Well, some things.  I tried to stick to my new mantra .. but AH refused any form of counselling, so any changes were down to me.  And I couldn’t do be the only one who was shutting up/trying to not antagonise a situation/avoid escalation.

So, rather than bite at the nasty comments that came out of his mouth, I withdrew.  And withdrew.  And continued to withdraw until there was hardly any piece of me left to give him.  With a view to getting out of this marital purgatory we now found ourselves in, I suggested two weeks ago that we put a date on things of, maybe 1 July, that we can work to.  Why?  It made sense to me to give things a time frame and if it wasn’t working, then we could call it quits having given our all attention and effort to fixing it by then.  His response:  “nothing’s changed, nothing’s going to change, why wait”.

WOW!  No potential for improvement, let alone that nothing in the past year had made a blind jot of different.  WTH?

So that was two weeks ago.  We agreed that I’d stay in the house with the kids while we found a one-bed self-contained dwelling for him; he’d come back to the house on weekends and I’d go to the one-bed.  I found three alternative places.  That’s what I do.  I research and find solutions.  Not control.  Solutions.  For two weeks, I thought we had a temporary ‘solution’.  And then came Saturday 21 March 😦