The Universe Didn’t do it, you did

I have very little patience for people who constantly blame others for their mistakes. If you made a bad choice, own it, admit it, and learn from it. Stop making the same mistakes and expecting a different result. Jumping in head first to relationships is ok when you’re single. Yes you may get hurt, but all in all you will be ok. When you have kids, you’ve got to think differently. Be cautious, be nervous and go slow. The last thing children need is a new man to constantly be walking out of their lives. Just take your time. If it’s meant to be, there will be plenty of time to introduce your children and create a family. Go slow.

 

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Standing on your morals

One of the hardest parts of dealing with a 50/50 custody situation is when you feel the other parent is not using good judgment. There’s a very gray line between what’s morally wrong and what the court will actually care about. In our paperwork there is a 6 month rule about introducing the kids to new partners. She’s done it in a month. They are staying with him tomorrow while she’s at work. Do we agree with it? Absolutely not. Can we do anything about it? I really don’t know. For the moment we have to decide if we feel they are safe and pray she is going to make good choices. This proves to be very difficult when her judgment is clouded as of late. Her history proves she meets guys, dates them and then has to quickly leave the situation moving the kids all over the place. It is scary to watch and think of how all of this will affect the kids in the long run. All we can do is continue to provide the structure and stability that children so desperately need and hope for the best. If only morals mattered more…

Fair. Finally

So the second court battle never ended up in court. This time she moved in with her boyfriend, “the one,” moved the kids 45 minutes away and had to change their school. We tried to fight for them to stay in the school they were in, but she manipulated that situation and we lost. Not to mention, court systems move at a snail’s pace.

Although we lost the school fight, we did end up with 50/50 custody. Previously Paul had the kids Wednesday evenings and every other weekend so this was a huge win for us! This schedule has been such an amazing turn-around for the kids getting equal time with both parents. Despite being a product of divorce they have adjusted so well and truly are happy kids.

Recently “the one” didn’t work out and she is in the process of yet another move. This will be the 6th move in 6 years and she is on her 3rd boyfriend in 4 so although we are in a good place, court may not be far off again.

One piece of advice I find to be most important: No matter now amicable the relationship seems to be, never let your guard down. I have already contacted my attorney and will do my best to remain 10 steps ahead of her. It is important to get along, but nothing is more important than the well-being of the kids.

Time to level the playing field

Paul’s ex-wife has a need to be in control. She is used to getting her way, manipulates situations to suit her needs, and takes advantage of anyone to benefit her.  This particular difference of opinion was no different.

As I mentioned, Paul is a teacher, meaning plenty of time off from work throughout the year. Paul felt that anytime he was home the kids should be with him if she was working. She felt they should go to daycare. (close to her  home and a way for Paul to give her more money).

If you can call anything a win in a divorce, we won the court battle. The judge saw it Paul’s way and felt that at anytime the kids could be with a parent, that is where they should be. Custody was rearranged to account for this and the battle was over…for now.

Remember I said her main goal was to punish.  He may have won in court, but that didn’t’ mean she would make it easy. At that time we were living approximately 25 minutes away and did a lot of driving to pick up and drop off.  She was still minimally inconvenienced. Many people in our lives looked at this time as giving in to her, making it easy for her, or whatever. But Paul believed if it meant spending time with the kids, then so be it. He’d drive to the ends of the earth if he could be with them.

Some battles aren’t worth fighting. That  has been my hardest lesson throughout all of this. I want to fight at every turn, Paul has to be pushed to the limit. In time, I have realized he may have a better approach. So sometimes you have to be patient and wait for it to unfold for you. There will be a time to fight, just don’t choose every single battle. I was so unhappy when I let every single thing she did get to me. We knew she wouldn’t change so we had to wait. I never stopped collecting recordings and evidence and 2 years later we were back in court. This time, her bad choices and her selfish attitude, worked in our favor yet again.

Turn Back Time

I feel like starting with Christmas may be a bit misleading that life has always been easy and this blended thing is a walk in the park. The truth is, most days, it feels like everything about our life is hard. Even simple day-to-day decisions require a thorough plan, much different than in a non-blended family.

My husband and his ex-wife had a tumultuous divorce to put it lightly. In fact, for about a year, Paul couldn’t even keep the kids overnight. She used the kids as leverage any chance she got, called the cops on him, and really succeeded in making life hell for the first few years of their divorce. Going to court, calls to attorneys, and embarrassing moments with the police became a regular part of life. Control was not something she was going to let go of and no matter what was going to be the best for the kids, Paul was going to be punished if she had anything to say about it. Thankfully the kids were young and really didn’t know much of what was going on.

This time in his life was hard on him. He felt powerless and I certainly didn’t know how to help him. I was new to this as well. I knew the way she was acting was wrong, but I had no idea what we could do about it. At this point, her hatred for me was off the charts adding more drama to every situation. She still could not make decisions based on the best interests of the kids and chose to enact her “power” every chance she got.

We recorded every phone conservation, collected evidence of when she acted irrationally and waited. It wasn’t until about three years later we were able to use our evidence and begin to fight.

 

 

A blended Christmas

Life in a blended family certainly has its ups and downs.  Being the step-mom in that family can be trying to say the least. This holiday season I decided to put all of my worries and frustrations aside for the sake of the kids.

Recently my husbands’ ex-wife went through a bad break up and is living with a friend of hers.  The first thing I thought of when I saw her after the break up was “we need to invite her over for Christmas morning.” I told my husband it was just the right thing to do. I invited her and she readily agreed. So 6 am Christmas morning, my husband, his ex-wife and myself watched our kids walk down the stairs to see what Santa brought.  Their squeals of delight were off the charts. Our kids didn’t question why we were all together, they thought it was normal. And all I could think of was how great for them. This is how it should be. They should know nothing other than the three of us coming together and doing things as a family the way we have come to know it. They are so lucky to have three parents that love them more than anything in the world and have no idea that over the years we have fought horribly with each other to get where we are today.

My husband has been adamant that the kids would never be around for the ugliness, the hatred and the craziness that divorce brings.  And although the three of us have had to swallow pride, grit our teeth and grin and bear it more often than we can count, it has been all worth it for where we are today. Are there still arguments? Absolutely. Do we still disagree on raising the kids? Of course. Do we do the best we can to make their life the most normal it can be? Every single day.

So yes I invited her to my living room for Christmas. And I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, we agreed that is how it should be every year. Why should any parent miss those precious moments? And why should the kids have it any other way?