From maternal guilt to parental superiority

By Mir
September 7, 2004

Okay, I’m over the whole Tragic Biking Accident thing, now. Thank you for your comments. Special thanks to my Dad for reminding me about the incident where my finger was slammed in a car door upon our arrival at a cast party. Yep, I did the silent scream in a Friendly’s parking lot, and won a trip to the ER, and lived to tell the tale. (Parents know the silent scream; the longer it lasts, the greater the chance of serious injury.) That hurt like hell; but in looking back, now, all I really think about is wanting a Fribble. Mmmmmm… Fribbles.

So I’m okay, as are the kids. Monkey did his usual fussing this morning over… ummm… everything, and he was quite surly until I managed to stuff a couple of pop-tarts into him, but then he was fine. All of which is SOP for mornings around here.

Onward and upward. I haven’t bitched about my ex for a while. He continues to reach greater heights of dumbfuckery, and I just can’t keep it all to myself anymore. It wouldn’t be fair.

Mr. Very Involved Father proposed a schedule of visitation–early in the divorce proceedings–which more or less had the children going back and forth every day. This was typical of his pattern; he wants what he wants, and as the children are prized possessions rather than sentient beings with their own schedules and needs, they should be available for his use as he sees fit. Hang on… my eyes rolled so far up in my head, just then, that they got stuck. Ow. Okay, better now.

Anyhoo, we managed to negotiate down to every other weekend and one dinner and one afternoon a week. I’d been unsure about that afternoon thing. It was fine while Chickadee had half-day kindergarten and Monkey was in preschool, but what about once “real” school started? “Don’t worry about it,” my lawyer whispered confidently, “that’ll just go away once school starts.”

Well now school has started, and Mr. Very Involved Father has already told me more than once that “that time will have to come from somewhere else.” I don’t think he appreciated me laughing at him, either, but I couldn’t help it. I mean, as much as I’d love to have that watch from “The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything,” at the present time I don’t know of a way to manufacture more hours. When I pointed out that it wasn’t like I had extra time with her, that we were both experiencing a decrease in time due to school, he continued to grumble.

Keep in mind here, too, that he lives about half an hour away, in traffic. It’s not like the kids can just skip down the street to see him. Transportation in this scenario is a significant time suck.

So, there we were, school about to start, the ex all miffed (probably in his mind, I had purposely manufactured the school schedule to try to rob him of his precious time on account of I am the Devil’s Henchwoman), and me hoping that the visitation thing will somehow–mercifully–resolve on its own. School started last Wednesday and Thursday is usually his afternoon with them. Imagine my surprise on Tuesday when he informed me–with shuffling of feet and darting of eyes–that he had a business trip this week, and would have to miss Thursday’s visit. Would that be okay?

I was stunned. Yeah, that’d be fine. First week of school is going to be hairy, this works out better, actually. Oh, good, he said. And he was probably going to visit an old friend on his way back, so he’d be back Sunday, maybe Monday. Oooookay.

Here’s where my brain tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “Something’s fishy.”

Traditionally, because I have so much more time with the kids than he does, if he’s not being a total pain in my ass, I allow him to have the kids on Monday holidays when he’s off work. Mr. Very Involved Father had just given up his Thursday afternoon and the potential of an entire day on Monday. Hmmm.

Know what? He’s been at his current job for a year and a half, and has never once had to travel. Not once.

Mr. Very Involved Father calls to talk to the children every single night that he’s not with them. Although he has just a cell phone (no regular phone) and is therefore, theoretically, always reachable, he does the calling. He has a knack for calling just as we sit down to dinner or at otherwise inconvenient times. But he insists on being the one to call us, rather than vice versa. From Thursday through Sunday, he consistently called just minutes before the kids were going to bed, wanting to know if he could call back later. Um, no. The kids are going to bed, talk to them now. “Oh, what time are they going to bed?” he would ask.

If you have known me for five minutes then you know that I am a loving but very strict parent. It was one of the greatest strife-builders in our marriage. He believes in parenting through Fun and Stuff, and I believe in being consistent. The children go to bed at 7:30. They’ve been going to bed at 7:30 for years. I did not change their bedtime. I am not somehow unpredictable in this way. I allowed some flexibility over the summer, then two weeks before school resumed I went back to Regular Bedtime. This is not news. And yet there he was, calling again and again, to say he was in the middle of something (dinner, headed to a movie, etc.) and could they maybe just stay up a while to wait for his call?

Ex? The earth’s axis called. It wanted me to let you know you don’t make it spin.

Yesterday, he didn’t even call. Now, normally–given his bizarre control needs over the whole phone call thing–if he doesn’t call before bed, too bad so sad for him. The kids don’t notice and they go to bed. But yesterday Chickadee mastered her bike! And she wanted to tell Daddy. So we called–fifteen minutes before bed–and he wanted to know if he could call us back. Shoot, there go my eyes again….

So they talked for a few minutes, and then I got on the phone to remind him that we’d need to discuss transportation for the next day (today), as it’s dinner night and usually I deliver the kids to him at 4:00. Well, Chickadee often doesn’t get off the bus until 4:00, so clearly something would need to change. The ex told me he’d have his dinner with his friends and then call me on his way back home.

He didn’t call last night, or today. As I sit here, it’s 1:00 and I still haven’t heard from him.

I will give you three guesses as to where he went on his extended weekend.

Now let’s be clear: I don’t begrudge him going to spend some time with his honey. But I hate being lied to, and for someone who claims to be a Very Involved Father he certainly gave up his visitation in a hurry, dontcha think? Which brings us to the reason that he lied. He is constantly angling for more time with the kids, and wouldn’t it look bad if I was able to bring up that he sacrificed his time for a booty call? Oh my, yes.

I cannot wait until the kids are old enough to draw their own conclusions.


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