Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Supervising Visits = Very Painful

So last weekend I agreed to G's first supervised visit with I (G = almost-ex-husband; I = our 1 1/2 year old daughter).  It was a surprisingly civil meet-up.  More than civil, almost friendly even.  To sum it up in one word: painful.  Masochistic?

See, I am the one who has demanded supervised visits only due to something I recently discovered G to be involved in that will forever make me question him as a safe person for our children (or anyone's) to be around.  Through his actions, he has crossed the unthinkably uncrossable line that no reasonable right-minded person crosses.  But that is another story for another time.    

When I first dictated my demands via e-mail G launched off with a weeks worth of predictable behavior.  Empty (absurd) threats.  Name calling.  Blaming.  What is different this time around is that I held my ground and remained firm.  I told him I had every intention of doing exactly as I stated (hiring a lawyer, filing for divorce, demanding full custody with 3rd party supervised visits only or allowing him the option--as discussed with my lawyer-- to terminate his parental rights so that he may never be "required" to pay child support).  The word, "required" is really a meaningless term for one who has previously gone to every effort to not pay his child support for his child from another relationship and also claims to be un-employed/self-employed.

So after a week of stupid e-mails he has more or less agreed to sign over his rights if he never has to pay child support.  And I had better be sure it is never.  Wouldn't want to screw a "nice guy" over "yet again."  

So the formalities are in the works.  Today I just handed over a check for a non-refundable retainer to a pricey (and hopefully worth it) family law attorney today.  I will know more as the process unfolds.  People have warned me, "Expect the worse," "it's gonna get worse before it can get better."  I'm not sure-- this could all be easy or difficult.  I think he sort of knows his hands are tied by the evidence against him and my seriousness this time around but on the other hand:  G could change his mind and decide to be stick in the mud (to put it very nicely) about all of this at any moment, hence the need for the hefty contested divorce retainer rather than the smaller uncontested fee.  

I hope my mom is okay with myself and her granddaughters living rent-free with her until I am at least 30.    

So anyway, I was in the middle of describing the visit as masochistic.  This visit has taught me that I need to be more firm about boundaries and maintaining them.

I had selected a meet up place approximately mid-way (but closer to me, hah).  A busy shopping center that hosts an indoor playground.  G thought it was a great idea.  He even agreed to Saturday as opposed to Sunday per my request, even though he had to rearrange his schedule.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at how much he has accommodated me regarding this visit.  I sort of have him by the balls here and he knows it.  I'm not some sort of vengeful crazy lady here, but it is sort of a satisfying feeling after all of the crap he's put me through.  I suppose he is just playing it up as part of his nice-guy manipulation, though.

So yeah, he was as nice as nice can be.  Paid for the admission.  Played with our daughter.  Said, "wow, I'm worn out." After 2 hours of chasing her around.  (Uh yeah.  I do that all day.  With a big belly holding an almost-ready-to-go baby.)  He took her on the merry-go-round rides.  He asked if I wanted to take her once around the ride.  Then asked if we wanted to go have dinner.  Asked me if I wanted dessert.  Then paid for dinner.  He strapped our daughter into her carseat, said his goodbyes, and folded up the stroller into my trunk.  Then, as I stood many steps away from him as it was time to go, he looked me in the eyes and said, "Well, ok bye." "Bye" Then, he walked a few steps over to reach out to me and to give me a kiss on the cheek and a hug goodbye.  I suppose none of this is really any surprise when I really think about it.  My husband has been honing his manipulative skills for twice as long as I have even been alive.

The problem here is ME.  Though I politely declined the offer to go on the carousel, I offered to take the pictures of he and our daughter on the carousel with my camera phone.  I said, "ok, sure if you're hungry" when he asked us to dinner.  "Ok, sure" I'll take a bite of your dessert.  "What do I owe here for my half? No that's ok... well, ok, thank you."  And then when he reached in for the hug, I hugged back.  And I was the last one to let go.

After the goodbye I immediately got into my car and drove away, wiping the tears from my eyes as I drove, hoping he couldn't see as he got into his car and followed me out of the parking lot.  I felt spooked the entire drive home.  The goodbye had been like seeing a ghost.  The ghost of a marriage past.  The ghost of a family that though I forever wished for (and probably always will), never truly was.  And with that man, never truly will be.

Friday, July 22, 2011

TGIF Favorites

So on a lighter note, I thought I'd share a few of out favorites:

1. Greek Yogurt

She has come to be sort of a picky eater in her toddler stage. One of her few absolute favorites that she will eat at anytime is (Greek) Yogurt-- even the bland-ish plain or vanilla.  We are no brand snobs here, any will do.  But this type is affordable and easy to find at any store.  It's comes in nonfat but is nevertheless, creamy--which she loves.  Greek yogurt is thicker than the traditional stuff and loaded with more protein.  I try to get the kind with fruit in it too for a little extra vitamin boost, or you could try to mix a few in yourself. YUM!  

2. Nick Jr.

If you have cable or satellite and don't have this channel, I highly recommend you make a phonecall now to your provider to add this one.  Nick Jr. is an absolute sanity keeper for us both.  She loves Yo Gabba Gabba, Ni-Hao, Kai Lan, and Team Umizoomi.  A TV channel with a "pre-school curriculum," its shows run 24/7 with no commercials.  Instead of ads for obnoxious toys or crappy snacks there are short educational cartoon clips inserted between the shows as part of the pre-school curriculum.  Even pre-pre-school, I know these shows are helping her learn new words and counting.  TV bad for your kids? Whatever.  It's is not her babysitter; when I need a free minute I turn on this channel and we both win.  She learns another way to say "Hel-lo!" and I get a few minutes to put on makeup, make a quick phone call, or fix some lunch.  Quick tip: if you have DVR or Tivo, record a few episodes of your child's favorites to have at hand.

3. Born Free Trainer Cups
Zoom View - Training Cup 6 Months
After finally selecting another daycare after my daughter turned 1, we soon learned of a new rule on her first day: all Ones must be drinking from cups--NO Bottles!!  Prior to this occasion, we had casually and non-forcefully introduced the idea of a sippy cup to her, but my daughter had not been impressed by the idea of hard spouts on nevertheless cheerful looking cups.  She was however, a huge fan of her Born Free bottles. (9oz, plastic)  So after throwing tons of money down the drain shopping for a variety of sippy cups, I desperately run into the drugstore one morning and stumbled upon this.  She took to it instantly; we all breathed a sigh of relief knowing she could stay in the daycare after all.  Another quick tip: the training cups come in two sizes.  The smaller cup comes with a softer spout than the larger cup.  If you have the Born Free bottles, since the parts are interchangeable just purchase the separate spouts (which will need to be replaced every couple of months anyway and save $$$!

4. You and Me Love and Wiggles Doll

We sort of have an odd relationship with this doll.  A few weeks ago my mom wanted to go to the local ToysRUs to pick out a few toys for my daughter.  I suggested a babydoll.  We looked at a few dolls, trying to select an age-appropriate doll.  There were two of these on the shelf.  One of them was opened-up already, with the fabric rinky-dink bottle missing.  Like dummies, we grabbed the other mint-condition one without bothering to attempt a test-drive on the opened good on the shelf.  It wasn't until after we brought it home that we realized why someone took the bottle but left the doll behind.  So apparently, this doll wiggles and giggles when a switch is flipped on in the back-- in the most freakish way.  Sort of a cross between a shriek and a giggle, this baby activates her charm from some sort of apparent sensor (think Halloween motion sensor decoration).  Whenever this doll goes off, my daughter gets a sheepish grin on her face and throws her hands up to her cheeks.  I can practically hear her thinking, "Maybe if I put my hands up to my face and smile this possessed doll won't kill me."  Nevertheless, it doesn't seem to truly frighten her, since she doesn't cry or seem too terrified of it.
But this is the tip: We don't use this dolly as a toy-- it makes an excellent toddler deterrent!  She likes to climb her highchair when it's not feeding time.  I plop possessed doll in her seat, telling her "it's time for dolly to eat" and toddler stays away.  Magical.

(All of these products were self-purchased.  I was not paid to promote any of these items that we love.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pregnant Thoughts

I'm not sure if this is the case for all moms out there, but it really seems like this pregnancy (my second) is flying by ever since I finished up all the first semester morning sickness blahs.  Many times throughout this pregnancy I have been asked (either by medical personnel or a family member of friend) how far along I am and my answer usually goes something like, "Umm... I think I'm XX weeks (or months) along... err.... I mean X weeks (months)... I think..."

For the record, I believe I am 29 weeks along.  I think.

I guess my point here is that I have had so much on my mind these 20something weeks-- fueled by stress and the distraction of constantly chasing an active toddler around, that the second time around I need to remind myself to stop and enjoy the moment of being pregnant.  Baby kicks all the time (an indicator that this baby will be even more active than my adventurous toddler?) and especially with all the emotional stress and heartbreak as of lately, it is a beautiful reminder of the significance of what I am capable of right now.

A lot of crucial factors are changing now that I am going to be doing this "alone" for sure.  I do not plan to have my (soon- to-be-ex-) husband in the delivery room (let alone the hospital) this time around.  I'm not sure who will be there with me as my stand-in (support) "partner." Most would probably say their mothers, but my mom (though a retired neo-natal nurse) is not exactly someone I would consider an ideal support here, I mean she's kind of a hard-ass.  Husband was lousy in countless ways, but this was one of his few good qualities--being supportive in the actual labor.

But just as I type out that sentence, somewhere in my brain I almost begin to miss him just a bit, I suddenly remember how, just two days later after giving birth, him scolding me after the discharge nurse left the room, because, oh silly-sleep-deprived me "didn't even make any sort of eye contact as the nurse explained things, which was embarrassing and she definitely noticed your immature behavior"  And then just like that, I've snapped back into reality and I know that despite the uncertainty and change, this time around will be so much more because I am alone.  And that will be just fine.

This delivery will be so much different than the delivery of my daughter in so many ways.  In my mind I've already set up a few "defense mechanisms" to protect me from the inevitable sadness of delivering alone this time.  Different hospital, different doctor than my first delivery.  In all likelihood, due to a few reasons, I will be having a scheduled C-section as opposed to the vaginal delivery I had with my first (he wasn't ok with this, but now it doesn't matter.)  Even if my doctor wasn't ok with this, I think I would be pushing for it anyway.  I can accept the fact that I am now a single mom and there were some real f--ed up circumstances that have blasted me into this trajectory, I can accept that he has made those terrible choices that will prevent him from being a full part of our lives ever again, but I'm not sure that I will be able to accept the pain (no matter how much strong-willed thinking I conjure) of actually being partner-less on that delivery day when the other supportive husbands are holding their partners' hands... when that final push is made...  As I said, defense mechanisms must be put into place.  So perhaps I will be asking my good friend with an awesome sense of humor if she would do me the honor of accompanying me in the OR on the day with a camera.  I'll need pictures after all.  And a few darn good laughs.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Establishing Myself

Hi.  So I've been told I could probably write a story about my life in the past few years: carefree but focused college student "living it up" who suddenly gets picked up in a whirlwind romance by a much older charming, talented musician (ie: starving artist... I mean starving artist with no sincere desire to actually work beyond serving his own immediate self-interests).  This girl finds herself married and then pregnant to a man who is anything but the person she thought he was.  Life then becomes a daily struggle (financially, emotionally, educationally).  Every day becomes dulled by a depression fueled by the abusiveness of her monster-ific husband.  After defying the odds of oops!, this girl--ME, finds herself pregnant again; miserable, just trying to make it work.  The only light, which is indeed, a most brilliant beam, is the daughter (see picture!) and the little one on the way.

All of this changed for good about one month ago.  I discovered my soon to be ex's involvement in something pretty darn unspeakably bad (I daresay even worse than cheating).  No chance of slapping another piece of tape on this broken vase of a "family" that I tried so hard to maintain for 2 years.  So now I find myself living with my mom and my daughter, trying to pick up all of the pieces so I can take care of myself and my girls and figure out where the heck I was educationally (I, once a NHS member and vice president of my foreign language honor society, etc., etc. am a 5 year college student, er, make that 7? who has landed herself on academic probation in her last attempted college semester)

Oh yeah, and besides picking up my pieces scattered all over the darn place, I'm trying to get a divorce from he-who-shall-not-be-named.  And trying to find a job--at nearly 30 weeks pregnant.  Luckily I'm small.  Unluckily, this economy blows and August just so happens to be the slowest season in retail.

Now, to squeeze in a quick nap before Little Miss wakes up from hers.  Lots more to come...