Yesterday was a parenting failure. In order to explain how, I have to give
TL;DR: I need to treat my ex-wife as a rebellious teenager, who will not do
what I ask for the sheer satisfaction of refusing me. In other words, I
need to deal with her the same way I deal with our son.
I was married to #1 son's mother for nearly ten years. He was six years old
when we separated, and seven when we divorced. He didn't take things well.
My ex-wife – let's call her J – struggled, even though I was giving her
$2000 a month in child support. Well, I say “struggled” when what I mean is
that she decided to take the money, which was supposed to pay the mortgage
and the car payment, and spend it on clothing, hair dye, makeup and
whatever else you need to spend money on when embarking on a career in the
adult entertainment industry.
Now, don't get me wrong – J is following her dream, and there's a part of
me that envies her that decision. As a 9-6 office drone, I'm certainly not
doing that. And I've got no issue with her chosen line of work – “an' it
harm none, do what you will”, right? But her decision to pursue that career
didn't harm none. Instead, it led to the car nearly being repossessed, the
house being foreclosed upon, and in the end, me moving back to the same
town they were in, and suing for residential custody of #1 son. At one
point I visited the house they lived in to get some stuff, and it was a
giant cat-box. Literally urine sprayed everywhere, she'd sold the
appliances and the gas-line pipes for money, and #1 son was sleeping on the
couch in the living room because his room was so filthy.
So as part of the lawsuit, of course, the child-support stopped, and J was
swiftly out of money. Getting custody was easy at that point, because she
no longer had a lawyer, and my current wife and I #1 son into our place. J
has one regular day a week, one floating day a week, and the last weekend
of every month visitation.
Over time, we grew flexible with the visitation. #1 son likes to be with
his mother – mostly because she doesn't impose any rules or regulations –
and he still struggles with the idea that my current wife is an authority
figure, so for a while, he spent more time with J. The problem was, J
couldn't stick to a schedule, so she'd say that she'd keep #1 son from 6pm
on Friday till 6 pm on Sunday, but then show up at 10 am on Saturday to
drop him off without any notice – and then would be verbally abusive when
we weren't available to receive him, even if we told her she could bring
him to whatever local grocery store or mall we were at.
That led me to return to following the letter of the law in the Joint
Parenting Agreement, to the point where I actually refused to let her have
a weekend out of schedule with #1 son.
So earlier this week, I asked J if she was going to take #1 son on
Thursday. He's having mid-term exams, so he's finished at 11 am. She asked
if she could take him after school and return him on Friday around lunch
time. I agreed, if she would take him to his pediatrician for an
immunization shot. She didn't respond, so I followed up yesterday. She
announced that she wasn't going to take him to the doctor, and that as
custodial parent, that was my job to do, especially since I've “restricted”
“I had not planned on taking him to the doctors in my time since there is
less time with him now ill be doing the things he and I planned together.”
Of course, I've done nothing of the sort, and I responded as such. The
conversation escalated, as such conversations do, and I reached my tipping
“Very well. Floating days do not include overnights. Have him back by 9pm
on Thursday. You may pick him up at 8am on Friday.”
J, predictably, freaked out, and decided that she wasn't going to take #1
son for any time at all. She informed #1 son of this before I had a chance
to talk to him, so #1 son was very angry with me.
Now, this visit to the doctor wasn't going to cost J anything except some
time. I pay for all of #1 son's medical bills, all of his medications, all
of his school fees, I provide 90% of his clothes and school supplies, and
of course, all of his food and shelter expenses. Somewhere in there my wife
and I even found the money to get him a $600 laptop this year. J pays for
the food he eats when they're together, and whatever gifts she decides to
get him, which is sometimes clothing.
All I wanted her to do was take him to get the shot. And so I got mad when
she behaved exactly the way I expected.
When the custody battle was in full swing, J refused to let me take #1 son
for half of his birthday, and I asked my lawyer what to do. She told me
that while I could file a petition in court, it would likely get rejected,
and then she said this:
“In most family court cases, one party acts like adults, and the other
party acts like children. One party takes responsibility, and the other one
seeks to avoid it. In this case, you're the adult, and J is the child. It
will do no good to get angry with her; she's not going to change.”
I forgot that message, and so now I have to take #1 son to get the shot
anyway, and he's angry with me. I understand that it's not my fault that J
can't behave like a responsible adult, but that doesn't assuage my guilt
Everything happened exactly as I thought it would. I should just learn my
lesson. That's what I need to do. I need to be the parent., because she's