Almost daily diary!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

You don't always appreciate the mundane.

When we went to mediation, nearly 18 months ago - but what seems like a different lifetime away - we discussed and agreed childcare. Ex husband wanted to work towards having the children every other week, for a whole week - a 50/50 split. At the time we discussed that, it was decided by him that this would start was once Small Sprog was settled at senior school. Christmas this year. I never thought it would happen.

At the time it seemed a lifetime away; I had this thought that once the children were settled with me, that they would want to stay, would be familiar with the routine and would  not want to change it. Recently, since we have moved and become settled, in our own home at last, I have been trying to build a home that they would enjoy living in, a family home, a home for us...That was then.

Recently the prospect of sharing their care equally has been haunting me, perhaps because Small Sprog has only 2 weeks left at Junior school. I am anticipating an email from Ex H. Emails from him are the only thing that makes my heart fall now, but at least there are no more awful solicitors letters dropping through the door every five minutes any more.

What will I say if he asks to have them? I decided to ask the children what they thought about sharing their time 50/50, after all, they're old enough now to decide. I felt so confident. We were happy in our new home, we had plans, we had a routine, thought we might get a pet.

I asked Tall Girl first, would she ever want to spend a week at daddys and a week at mine? She said she would. I was shocked. Really? I asked her. She didn't even needed time to think about it. It cut me to the core. I asked Small Sprog the same question this week. He jumped at the chance. I cried a lot yesterday, but not in front of them obviously.

What more could I do for them? I asked my Mum in an email. What have I failed to do? Like a spoilt child I wanted to be the best parent, I wanted to have the homeliest home, I wanted my children around me, not only half the time. I work in a school so as to have all the time I can with them. I enjoy their company; I thought I would still be needed for at least a few more years yet. I am not ready to lose them, it seems much too soon.

Then I feel angry inside. He was such a hands off father when we all lived together, he hardly ever wanted to spend time with them and retreated to the garden during most of the summer. He often seemed to regard them as a nuisance. Tall Girl even admitted that she used to be scared of him once.

So what has happened? He seems to be the perfect father now, spends loads of time with them on his weekends and when he doesn't (because he's still in the family home) all their friends are still on the street for them to play with. They have a great time, with or without him, as it should be I guess. For them, that must still feel like their 'real' home.

However whether he wants them 50/50 now or not is irrelevant really. They both want to spend more time there, I have already lost them...

I spent some time here feeling bereft. My heart hurt. It seems so unfair that they don't remember all the things that they have done with me over all their lives. So much time spent together, but they don't seem to remember any of it.

How will I feel being a part time mum? In most ways it is all my own fault, I split the family up, it was selfish and this is my punishment. So every moment I have them now is precious, it always has been, but you don't always appreciate the mundane.

I will leave you with an excerpt from an email from my lovely Mum. No matter what happens, at least I know, while she is on this earth, that she loves me and will always be there...

 It will all be fine for a while, but he won't change. He 'll begin to be the hands off father he once was, and when he starts treating them as a nuisance, I'll think it will be a different story. I shall never forget the day when we were all sitting down for a meal, you were in the kitchen and TG was sitting at the end of the table with her back to the window and asked him if she could shut the conservatory door as it was making her dinner cold and he said  "NO". I could have cried for her.  A few treatments like that and they will soon realise which side their bread is buttered.I do know that they have 'The Nit Children' to play with, but as they get older that won't last forever. I can't think what their Christmases will be like without your touch.

You have absolutely nothing to reproach yourself for. You have been a wonderful mother to them, and done so much for them and with them. Think of all the wonderful birthday parties you have given them all the wonderful themes you have created and fun you have given them.Oh, yes he was there but what did he contribute to it all.Will they stir the Christmas cake with him and have a wish...

Give them time, they aren't stupid, they will think it all out for themselves eventually.

I hope she's right


Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

A defining moment.
I have so been there.. but we agreed to live across the road from each other so never went 50:50 - but your children will see through him. I feel for you. My mother was so supportive too - glad your Mum is there for you. Words of wisdom indeed.

My daughter has recently come out with a load of accusations and twisted memories - I was astounded how she interpreted so many things and she in turn has been surprised at how much she didn't understand. She had forgotton all the riding, swimming, brownies, sports, plays, and things we did - and saw her father as a saint. Even when she watched and experienced the abuse on many levels. She is having counselling ... things are improving. His death has made him more saint like in some ways - but it was interesting to watch all the children have to come to terms with unravelling his life and death with new eyes. Now they know some of the truth - but I don't dwell on it. He has gone.... I will only speeak of it when there is a need to try and avoid them falling into the same behaviour that destoyed our family.

I know you will let the children go to their father because you are a nice person - and their relationship must continue - but you are, and always will be Mum. One day, if we are lucky, we will be as important to them as our mothers are to us now.

Maggie May said...

This post could easily have been written about my granddaughters, only in reverse.
It is surprising how all the absolute *hands off *treatment can be forgotten with a handful of bribes and the dutiful, loving parent can suddenly be a less attractive proposition. It really hurts.

I hope your mother is right. Yes..... I really do hope so.
However, in the end, when they are fully grown, they will get things into better perspective and be more inclined to see the bigger picture.
I guess children love their parents equally no matter what they have experienced.
You are both of you their parents and I guess you both matter very much to them.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Suburbia said...

Thanks Fi, good to know that these things happen. How sad that they do not remember all that we have done for them?
Thanks for your comment. How are you? Are you still getting aftershocks?

Maggie, yes I realise that they love us both equally and that is how it will be. I am sad for Sam...

Rob-bear said...

I'm not surprised that you're shocked by the children's decisions. There is no accounting for some things, particularly what children say or do. They want to be in a family, I suppose, and they are doing what they can to make it happen.
Besides, we all have selective memories.
I've no doubt that you're a great mum, and they will continue to love you, deeply.
Blessings and Bear hugs in a changing time!

Steve said...

Your mum is right.

You are not a failure and nor are you a part time mum. If anything you are a complete success, precisely because your children do want to maintain a relationship with their father. This is a sign of good emotional health on their side. Truly. I think what has been said above is also right. At the moment your ex is behaving himself with them because having them is a novelty... it's like a holiday; so different to living with someone day in, day out. That will wear off though. And when the novelty wears off and old behaviours resurface your kids will undoubtedly want to review arrangement. Be patient. Bide your time. Be there for them. They are not going anywhere.

Rose said...

Your mother is very wise, Suburbia. Listen to her advice.

While I've never gone through this myself, I've seen a similar situation several times. Of course, their father's house is fun because they're there on weekends when he has free time to spend with them, and he has the money to take them places. When it's a daily routine, and he has to go off to work, get them dinner each day, do laundry, etc., etc. things may not be so much fun...they'll become mundane, too.

Give it time; your children know how much you love them. Even if they decide they want this 50/50 arrangement, it's not because they don't love you, but because they want their father to love them, too. As your mum says, they will think it all out for themselves eventually.

Akelamalu said...

It's good for the children that he wants them isn't it? If he keeps it up the children will have the best of both worlds won't they? If he doesn't keep it up they will see through him, as your Mum says, and just want to be with you. Let it take it's course and don't fret, just enjoy the time you have with the children and enjoy the time you have to yourself. It could all work out good for everyone. x

Working Mum said...

You haven't lost them, they just have two parents and want to be with both, it's natural.

However, I think your mother may be right and the reality of day to day 24 hour parenting, without you around to ease his burden, may make him change his mind. Also, when he has to do all the mundain stuff like school runs and lunches and homework and isn't the fun parent he currently is, your children will change their minds.

You just have wait and see. Don't fight his access or he will retaliate, just go with it, let them go and watch them come back.

Suburbia said...

Thank you all so much for all your wise words, it means a lot right now.

Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

Just checked back - lovely to see so much support.

Aftershocks have dropped off - nice one this morning though so not gone.
WIll take time...

I see you are fb friends with Saz and Carol Anne..
would love to add you but not sure if that feels ok for you - but do ask if you want to add me.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

I think you've done really well as a mum. It sounds as though your children are coping really well post-break up and it is natural and healthy for them to want to spend time with their Dad. But I would echo what the others say: At first my ex saw all 3 kids 2-3 times a week, but that did not last long. He sees his son now 2x a week for about 3 hours each time. My eldest once a month or so: though she is 18 and my dd with cerebral palsy not at all, she doesn't even recognise her own father now, which is very sad. In my house they are know that I am the one they can rely on, the one who is always there for them and they appreciate me now. I don't know the full story of what happened in your marriage, but I'd say they will soon realise just how special you are xx

Furtheron said...

Tough stuff. However you have to let them do what they want. Who knows what will happen, your Mum may well be right.

You have to let this be and it will end up where it ends up - right or wrong, good or bad, but if you fight it I'm sure it'll go bad for all of you.

Suburbia said...


I have no intention of stopping them, it just brought me to my senses, that's all.Sometimes things don't go how you expect