Thursday, March 31, 2011

[Insert Snarky Title Here]

HIM [via text]: What is the plan for the kids going forward?
ME: I have no idea you are asking.
HIM: At this juncture, I don't think that I will be able to get / hold a job while trying to manage the kids during the week.

(Background Reminder: We currently have joint/shared custody. The kids spend Mon-Wed AM at my house; Wed PM-Fri at his house. We alternate weekends. I work when they are at their Dad's and/or when The Magic Mirror can watch them for me. PrinceCharming has them in FREE afterschool care when they are with him Wed-Fri so he can, in theory, work.)


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chew On This

Hansel teeters around 50lbs.
He's 8.
Most times he looks ok. But then there's the days where he doesn't.
Dark circles under his eyes makes him look like an extra from Oliver.
You know, as in: "Please sir, can I have some more?"
Except, most days he doesn't ask for more.
He's a picky eater. Mealtimes are a struggle. A struggle that I believe has been exacerbated by my separation from his Dad.
Psychologically he is trying to control what he can in his out-of-control life.
And food is the ONE thing he can control right now.
He's stubborn and smart. So the more you try to MAKE him do something, the more he digs in his heals and fights back.
Reverse psychology doesn't work. Withholding rewards doesn't work.
I learned this a loooonnnngggg time ago. His Dad hasn't.
Mealtimes at His house are a battle of the wills which my EX is not willing to lose.
Hansel has been force fed. Made to eat his dinner for breakfast the next day. And then lunch. Punished.
All to no avail.
Now red flags have gone up. His therapist is concerned over the beginning of an eating disorder.
I've tried talking with PC, asking him if he'd rather be RIGHT or have a peaceful relationship with his son.
"If I give in, then he wins," PC tells me.
What, exactly is it that he will win????
Hansel's therapist has tried to reach out. Numerous calls have been made by her office in an effort to set up an appointment where she can share her concerns and perhaps offer some guidance.
So far, PC hasn't been available to set up a time to come in and speak with her.
"We keep missing each other," is what he says. The therapist tells another story.

At my house, I offset the malnourishment with vitamins and Carnation Instant Breakfasts with every meal.  I don't punish if Hansel doesn't eat. Nor do I purposely make foods that I know he won't try.
I make an attempt at keeping a balanced offering of foods, so he can choose to try something.
I try not to make a big deal out of it either way, in spite of my fear of him becoming ill.
We don't have the same struggles as he does at his Dad's. But he still doesn't eat well enough, for me.
My stress is sometimes palpable, and I see him reacting to it.

I'm asking for advice.
Something constructive that will help my kid develop a healthy relationship with food.

In case you're wondering, this is what he will eat:
  • Pasta (mostly DRY, sometimes w/ tomato sauce, and always with TONS of parmesan cheese)
  • Bread (wheat)
  • Waffles
  • Bagels
  • Pancakes
  • Chicken
  • Beef (sometimes, but plain)
  • Pork
  • Baby carrots
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Oh, and ketchup, hot sauce and vinegar. On EVERYTHING. 
  • V8
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Cheese
  • French fries (McDonald's ONLY, and he will NOT eat potatoes in any other form)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Filling in the Blanks

Not that long ago, a commenter pointed out that reading my blog was like reading a book with missing chapters.
I know. Sorry about that.
I realize that many of details are lost, while I have gone on with the process of living; of taking care of myself and my kids while I rewrite the fairytale so many have come to know (including myself).
So where do I begin? How do I catch you up on where my life is now?
I guess the best place is to start at the beginning.
The Beginning of The End. What was started by this post.
After we "split" it took about eight months to start to move on completely.
Eight months to fully reconcile the end of the fairytale. I went through a slow process of fully integrating the reality of the situation - that the happily ever after I had been waiting for would never happen. That the person with whom I had chosen to spend my life was NOT that person. That he would not be there to take care of me: emotionally, financially, spiritually.
I tried moving on, but did so superficially. I found someone who was the polar opposite of what I had experienced in a partner: he was supportive, patient, wise... mature. I struggled with fully trusting that, never fully letting him in, but he stuck by my side throughout it all.
(Our story continues to unfold, but that's for another post. Suffice to say, I am HAPPY with him.)

After eight months of what the legal system calls "nesting" - where the kids stay put in the the marital home, while the parents split their time in said home - PrinceCharming eventually moved out. This decision came abruptly and was fueled by his desire to keep custody of Cinderella. Maleficent was still fighting for full custody, and how could he prove he was capable when he was leaving Cindy ALONE with me half of the time?
Joint finances were hardly enough to support ONE household, let alone two, but PC was following legal advice (advice that was misguided as his lawyer had no idea we were MONTHS behind in bills, but it was too late at that point).  So in May of 2010 PrinceCharming and Cinderella moved out.
I had found a job in March 2010 - working part-time in a Holistic Wellness Center, around our shared custody schedule. By May, I had also taken on several independent contractor positions to bring in extra money while also maintaining the flexibility to work AROUND the schedule we put in place with the kids.
During this process, PC and I tried mediation to formalize our separation.
Then we saw how much it would cost, so we opted for the cheaper route - employing the help of my Dad and PC's Sister, to act as "independent" third parties to assist us with negotiations.
While we made some progress, things halted rather quickly. Emotions were just too raw on BOTH sides.
Next, we moved on to a mutual "friend" who was a divorce lawyer. She kindly agreed to represent us both and act as informal mediator... as a favor.
We met a few times, but this friend had been PrinceCharming's original divorce lawyer throughout the years of struggle with Maleficent. There simply was too much history there, and as much as she tried (and I am truly grateful for her efforts), she could not help but steer PC in the direction that helped THAT situation as well.
Some groundwork had been put down, but no final paperwork has been drafted to date.
PC decided how much he could afford to pay in child support - without any legal documents forcing disclosure as to how much he made, I accepted whatever he was willing to pay. For a few months it was more than enough. Child support, paired with my income, covered my household bills and living expenses. We figured it out! (I thought.)
Then... child support payments started coming late. His clients weren't paying him, so he couldn't pay me. (That's a story that's plagued him his ENTIRE career. It's a story I am too familiar with and has caused us great financial struggles on and off over the years.)
Then the Winter happened with it's snow days, holidays, vacation and sick days. Missed work days meant missed pay. Increased heating costs didn't help, and ultimately led to both of us falling farther behind in bills.
Child support payments, still being paid late, then were reduced without warning. In fact, nothing was said. One day, he sheepishly handed me a wad of bills and skulked out as quickly as he could before I had a chance to count and notice the missing $300. Via text is where he confirmed that he would paying less each month (or whenever he had the money). That's the month where the cushion of money I started to collect was spent to cover rent. I am still trying to recover it.
My landlord is a true Prince of a man. He's understanding of my situation and gives me more leeway that I think I deserve - but I take it. He's sometimes more of a husband than a landlord - taking on overtime so HE can cover the mortgage payments on my house knowing how I struggle to pay rent month to month. Can you believe THAT?!?!
(Yes, I know it's time to move and I am in the process of looking for something cheaper.)
Child support hasn't been paid for two months. 
In the meantime, I'm working some days when I have the kids now too. Picking up even more hours where and when I can, more clients, all while trying to find a balance and not take too much of my time away from the kids.
I've borrowed money from family who are depleting their retirement savings in order to help me keep a roof over my head.
My partner (The Magic Mirror) pitches in and watches the kids whenever I need him to so I can work extra hours. He contributes in ways I never knew a man could or would - and I am grateful to have him in my life. He bears a lot of the domestic burdens of the house (cooking, cleaning, food shopping), while I do my damnedest to compensate my household income while also remembering to take care of myself.
I am grateful for all of the support I am getting.
Through it all, I remember the lessons PrinceCharming and I learned from our experiences with Maleficent. I never speak poorly of him to the kids, never use them as pawns. I continually ask myself what's in their best interests when making decisions. I live by the mantra:

"Love your kids more than you hate your Ex."

There's a fine line between being amicable, respecting your co-parent and respecting yourself.
There were boundaries that needed to be drawn. Not out of spite, but out of necessity for my own sanity and self-worth. (It hasn't always been easy to tell the difference between the two.)
See... my kids deserve a Mom who is healthy and stable. And that comes from self-care and self-respect. Thanks to the opportunities that come with working at a Holistic Wellness Center, I've attend twice monthly women's therapy groups for the last year. These intense sessions have resulted in tremendous steps towards my recovery and transformation. One-on-one therapy, Reiki and other opportunities empower me to step out of the role of the victim - remind me that I am stronger than I realize and have what it takes to control the outcome of my life. And that means I am allowed to say NO sometimes.
I am learning that I am capable of saving myself. I don't need anyone to do it for me.


I know that by getting on with the process of living my life and supporting myself, that details have been left out for those of you who read my blog. I apologize if you've been feeling a bit in the dark.
I know it's all-too-easy to jump to conclusions to make judgments and assumptions on someone's life when you don't know all of the details. I appreciate those of you who have been following me long enough to know that for every detail that is shared, there are probably many MANY more that have yet to be.
Hopefully, you're feeling a little more caught up on what's been happening in the Castle these days. There's still more to tell, and I promise to get to it... when I can.
I don't fault anyone for their judgments. I've actually learned that when you judge someone, you are actually judging yourself. That when you are triggered by what someone says, it means there is something in YOU that needs to be addressed.
So I don't take any of the criticism that's been posted here to heart. I know that sometimes those opinions come out of ignorance.
No matter your opinion, I appreciate every one of you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


For several weeks I was getting the feeling something was up.
I can't explain how or why. Just something in my intuition was telling me changes were coming.
Subversive comments have been made during conversations about the kids; blaming our current shared custody agreement as being at the root of his behavioral challenges with 8 y/o Hansel.

Then I get the text...

HIM: We need to talk when you have the chance
ME: Everything ok?
HIM: Just need to talk about the kids and plans and stuff.

The next day he calls.  He suggests we consider altering our current custody arrangement.
"The back and forth mid-week between our homes is getting to the kids. I think Hansel is having the hardest time as a result." 
I remind him of the issue of late child support payments. And that while I am working hard at gaining my financial independence, and have come a LONG way in the past year, I am still not there yet and... well...  kids cost MONEY and having our kids full-time equals greater financial burden, so he better pony up ON TIME.
Then he says it:

HIM: I am trying to find work, but it's not here.
Me: Not here? As in NY?
HIM: Nope.

It's all becoming clearer.
Last week, he asked at the last minute if I could keep the kids on his days because he had a job interview.  Of course I said yes, because they are my kids and I would rather them be with me then shuffled between his sister's or parents' houses. Still, it was a strain on me financially.
Last weekend the kids were at their Dad's... but he was not there. Instead they spent the weekend going back and forth between babysitters (his Aunts and Grandparents).
ME: Where was Daddy?
HANSEL: I dunno... working I think. He didn't really tell me where he was.
This week, he's texted again... asking for me to keep the kids again on his days due to another interview.
Two weeks in a row of last minute custody changes.
Two months in a row of no child support.
We have no signed divorce agreement in place yet. We've been fairly amicable these almost 2 years (which mostly entails me accepting LESS THAN I really deserve and constant late payments) and focused on rebuilding our own lives separate and apart that it's been put on the back burner.
Recent events now have placed a giant spotlight on the missing documentation - the lack of anything in writing that would in theory guarantee some kind of monetary compensation.
I'm in quite the conundrum. I don't ever want to use my kids as pawns, or turn them away when their Dad can't be there for them. But the financial strain of suddenly having them FULL TIME without advanced warning and preparation is troubling.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An EXplanation for my Absence

I've reconciled with one Ex.
Another Ex is moving, most likely out of the state and to another part of the country.

There's much transformation and evolution afoot.
(Oh Yeah, I'm moving too. Don't know where yet. My landlord put my house up for sale in January.)

Needless to say, there's been a lot to process and work through in the castle.
It's terrifying. But all good. I promise.

Stay tuned.