Okay. I promise I'm not going to vent on here every time XWW does something ridiculous, but I need to fume for a couple of minutes.
Our parenting agreement specifies that XWW has our daughter on Columbus day. I e-mailed her to ask how she wanted to work the logistics of this. She responded that she had agreed to take our daughter on that day with the assumption that I would be employed full time (I'm still looking for a full-time job), and that this was essentially a favor to me so that I wouldn't have to find child care for the whole day. She, on the other hand, by her own admission, is working 90 hour weeks (she doesn't have to, by the way. She overcommitted herself for reasons that I can't fully comprehend), and so she asked if she could have the extra day.
Now, normally I wouldn't object to an extra holiday with my daughter, but I have obligations every Monday night that require me to find child care every week. I alternate between asking friends to watch my daughter and paying for babysitters. One of them expends a good deal of relational capital. The other one costs a significant amount of money. So I figured that it was actually convenient that I wouldn't have to go through that trouble on the night of Columbus Day. So I told XWW that I was going to stick to the agreement in this case.
Well the shit hit the fan like you wouldn't believe. She called me on the phone, furiously railing about how I was selfishly taking advantage of something that she granted to me as a favor, how I was being unempathetic and inhuman, talking about how I couldn't possibly understand the kind of stress she was under, because if I understood, then I would give her the day. She refused to believe me that I wasn't doing this out of spite, because obviously if I wasn't spiteful, I'd agree with her.
I kept calm and did not respond to any of her personal accusations (which only infuriated her more). I simply reiterated that I was exercising my prerogative to abide by the agreement. Repeatedly. I just set my response on auto-repeat and refused to engage with any emotional content in her speech. The "conversation" went on for a while, and I won't repeat most of what she said. She told me that the next time I asked for a favor, she'd probably say no. Eventually she hung up on me after calling me an asshole.
It's really amazing that she has the nerve to talk about empathy or humanity, or being considerate. You can't believe how much effort it took for me to bite my tongue. I resisted both the temptation to attempt to justify myself and to vilify her. I. Just. Didn't. Take. The. Bait.
But this whole thing is really frustrating, because now she probably will be less accommodating to me purely out of spite. Which is a shame, because she was genuinely being pretty easy to work with. The past couple of weekends, for instance, I arranged to pick our daughter up a day early so that we could do some special activities. It worked fine. And I've agreed to take our daughter for several extended periods of time over the course of the next two months so that she can go to conferences (though some of that is part of our agreement, which entitles us each to engage the other parent's services 14 days out of the year). This will probably throw a wrench in the machinery.
In that sense, I wonder if those 4.5 hours on Monday night was worth it. But as she was verbally assaulting me, I felt like it was really about something else at that point. It was about whether I was going to stand my ground. If I capitulate every single time she does something like this just to keep her happy and cooperative, then she's going to walk all over me.
And she needs to learn that she can't throw a fit every time I don't grant her a favor, because it's a FAVOR, and not an obligation.
And it was certainly a test of my self control. I wasn't about to be drawn into an argument about who was a good person and who wasn't. The time for that is long past. It's hard, though. It's really hard.