She is enormously stressed with her work and school schedule, and I fear that she's starting to fray at the edges.
Here are two previous posts that tell about a few things that happened last week.
So to give a little background, every Monday night I have an engagement that requires me to find childcare for my daughter. When we were married, XWW was able to take care of this, but what I have been forced to do is to drop my daughter off at friends' houses. They will put her to bed, but then when I get home (sometimes around 10:30 at night), I have to wake her up, put her in the car, drive her home, and put her back to bed. This is almost never smooth. She usually ends up crying and upset because, of course, she doesn't want to wake up, and I can't reason with her because she's half asleep and incoherent. It's rough, and I hate doing it, and it makes me mad at XWW for putting me in this situation. Occasionally, I am able to have a babysitter come to the house, but I really can't afford to pay a babysitter every single week for a gig I'm not getting paid for.
Anyway, tonight XWW was basically the babysitter because she had her all day for Columbus Day (which you'll see in those other posts, she protested quite fervently), and so she got to see this spectacle first-hand, and she was NOT happy. I mean, I don't blame her. It's not ideal at all, but what I didn't appreciate was her response, which made it sound like I was abusing our child by waking her up in the middle of the night to take her home. "I won't have it," is what she said, and told me that I was going to have to find a babysitter every Monday night from now on, and I was going to pay for it myself.
When I got home, there was an e-mail to this effect:
***I do not want you bringing DD to someone's house on Monday nights anymore. Now that I've seen it first hand, I am not happy about it all. It's not fair to DD to wake her up and tote her around when she has to get up for school in the morning. We had an exhausting weekend and she was totally pooped. If it costs you money, it costs you money. Or you quit. What you're doing to her is not right and I won't have it.***
So that's issue number one. She has a point, but what's completely unacceptable in my opinion is the way she feels like she has a right to tell me what I can or cannot do during my parenting time. Months ago, we actually discussed the possibility of an arrangement whereby she could watch DD on Monday nights in exchange for me taking one extra full day every month. But then she couldn't do it because she had to schedule class for that time. And of course, she didn't want to have to pay a babysitter, so she decided against that agreement. Hmm. Suddenly, she things the can tell me, "You're going to do X, and you're going to pay for it." Or else what? Or else you're going to be unhappy? Or else you'll take me to court and say that I'm not caring for our child responsibly? What???
Well, that was only half of it. I think I mentioned in those other posts, that she's saying that she wants to have DD go to another preschool during her parenting days (one that's closer to her). Some of you may remember that XWW moved a good distance away against my advice. I let her do it, though, because she agreed to transport DD to her school (which is close to me) on her parenting days. When we had our hearing, the judge noted the distance between us and asked her if she was going to transport DD on her parenting days. She said yes. That's on record. Now, she has decided that this inconvenience is too much for her to handle, and she's angling to change our arrangement.
I made the mistake of saying that I was open to it at first, before I had really thought it through. Very quickly, I sent her an e-mail clarifying that I was not completely sold on the idea, that way she couldn't point to any e-mail saying that I had agreed to it.
The fact is, that I am counting on the status quo of DD going to school in my district to help keep her from being sent to school far away from me when she goes to kindergarten (our agreement doesn't specify where she will go to primary school). So if I give up ground on that now, I'll be screwed later on. It's going to be tough because XWW lives in a better school district. I'm hoping to move somewhere better before DD goes to kindergarten, but I just can't afford to live where XWW is living (Neither can she, really. That's why I told her not to move there), and so if DD goes to school near her, I'm going to have to probably give up all the school days during the school year. I'm not willing to make that sacrifice.
So even though I haven't told her this yet, I have decided that I'm not going to budge on the schools. DD has adjusted well to the school she's in. I'm not going to throw her life into disarray again in the middle of the school year. And I'm certainly not going to set a precedent for her going to school 35 minutes away from me (in good traffic) if I can help it. But I'm dreading what's going to happen when I tell her that I'm not budging. She is going to be monumentally pissed.
And here's the thing. She can't do anything about it. We have an agreement, and a judge isn't going to alter something she agreed to just because she no longer finds it convenient or because it stresses her out. But I don't think she gets that, and she has talked about taking me to court over the school issue. So now I need to see a lawyer to make sure I'm prepared for any rash action of hers. I don't want to be forced to pay legal fees now for a court case that's just going to land us back where we started!
I'm beginning to regret going for a non-contested divorce at this point. If I had sued her for divorce on the grounds of adultery, we probably would have had something similar to what we have now, but maybe I would have gotten primary legal custody, and that could have given me the peace of mind that I'm lacking right now. Sure, I probably would be broke, but if I'm going to have to go back to court anyway, what did I really accomplish by settling out of court in the first place?
She was doing a decent job of being civil to me, but this blowup over Columbus day just seems to have set her on a bad track. She's on the express train to bitch-ville, and I fear our co-parenting relationship is deteriorating. I get that it's not my job to keep her happy, but I was kind of hoping that we'd have more than a month of at least some sort of reasonable quid pro quo. Now it's just all going down the shitter.
I guess I just have to strap myself in and get ready for a bumpy ride. But this is all seriously making me anxious. I'm feeling jittery and maybe even a little bit panicky, and I don't like that. I haven't felt that way since before the divorce.
Anyway, thanks for listening.
It's going to be tough because XWW lives in a better school district.
Very few judges care about "better school zone". You live where you live and the school zone is what it is.
And here's the thing. She can't do anything about it. We have an agreement, and a judge isn't going to alter something she agreed to just because she no longer finds it convenient or because it stresses her out.
EXACTLY!! And you should not stress about something that she cannot change in the short term!
and she has talked about taking me to court over the school issue. So now I need to see a lawyer to make sure I'm prepared for any rash action of hers. I don't want to be forced to pay legal fees now for a court case that's just going to land us back where we started!
Given that she really has no recourse in court, I would take a wait and see attitude wrt seeing a L. IF she takes you to court (a big IF), then you will have plenty of time between the court summons and the court date. For now, just assume she is blowing smoke and the law is on your side. Things my change in the future, but for now I think you are safe.
I'm beginning to regret going for a non-contested divorce at this point. If I had sued her for divorce on the grounds of adultery, we probably would have had something similar to what we have now, but maybe I would have gotten primary legal custody,
Probably not. In my state (and in many states) shared legal custody is the norm unless the other parent is a clear threat to the child. In my state, the reason for D has no bearing on custody, unless the other parent is a felon.
And yeah, it's a fair point, and I'm looking into better solutions between now and then, but I refuse to do it because she dictates it.
So to give a little background, every Monday night I have an engagement that requires me to find childcare for my daughter. When we were married, XWW was able to take care of this, but what I have been forced to do is to drop my daughter off at friends' houses. They will put her to bed, but then when I get home (sometimes around 10:30 at night), I have to wake her up, put her in the car, drive her home, and put her back to bed. This is almost never smooth. She usually ends up crying and upset because, of course, she doesn't want to wake up, and I can't reason with her because she's half asleep and incoherent. It's rough, and I hate doing it, and it makes me mad at XWW for putting me in this situation.
I'm sorry, but it's not okay to have a preschool-aged child out until 10:30 pm on a school night, or any other night. And waking her up to drive her home at this point is really unhealthy for her. You might be angry at your wife for pointing it out to you, or for "telling you what to do," but really, some sort of childcare in your home IS the best option for your child.
Just curious: what "engagement" is important enough to keep you out until 10:30 pm and do this to your child? Can't you have a family friend or relative come to your house once a week and watch your child there?
Your child needs to come first.
If that is impossible then its only another, 12 or so more Mondays before January and this becomes a non-issue.
You're not doing it for XWW or because she says so - you're doing it because its not working for your DD or for you.
Truth is she can't make you do it so ignore her. You don't even have to inform her you have changed arrangements.
Try not to get into a win/lose mindset with this stuff. My girls are 5.5 and 3 so I'll be on this road a looooooooong time. Win/lose mindsets usually means our kids lose.
On the school issue - I would hope that the parent who moved away and agreed to commute would just have to suck it up.
You've reached an impasse on this issue and neither of you are looking to move on your position anytime soon so it is best to not discuss this anymore and move straight to lawyers only.
I don't feel particularly inclined to justify myself to anyone here anymore than I need to justify myself to my ex.
Yes, I recognize it's sucky. I'm looking into other options. End of story. I'm beginning to regret writing this.
As is Dreamboat and StrongButBroken. When you ask for opinions, you will get some that you don't like, unfortunately. Doesn't mean you have to agree with them or take their advice. (((dbellanon)))
"Oh, why do my actions have consequences?" ~ Homer Simpson
"She knew my one weakness: That I'm weak!" ~ Homer Simpson
Personally, it's the kind of thing that we often encourage BS here to do after the crushing blow of DDay and S/D. It's him actively taking care of himself and doing something that is meaningful to him.
Professionally, it is something that will potentially help him if he decides to go down that particular path as he looks for full-time work.
So while I think that the focus rightly needs to be on what is best for DD 100% and absolutely, I still don't think not going to his Monday evening engagements is the answer.
Rather, some of the suggestions here about exploring options for more consistent and affordable child care are right on.
And I do think that those of you who have suggested that he needs to rethink his approach to these Monday nights and waking up DD are offering some really helpful advice in terms of reframing this not as an issue with his XWW per se. It shows that her objection isn't unfounded or even necessarily a personal jab.
So if I were going to break down the lessons here: (1) we always need to keep looking for balance as we learn to negotiate our new lives as single-parents; (2) we can't be too quick to discount our XWWs when it comes to parenting, even if they have proven they are scum in other departments.
And broader lessons: (1) when you find that you are hitting an impasse like this, this is what L are for; (2) focus on consistency for DD in whatever form (having to do with these Mondays or with school) and, as you master that, I agree with others that the less communication with XWW the better.
[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 9:53 AM, October 15th (Tuesday)]
I'm not judging whatever it is that is happening on Monday nights. I am saying, though, that it is now being used against Dbel. I would expect that if I'd been doing the same thing, it would have been used against me. Whatever this thing is on Monday nights is, it's going to hurt Dbel as well as his daughter. The STBXW is going to use it against him. Whatever it is, it makes his daughter cry. It's causing a hardship for her.
I'm giving you the perspective of someone who has gone through a long, arduous, painful custody battle with a bastard who has used every single thing that I've done "wrong" against me. I've had to answer to professionals and a judge for everything I've done. I have some experience that I think is of value right now to Dbel. This isn't JUST about what the STBXW thinks or wants. It's how well she can reframe whatever this activity is to a judge or parenting evaluator/GAL. A judge, PE or GAL is going to be deciding if this activity is good for the little daughter. A judge, PE or GAL is going to be even less understanding & sympathetic to Dbel than people here on SI, people who are on Dbel's side & are extremely supportive of him.
This activity, whatever it is, is equivalent to giving the STBXW a large cannon pointed right at Dbel's chances of custody.
A good friend will sometimes tell you stuff you don't want to hear but you need to know.
Anyway, sorry your daughter is having a rough time being woken up and moved home on Monday evenings. I am lucky in that my kids were always easy going in terms of sleep.
Your Ex has no right to tell you what to do on your custody time. However I think you should never try to use HER as sitter on Monday evenings.
Hopefully you can find a cheap of free sitter. Maybe a teen neighbor who will work at a lower rate in exchange for a steady gig? Or maybe a friend who is willing to come to your house in exchange for free dinner. (I was going to say "and beer" but then I realized this friend is going to have to drive home afterwards, so nix that.)
Your Ex sounds a lot like mine, especially the part about choosing to move a long distance away and then whining about the consequences.
I would think what is best for your daughter to stay in the same school she has always known. Apparently your Ex is on record saying that she is willing to do the commute, and I bet a judge will make her stick to it. I think it would be very unususal to give preference to the parent who is working a 90 hour week over the one who is more available.
I understand that SI is not my personal cheerleading squad and that you all are not obligated to automatically affirm everything I say and do. That being said, I have been upset by the tone and insinuations of many of these responses, which have suggested that I am acting selfishly and not in the best interests of my child. This is not a "gentle 2x4" in any way. Divorce is not in the best interests of the child, and it forces us to make many compromises and less-than-ideal decisions.
XWW and I have an agreement that puts us on a fixed 2-day/week each + alternating weekend schedule, with her fixed days on Monday and Tuesday. However, because she is a student and her schedule changes frequently, we have in place a temporary schedule that is built around her class schedule. The whole point of this is to make sure that our daughter spends as little time as possible with babysitters and the maximum amount of time with her parents. Do you see what I'm saying? I have worked my schedule to fit XWW's because it is in the best interests of our daughter. And it also happens to benefit her as well, saving her a lot of money and logistical trouble. What upset me was not that she found the nighttime transportation troubling, or that she thought I should be looking for another solution. It was the way she approached it, which was inappropriately unilateral and demanding, and entirely without any indication of appreciation of any of this.
It's clear that I need a new solution for Monday nights. I don't need my ex-wife AND the SI community jumping on my back to tell me this.
I will say that I am not naive of the possibility of this being used against me in some way. That is one of the things causing me anxiety at the moment, which in many ways, was the real point of my post. I'm trying to make the best of a shitty situation, and yet there are pitfalls at every turn.
Finally, I do not believe that my best interests and my daughter's are mutually exclusive. I believe that the consistency of remaining in my community is best for my daughter, and I believe that keeping her close to me is best for me. And the possibility of be separated from her any more than I already am is horrific for me. The only person I don't care what is best for is XWW. I'm not trying to steal her away from her mother. I have done everything I can to foster a good relationship between the two of them, trying to push to the back of my mind the fact that I have lost all respect for her, recognizing that it's important for DD to have her mother in her life. But if it ever comes down to a battle and it's me or her, I'm going to fight for it to be me. Would any of you do differently?
[This message edited by dbellanon at 12:57 PM, October 15th (Tuesday)]
She can't scream at you for it, as SHE is SUPPOSE to have her on Mondays....it isn't your fault she took a class on a monday, she should have waited for that class to fall on a different night, since she KNEW you couldn't be with DD on Mondays.
Next time she brings it up, tell her that, then put her on ignore. Yes, something different would be better...but since it's suppose to be her night, then she can pay for it if she's going to be a twit about it.
WH says marriage is over: May 15, 2009.
EA#2 July 20, 2009. Legally sep: Aug 16, 2009. DIVORCED!!!! Signed Nov 23, final Dec 24, 2010, adultery listed.
I'm actually more concerned about her going to a school 35 mins away from her primary abode. It causes all sorts of issues with building friendships as she grows and participating in activities. And if your XWW can't afford where she's living. It will likely lead to more instability in your DD's life if your XWW has to move.
I think you are missing the easiest "solution" if she continues to scream about this...tell her, ok, then we default to the court papers, where Monday is YOUR (WW) night, and you figure out child care.
I don't get the drama from SI peeps about the short term problem of Dbell having something to do on Mondays. It is not going to damage this child to be woken up for a few minutes once per week for a few months. Single parents have to do what they have to do to make their FAMILY work for them. Of course he keeps his kid's needs in mind. This couldn't be avoided.
Dbell was trying to be helpful here, and now his X is trying to use it against him, when it was her issue to begin with.
I do not believe that my best interests and my daughter's are mutually exclusive.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. I do not believe it is selfish to do things where the benefit to me far outweighs the temporary inconvenience to my girls. I don't subscribe to the notion that in order to be a good parent one must sacrifice everything. We each find our own balance.
You acknowledged the situation is not ideal - you weren't saying "fuck her, this situation is FINE!"
Pls remember everyones posts are coloured by their own stuff. I project on here a lot myself.
Give-a-fucks need to be broken sometimes. Some of these lower muppets ARE going to 'try' to use bullshit like this against us - that is a give no matter what we do.
I understand the urge to keep out of their radar and to not give them any excuse to harass but I for one cannot live my life doing or not doing things dependant on whether or not it will raise the sad clown's ire.
The courts don't take kids away for actual abuse unless it is extreme. The fears we have around this kind of thing are unfounded. That doesn't mean we're not still fearful - I get it. Just don't let it colour every decision you make.
I hope the school issue is resolved for you soon. It is a highly stressful position to be in - you will feel so much better once this is locked in. Right now it must be a huge source if anxiety.
[This message edited by Dark Inertia at 10:41 PM, October 15th (Tuesday)]