August 25, 2009

The steps to recovery

Now, this posting is not particularly related to our kids, but it does deal with something that is very much part of our lives - the dreaded. oh-so-menacing-dude, a.k.a. the kids’ father.

If you are like me, that subject we rather not talk about (except when we need to vent), think about, nor have in our lives... but for worse or for worse, he is part of our lives because of the sharing of a common blessing, our children.

I know there are situations when ex-couples don’t have any problems at all! For example, my neighbors ex-husband comes to her house, greets the whole family, picks the little kid, stays for dinner - I thought that only happened in movies!, but honestly, good for them, and if that is you - good for you! But if you find yourself in the midsts of a custody battle, that may not be the case. I know that is gets very rocky while papers are served, judge visits, etc, etc, afterwards it may decrease, hopefully, if our hearts are in the right place, I think - into seeking the well being of the children only.

But, how to ride that exhausting roller coaster in the mean time?

While in court battle (2 years) I had to see the dude practically everyday - arg! I don’t know how it goes for you, but I got nauseated as his visitation time approached, disgusted any time we had to talk and in anger with every approach. I often wondered how I went from a good stable relationship to such ugly feelings and utter disgust - every part of me screamed, “you are right for feeling this way, after all he had done and said” maybe so (we’ll get to that later) but fakeness was only taking me so far...

To the now, has been very hard, but it has gotten manageable. I still feel the anger, but now I “reason” through it, and surrender it.

Hello, I am a single mother and I dread my kid’s father...

STEP 1: BASE. I have a base. A custody settlement has been drawned. Hopefully this means court is over - people in my same situation tell me to keep wishing... But at least we have a base we draw from. He has a set time, I have a set time. No matter how much you fight it an dislike it, it is there and by order of the judge we got to respect the agreement, because that is why we went to court, to seek outside settlement due to the lack of communication. You could modify it yourselves, but remember, everything in writing.

STEP 2: LOOK. I look at my kid’s face and I have peace and strength of mind. I want to do what is best for him, and he needs time with his father - “but my kid doesn’t know him as I do, he’s a jerk!” I say to myself from time to time :) and yes, it is a good thing out kids don’t know the type of man we were involved with. They see the daddy side of the dude, and that should be all they see. Most dads work hard for their kids to only see the better side to them, specially if they find themselves in this situation, and that is good. out kids are very lucky to have a set of parents that love them and “fight” for more time with them (hopefully that is your case, if the opposite is the case, then you will supply and overflow, trust me, mother’s can :) )

When I pick up my child, or he gets picked up by his dad, I only focus on my kid’s face. Rarely I look up at his dad’s face when he is informs me about something (we got to be polite right?) and I am amazed at the changes that has happened with that person since last time - time certainly flies.

STEP 3: PREDICT. You know the type of person you are dealing with. You know his reactions and his most predictable actions, his yes’s and no’s, so, apply your knowledge to take advantage of the situation, not to manipulate, but to be prepared. Although, at the same time acknowledge that parenthood changes people, but let’s not be naive ;)

Also predict your reactions, there are little things that will annoy you and be magnified, and your reactions will be magnified. I am not saying let bad things slide, but put them in perspective and be solution minded, not increasing the problem. For example:

He is late to pick up the child and you are in a hurry for a meeting. If the meeting can’t wait, tell him to pick him up half way of at your meeting place. Give a 30-minute grace, don’t schedule anything for those 30 minutes, therefore you are in the safe. Most agreements allow 1 hour (with notification) tardiness before the visitation is forfeited. If the situation continues suggest a new pick-up time.

He is not as careful as you are in rearing the kids. Hmmm - yes, I have over-reacted to this one also. First, breathe... deeply... then remember that there are two styles of parenting here, the right one and the wrong one - kidding! - he is a guy after all, pizza for breakfast and candy for dinner won’t kill our kids, they need that sometimes :) they will survive, and we can have a bag full of veggies for when they come back :) But when the kid a certain medical condition, in which doctor’s orders need to be follow, I do suggest to be on the top of that, a failure for a parent to follow medical orders is considered neglect and is investigated by Child Protection Services.

The dad talks badly about you in front of the child. This is usually a biggie on any custody agreement, we cannot really regulate it, but we can talk to our kids about how to react and what to really listen to. Encourage your kids to leave a situation they are not comfortable with, meaning if dad and company are talking badly about you, they can leave the room or ask dad not to talk talk way about their mother. Explain your kids that that type of “adult talk” is unacceptable and we all make mistakes in that area sometimes. That also should work for us, not matter how upset we are, never to talk bad about the kid’s father in front of them - it chatters the image they have of both parents.

Dad tends to “forget” previous agreements. GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING!! if you guys are agreeing to major changes in the schedule, then have it notarized, and with the judge’s signature if possible. “Forgetfulness” is very common if the agreement doesn’t longer benefit the opposing party. If the dad’s lack of memory makes you miss an important engagement with your kids, no matter how mad we get, it is done - he may even have done it to bother you - don’t let it. A holiday is a holiday, what you make it to be with your family is what matters. Days and events will come and go - plan for when you have the kids with you, therefore you don’t surrender control, that is the father of pride :)

STEP 4: VENT. Talk to a friend, write a journal or blog :), exercise, let it out! Don’t let frustrations eat you up or take the best of you. Don’t give the dude any power over you, he may be doing things on purpose or be truly clueless - give the benefit of the doubt. Important NOTE: NEVER EVER VENT ON YOUR CHILDREN.

STEP 5: ENJOY your time with your kids and your time off your kids, the second part may be difficult to do. My kid and I suffer from separation anxiety when he goes for the weekend, it is natural, but it is healthy and necessary to re-charge and be ready for the next few days ahead. Interact with adults, get things done, invest in you :)

STEP 6: FORGIVE - what?! that is a hard one, I know. A tip, when you are at the point of forgiveness, all things come to mind, the list of reasons why dude is so dreading, rage for past actions, the hurt and anger that makes us so comfortable and gives us reasons to be bitter and cry for justice. That’s when we should give it, even more.

Forgiveness is necessary, it is not a magic wand, it doesn’t happen in a card nor e-mail, it doesn’t happen in a day, it doesn’t give you a happy face all the sudden, and it doesn’t mean you have to be friends afterwards. it takes time, effort (maybe only yours), thought, reason and surrender. Forgiveness is good for you, the kids and the situation.

But, what is forgiveness anyway? Whatever bad stuff that happened, it sucks. It change us in a way, it gave us the anger we are convinced is our right to have, it makes us want to seek our own justice - it doesn’t let us think, move, interpret, perceive things in no other terms than in ours. That is an ugly thing to live with.

We may also have had something to do with the situation, have we thought about that? As we want to let go of the guilt, it is important to release all the ones involved and see the situations as a situations that happened, that sucked, but it happenED. I am not owned by the situation, by the dude nor by my anger. It is time to live a new life without any holds to the past one. Forgive means to release. Allows us to see our kids in a new light, a little person who comes of two parents who love him/her - not just a product of you and that guy. Giving the best to out kids is hard, and we may have to start with this one :)

STEP 7: FORGET - double what?! Forget doesn’t mean we put the situation under the rug to never re-visit it again - IT will re-visit you, trust me. I love the saying: “you cannot not stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from making a nest on your head”. The situation we will not forget, but we can stop it from hurting us as it did before, you have the power to do that.

Why do we want to forget? because it will take the focus off out hurt and place it on the kids and their needs. I also cry for justice for what the jerk did, but I will trade “my justice” for my child’s well being any day :)

STEP 8: SURRENDER - I don’t know if you believe in God, but He is real and He wants to comfort you, He wants to help you deal with all this stuff, He wants to make you whole again and He wants to parent with you.

I come from a broken house also, and I did see God covering us kids and my parents as we went through the brokeness. Surrender means: bad stuff will happen and God has a plan for it, for everything. God doesn’t take sides, not even our kids, but He knows what He is doing and will carry us through. I don’t believe He intended divorce, but He intended forgiveness. He did not intend for pre-marital sex, but He intended repentance, He didn’t intend for the heaviness of sin, But He intended restoration. We don’t know were we are going, God does. He is in absolute control and He loves our children more than we would ever do, He made them, and He made us their parents, and He doesn’t make mistakes.

God has a plan, trust and bring all those bad situations to His feet and say “Well, this sucks, but I give this to you. You are in control, do whatever your plan is Lord, but prepare my kids’ and my heart for what you have planned”

STEP 9: THE NEW YOU - Yes, there is room to be you. Not as to show something to someone, but for you. Enjoy your kids, be strong with them. Let them see you smile from the inside out. be honest with your feelings and acknowledge having them. We are women and we are emotional, yay! we are mothers and we protect, yay! we are single and we have excitement coming our way, yay! we are gorgeous and we know it! your kids tell you that all the time, and children are the ones who are honest.

Live the fabulous live you are meant to live and receive the freedom of heart God has for you!

Our kids matter, we matter - end of quote.

Love your kids today! and Blessings!

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