Women (people) in my position know that you don’t really get it. That you’re suspect (rightfully so, really).
We know that you think that we’re, at least a little, over-reacting or exaggerating.
We really wish we were.
My daughter, five, came home tonight and ran in the bathroom saying, let me show you the surprise that daddy let me bring home.
It was an iPod.
In her underwear.
Go ahead. Reread that. Think about it for a minute. Or two.
A month ago, I made clear, in a message that x responded to, that no electronics would move between houses.
It’s another one of those hard and fast rules that most people like me, unfortunately, have to keep. If you don’t really get it, that’s fine.
But take a minute to look a few sentences up above and then think about that rule.
A normal co-parent, even if they thought the rule was silly or unnecessary, would question it, maybe complain about it, or tell friends how ridiculous their ex was about certain things, but they would not tell their five year old to smuggle an iPod back home in her underwear.
I can think of at least four different reasons he did that. They run from least nefarious to most nefarious.
All of them are inappropriate and frightening.
I got a call today to pick up my daughter early from preschool. I was already on my way. I messaged x to tell him she wasn’t feeling well (with the detail the school had given me) as soon as I parked at the school.
Immediately after picking her up for his two hour visit, he started messaging me that I had lied to him about her having a fever. It’s alarming, he said.
I’m really concerned about you not telling me.
I re-clarified. She had no fever. Not only is her preschool checking her temp when I drop her off every morning, but they checked it again as soon as she complained that she didn’t feel well.
He even messaged the school mentioning a fever, hoping to catch me in a lie.
The thing about telling the truth, which people like the x just don’t understand, is that you can’t really be caught in a lie. Because you weren’t fucking lying.
The school director said everything I had said.
When my daughter rang the doorbell at 7:00pm, I sighed in relief.
She’s home. I’ll ignore however many more accusatory and bullshit messages he sends tonight because she’s home and he’s already been told what happened today and I don’t need this shit and can just let it go for now, at least for the night.
I need to give her a shower and we have storytime to get to and then tucking her into bed and the inevitable four last hugs before I can leave the room so she’ll fall asleep and not be a little cranky diva in the morning.
But instead of going straight to all that: iPod in the underwear.
We’re not exaggerating.
We’re not overreacting.
We’re pacing our hallway after we hear her start snoring. After we’ve emailed our lawyer. Who already cost us two thousand dollars last month over x’s bogus ex parte motion and will probably cost us that much this month.
Money we pulled out of our 401k so that maybe now there will be nothing left post-COVID and we’ll just be working until we’re 80. But ok, we will. Because, you know: our kid is the most important thing in the world to us.
We’ll pay every last penny we can – and count ourselves lucky that we have a 401k to pilfer instead of having to navigate this all alone like so, so many abused parents.
We’ll pay anything we have to keep our children safe and healthy — not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.
We will hemorrhage money we could spend on our own shoes or haircuts or jeans.
While we pay for all the kid shoes and all the kid clothes and all the kid food and all the crafts you need when every weekend is quarantine weekend. And the therapy. For her. And for us.
We’re not not not exaggerating.
If anything, we’re not even telling you half of it.
Because we have jobs and kids to care for and chores to do and groceries to get and we know it’s taxing to hear all the madness from us.
It’s a lot of and thens. And and thennnnn.
So instead we save it for when things like iPods in underwear happen. When we really need our friends to re-anchor us to reality when, yet again, we feel afloat on the river what the fuck.
We’re not making a mountain out of a mole hill.
We are trying desperately to look at that mountain and treat it like a dozen or so molehills.
So we can handle it. So we’re not completely overwhelmed.
So we can keep fighting for our child’s best life.
So we can keep staying calm for our children – who desperately need us to anchor them to the world.
Who so very desperately need us to shift the axis, upon each return, to a predictable and safe and attentive place.
We are not exaggerating.
Not even a little.
We wish we were.