Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's Official - I Am Too Amicable

"I think the reason the boys are unsettled is that you are being too amicable and that is making them confused". That was the consensus of the counsellor. Shame she hadn't been in my house that very morning as I screamed obscenities down the phone at ex because, after being away for a long weekend he had promised to be there Monday morning to see the boys and he slept in and couldn't make it.

Of course, being the idiot that I am, and the sort of parent that just loves to set her kids up for a fall, I had talked to the boys excitedly about daddy coming over to say hi and how much he had missed them and how he would need the biggest hugs and kisses on his arrival.

Which never happened.

On reflection, no big deal. Certainly not big enough to start world war III over down the telephone. I guess there is a lot of inherent anger that sometimes erupts. And sometimes I just get so fucking mad that I am the one that is supposed to defend him when he lets the boys down and they automatically take it out on me. And OK, it's not very big of me but sometimes I get plain pissed off that he can sleep in, when I rarely get that luxury and am so exhausted right now with their daily early waking habits that my brain has the functioning ability of a sloth and I look as attractive as a crumpled dirty grey flannel.

After the hysterical episode I did gather my good parenting wits about me and apologise to the boys for shouting at daddy. Took responsibility for my actions. Said I was going to apologise (which I did - screaming at each other in front of the kids is something that we did a lot of 2-3 years ago for quite some time and I still have vivid memories of the confusion and heartache in the boys' eyes - it is something that we take great pains not to repeat now).

In trying to soften the blow for the boys following the separation, the fact that we appear to get on and care about each other is not making a whole heap of sense to their 3 and 5 year old brains. So we need to ensure we have predictable structure and routine with regards to when they can expect to see daddy and stay with daddy and when they are with mum. And we need to be clear that this situation is not going to change. Ever. Mummy and Daddy are always going to live in separate houses. The End.

In all honesty, I had been harbouring thoughts of 'what if?' and 'could we make it work?' and 'maybe he will realising what he is missing and we can be in love again?'.

And at least I know now, after the subject was broached with the counsellor and shot down in flames by ex, that that particular option IS NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.

It's actually quite a relief. Now I really don't have any dreams to hold onto and it does feel lighter to let them go, once and for all.

As for instigating a formal and predictable structure to the kids' time with their dad, including a mid-week sleep over - Hurrah!

Because it is one thing trying to be amicable and flexible and be the perfect ex-wife. But it is a bit galling when ex's work and social commitments constantly call the shots. "The children have to take priority" was another gem of the counsellor. Well, of course. I have been saying the same thing myself, only to be shot down in the well-worn argumentative flames of "I need to work to support you and my job is very demanding and I am entitled to a life as well you know." So the boys are now going to stay with their dad one night each week - which has to be the same night - and alternative weekends. Ex gravely told the counsellor that the boys are his priority and he would gladly have them all the time (excuse me a moment....HAHAHAHA...sorry).

So how is it that today, less than 24 hours after our meeting to discuss the fragile state of our 5 year old in particular and having agreed to put their needs before their own, Captain Underpants reveals "we are going to stay at daddy's house tomorrow night but he is getting his hair cut so N is going to babysit and put us to bed and then daddy will come home".

He didn't seem all that put out by it, admittedly. But I am. Not only that but apparently the Wednesday night plan is only going to work for the next 6 weeks until ex's marathon training starts, because the running club do their long run on a Wednesday night (and it stands to reason that he has no possible hope of winning the Chicago Marathon in October if he misses that run).

And then of course there is the trip to see the FA cup which, oh how unfortunate, happens to fall on one of the weekends that he should have the boys (a schedule that has been totally dictated by all the other trips he has been on recently) - so we will have to work our way around that (ie. forget what I said to the counsellor about the boys being a priority, because of course they are...until something really important comes up. Like a hair cut).

Am I being unreasonable in thinking this is...unreasonable? Am I?

I don't want to be a bitter, twisted, nagging old crone. But I don't want to play the role of constant martyr either. And anyway, this isn't about me. It's about the boys and their emotional well-being. Ex might have been royally screwed into an emotional cripple by his parents - as might I - but I am damned if that is going to happen to MY boys. Not on your nelly, sunshine. Not in my lifetime.

And I don't want to get my knickers in a twist over every little thing - but when the counsellor said that absolute structure, routine and predictability is essential right now for the boys, I think what she meant was that absolute structure, routine and predictability IS essential, don't you?

Not that we can decide when it suits us for it not to be essential.

Now...how to approach this? Will it really be to the detriment of all concerned if I continue to take the approach of being amicable?


  1. When my husband and I separated my daughter asked why 'because you never argue'. We told her that we had made each other very unhappy and had decided we would live apart.

    It's never going to be easy for the children to understand, but just continue to be honest with them in language they can understand.

    If being amicable suits you both, then continue on with it. I can see what the counsellor means, but why make it more difficult than it already is by arguing and making it unpleasant?

    I also understand the ex fitting the children in around their own plans/haircuts/training. My ex does exactly the same, my girls have to fit around him rather the other way. I gave up trying to arrange things in advance, so I just carry on letting the girls know that I am reliable, and I put them first. They can make their own minds up about their Dad.

    Keep going, you're doing really well. This is the hardest time during the initial fallout of the separation. x

  2. Having experienced a lot of your marriage as it has broken down, I would say being 'amicable' is the way to go forward. Best for the boys, hardest for you.
    It's all a matter of time.

  3. What you're going through is so tough but you need to know that you will come out the other end. My husband and I drifted downhill into mutual misery. Eventually, I gave up trying but decided to stay until my younger child was 18. Stupid. The absolute best thing for children is living with two loving parents who love each other as well as their children. I believed that, if we couldn't love each other, then loving them would be good enough. It's not. Children recover from a divorce. It's horrible for them, especially when they're little. What takes much more recovery time is living in a toxic world with parents who can't live together.
    You gave marriage your best shot. You're now giving being a single parent your best shot. Try to hang onto the amicable thing but don't allow that to turn you into a doormat.
    My ex-husband and I now manage to be good, supportive friends to each other. And I no longer have to appease.
    Take care of yourself.

  4. I have no experience of this but applaud you for being amicable because had your ex been my ex he would have had his testicles served in a soup with a side order of smack around the head with a soup ladle.

    I agree with all of the comments above. Hang in there.

  5. Not Supermum - thank you for your continued support. It is nice to get reassurance from women who have been through the same thing. It means a lot.

    Mums the Word - I know - I was a bit flabbergasted when my Mary Poppins version of divorce was being held responsible. But I am predominantly happy and accepting about it all and I really can't pretend to be otherwise.

    MBNAD Woman - Hello! thank you so much for your comment. It's funny - when husband was in therapy (during the last 2 years of the marraige - he went about 5 times total) the therapist said the happiest kids are from happy marraiges, next is from happy divorces, next from unhappy divorces and last but not least the most unhappy children are those from very unhappy marraiges. I was absolutely fuming when he relayed this information to me - but ultimately after another 18mos in marital hell, that the boys were obviously aware of - I had to concede that there had to be some truth in it.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad that you and your ex are good, supportive friends. That is what I am aiming for too. x

  6. HOM - HAHAHAHAHAHA...doesn't mean I haven't been tempted, believe me!!

  7. You are doing so well and I get what you mean about not being a martyr. What ever happens I feel like I must big him up to the girls to make sure they know it's ok to love Daddy too and that Mummy doesn't hate him (which I don't), but I do get irritated by some stuff he does and feel manipulated at times.

    I don't know what to say about your situation hon, except that I'd feel exactly the same as you, and if you want me to come round and help you give him a kick up the ar*e I'd be happy to help. Hugs.

  8. Hello Jo - you're a love. I'll give you a bit of advance notice when I need you to get your big butt kicking boots on, ok? hugs right back atcha x