On-Again, Off-Again Dad

The ex has called a couple of times over the past month or so, after a couple of months of not calling. He said, “I get him for Christmas this year, right?” Ummm, ok. So after making use of your liberal visitation schedule for two weeks out of the last 104, you want to stake your claim? Sure. Yes, you actually are supposed to have him starting on Christmas Eve, as it is an odd year. “I’ll try to get some time off, then,” he said. Sure, I thought.  Like last Christmas.

He called once more, spoke to The Boy only for a little while, and that was the last we heard anything about Christmas.  The Boy’s birthday was Wednesday, and his mom had sent gifts, one from her, and one from his dad. Her card said they were looking forward to seeing him at Christmas.  But the ex didn’t even call his son on his birthday.

What?

My mom told me that recently, she and The Boy were at Walmart and he said he really hoped he’d get to see his dad at Christmas, because he hadn’t seen him since April.  Yes, it hurts him more than he’ll admit to me, and yes, he does keep track.

As The Man says, kids are only young once. He’s going to miss it completely.

Angry for The Boy and pity for the ex. And partly angry for me too, really, because I have my own life and family that will be affected by his inadequacy. But mostly angry for The Boy.

Get Used to Disappointment

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies (the Princess Bride, which I have seen probably a kajillion times).  Not one of my favorite things my son has to go through.

Broken Reflection

Broken Reflection, Valerie Reneé

Because the ex couldn’t manage to see his son for Thanksgiving, I offered (at Grammy’s urging) to give him the week between Christmas and New Years for visitation.  I suggested he or they come down to the beach for a few days, even rent a house real cheap to see The Boy.

I hadn’t heard anything more about it (although Grammy had overheard the phrase “meet you somewhere” in a phone call between The Boy and the ex), so I texted him last night to see what was up.

I expected him to hem and haw a bit more, but he said straight out he couldn’t get any time off, and couldn’t do it.  Sorry.

I expect this every time, and yet every time I cannot fathom why.  I don’t know anyone (besides the ex) who is or would be completely comfortable not seeing his or her own child for eight months or longer, nor speak to him for a month or more at a time.  I cannot understand his excuses, knowing how much I would do to ensure I would see my child.

But he is not me.

The Boy seemed a bit upset and irritated when I broke the news this evening.  “Why?” he asked.

“Because he can’t get time off from work,” I said.

Why can’t he get time off from work?”

I paused.  Good question, kiddo.  “You can ask him,” I suggested.  “Want me to text him and have him call you?”

“I’ll think about it,” he said.

He’s getting as tired of this game as I am.

The Next Thing

Lithograph, Home To Thanksgiving, published by...

Home To Thanksgiving, Currier and Ives

The ex has bagged out on Thanksgiving with The Boy, unless I consented to have his parents pick The Boy up the weekend before Thanksgiving, and have him miss three days of school.  My response to that was, “That’s not a good idea,” and so, no visitation until who knows when.

The common sense thing for the ex to do, now that we live even further apart, would be to save up a little  money so he could come down for a weekend, stay at a hotel and see his son.  But that will never happen.  He doesn’t save money, and when he does, he spends it on himself.  He probably resents The Boy for the child support coming out of his check, and reasons that that’s enough money to be spending on him, and he shouldn’t have to spend any more just to see him.

If you’re keeping track, The Boy hasn’t seen his dad since April, and the phone calls have become less and less frequent.  They are about once a month, now.  He was excited about going to see his dad’s kitties for Thanksgiving, and even though I tell him every time it comes up not to get his hopes up, and that it might not happen, he still talks about it as if it is a certainty.

Yesterday, I purposely brought it up because we need to get him from this place of certainty that it will happen to a place of certainty that it won’t happen with as little stress, trauma, and disappointment as possible, not an easy feat.  I said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to stick around here for Thanksgiving, and celebrate with me and our family?”

“What?!”

I repeated myself.

“Well, I still might go to my dad’s,” he said.

“And you might not,” I said.

“We’ll see,” he said, and then, “Let’s find out for sure.”

I told him I would ask his dad, knowing full well that I wouldn’t because I already know it won’t happen.  So now it is my unhappy job to figure out when to break the news, and possibly come up with some distraction to soften the blow.

This is one of the most unfair parts of the job.  I know no one ever said life would be fair, but this right here?  This sucks.

This Close

Icon-type silhouette of an airplane. (Mainly t...I am THIS CLOSE to telling the ex to stop even trying to bother.  Over the past couple of months, he has cancelled his August visitation (which has happened three out of the past four years, probably even longer), and then immediately promised The Boy he would see him for Thanksgiving.  His “plan” was to have his mom fly down, fly back with The Boy, and then he himself would fly down again with him to drop him off, and fly back.  He claimed his mom offered to pay for her tickets, and he (the ex) would pay for his own and for The Boy’s.  Did you count how many tickets that was?

I knew before the words were even out of his mouth that it wouldn’t happen, but per usual, just nodded my head, and said, “Sure.”  And The Boy has continued talking about seeing his dad’s kitties in November (the only part of his trips he is verbally concerned with).  And every time, I remind him that it might not happen, and I-don’t-want-you-to-get-too-disappointed-if-it-doesn’t-happen…  “I know, Mom,” he says.

And he does.

The text came tonight, saying he couldn’t afford the airfare, but that his girlfriend has a cousin in our state who will be alone for Thanksgiving, so they might…

JUST STOP.

That plan won’t happen either, because you will ask me to drive four hours, one way, to the middle of nowhere the night before Thanksgiving to make this work for you, and when I won’t, it will be my fault again that you will have missed another opportunity to spend time with your son.

I’m over it.

He’s over it.

It’s so much energy on everyone’s part, and the only thing created is headache and disappointment.  I am THIS CLOSE to asking him to quit trying.

No Honeymoon for These Newlyweds and That’s Just Fine

The Man and I thought we might get a chance to run away for a bit when The Boy visited his dad in August, but guess what?  Yup.  The Boy will probably not be headed to his dad’s until Thanksgiving, if then.  We didn’t really expect this visitation to pan out, but it would have given us a little time together.

ShrimperIn any case, we are making the absolute most of our Saturday nights together, and it has turned into an extended honeymoon/staycation of sorts.  We have been lucky enough to have fantastic meals just about every Saturday since we started over a month ago.  And I have to tell you, for an area that has about 12,000 people, there are some damned good restaurants down here.  Plus, we live in an area that relies on tourism in the summer, so it’s pretty easy to take a “staycation” – beautiful warm summer evenings, quaint little towns through which to walk, replete with old cemeteries, gardens, and, well, the ocean.

So, while I could be really upset that we haven’t been able to go away somewhere together, I’m not in the least.  The Man and I have done enough traveling over the past four years just to be together.  Now that we are together, we have reveled in these semi-private Saturdays, and we’ve been able to drag it out all summer long.  I really couldn’t ask for more. <3

PS Thank you, thank you, thank you to Grammy and Poppy for this priceless gift <3

Valentines and Stuff

Anthropomorphic Valentine, circa 1950–1960

Valentine’s Day. It always has me pondering stuff and

  • do I want stuff,
  • why do I want stuff, or
  • why is it ok to/not to get stuff, and back to
  • it’s really not about stuff.

Or other people, which is reason number one why I think people want stuff for Valentine’s Day. It is not a display of love between two people, it is a display of love “between” two people that is promptly shared with all and sundry, as in look-how-much-he-loves-me-because-he-got-me-this-stuff.

I get a little piece of Valentine’s Day every time he sends me a card in the mail on some random day, sends me a funny email, or any of the wonderful ways he makes me feel loved even when we’re separated by 900 freakin’ miles. Last year on Valentine’s Day, I got a little thrill when I pulled out my phone to set a tempo in class, and realized he had called and left a voicemail. My students would tell you I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, and was blushing and giggly, just knowing he had called me. I don’t need stuff, and I don’t want stuff. I have what I want. And I am a lucky, lucky lady.

 

 

The Previously Preempted Christmas Post

The Man’s proposal certainly surprised me, and preempted my Christmas post.  Not that I mind…  So here’s the post that was originally supposed to air.

The Man isn’t big on Christmas, which has caused some friction in the almost-three years we’ve been dating.  I love Christmas!  Not in a must-decorate-the-house-witihin-an-inch-of-its-life kind of way, but an I-really-dig-finding-just-the-right-thing-for-everyone-on-my-list kind of way.  You probably already know this about me, but I digress.

The Man, however, has a lot of anxiety about gift-giving, as well as other issues with Christmas in general, and can sometimes get downright depressed about it.  I have treated him gently, been very cognizant about his needs, and I’m pretty sure I have rubbed off on him a bit, meaning he’s not as big of a Scrooge as he used to be.

Last year, it came up in conversation that his beloved grandmother, who helped raise him, had one of those all-silver trees that she would decorate with either red or blue bulbs, depending on the year, complete with the rotating light shining on it.  He expressed fond memories of this tree.  “Wait, fond memories of something having to do with Christmas?” I thought to myself, “We gotta get on that!”

A few months later, we were in Marietta, Ohio for Thanksgiving, and walked into a chocolate shop where a silver tree just like his grandmother’s was in the window.  He started a lengthy conversation with the shop owner, fondly reminiscing about his grandmother’s tree, yet again.

After that, I looked them up online to see how much they were, but unfortunately found them to be rather expensive, being truly antiques and all.

And then

And then, I posted about it on facebook, and a few hours later, Fantastic Babysitter responded to my post that her parents were interested in getting rid of just such a tree that they had in their attic!  Not wanting to get my hopes up too high, I asked her about it, and asked how much they wanted for it.  She said they wouldn’t want any money for it.

Ask and ye shall receive!

She brought the tree over, and I got out some rags and brasso, and spent an afternoon in my living room, listening to the Peanuts and Muppets Christmas albums, and shining up every single branch on that tree.

Shining up the tree!

When I gave it to the Man last Christmas, he was speechless, almost moved to tears, and said it was quite possibly the best Christmas gift he had ever gotten.

And this year, it is up in our new house, bulbs, light and all.  He is very proud of it, and you know what?  No Scrooge to be found this year!

tree

Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season!  Sending much love and good will to all of you!

Happy Day

Christmas morning, The Man and I got up leisurely and decided to open our presents to each other before my parents came over for the meal, stockings, and all of the other gifts.

I gave him his gift, cleverly disguised (he told me later he thought I had bought him a large tool set, but they were actually three framed engineering prints in poster frames, which were also a great cover for the real gift — a gift card to the tool store).

Then it was my turn.  I had told The Man that I would like a watch for Christmas, and lo and behold, there was a watch-shaped box under the tree with my name on it. I unwrapped it to find “Parker” on the top of the box.  “Parker pens?” I asked, not expecting a response.  Sure enough, I opened the box and found a nice pen and pencil set, not what I expected but nice enough.  I pulled out the mechanical pencil to see how to activate the mechanism, which The Man promptly grabbed from me, leaving me to examine the pen.  I turned it over and noticed his name engraved on it… What the —??

I had not noticed The Man getting off the couch and doing some other stuff in my peripheral vision.  At the very moment I was thinking this could quite possibly be a very rough day, he suggested I look again under the tree, because he thought he saw another gift for me under there…

And there was a ring box.

After uttering his name, and looking at him to see if he was for real, I reached down, grabbed the box, opened it, and realized what he was giving me.  He asked me if I would marry him, and I said, “You know I will!”

my RING!

Sneaky, sneaky man.  He did an amazing job remembering exactly what I liked.  And now we are engaged!  He says he had no idea those pens had his name engraved on them, but wrapped them knowing I would think it was a watch.  He knows me so well.

I am a lucky, lucky (and happy!) woman.

 

Stressed, But in a Good Way

There has been a whirlwind of activity over the past couple of weeks, with school concerts and holiday preparations. The day before yesterday, I worked on about six craft projects in one evening, not including the nightly box for the advent calendar.

ac1Yesterday, it was a cleaning frenzy, not to say that there was a lot to do, but The Man was flying in last night. Not only do I work harder for those I love, I wanted to make sure we had a clean house to come home to after our various holiday travels.

box1
The Man remarked about how much stress surrounds the holidays, but this is self-induced and I enjoy it.  I enjoy being busy if it has to do with Christmas and preparing food, gifts, or my house for loved ones.  How about you?

amaretto fixin's

amaretto

Transitions

We all know that kids with autism have a hard time with transitions, but you know what?  I do too.  It has taken me two weeks to get back into the swing after Thanksgiving.  I wasn’t working out, we were eating out a lot, and the house…  Well, it’s always my last priority, so you can imagine what it looked like.  It was probably worse than you are imagining.

I was forced to get up at a decent hour this morning because we had to go pick up the cake for The Boy’s birthday party, and I usually wake up around 9 on Saturdays anyway (thank you strange neighbor-lady who has very loud TV on starting at 5am daily…), although I usually pop in the earplugs and go back to sleep.  Today I figured I would do some yoga and get a load into the laundry.  Doing those two things set the tone for the day.

I typed an agenda with all of the things I wanted to accomplish today, and scheduled in ample breaks (rewards), and you know what?  I got most of it done, including putting up our tree (finally!).  It feels so late, but of course, The Boy’s birthday is Monday, so we’re actually on time.

In any case, I’m finally feeling back on track, and not-so-overwhelmed.  Amazing what a difference a day can make.

Hope you are having a great weekend!Our tree 2012