The Ex and Me

The Ex and me, we don’t always see eye to eye. Different parenting styles, different people, different lives all around.

Last evening one of the girls was over at his place for an evening of drinks and relaxation. And this was what she overheard. All I can say is that I am sure that this is the sweetest thing bar none that he has ever said about me:

‘She is a great mom. We have an amazing relationship and parent so well together. But she speaks her mind and doesn’t hold back. But that is okay.’

Now it has taken us a long time to get here. When first we split up and then when I moved out there was so much animosity. We could not tolerate one another and when we did have to interact World War III was simmering beneath the surface. There were a few times where I nearly stabbed him with a fork I was so angry however was able to maintain a level head. I really did not want to go to jail for stabbing him.

I am sure that there are things that I do that he does not agree with. I tend to be more open with T about things. I explain. My parenting is not about ‘do this because I said so’. My actions speak so much louder than my words do and if I want T to be l00x better than I am or ever was, I had better be providing him with a damn good example to follow.

I do have language issues. T is forever telling me to watch it. I have to laugh because he also tells characters in the t.v. shows we watch and any singers with explicit language in their songs, to watch their language. I have heard him a few times use shit or hell. As one of his dad’s siblings is married to someone who was once a farmer, I watched their three kids grow up and using the word shit as young as 5. I cringed but as it was explained to me, they heard it all day long. It was used to fertilize the fields.  So on and so forth. At least T waited until he was 9 before I heard him.

It is also important to me that he treats everyone the same. When he does not say good morning, or thank you, or please with others (i.e. school crossing guard, someone holding the door open for him/him holding doors for others and so on and so forth) I lecture. And I will do so until it becomes second nature.

T is an amazing kid. He is smart. Funny. Has a sarcastic sense of humor much like my own. He is fast to quip.

We were discussing how I needed to ensure that he was properly equipped for school. Jacket, that is a big one a) because at 9 he is too cool to wear proper winter attire and b) because it is March and who wears winter coats in March? Well if you live in Manitoba, you may well be wearing your winter coat until June. As we are going back and forth T looks at me and says if I am to make sure he is properly equipped for school where were his rubber boots? I admit, I barked with laughter before attempting to school my face into a disgruntled mom look, it did not work.

I also see his dad in there too. He is great with his hands. The designs he creates in Scrap Mechanic and Minecraft amaze me. Mechanically inclined as he has been helping his dad in the shop since he was 2. He can fold clothes from the dryer better than I can. (Which is why I hang everything up that can be hung up)

While there are times that I wonder what the Ex is thinking he is a good dad. He loves T with every fiber of his being. And when they have the time to hang out together, they have a blast.

As always this ended up being more about me and T than my thanking the Ex for the kind things he said about me. But I can only take the idea and go with it, the rest flows to my fingers and onto the page.

While neither the Ex nor I were good partners for one another, we are great parents together for T. And really at the end of it, is that not the best example that we both can provide him? He saw the fights between us and now he sees that we talk to one another. That we are friends. These last few months, the Ex helped me with food and lunches for T. He let me keep his share of the baby bonus each month so I could ensure that my bills were paid and I could buy groceries.

He really is not a bad man. And I hope that he is with the woman that is going to make him happy forever. Because I do want him to be happy. I want him to have a love that fills him from head to toes with light and laughter and songs. I was not that person and it is okay. We had a good life together and we have an amazing son. And now we are friends. And I can turn to him for help whenever I need it.

 

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Policing

The descent into the asylum of Tween/Teendom has begun. I am sure that it won’t be that bad right? Ha! I remember what I was like. I have heard what the Ex was like. If I escape with only half of the crap we put our mothers through I will count myself lucky. However he was a wonderful baby and young child. Lately I have been getting glimpses of the ogre that is going to be my child.
T loves sleeping in his clothes. This way he is ready for the next day. An ongoing battle I have been a little lacksidaisy in enforcing the changing into pj’s at night. Well enough is enough and given that he soon will have to be showering daily, I decided last night that I was going to hold firm. T had asked to play Scrap Mechanic. I said yes as long as he put his pj’s on first. Which lead to a large amount of whining. And he did not want to. So up I got, I was in my room reading, and I took the mouse for the computer. That earned me a ‘Fine than! I will watch Youtube.’ Went back into the living room and took the controller for the Xbox.
Back and forth we went. He yelling from the living room, me holding firm and repeating ‘get into your jammies and I will give you the mouse and controller back.’ T was bored. I was ruining his life. How could I be so mean to him? And the best one ‘If this is how you are going to be I am just going to go to my dad’s.’
Now T so rarely uses the going to dad line but I decided that I was not going to allow this to become his go to threat. So I told him that I had text the Ex and told him that T would be taking the bus to his place after school today. Well my word but the water works began and he was caterwauling on and on about how could I have done that. I had hurt his feelings. As I stood at the end of his couch looking at him, tears rolling down his cheeks I informed him that I had not actually text his dad. I was hurt as well that he would use this as a threat to me.
All said and done last night I ‘wasted’ all his time. He only had half an hour to watch Youtube. I explained once more that had he done what I requested that no time would have been wasted. T would have been able to play his Scrap Mechanic. He would have been able to watch Youtube. But he chooses to yell and kick up a fuss, throwing things, kicking them around. I remained calm last evening although I sorely wanted to yell back at him. I can admit that. He was driving me absolutely insane.
Fast forward to this morning. I went in at 5: 45, 6 and 6:17 to tell T what time is was and he needed to get up. Finally at 7 with my going in to awaken him again, T got up. And once more I have ruined his day. Which as he is sitting on the couch removing his jammies became a whole lot worse when I discovered that he was wearing his jeans underneath. I looked at him and he gave me a smartass grin that I am all to familiar with. It has crossed my own lips many a time.
I asked him if he was proud of himself? Did he think that he had pulled one over on me? All this meant now was that I would have to stand over him and watch while he changed. He did not care. And the mouth began running again about my wasting all his time.
I told him that he was to get ready for school and tell me what he wanted for breakfast before he could watch Youtube. Oh dear lord but once more I became the world’s worst mom. I was going to be the root cause of his having a miserable day. It was not going to get any better. And he was going to his dad’s after school. I asked him if he would like me text his dad and he said yes. So I did.
While I was writing the text to the Ex, he slammed into the bathroom, knocking my body spray and mousse to the floor. The dryer door opened and was slammed. As I was finishing the text he came out. Hair styled. Shirt on. Same jeans but different socks. He sat on the couch and glared at me. I sent the text and asked if he wanted to read what I had sent. And he did. In essence I explained that T was having a crappy morning and may show up at his place after school because he was so mad at me. And if he did could he please return him to me. I went on to explain what the uproar was about and asked that he back me on this issue.
T was furious. Called me a tattle tale. How could I ruin his life even more? And he was not walking to school today. I could not make him do that.
Now the storm has passed. He is ready for school. We will be walking and have to leave soon.
I created this child. I am completely at fault for having not held firm on the pj’s thing. The getting ready for school and eating thing. But I am now. Much to his dismay. I held firm both last night and this morning. I did not yell or threaten him. I continued repeating my request over and over again. Until he did as I requested. I am hoping that it will click. That if he were to do as I asked when I asked this would be a nonissue. But he is pushing back because he wants to make those decisions. And I gladly would allow him to, but until we get these new ground rules established, I will have to be the PJ/Getting ready for school Police.
10:59 a.m.
While walking T to school he and I discussed what had occurred last night and this morning. I asked him if he had learned anything about what happens when I ask him to do something. He responded with ‘just do it mom’ which I am sure Chichi is thrilled to hear because that is her motto. We talked about how his dad and me are on the same page with parenting. But that I would probablly be more of a hardass than his dad but that was okay because Chichi had been with me. And I turned out alright. He agreed.
We were nearly at the school when T turned to me and said darn it mom we are having a really good conversation and we are almost to the school. I reassured him that we can always have good conversations that it would not end just because we got to the school. He gave me a kiss and ran off. I asked if he wanted me to walk him to his hut. There was a resounding No. I am beginning to think that he is embarrassed by me. 😂😂😂

It’s time…..

Went into work today with my return to work note. I feel that returning to work 4 hours a day 5 times a week is the best for me. It is what is healthiest for both my mental and emotional well being. I also do not want to jump back in with both feet. I am quite content to work in customer service or cashiering. Reassess after I have been back for awhile.
I was scared to go in and talk to my boss. Very scared. At first I sent off a message to a friend who I discuss everything with.  Than I told the girls. Also explaining to them that I had snarled at T this morning. Than I talked to V.  Told her that despite all my bravery that I was scared shitless to talk to him. I was afraid that he was going to want to talk about what happened and I did not want to revisit it. That was a bad place for me. And that I was worried that I might cry.
First V assures me that losing it on T was totally normal. Kids do not listen to us and it is damn frustrating. And she is right. I had to ask him three or four times to get in the bathroom and brush his teeth. As a matter of fact, I grabbed him by his arm and pushed him into the bathroom. This after snarling at him about the shower this morning. He stank. Badly. But he was annoyed that I did not wake him up at 6. He tried to push back. I pounded on the bed that he was going to shower because he stunk. We went back and forth. He ended up showering.
V reminded me that we were the parents. We made the choices and rules. They had to listen and follow them. She said the right thing at the right time. Now instead of using ‘because I said so’ I am going to pull out the choice and rule law. Way to go V. Coming up with a great way to explain to my child and all children why they must listen to their parents.
Than she addressed my fear about crying. Assured me that it was okay. And to remember that our boss is human too.
I felt so good after talking to her. Calm. There were some twinges in my stomach but nothing overwhelming to me.
Now fast forward to arriving at work. I was terrified to walk in there. I sat in the car and said my affirmations. I shot off a few quick messages of and got out of the car. First I had to drop my prescription  off at the pharmacy and than I went to the front and had boss paged. Gave him the note and he read it. We were going upstairs to discuss my return.
I waited outside his office. Flicked through my phone. And than he came up and I followed him in.
I did it though. I was calm. The butterflies in my stomach disappeared. I looked him the eye and maintained eye contact. I had been wanting to come back slowly and had been going to suggest customer service or cashiering shifts. So it was very easy to agree when he made the suggestion. He wants to observe me. I need to regain his trust. The trust of the other supervisors and staff.
I told him that by far, my well being, emotionally and mentally are what is important to me. That I no longer was going to look down the road but will remain in the present. And than he suggested that I may decide that I did not want to remain as the lead supervisor. At first, I think my reaction was knee jerk when I said to him that I could still do it.
This is food for thought. I have learned a lot about myself in the last three months. And like the butterfly breaking free from the cocoon I am spreading my wings in the sunshine. Ready to soar.

He believes

Belief: Confidence in someone
T has that in spades for me. Way more than I think that I have in myself and my writing.
Thursday I allowed him to stay home in the morning as we had a dentist appointment at 11:50. His tooth has been bothering him. Every time he laid down to go to bed, during the day, suddenly there would be a sharp pain from his jaw to his ear. I was worried that my insurance was not in place and that I was going to end up paying an arm and a leg, which at this time is not an easy task for me. Bonus, not only was my insurance in place but up to the first $200 was 100% covered and everything after that was 60% off. Well damn but isn’t that awesome. (His two appointments were covered within the $200 limit and a $15 balance yet!)
Thursday was a weird day for me. I spent a lot of time with weepy eyes. At the time, I did not know what it was that was bothering me. I do know now however it is not something I am ready to openly blog about. V told me that having ‘leaky’ days, as she calls them, are perfectly fine to have. Yet my mood had not plummeted. I was still having a good good day. Even with all those tears.
T is a little strange and I say that with absolute pride because so am I. He was pumped that he was going to see the dentist. Quite a change from when he was little. The tooth had previously been filled last year. It had been a deep cavity and T chose to have a silver filling put in. Now though, either the tooth had chipped or part of the filling had come off.  Now as an aside, my mouth is not filled with silver fillings but back in my day (making myself sound as though I am 145) that was the only type of filling we could get. None of this fancy white filling like these young whipper snappers get these days. But white is stronger than silver in the filling wars. When he discovered that he was going to have to come back and get a filling the next day T was super exciting. (No word of a lie when we returned yesterday morning he announced to the office at large how much he loved having his teeth filled. I am still terrified of it.)
A white filling was required as Dr. K had to remove all the old filling and refill. She did not charge me extra for the white one which was yet another bonus. But that was a Friday bonus and I am writing about Thursday. After both appointments T did try his darndest to get me to allow him to stay home using the arguements that a) his jaw may start to hurt in the middle of the afternoon on Thursday and b) the frozen tongue syndrome on Friday. He went to school both days.
I had my revelation as we were talking on the way to school Thursday about why I was weeping. T of course had the answer for me. Just Quit. Don’t do it anymore. I had to explain that it did not quite work that way. That I have responsibilities to fulfill. T was silent for a moment.
‘Mom maybe they will hire you and than you can stay home and write full time.’
I was a little shocked as it seemed like a full change in conversation. And than it dawned on me that he was talking New Reader Magazine where I had submitted my poem.  I laughed a little and explained to him while that would be a dream come true, that that was not how things worked. There was no way that they were going to hire me to write full time. But I lived in that fantasy world for a brief moment.
‘Well mom, than you need to write a long book. One with 25 chapters. You will get published and can stay at home and write.’
I smiled and told T that that was what I was doing with Juliette’s Journey. Working title only. And he nodded and sat back.
I was sitting at home after dropping him off when it struck me how confident T was. He made the announcements, the one about the magazine hiring me and publishing my book, as if they were already done deals. He does not have fears like I do. He does not mistrust the words that I write as I sometimes do. He looked at me and he only saw that I was going to do this. No matter what. And that was when I realized that T really believed in me. He did not even consider that I may fail at writing. He believes in this dream with all his heart.
I realize I have a lot of work to do. I have to live up to his expectations of what I am capable of. And I do not want to let him down. I always tell T that he can do whatever he wants to do. If all I do is talk about my dreams yet never chase them, I am saying one thing while showing him another. And I want him to reach for the moon and stars. I want him to dream big and go for it. He is amazing. He is smart. He is a great looking kid. And I need to be the one to show him how to Jump.

Conquering Queen

Yesterday I received a text from the Ex indicating that his S.O. (significant other) was not working and that T could stay the night there. At first I was annoyed. I think I erased my text two before coming up with ‘Whatever T would like is fine with me.’ The reason that I put the choice in T’s hands is that this is his dad’s week with him. So he would see him before work last night and before school this morning. The first time in a long time. And I already knew what the answer would be. I did not hear back so text the Ex after awhile to check on T’s response.  And he said yes, he wanted to stay at his dad’s.
When I saw that single word response to my text my heart ached and I stifled a sob.
Even though the Ex and me share custody of T I have become use to having him here every night. We have a routine. And I get to see him every single day. So not seeing him last night was a kick in the pants. I had planned to see him. I was waiting to hear about his day. Now I had to reorganize my thoughts. Tears welled in my eyes, and there was pain. I decided that I would do the dishes thinking that if I had something to concentrate on it would not pain me so much.
As I stood at the sink, tears overcame me. My eyesight blurred and I gave into the sadness for a minute. And than I did what I do best now I talked to myself.
‘Jay you can feel sad but you need to get use to this. You need to get use to having one week where you are not going to have T. You won’t see him. This is normal. You have become greedy given that you are seeing him every day. Obviously he is going to want to stay at his dad’s, after all it is his week with him.’
I am not saying that I was feeling 100% better but I calmed down. And by the time that I was done the dishes and back on the couch, I had settled. I had come to peace with myself. Or so I thought.
Today as I am exercising I am looking at myself and critically. I am not liking what I see. There are small tweaks here and there that I could make. Where I was a year ago to where I am today is a huge difference. I am not drinking. I am not taking pills. I am working out. I am writing. But today I was not being nice to myself. I looked the wrong way at myself and decided that that was it, no more pizza. No more sweets. I text a friend and said over and over that I knew my thoughts were insane.
And as we text I realize I was being hypercritical of myself. Subconsciously something was at work and I think that I have figured it out.
I was sad yesterday and even though I did not consciously think it, I wondered what I had done wrong. Why did T not want to come spend the night here? Where had I failed that he would stay at his dad’s even when his dad is not home?  I had no control in that situation at all because I had given it all over to T and his decsion.
And my feelings were hurt. I really had thought that T was going to want to come and spend the night here with me. And because I could not admit that to myself the highly critical freak me rose to the occassion. I pushed down what I was feeling. I had cried but I did not say outloud  that I was hurt. Because that was wrong. I should not feel that way.
I am allowed to have feelings. In acknowledging this the critic in me, who was trying to skew my thinking and pull me back into an obsession with my body image, has been kicked to the curb.
This is a huge step for me. Admitting I am allowed to have feelings. Admitting that yes, I was hurt that T chose to stay at his dad’s last night but I understand why he made that choice. T is going to hurt me over and over again. That is what children do. The broader world at large does not exist for them. They are the center of their world and the immediate family is in their orbit. I will never tell T about how much it hurt. I did feel like he was picking his dad over me.
And he was because it is his dad’s week with him.  Just like he would chose to come home to me if this was my week.
Once more T has taught me a lesson. And in doing so he has helped me. I have a body image problem that I am acknowledging for the first time ever. I realized this because I stuffed the emotions down and than looked at myself for little things that I could criticize and than concentrate on fixing. That I could control. Perfect. Nothing is perfect, least of all me. And slowly but surely, all those parts of me, the ones that are not healthy, are becoming absorbed within me.
I saw very quickly what I was doing. This did not take me a week to figure out, a month, hell it did not even take me 24 hours to realize what I was doing and put an end to it. Each time I catch myself exhibiting behaviour that can trip me up I conquer it. That is not to say that it will not appear elsewhere but it is the catching it that is important here. Once caught I can change the way that I think and slowly but surely eliminate the behaviours that can harm me.

Nessie

T and me we had a really good week this week. A small blip on the radar Thursday evening when he melted down at bedtime. Now I am not entirely sure what caused it other than T had had 2 or 3 cans of pop before coming back home from the Ex’s. He insisted that he was not tired. He screamed. He sulked. He yelled. I turned the lights out, determined to put him to bed and get to sleep myself. With much caterwauling he made his way into his bedroom. He kicked the bed. He made a lot of noise. I finally came out of my room and went into his. I told him that enough was enough. That he was  being rude and disrespectful of the upstairs neighbor. He did not care.
On Thursday I went to the city with V. Because T had been so good this week, and I had not had to nag about chores overly much I bought him a Lego Monster Truck kit and a small stuffed pig. He wants a pig as a pet. My obvious answer to a real pig is now so I thought a stuffed one might appease that desire for awhile. Well, and I am not proud of myself, but I got angry. I tried to take Mr. Piggy away from T. I told him that in the morning I was taking both the pig and the Monster Truck away from him. That I had bought them because he had been so good this week. I went back into my room and closed the door.
As I lay there I could hear T making noise. I was going to ignore it when I realized that he was calling mom. And not quietly. Understand that he is very close to the ceiling because I foolishly purchased a loft bed for him. A couple of more years before I have to replace it. So I was worried that the neighbors were going to hear him. It was now 11:30 and I was getting cranky. I climbed the ladder and stood looking at T. Whose face is tear stained and he is sniffling away. He wanted to tell me that he was sorry. That he should not have acted the way that he had. He loved me. I told him I loved him too, gave him a kiss and told him to go to sleep.
That was not our entire week. Nor was I about to let it color what had been an amazing week. We talked and laughed. Friday T once more was the voice of reason as I tried to navigate the cloverleaf. ‘Remember mom think of girly shit.’ Okay, he did not say the last part it was more kittens and unicorns but I know that that is what he was thinking. Our week was made of prisms of light and that black cloud scuttled across the sky quickly and with no lasting effects. Previously I would have been gnawing over the small blip instead of focusing on all the good. So once more I am showing growth and not bashing myself for getting angry and thinking that I was a bad mom.
Wednesday night.  I made dinner and T did not eat all of it. Decided that it was not something that he liked. I made Swanson’s Garlic Shrimp and I have always enjoyed it. When I took his bowl to the sink I told him that I would not be making him anything else to eat. He agreed. I was writing when T asked me if I could get him some more orange juice. I said sure as I was getting up to refill my water anyways. When I opened the fridge my eyes fell on the apples and I thought to myself what a nice snack. So decided to cut up the apple. Gave T his orange juice and went and sat back on the couch.
I was happily crunching away when I felt laser beams searing through my consciousness. I glanced over and T was staring at me with disbelief. I was not sure what I had done. He continued to stare at me and I swallowed the mouthful that I had.
‘What?’
‘Where’s my snack? I told you I was hungry.’
Oh yes, this than lead to my assertion that I did not hear him when he told me that he was hungry. T was positive that I had chosen to ignore him. He wanted something to eat. I kept asserting that he could get his own snack. He began to get really annoyed and fussy. And whining. I finally did begin to ignore him. Which of course made him even angrier. Of late, instead of reacting to how T is being I will give him a choice of how I am going to respond and his behaviour chooses said action. This time whining at me=me ignoring him.
Finally I could take it no more. I did not snap. I did not yell.
‘That’s it T. The kitchen is closed at 7 p.m. and it is now 7:03 p.m.’
I looked over and a smile began to grow on his face. The whining ceased. And he began to harass me about there not being a closed sign. I stuck to my guns and kept repeating that the kitchen was closed. He kept haranguing me about a closed sign. Finally in exasperation I said ‘Fine you want a closed sign. I will make a closed sign!’ I was halfway off the couch when it hit me. Once I was up and making up the sign T was going to use the ‘well seeing as how you are up’ argument and I sat right back down. When I accused him of such devious plotting he was shocked. As if the thought had never crossed his mind.
By the time we were done tears rolled down both of our faces we were laughing so hard. I did make up a closed sign. T took it down and wrote open on the other side and tried to rehang it. As he did that I got down two bowls, and the cereal. Instructed T who had no idea what I was doing to get the milk out of the fridge. Poured two bowls and handed him the milk to put back. Walked away and casually mentioned he could bring his own bowl.
Our second laugh was a complete misunderstanding. We had been talking about Lucky and how old she was. I was trying to figure it out when mom messaged me. Came up with 11-13 years old. Chatted with mom a bit when I told Tember that she was proud of him. And he looks up at me:
‘mom she is old.’
I was stunned. I mean I know that mom is old, she is my mom but really! How rude. I told T that as well. And he stared at me like I was crazy. And than it dawned on me. He was talking about Lucky.
More laughter. More tears. More good memories made. The dust up Thursday night has become a rarely seen beast, like the Lock Ness Monster.

My True Career

This is not truly a conversation with myself but a friend this morning. We were talking about my post from last evening and he was congratulating me on how I had handled the situation. That most would have shied away from touching on such a difficult subject with a prepubescent child.

I responded with:

There was no point in pulling any punches. With all that kids these days are seeing, hearing, watching and reading, how so much violence and pain is sensationalized and we become inured to it. I will not be party to making my child complacent. He needs to be horrified by violence, pained by the trials of the world that we are living in. (I added in a little more to clarify and paint a picture of what I meant)

It is my job to show him that the world is not always going to be kind but his kindness and his goodness will make a difference.

That is my job as his mom.