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Girls Gone

July 9, 2010

Yesterday, S~ and L~ got on the airplane to visit their father for 3 weeks.  L~ was pretty tearful about leaving home.  S~ was indifferent, if not positive.

The girls were 5 and 3 when the Ex and I separated.  He stayed in the state that we all had lived in for about 3 months before moving to the Middle of the Country.  And so they were 6 and 4 when they first had a summer visit with him, far away from me.  That summer, the visit was almost 8 weeks.  I shouldn’t have agreed to that.  It was too long for their little, young selves.  But they were used to living with him, and they missed him, and it seemed like the right thing to do.  Because of a host of reasons, they spent those 8 weeks constantly shuttled between him and my mother, and it was very difficult for them.  I was worried for a very long time that it would be permanently scarring for them.  (Instead, L~ remembers the college town that they were staying in fondly, and her memories seem to be only the positive aspects.)

Since then, the summers have been shorter, and the girls have been older.  The Ex has also been less inclined to have them for such long periods.

Excuse my cynicism, but it is true:  part of why he wanted longer summers was because in the state that I had lived in, his child support amount was reduced according to the time he had the girls in his custody.  That is no longer the case.

There was one summer (4 years ago) where they were scheduled for 5 weeks with him, and both girls were so hysterical and miserable that he changed their plane tickets and sent them home a week early.  That sucked.  I had tearful phone calls from both girls multiple times a day, until he finally relented.

Then there was the summer (2 years ago) that ended up long again (7 weeks) due to a cruise scheduled by the Ex’s mother – but before they could go on the cruise, things went so horribly wrong between the Ex & his wife and S~ that Writer-Dude and I had the phone number for the police department of the Ex’s town on our computer screens, and were about to get in the car for a 14 hour drive to get my girls OUT of that house.  S~ eventually preferred to work it out (largely because the Ex told her I’d threatened to never let him see her again, if she didn’t drop it – which I had not done).  Within days after that episode, the girls went to the Ex’s parents’ house, while the Ex and his new wife went elsewhere for almost a week, and when they all came back together, things went okay.

Last year, probably due to lessons learned from the year before, the Ex planned for most of the summer to be spent with his parents at their house in Florida.  His wife was then pregnant for the first time, and so he was probably looking to take the burden of entertaining the girls off of her (she is the one who’s shouldered it from the start, while the Ex goes to work or plays on line poker).  But the summer went well, and was only 4 weeks long.

This year we looked to schedule another 4 week visit.  It seems to be the sweet spot.  Too much less, and they don’t get into their groove with him.  So we planned on the month of July.

But then he planned a trip.  With his wife and new baby (who is very very cute).  And he wasn’t coming home until some point in July, so he shortened their time by a few days.  Then a few more.

And so now, it’s a less-than-three-week trip.

L~ still didn’t want to go.  Tearfully.  Which is always hard.  But I do think that the huge clashes from years past have settled down, and she couldn’t articulate a reason that she didn’t want to be THERE, she could only think of things she’d miss HERE.  Not having a relationship with her father can’t be an option without reason.  Even though their “relationship” with him and his wife comes nothing close to the “relationship” they have with me and WD, it is a relationship.  It is an open door to what they may need from them in the future, when they are adults.

S~, I think, is desperate for more of a relationship, and more happiness, with her father.  After the very difficult summer mentioned above (where we almost went and got her), I brought her back to a therapist she’d seen in the past, and she tried to work through some of what happened and how to move forward.  She had been feeling so torn between not wanting to see him ever again, and wanting things to be better.  I think the therapist helped her to set the goal of things being better.  Helped her to think about the positive, rather than the negative.

Throughout that summer, as well as prior to and afterward, I have worked very hard – and I think have been successful – to keep my mouth shut.  This is why I turned to a therapist.  I couldn’t do this processing with her, not with my history with him, and not with my desire to protect her.

And this year, she left without tears.  She seemed resolved.  I told her I’d miss her, and her response was “I know.”  (While watching her sister curl up on my lap crying that she’ll miss me as if she were a toddler, not at 5’1″ 12-year old.)

Yet — when a summer camp fell through for S~, that was going to keep her busy for the first 2 weeks of August, I mentioned perhaps she could stay with the Ex (while her sister came home) for an extra week.  S~ seemed to like the idea.  I checked in with the Ex, and he was excited that she’d want to.  Then she changed her mind.  And held fast to the “no, I don’t want to.”

After L~’s tearful night before, the morning and the airport run were uneventful – we all even had fun, waiting for the plane. Thanks to a preposterous dog belonging to a fellow passenger … with a very funny bow in its hair.  L~ and S~ were texting with WD about it – because if they spoke out loud, the owners would have heard, and that would be rude.  Unlike the peals of laughter that spontaneously came out of both girls when the dog came out of its carrier.  L~’s funniest: “it’s like a turd with a bow on it!”

They both texted me upon arrival, to let me know they were safe (despite L~’s fears).  I’ve emailed with L~, and S~ texted me once to demand (not politely, for which I chastised her) that I send her some shorts she left behind, and once with a picture of her fingernails, painted herself, which are very neat and presentable.

Now I have to be sure we can keep texting reasonable, as I know that in years past, their (sometimes constant) calls & texts to me have frustrated the Ex to no end.  Which I don’t find unreasonable.  They should be “there” when they’re there.

Now to figure out what to do with myself for 3 weeks … especially since WD is leaving tomorrow for 10 days.

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One comment

  1. […] So far, I haven’t had tons of contact.  Nothing compared to years past. […]



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