Raising Children with a Disgruntled Ex

Raising Children with a Disgruntled Ex

When I accepted his proposal in the late 80's, I accepted with trepidation. We had already weathered so many storms in our short time together. In my mind, I quickly saw a slide show of my past relationships and rejections... those that made me begin to feel as if I had no chance of finding the allusive soul mate I had always dreamed of. This person before me, holding me in his arms as we danced to Big Band music blaring from the stage was a decent man. Not romantic, not self motivated to go above and beyond the normal daily expectations. Decent. He wouldn't converse with his heart. Was more logical in thought processes than I preferred and did not match my own motivations to find that golden key in life and grasp it; to continue to search for that seemingly unattainable happiness you read about or witness in film.

I said yes. I did feel a love for this man. I knew he felt a love for me as well. I, in my late 20's had been so sheltered throughout my life that I considered my immediate surroundings to be the world, and in my world, he seemed to be the logical choice to begin attaining the goals I had set for myself with. I got the dream home. The dream job. The country setting and two beautiful children. I didn't get the marriage I had dreamed of and neither did he.

Settling on a partner in either marriage or domestic partnership is a mistake. It is very doubtful that everyone feels that fireworks explosion in their stomach when they see their betrothed. However, it is important that there be some anticipation within when you know you will be seeing him or her. I stopped feeling that the night after our wedding. I knew it was a mistake after I mistakenly dumped too much bubble bath into the hotel jacuzzi and instead of making it a sensual, fun mishap, he insisted I clean the entire suds filled bathroom and then proceeded to lecture me on the appropriate amount of soap to pour into the tub. I stayed, perhaps, to show my friends and family that waiting so long to settle down with someone assured a more successful marriage than marrying at a young age, like many of them had. Not true.

Now, I am raising two bright children with a disgruntled figure in the background. I would have cherished a friendship with this man after the divorce. He made it clear when we walked out of the court room that first day in December that he would make me pay for the rest of my life for making him begin his life anew in his forties. I continue to try to involve him in their lives. Calendars listing their activities, setting up weekends and days for visitation. Having them call him whenever they visit the doctor, get an award or experience something wonderful.

He chooses to avoid conversation with me, deflect his eyes when I am trying to speak to him, fight me on medical issues and try to put distasteful images of me within their developing minds. Pitting children against the other parent is not conducive to anything healthy; physically or mentally.

Physically, my children exhibit tics occasionally from stress. They both have been tested by doctors and fall within the attention deficit category. Emotionally, they get frustrated by the inconsistency of parenting they experience; me being too structured and strict and he being passive and constantly rewarding. I would love to take my kids weekly to some fantasy oriented play place, complete with souvenirs that they play with once and then hide in their toy baskets until I pull them out a year later and sell in a garage sale. I long myself to travel with them; explore the mountains of the world, visit the castles in Europe and become jet setters that can verbally regurgitate facts about each country in the world. I can't. I'm on a strict budget, raising two growing children; entertaining and feeding their friends and allowing them to have the best education, emotional support, pets, best doctors from my insurance and a home that brings them pride and joy.

I don't feel anger over the fact that he can take them where ever they want to go. He is giving them chances to see the United States and providing them with experiences that many children could only dream about. I worry however, that as they grow older, they will become too materialistic. I'd become that way when I was married to him. I had nothing else to keep me happy until my children came along. I found out the hard way that concrete objects are not the key to happiness. I want them to know that family, love, hard work, respect, earning something and not always being given things on a silver platter will amount to much more happiness in life for them. I want them to see the beauty in the setting sun and to thank God for the wonderful watercolor display He provided before they lay their head on their pillow at night. I want them to feel the breeze on their face as they finish planting a flower or hear the song of a cardinal to remind them that the most beautiful and simple things in life come not from money but are free. I want them to understand that love cannot be purchased but must be given freely to feel it within themselves. I can only hope that my half of their influence, can instill in them a sense of self promotion to apply themselves and work hard for things that are meaningful to them. I want for them a future of happiness and health.

Any of us that have brought ourselves up from squalor or impoverished situations know that in the end, it's not what we are given that makes us happiest; it is what we gain through our own efforts and the satisfaction of knowing that our accomplishments not only happened because of the encouragement and help of others but mostly because we said to ourselves, "I can and I will."

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