Don’t Go Away Mad – Eli Young Band
We’ve all heard this song right? … Don’t go away mad, just go away! This is the point I have reached. Due to my ex husband’s new relationship and when I say new it has been just 2 months since their first date, he is quickly disappearing from our kid’s lives. It started with being physically present but mentally absent. Meaning he still had them on his assigned times but was never engaged with them. Always on his phone or iPad. Our oldest immediately goes to her room….watches Netflix/Hulu. It’s what she does 90 percent of the time she is there. Our son who is next in line is on the xbox or in front of the television the entire time. Our youngest two are twins and the boy twin is perfectly happy to be parked in front of the television and as long as he has access to the pantry and refrigerator, he is perfectly content. It is his twin sister that struggles there the most. She is too small to have her own room with an iPad or computer to escape with and watch Netflix or Hulu like her sister. She doesn’t have an interest in football or xbox like her brothers so she is a bit… adrift. If her twin brother can pull himself away from the television and plays with her then she is ok. But more often than not she wanders up to her older sister’s room and watches tv with her. Luckily her older sister is a gem and happily takes her in and helps console her when she cries that she misses me and wants to go to my house. When I ask what her dad does, she says… well he lies and says he’s going up to watch tv but he really just gets on his phone.
In contrast let me give you some insight into what a night at my house is like. There is no television or video games on school nights unless there is some exception. There is no tv and no cell phones when we sit down for family dinner that my significant other or myself have prepared at least 2-3 of the 3-4 nights they are here. Occasionally our older two will have to go to their rooms to finish homework, or someone has practice. The youngest two have to do their reading. Then it is usually game time..UNO, Skip-Bo, Boggle, Googly Eyes (the newest favorite), UNO-Dare, whatever game we can find. All six of us are in for at least one or 2 rounds. At times I will let the oldest go to her room as she likes to bullet journal, organize, etc. Then there is usually just hang out time which usually results in the twins creating some game or just wrestling around like bear cubs in the living room. The 13 year old will start making all sorts of concoctions in the kitchen. Twins in bed by 8:30 (as long as there aren’t any games). Bigs go to bed at 9:30. We do have a show or two that we will watch with the older two after the twins go to bed but we are waiting new episodes. (downfall of binge watching)
Recently things have moved even further along the trajectory of him disappearing. What’s interesting is my significant other, my best friend and even my mother have said since the beginning of our divorce that he will bow out, disappear, move away. I never really imagined it would happen. But happen it is and at a furious pace. One that while is quick to my children, I wish I could just rip the bandaid off and get him out of here. Up until now we split the calendar evenly. 15 days a month for each of us with parenting time. When we have a trip or a commitment, we swap out days that are convenient for the other person to make sure the days stay as even as possible. It started with a wedding the two of them were going to. Instead of swapping days, he asked MY mother to babysit. He didn’t mention it to the kids because surely they would mention it to me. Two things disturbing about this. 1. In our state it is mandated that if you choose to forego your parenting time your first obligation is to offer that parenting time to the other parent. 2. He didn’t do this because he knew I would bring up what night to swap out. Well this would have logically been the following evening but he had New Years Eve (their 2 month anniversary) to celebrate and he wasn’t about to put that at risk. So he would rather give up a night with the kids than to give up a night with her. Of course when I realized what he had done I took the kids myself, we went skiing had a great night and because of his nights of pleasure he went 5 days without seeing the kids.
Bring on the next few weeks when he has a vacation planned to Cancun that he gave me less than 2 weeks notice on. Once again, he violated our state law and asked HIS parents this time to take care of the kids in his absence. I reminded him once again of the rules that apply to this situation and told him his parents could stay home and I would happily take care of the kids. You see, I don’t see them as a burden or an interruption to my social life. I see that I have only 3 years left with my oldest daughter and I will happily take every and any moment I can spend with her. The years go by too quickly for me to give up any time with them. So as it pans out, of 31 consecutive days….I have the children 21 of those days. Believe me when I say this, I am not complaining in any way. I’m happy to have them more frequently that what was arranged by our parenting agreement. My frustration is around his absolute apathy toward the situation. I don’t know how you choose someone you barely know over your children. Especially when they have expressed hurt about your choosing this other person over them.
Of course his new love interest has three children with three different men and from the flexibility in her schedule she either never has them….or they are so used to her, how do I say nicely….”loose” lifestyle that they don’t mind the revolving door. I’m sure he spends time with her youngest daughter. I’m sure he’s much more engaged with her than he is any of his own children.
What’s interesting is while he continues to push the kids out the door, he somehow blames me for their lack of engagement with him. So on their first night back after the new year. He takes them to Dave and Buster’s arcade. Once again a place that requires little engagement on his part. They can run around and play games and he can just give them tokens and let them run around. My kids were distraught that they were out late, on a school night. They texted me and said this place is not where we should be before returning to school from break. He’s really that clueless.
So it brings me to the title of this post. Don’t go away mad…just go away. Don’t go away believing that you disappearing from their lives has anything to do with me. Don’t go away telling them that they feel this way because they are hearing one side of the story. Believe me I don’t need to say a thing. All the work of burying yourself with the kids is done with your very own shovel. But just go…don’t drag it out. You have decided in a remarkably short time that your time and energy are far better spent with an individual whom you barely know. But at this point you probably know her far better than you know your own children.
As much as I know it is hurtful to them for him to disappear, I wish he would just do it and get it over with. Because I now see the writing on the wall and it is inevitable. They are lucky to have a great father figure they love and trust and that welcomes them with open arms 7 days a week. He repeatedly says, I wish they were just with us all the time.
So don’t go away mad blaming me, accusing me. For once in your life… be accountable. Recognize your choices for what they are. And just go away.
PS 10 days a month is not shared parenting…it’s called visitation. So the financial responsibility will also have to change to reflect that.