Walking the Tightrope

As we prepare to formally request modifications to our custody agreement, I am a little anxious. After tirelessly documenting every detail of the past 1.5 years (since the last court date), I feel a sense of calm knowing that we’re prepared, but I also wish I knew more. I feel like we’re walking a tightrope, and could fall in either direction.

Do we have the right type of documentation? Will it hold up in court?

Is what we consider to be regularly denying access to the girls, actually her regularly denying us access? Or does BM see enough gray area in the current custody agreement to skate by?

Do we have enough documented incidents of her instigating arguments and lashing out? Or will the judge consider that petty and not care about it?

How can we get the judge to care about BM’s poor standards for hygiene, if we do not have concrete proof?

Do we have enough to clearly paint the picture that BM has been manipulating the custody agreement- and the girls- this whole time, but doing so in a manner that is just under the radar as to not give us a “slam dunk” case against her?

Will the judge care that she only gets the girls to preschool about 5% of the time (if that)? Will the judge realize that our oldest is about to start Kindergarten at a school where she will have to be there an hour earlier? How will that work if she continues to have them on school nights?!

To that tune, will the judge care that she has stalled in coming to a compromise on a school district, just so that we miss the deadline for the one we live in?

Does the fact that she never returns all clothes on each exchanged- as directed in the custody agreement- even matter because they’re just clothes? Or does it matter because it’s something in the agreement she is not adhering to?

Is the track record we have documented the past 1.5 years enough, or will we need more?

We’re on the tightrope. Will we fall on the right side, or the left side? What I know for sure is that on this tightrope, I do not want to make it across in the same situation we began.

Not Everything is Black & White

One thing that really grinds my gears are all of these “un-provable’s” … The things that we simply cannot prove in court. The things that we know are taking place, and we know shouldn’t be, but we cannot document to a fault.

Like the hygiene… ugh. The fact that BM doesn’t brush their teeth before school, or even brush their hair before school. The fact that she does not give them baths every night, and doesn’t even wash their hair every time they’re in the bathtub. The fact that she does not clean their ears or cut their nails.

How she puts them in clothes that are too small for them. How she forgets to give them their medicine after doctors visits. How she ignores a red butt for weeks, but will keep them both home if one of them coughs one time in the morning…

Unfortunately, a four year old telling you these things are happening will not stand up in court. Unfortunately, BM knows to only admit to her faults over the phone and not in writing. Unfortunately, we may be able to see the small clothes and the filth, but it doesn’t always translate through into pictures.

And then, there are the lifestyle differences. The things that each parents has legal rights to make decisions on with the joint legal and shared physical custody. Like the food… the fact that she is vegetarian and believes that a small container of beans, 5 different fruits, and a chocolate dipped coconut bar is an acceptable lunch for a 2 and 4 year old. The fact that she keeps them out late, puts them to bed late, and gets them to preschool late. The fact that she will let them wear flats with no socks in the snow, but send them in long sleeves and tall socks with pants in 80 degree weather.

More than the un-provable’s and the lifestyle differences, I cannot stand the projection. How she will call and harass us about not taking care of them, not feeding them right, not dressing them right. How she has the nerve to call us bad parents.

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That her anger towards my husband has severely impacted her ability to reason, and that it is steadily taking a toll on the girls. [Then of course, she is constantly telling him that he is unreasonable… Classic projection.]

When you document every email, text message, and phone call, but you’re worried it’s not enough. When you’re constantly worrying about what manipulative play BM has up her sleeve. This shouldn’t be how joint legal and shared physical custody works. This should be smooth.

When all you want is to petition the court to make adjustments to the custody agreement, but you have no idea what lies she’s told, or who she’s convinced they’re true. It’s scary, and it’s frustrating, and it’s truly unfair.

Not everything is black and white…

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Powerless.

Powerless.

That’s how I feel lately regarding a lot of things. Well, mostly just one thing.

Before a custody agreement regarding our precious babies was in place, I used to crave it. I couldn’t wait for the day that we had an agreement. A “this is the schedule, deal with it” agreement. I almost didn’t care what the schedule was, as long as we had one. I am Type-A in a lot of ways, and this was one of them.

We didn’t have one of those civil, in-mediation type of agreements. My husband had to fight for what he has in court because BM wouldn’t agree to joint physical custody. She literally had nothing at all negative to show of him, so it truly was just a waste of money for everyone, solely because she was so angry at him for their divorce. Luckily, he was awarded joint legal & joint physical custody in court (obviously– because he is an outstanding father), and I thought we had got our big break. I was so relieved.

Never did I imagine how little the custody agreement would actually do for us. My husbands work schedule dramatically changed 4 months after the agreement was made, but BM refuses to split time more evenly without going all the way back through the process… back to court. I hate that threat… “Well, you’ll just have to take me back to court!” Oh, I could get sick right here thinking about that. There is so much room for interpretation in the custody agreement, and some of it does not even make sense whatsoever with his now “regular” work schedule. “The parties are to split time evenly” and “The father has 10 overnights a month” are a huge point of conflict for us.

When will she let go of this anger? She is hurting the kids… but does she realize that?! I want to show her grace, but she makes it so difficult. 

I write this from a place of hurt, a place of powerlessness. I’m trying my hardest to stay strong for my husband, because I am here to take on this burden with him, not to cause him more stress. But where is my breaking point?! I don’t ever want to have to find out. I refuse to give her that satisfaction.

She never gets in the way of our relationship, and I am so proud of that. But it kills me to not have the girls even time. It devastates me to see my husband hurt so bad, and for all of this to be out of our control unless we spend another $3,000+ on a lawyer. The system is broken. I feel helpless. I feel powerless. As a fixer, there is no worse position to be in.

My husband is so comforting. He reminds me that she has no power greater than he does. He reminds me that getting worked up is exactly what she wants, and to never give her that satisfaction. He keeps me grounded, he keeps me sane. He keeps me focused… Eyes on the prize!

To those of you feeling powerless- about anything- know you’re not alone. We will make it through, and we will come out victorious! The power of positive thinking is incredible, so let’s will ourselves to think positive together. Life is messy… that was never a surprise. This too shall pass.

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