If you are looking for me, I am buried under paperwork. I have been busy for the past two days preparing for my ex parte hearing. My plan is to file on Tuesday and address the latest issue: the near drowning. I have my paperwork together – a few edits are still needed and I am waiting on a handful of statements and declarations to support my documents.
Tuesday evening, my X called and my youngest daughter answered the phone. She spoke to her father on speakerphone while sitting at the dining room table. Glenn and I were in the kitchen talking and working on dinner. We heard the X ask her what she wanted to do on the next visitation. She replied that she wanted to have a play date. He then suggested swimming. She said, “I don’t want to go swimming”. He sounded flustered and laughed nervously. From his nervous tone, I almost wonder if someone was standing next to him listening. He pressed further and she said it again, “I don’t want to go swimming”. I was proud of her for using her voice. He changed the topic and then spoke to my oldest daughter shortly after.
Sure enough, I received a text message about an hour and a half later.
- X: “(Daughter 2) swam happily in the pool all afternoon Sunday. (Daughter 1) went in and swam her best yet. I clearly know you are brain washing the girls because the first thing (Daughter 2) said to me today is, ‘Mommy said I don’t want to go swimming’. Its just so damaging what you are doing to our daughters”
- My Response: (We) were standing right in the kitchen and will testify that she never said that. Do not text me.
The “Do not text me” was my second or third request this week. Did it help? Of course not. I engaged him more than I should have with my response and kicked myself afterwards. I shouldn’t have responded at all.
As a child, I grew up in a divorced household. My father got custody of me when I was very young due to my mother’s mental instability and drug use. My mother saw me very infrequently and she was not capable of being the mother I needed. When I would go to her house she would always ask me who I wanted to live with. I would tell her what she wanted to hear; that I wanted to live with her. Like clockwork, she would call my dad and step mother to relay my wishes. When asked by my dad or step-mother what my wishes were, I would always tell the truth: I wanted to live with them. It was a horrible place to be as a child. My mother often put me in the middle. I hated that feeling. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings but in my heart, I knew what I wanted.
I never want my daughters to feel like they are in the middle. I know how that feels and I would never wish that on them. I have learned to listen without probing and I think that they respect me for the position I’ve taken in regards to their father. They will divulge little things that are bothering them here and there and I am careful to listen. “Quick to listen, slow to speak”. There are two tools that I have come to lean on through this process: encouraging my daughter to journal her feelings and utilizing her therapist. It is nice to have an impartial person who is trained to help my daughter deal with emotions and issues in her life. We talk a lot about “choices” and that some people make good choices and some people make poor choices. It is amazing how many times they have translated that over when referring to their father: “Dad makes poor choices”.
I have been struggling with whether or not to have my oldest daughter speak directly to Minor’s Counsel. So far, she hasn’t been put in that position however, at the age of 7 and given the fact that she is very mature and articulate—it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. She is very clear about her wishes when it comes to her father and I am leaning towards giving her a voice (or a megaphone) in this issue. It makes me sad that her voice is needed but I feel like I am being left with few options at this point.