This weekend was suppose to be my X’s weekend with the children. He refused to comply with the orders as they are written even after being lectured by the attorney representing my daughters. The result: visitation cancelled.
I made the decision to cancel Saturday’s visitation for non-compliance and gave him the chance to see the girls on Sunday. It’s such a simple order– email around ten am the day prior (24 hours notice) confirming in writing that he will exercise his rights to visitation. He has a Blackberry and he has internet on his phone. He also has Gmail. Last night I described it best: it’s like having a stand-off with a two-year old.
If you are having a stand-off with a two year old then there are resources available to help. There are parenting books and television shows like the Supernanny. When you are having a stand-off with a 37-year old man, it’s just plain frustrating. Like another single mommy who I admire recently said, “Actions = Consequences”.
The bottom line is this: his defiance caused him to miss time with his daughters. That is sad.
Saturday afternoon, the girls and I went to a New Year’s Eve celebration at our local Children’s Museum complete with a 12pm countdown, balloon drop and apple cider toast. We made party hats and noisemakers and had a great time. We went on with our day and that’s what we will continue to do —whether he chooses to participate in their lives or not.
This morning I was talking to the girls at breakfast about the new year and my aspirations– to have more joy in my heart and to live each day in gratitude. We talked about things we each hoped for and wanted to work on. My 6 year old daughter looked and me and said, “Do you know what I wish for but I don’t think it will happen? For Daddy to be nicer to you“. I didn’t know what to say– I just leaned over and gave her a hug.
There is no manual or script and there are no cue cards or Cliff Notes. Sometimes I don’t have the answers– just hugs.
We sat in court on May 27, 2011 and my X was asking for additional visitation. Additional visits meant less child support. Additional visits also equals “winning” which is what is most important to him. He’s set on “winning” at all costs. I’m tempted to use a Charlie Sheen reference but I will hold back.
He brought his cousin into the courtroom to testify on his behalf. My X’s agenda was to prove that he had a stable, safe environment for the girls. He grilled me on the stand– asked me what I thought about his cousin. I answered honestly- “I respected his cousin and I respected his cousin’s wife. I respected them as people and as parents“. At that point in time, I did.
The thought of my children staying at their home on the weekends actually set my mind at ease. They were good people and their children were the same age as our children. They claimed in court that my X had total and complete use of a guest house on their property. I was more at ease knowing that his cousin’s wife would be in the general vicinity to “supervise” and I was at ease knowing that my daughters would be in one place each weekend rather than a new bed each night. I was hoping in that moment that I could trust what they were saying. I wanted to believe the white picket fence story with every ounce of my being.
In the visitations immediately following this court date, this is what happened:
- June 3-5, 2011 — The girl’s Father-Daughter Call: No Show
- June 17-20, 2011 — They did not stay at his cousin’s house as they had testified in court. On Friday night, they stayed in San Francisco at his condo. The second night, they stayed in his friend’s home somewhere in San Francisco– they did not know these people prior to sleeping there. The third night, they stayed in a hotel. Three different beds in three different nights.
- July 1-5, 2011– They stated with a family friend in Morro Bay, California. My daughters returned home with bad sunburns (the first of their lives) and my youngest daughter had a horrendous rash from defecating in her pants and sitting in it while at the beach. She had been potty trained since she was 2 years old. She was 4 at the time. These were documented by our pediatrician.
- July 15-18, 2011– They stayed in a hotel.
- July 29-31, 2011–I received an email 11:00pm stating that his cousins house was unavailable and that he had to drive the children four hours north to San Francisco. I was unable to contact the children all weekend despite many attempts. My daughter normally calls me several times each day so I was getting very concerned. I finally contacted the San Francisco Police and Child Welfare Services to investigate but they couldn’t verify the address that he supplied me. He ended up returning the children early with no explanation. I later discovered that this was the weekend of “The Monster and the Parking Structure” incident.
There is no white picket fence and there is no stability. The court presentation was all for show which has been one of the biggest obstacles in this battle. The lack of stability causes visible signs of stress– bed wetting and other things. As a mother, it is heartbreaking to watch. I feel helpless and I am desperate for someone to stop this from happening to my daughters. I am beginning to realize that I can’t depend on the courts– I have to take matters into my own hands.
Saturday, June 4th, 2011 was a very important day in the lives of two little girls. It was the “Annual Father-Daughter Dance” through my daughter’s Girl Scouts Troop. The event was talked about at each Girl Scouts meeting for two months leading up to the event. The girls were so excited about attending this Greek Themed Ball. These events are a big deal when you are four and six years old.
At that point in time, my X’s visitation was to begin at 3:30pm on Friday and last until Sunday evening.
We drove to the Starbucks location on Friday afternoon where the pick-up was supposed to take place and we waited. Then we waited some more. He never showed up. We called his phone- no answer. We left a voice mail and then we drove home. I was livid. How could he do this to them on such an important weekend? To this day, I will never understand it.
I was careful not to upset the girls. Glenn and I had already discussed a back-up plan in advance. I had even discussed a back-up plan with the girls when my oldest asked, “what if daddy doesn’t come”. I told her that her Uncle would take her (he lives 2 hours away) or Glenn would be happy to accompany them. I’ve learned to always be a step ahead of him. Glenn offered to step in and take the girls to their dance. They were excited.
I got the girls dolled up in their finest Greek attire – white gowns with gold sashes, gold bracelets, make-up and fabulous up-dos. They danced, participated in hula hoop contests, played games and had a great evening. The night was saved and the girls were happy– that is what mattered most.
It is his loss–he missed out on a precious moment in time with his daughters.
I later discovered that he had been fired from his job just days before and spent the weekend drinking wine in Napa. Alcohol came before our daughters once again.
Our Parenting Agreement (June 2010) stated that “X” could have increased visitation (from three overnights per month to six overnights per month) after he completed the following:
- 4 months of weekly parenting classes.
- Individual counseling to address personal issues specifically related to anger management, stress and communication with the mother.
- No alcohol usage around the children until completion of the above items.
He was to file proof of completion by October 31, 2010.
If someone told me that I could double my time with my daughters by fulfilling those simple requirements, I would have signed up the moment I left the courtroom. Easy peasy, right? Wrong.
His child support was based on the increased visitation (six overnights per month) and therefore, he didn’t need nor did he want increased visitation. Not only did he not do anything required of him by the court (these items have never been completed), he failed to show up to many of his limited visits.
One example: Thanksgiving 2010 was supposed to be his holiday visitation. I received a text on November 22, 2010 stating that he wasn’t going to be taking the girls after all. There was a slew of reasons and lies– the end result: we packed the girls in the car and we spent Thanksgiving Day at Disneyland and then the weekend with my sister in Orange County.
The moral of this story? When all else fails…head to the Happiest Place on Earth!