Archive for December, 2011

Yesterday ended our Christmas visitation with my husband’s youngest son.  He was disappointed he had to leave.  He told my husband he thought he got to stay until Sunday night.  This would have been correct but my husband had picked him up last weekend for standard visitation only to be told later in discussion with the ex that it wasn’t his weekend due to the Holiday schedule for visitation.   The mother wanted him home this weekend since he had already spent the time here.  She didn’t bother to mention this to the boy, so it caught him unaware.  He was sad.  So were we.  You would think we could just ask for more time.  After all, it’s the Holiday’s.  And my husband travels for work which causes him to miss his midweek visitation.  Maybe he could stay an extra day, right?  Ummm, no.  You know how she is.

No.  Actually, I don’t.  I have my perception of how she is.  I have spent years picking up the pieces from the emotional fallout caused by the behavior of this woman.  I have cradled her children and mothered them while she has been unable or unwilling to do so.  I have done my best to shield my own children from her destructive manipulations, albeit unsuccessfully in the case of my daughter.  But, by the grace of a loving and wonderful God, I have never had to live with or be in any type of close relationship with this woman.  I have never had to truly experience how she is first-hand for anything more than a few minutes at a time.   For that I will tell you, I am thankful.  After all, you know how she is.

Over the years I have heard that statement in reference to my husband’s ex-wife more than I can count.  My husband says it regularly.  The children have said it.  The family counselor we used to go to has said it.  Her new husband says it.  Heck, I have even said it.

The first time I heard someone say “You know how she is” was the former principal of the high school that my daughter attended.  The same high school where this woman still teaches.  He was actually talking to my husband.  This man had been the principal of the ex-wife when she was in high school.  He was a very close friend of hers.  There he sat, with my husband asking him what was being done about her having inappropriate relationships with students, and the best he can say is “You know how she is.”

I have watched as different situations have unfolded with the now adult children.  Each of them at different times coming to us for money or counsel.  Each instance somehow, regrettably, not all that surprising.  This woman has emptied bank accounts belonging to her children, she regularly puts her wants and wishes above their needs.  We have on previous occasion asked both of the now adult children how it is that she manages to convince them to be joint on their checking accounts.  “You know how she is,” they say with a look of disbelief that we would even ask.

The funniest example to me, however, is her NEW husband saying “you know how she is” to her EX-husband.  It’s happened a couple of times.  Once when the decision was made without her input (she was out of town) to take my stepson out of football after he had been found repeatedly hiding on the locker room.  Another time the new husband said it he was telling my husband he needed to find a way to make money “under the table” because they were coming up short.  He needed something that wouldn’t affect his VA disability check.  You know how she is.  Yep.  And we’re glad she’s YOUR problem now.  My guess is by now he is realizing what he’s gotten himself into.

Back to my stepson and Christmas visitation.  Why didn’t she say something about the mix-up in weekends my husband was going to make before hand?  I will tell you why.  Because somehow, in a way that will most likely never be known to us, it was better for HER. That is always the bottom line.  Not what’s good for the kids.  Not even what does the court order say.  It’s always what is better for her.

It was sad to send my stepson home yesterday.  But in a way it was good for us to get to see that he was sad.  We are constantly told that he doesn’t want to come to visit.  That he would rather stay there and do what they are doing.  Often we feel like he really doesn’t want to be here.  So, let this be a reminder to us to give him every opportunity to continue to voice his feelings and opinions when he is with us.  Let us be reminded to listen to him always.  He doesn’t get to do that at home.  You know how she is.

 

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Yesterday was Christmas.  For me, it was the best Christmas I can remember in a very long time.  Certainly since my children were babies.  We did things a little differently this year.  Our focus was more on “real” Christmas than on “commercial” Christmas.  We didn’t run around spending a bunch of money on gifts for people we don’t even see throughout the year.  We didn’t buy a bunch of gifts for each other.  We didn’t stress out trying to get to a bunch of Christmas get togethers.  It was an authentic Christmas.

A big part of this being such a great Christmas was the lack of drama where my stepchildren are concerned.  There is a court date pending that in part addresses the ex-wife’s continual interference and manipulation of visitation.  So for the first time I can remember, there hasn’t been any jockeying on her part to screw with the court-ordered visitation schedule over the Holidays.  Amazing how much better it is when she manages to play by the rules.  It is unfortunate however, that it takes having an active complaint to force her into compliance.  Fortunately, there are not many more years of this foolishness in front of us.

My favorite part of Christmas this year was being able to visit my daughter in prison on Christmas Eve.  Maybe that sounds strange.  Would I prefer my daughter be home at Christmas, celebrating with us at home?  Of course I would.  But it’s not time for that yet.  She still has work to do.  And for her to be successful out in what is referred to as “the free world” there are no shortcuts.

I enjoy my visits with my daughter.  Not just spending time with her, but learning about and getting to know some of the other women in prison.  There are so many stories.  Some happy, some sad, but all very, very real.  Faces put to problems.  People facing great adversity.  I respect them for that.  Many of the people I have met that are in prison are more honest, much more humble and sincere, than a lot of the people I know on the outside.  Often I wonder how it is that some people get caught at a crime and harshly sentenced while others commit crimes for years yet escape ever being brought to justice.  Many times I think about this long after I have left the concrete walls and razor wire that contain them.

Christmas is such a great time for personal reflection.  A time to take inventory in ourselves.  For me it’s a time to think about how I have spent the past year and how I am going to grow in the coming year.  Have I been the best person I can be?  Where have I fallen short?  How can I do better?  My hope is that I can use my voice, my talents, whatever resources I am given, to make the world a better place.  To continue to stand up for what’s right and to keep pushing for change.  To hold on to faith, to hope, and to love.

Here’s hoping you had a very Merry Christmas!  Much love to you.

 

1 Corinthians 13:13   Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.