Archive for the ‘Child Custody’ Category

Although not one of them would admit it, and you’re to self-absorbed to realize it, you don’t know your own children. You may have carried them inside you and gave birth to them, but you don’t truly know them. You know the version of them that they MUST show you. The mask they must wear to receive your love and approval.

It started long ago. It’s gone on as long as I’ve been in the picture. Most likely from their births. The stories you made up, the responsibilities and lies you laid on them. Early on in my relationship with them it was evident they craved motherly love and attention. I didn’t set out to “steal your kids” or usurp your position in any way. If you were truly bonded to them, how could I? How could anyone?

Their love for me threatened you. It shouldn’t have. But you are weak. You are insecure. You hadn’t really “mothered” them much at that point, had you? Their Daddy was the one who took care of them. Even after your divorce, he was the one to stay home with them when they were sick, to feed them, clothe them. True to form, then as now, you were all about show. What people saw of you isn’t what went on behind closed doors. The kids watched all this. They took it all in. When they found safe haven at my home and in my arms, you couldn’t cope. You took it as a personal blow.

They would beg to stay with me even before I married their Daddy. We had so much fun on our adventures. Hiking, cooking, picking apples, playing with my dogs. It was safe at my house. No strange men coming in and out. No high school boys hanging around. No yelling. No having to fend for themselves. No drama. They got to see a Mom in action as I mothered my own children. They obviously liked what they experienced.

The oldest child loved my son. He was fascinated by the fact that he didn’t speak. He loved to play computer games with me. In elementary school he asked me often to visit his classroom. Once I gave a talk there. His class wrote thank you notes. He wrote an extra special note. I treasure it. It was written from his heart before you were able to poison him.

The second child saw right away her Daddy’s love for me. She watched me carefully. I loved that about her! She was shy. Her self esteem virtually nonexistent. I did my best to build her up and make her aware of her own unique talents and beauty. She and I had a secret code we would use to make puzzles out of our notes back and forth. She would make art for me.

The third child tried so hard to be happy and carefree but underneath she was angry and insecure. She would cling to me. Almost every night I would hold her and rock her in my rocking chair as she sucked her thumb. She loved to play games. I gave her a nickname that she was so proud of! I have a little wooden strawberry she gave me that says “I love you” when you open it. It will be mine forever.

The youngest child was always so quiet. He was only three when I met him. He wanted to be pretty much anywhere I was. A few months after I met him he asked me if I would marry him so he could be with me forever. I have the little ring he gave me to wear even though I told him I couldn’t marry him because his Daddy was my boyfriend. We would write stories and draw pictures to match. He was an artist, a creator. You took that out of him, didn’t you? Instead of being allowed to follow his own interests, he had to participate in whatever the dude you were “dating” at the time was doing. Pathetic.

They were happy. They were safe and secure. They loved the family rituals we had…”special plate” each night at family dinner, family game night, date night one on one with each child. They will remember these things. They will also remember the lies you told and the chaos you exposed them to on a regular basis. They will understand that they weren’t “stolen” but that your own actions caused you to be proven unfit and to lose custody. They will understand that was when the war began. Maybe, just maybe, they will realize that if nothing else, you had to step up and at least attempt to be a decent mother to them. The best you could be, anyway. Their Dad had a moral obligation to take them from you and keep them safe which is what he did. I supported him and loved him all the more for it.

Another Mother’s Day as rolled around. Lot’s of praise for you on Facebook as usual. “World’s Greatest Mom!” It’s funny, infuriating, and sad, all at the same time. All of the water that has gone under the bridge and they still can’t be honest with you. They fear your temper tantrums. They shudder at the thought of your disapproval. It’s just easier to lie and make you feel important. No, you don’t know your own children. You never will.

Enjoy your accolades whilst they last Momma. Sooner to later, all of the hate, the lies, the hurt, you have spewed out over the years will make it’s way back to you. Deservedly.

Symptoms of Parental Alienation

Parents Acting Badly (Book)

Helping Adult Children of PAS

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Liar

“If her lips are moving, she’s lying.”

That’s what my husband told me about his ex-wife pretty early on in our relationship. He didn’t say it with malice, just stated it as fact. Over the years I have thought many times about how accurate this statement turned out to be.

Some people wouldn’t know truth if it jumped up and bit them on the ass. That statement definitely applies to the ex-wife. She has told more lies than I can count. It’s a way of life for her. She has lied about so many things that have affected me over the years and I have not had the opportunity to publicly refute them.

Some of her lies have been to people I know at work and in the community. Telling people that I “stole” her children. No one stole her children. She lost custody because she was unfit to care for them. She repeatedly put them in situations that children should never be in, and continually exposed them to men and boys she was involved with sexually. She was court ordered to take parenting classes. Not me. Not my husband.

She repeatedly told the children that I was the reason she and my husband were not together. Really? Guess that makes me pretty powerful considering when she started having sex with high school students I lived over 700 miles away and wouldn’t meet my husband for another 7 years. No, the reason my husband was not with her had nothing to do with me. She could have been the last woman on earth and he wouldn’t have been with her.

She once filed a countersuit in court that included a statement that the family counselors said I should not be allowed to be alone with the children. Both family counselors denied that and were willing to testify in court. Settlement was reached out of court so once again, I did not have the opportunity to confront her. In actuality, the court appointed family counselors were requesting that SHE only have supervised visitation with the children. It wasn’t me who was the unstable person in their lives.

She accused me of child abuse. Yep, that’s right, the one who has had the police called on her for physical abuse…the one who has preyed sexually and emotionally on teenagers for years…reported ME for child abuse. Thankfully, we had taken all four children to visit the family counselor following the incident in question and it was noted that the child I supposedly abused had no marks on her. However, when she got to school that morning after being driven there by the ex she suddenly had marks under her eye and claimed I had struck her face. The DHS judge called her actions a “gross manipulation” of the system. I’m not gonna lie, it has been frustrating, not being able to call her out publicly on all of her bullshit.

But the lie that tops all lies, the one I would most like to hear, is the lie (or lies) she has told the children over the years to turn them against us. Part of me understands her turning them against me. She is insecure and threatened by me as a woman, and as a mother. But why would she turn her children against the man that is a dedicated father to them? A solid male role model. She told the children long before we even knew that one of them was not the biological child of their Dad. What exactly did she tell them? She was married to their Dad at the time, yet having sex with someone else that resulted in pregnancy. She passed this child off for over TEN years as his, collecting child support, medical expenses, sending her with him for visitation, then when she gets caught and called out on it, suddenly HE is the bad guy? I want to know what line of CRAP did she tell them to make HIM the bad guy? And now that they are adults, why can’t they see it? Why do they continue to support her lies?

Since publishing the post I recently submitted called The Jealous Wife, more and more instances of crazy behavior from this woman came to mind. She has worked long and hard to hurt me. As one of our attorneys said, “She believes her own lies.”

At first, I didn’t see how that could be true, but as time went on and various events took place, the truth of this statement became evident. In her twisted mind, everything that happened relating to having custody of her children taken away, not being able to reconnect with my husband, mismanagement of her finances, you name it, she see’s it as all my fault. She truly does believe her own lies.

What’s more, she has worked hard to get other people to believe her lies. My oldest stepson used to tell me when he was around 10 or 11 that his Mom told him I am the reason she and Dad split up. Really? What do you say to a child when they tell you that? I gently told him the truth.  “No, your Mom and Dad were separated and divorced before I ever met your Dad.”  No venom.  Just fact.

An agent I currently work with told me she was apprehensive about me coming to their office because of everything she and the other soccer Mom’s had been told about me by the ex when the kids were little.  She went on to tell me that within the group of Mom’s they questioned what they were being told because they didn’t believe that the courts would take custody away from the mother and give it to us if any of what she was saying had been true. Everyone knows how hard it is to take custody from a mother, especially in a particularly conservative area.  Thankfully, she realized after meeting me and working with me a short time that it was all bullshit.  But still, who knows what things this woman has said to others around town?  I am self-employed as a Realtor.  My reputation matters.

What about the girls at school cornering my daughter and asking why I was “stealing” this teacher’s children from her? Stealing her children? Right. That is the fairy tale – marry the man of your dreams, and then less than a year later, bring four (yes! FOUR!) more little kids into the house to feed, bathe, and care for on top of two you already have plus your corporate management career. Trust me. I was NOT out to “steal” anyone’s kids. But I did whole-heartedly support my husband’s quest to make sure his children were safe and provided for in a healthy environment. How much talking about me in her classroom did this woman have to do for these high school kids to believe I was trying to steal her children?  And what kind of crazy do you need to be to try to take your anger and shortcomings out on my child at school?  She was not even mature enough to bring it straight to me.  Instead, she had my child bullied on her turf, the high school.  Pathetic.

Speaking of talking about me in the classroom, on several occasions I would be out in the community (grocery store, bank, retail stores) only to have someone high school age helping me and recognize my name. Many times, they would say they knew who I was from their high school English teacher. One girl at a grocery store told me that her English teacher was “obsessed” with me and could not stop talking about me. That’s just creepy. Crazy. And unprofessional, to say the least.

She even went so far as to use my “jealousy” as a defense against me trying to get her fired.  Jealous?  Really?  Jealous of a grown, middle-aged woman, sexually and emotionally abusing high school boys?  What do you say to that besides YUCK!?!  Of course I was trying to get her fired!  I have NEVER denied that.  Any decent human being would want this woman fired and never allowed in a position of authority over children of any age.  This woman – or ANYONE like her – does not need to be in a classroom or anywhere she has contact with students.  For the life of me, I do not understand how it could be that she is still a teacher in this school district.  It’s like my daughter first said to me years ago, “Everyone knows Mom, but nobody does anything about it.”

And so, for all these years this woman has done her best to wreak havoc in our home.  She has wreaked havoc on her own children.  She has certainly wreaked havoc in the classroom.  All the while pointing her fingers at me.  Deflecting responsibility. She is great at playing the victim.  Somehow, in her mind, it has all happened because I am the jealous wife.  Or so she wishes.

This hits the nail right on the head! Take time to read and learn. Glad to see this information becoming more main stream. It needs to make it’s way into the family court system, with attorneys and judges having training. Or, at the very least, listening to the mental health professionals that they appoint.
http://www.alienationischildabuse.org/personality-disorders.html

Until you’ve actually gone through the process, you don’t can’t possibly imagine the challenges that can come from being in the family court system.  It’s an eye opener to say the least.  Especially when it comes to custody and child support.

Child support.  The dictionary describes it as:  court-ordered payments, typically made by a noncustodial divorced parent, to support one’s minor child or children.  The key statement being to support one’s minor child or children.  Sadly, too often this is not the case.

I have been on both sides of the fence on this issue.  I have received child support from my ex-husband, and I have watched my current husband pay child support to his ex-wife.  The difference in the two scenario’s is staggering.

When my first husband and I divorced, an amount was set for him to pay towards the care of our two children based on his income at the time.  Our daughter was ten and our son, who has special needs, was five.  For most of our marriage my ex-husband and I earned similar amounts of money.  In the two years before our divorce, he didn’t work most of the time.  When he did get a job, child support was set based on the income from his latest position, not based on his previous ability to earn, which was over double what he earned on the new job.  For two children, I received the modest amount of slightly under $400 a month.  (It later became slightly more when the years of arrears were added.)  This amount was not enough to pay for a month’s groceries, not enough to pay for one child’s day care expenses, but that was his contribution, based on the amount he earned at the time of our divorce in 1997.  There were many times through the years that I did not receive any child support.  I did not receive payment for medical bills.  I did not receive help with keeping the children under medical coverage.  Did this frustrate me?  Yes. Was my ex-husband doing the best he could do for our children, maybe, maybe not.  But I did the best I could to work with him.  I wanted my children to at least have the possibility of having a relationship with their biological father.  I was not going to let child support interfere.

When I met my current husband, much of what attracted me to him was the way he cared for his children.  He did more than pay his child support.  He paid the medical insurance, he paid the medical bills, he worked two jobs so he could buy them clothes, school supplies, pay for their school lunches – things that child support theoretically goes towards.  Whenever the kids needed something, he paid.  If the kids were sick, he was the one to stay home from work to care for them.  Sadly, in his case, the child support has never gone much to the care of the children.  If you’ve read any of my past posts you know of the ex-wife’s need for show.  Since my last post on child support, she has gotten two different cars, trading her Pontiac Solstice for a Lexus convertible and the white Honda Pilot for some type of Cadillac.  Twelve cars in thirteen years.  She has three cars at her disposal while my soon to be 18-year-old stepson doesn’t have a car to drive.  I don’t understand it.  But I digress, the point is there needs to be drastic child support reform.

When my husband divorced in 1998, child support was set for the four children based on his income at the time.  As it should have been, I believe.  But here is where my agreement with the system stops.  Why does the custodial parent get an increase in child support every time the other parent gets a raise?  In the case of my husband I can assure you the ex-wife did nothing to support his career advancement.  If anything, she was a detriment to his career.  He was a top high school football coach in our state with a promising coaching career ahead of him, until he got hooked up with her.  No one wants to hire the coach whose wife is having sex with the football team.  He eventually left his teaching and coaching career of over 20 years because he tired of her reputation following him even after they were divorced.  In my opinion, child support needs to be capped based on the level of income at the time of divorce.  Period.

When my husband left coaching and went into business, he developed a strategic plan of where he wanted his new career to go.  He has been extremely successful in achieving those goals.  Of course, the ex-wife has taken him back to court continually to squeeze every possible penny she can get out of him.  How is that she is even awarded an increase?  She has absolutely nothing to do with his success.  Nor does she spend the money on the children.  She never has.  My example would again be my stepson not having a car.  At over $900 a month in child support for one child, there is certainly money to put towards it.

And what about the daughter who turned out to not be my husband’s biological child?  Even though the ex-wife was a teacher having illicit relationships with male students that resulted in this pregnancy, in many states she has the right to go back and collect child support for the child.  While my husband, like many other men duped by paternity fraud, has no recourse for recovering the child support and expenses he paid for this child.  Not mention the pain he endures.

I’m not saying that all parents (male or female) who receive child support are not using it for their children.  But there are bottom feeders – people who use their children as a paycheck, who feed their ego literally at the expense of their children.  At the very least, we ought to be able to require some type of accounting be presented to show where the money is being spent to benefit the children.  I was happy to provide my ex-husband with receipts whenever he asked for them.  If there is nothing to hide, why not?  When my husband met with his attorney over the last child support increase he asked if we could put the increase in a court ordered trust for the child to be given to him when he became of age.  It was the only way we knew he would be getting the benefit of his father’s hard work.  It wasn’t allowed.  The custodial parent is allowed to spend the money however they see fit.

There needs to be more shared parenting to decrease the need for there even being a child support order.  What’s in the best interest of the child is spending time with each parent and seeing the reality of having to work to make ends meet.  A child being used as a weapon and a source of income doesn’t benefit anyone.  Ultimately, it is the child is the one being damaged by the system in place for their protection and edification.  Change is desperately needed.

 

 

Today is the day celebrated as Father’s Day.  It’s usually a day of cookouts, family time, gift giving, and laughter.  Handmade cards and pictures from little kids; stories about their childhood from those that are grown. Memories are made, and memories are revisited.

Sadly, not all kids get to experience having a Father in their life.  They watch from the sidelines as friends, cousins, neighbors, celebrate this day.  Equally as sad is that not all Father’s get to experience Father’s Day with their children.  Some by choice, it is true.  But many, because they are denied that right in one form or fashion.

I have been on both sides of the coin not only in my own childhood, but in the childhoods of my children and stepchildren.  My biological father was an alcoholic who had an affair, which caused he and my mother to divorce.  Once divorced and ordered to pay child support, medical expenses and save for my education, he made one support payment ($8O) and promptly left for California where he would not have to pay.  (Remember, this was about 45 years ago so CS enforcement was not what it is today.)  My mother never received another dime from him and I saw this man exactly three times between the ages of 3 and 18.  In sharp contrast is my step-dad, Charlie, who was always there for me.  Charlie loved me and my siblings.  We were his children.  Charlie has been gone from us for over 26 years, but when I think of my “Dad” I think of him.  His wisdom still guides me and I love him as much today as ever.

In the case of my own children, their biological father isn’t any better than mine.  While we were married, my ex-husband was somewhat active in the life of our daughter, but not our son.  Because of his disability, I suppose.  Once we separated, he took the kids on visitation only three times.  Only after my daughter contacted him when she was 17 did he begin somewhat of a relationship with her, but again, never our son.  To this day, as my daughter sits in prison, her biological father does nothing to support her.  He had seen our son three times in 10 years and that was only because I invited him to my son’s birthday parties and dog sat for him once.

Then there is my husband.  He is not only a truly wonderful man, he is a magnificent Father.  A huge part of what attracted me to him was his love for and his devotion to his children.  And eventually, his love for, and support of, my children.  He continues to offer support and guidance to my daughter through her challenges.   He recently adopted my son, autism and all.  He is their Dad in every sense of the word.

My husband wants every minute he can possibly get with all of our children.  Unfortunately, sometimes he is denied that right.  If you’ve read any of my other posts you are well aware of the antics we experience at the whimsy of the ex.  If you’re not familiar with our story let’s just sum it up with these three key phrases:  parental alienation, abusive/personality disordered woman, using  the children as pawns for control and manipulation.  By my way of thinking, if a child is blessed enough to have a father who cares, who wants to be active in their life and provide a solid, positive influence, why would you want to interfere in that?

Today I have thought a lot about my stepdaughter that isn’t my husband’s biological child.  How do you think she feels about Father’s Day?  To our knowledge, she doesn’t know the identity of her biological father.  At 10 years old her mother very effectively stole her father from her.  She was told by her mother the day we had the children’s cheeks swabbed that her daddy wasn’t really her daddy.  She was made to be the outcast by her mother.  Biology didn’t change the way my husband felt about his daughter.  He had loved her and cared for her from the time she was a baby.  Now suddenly he was the bad guy.  And all so the mother could hide her crimes.  This young girl is now graduated from high school and about to be an adult.  She suffers emotional issues and has trouble making and keeping friends.  Her own siblings have long been fearful of her.  She has been in trouble with the law.  Why?  In my opinion because the loving relationship she had with the man she knew as her father was destroyed.  You see, whether as an ex you like it or not, Daddy‘s are very important.

This type of thing is happening to men all the time.  We are making progress in the courts and in the views of society but we still have a long way to go.  Just because a woman is a mother does not automatically make her the better parent.  Just because a parent has physical custody does not give them the right to interfere with the relationship between a child and the other parent.  As a stepparent I feel it is important to support both parents to the children regardless of your feelings.  And believe me, I know that at times the feelings can be very negative.  But children need both parents.  Little girls and boys need a Daddy.  No matter what their age.  And kids need to be allowed to be kids.  They don’t need to have your emotional baggage and insecurities dumped on them.  It’s hard enough just being a kid.

So a big, enthusiastic Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful men who love and adore your children as my husband does.  Much love to you.  Keep your head up and work towards doing the best you can to make things right.  If we can’t make the changes fast enough to help ourselves, at least we can work towards keeping these things from happening to other families in the future.

Parent Alienation and the Wizard of Oz

Written by Carolan Ross

http://www.squidoo.com/parent-alienation-syndrome-pas

After almost twelve years of watching this woman in action, it shouldn’t still surprise me.  The selfishness.  The greed.  The diminished concern for her own children.  The lies and manipulations.  The way she has mastered the art of playing the victim.  I tell myself it can’t possibly continue, yet it does.  Year after year.

With my husbands most recent increase, he now pays about $900 per month in child support for one child.  This is more than he paid when he and the ex divorced and he was paying support on four children.  To say that the child support system needs an overhaul is a gross understatement.  Many men are unjustly charged with outrageous child support amounts.  Others never experience any type of increase, while still others are never ordered to pay support at all.  Yes, we are in need of a major “re-do” on a national level.  But what’s on my mind is what’s happening right here under my roof.

One of the things that most attracted me to my husband when I first met him was how he loved and cared for his children.  They were all quite young then, the oldest being nine and the youngest having just turned three.  The summer before we married, I watched as this wonderful man worked several odd jobs, including digging ditches for sprinkler systems, to have extra money to buy the kids the things they needed.  At the time, it was primarily clothes and food.  In spite of the fact that he was paying around $850 a month in child support, he was still buying clothes, personal care supplies, school supplies, etc. and helping with daycare costs.

Having been a single mom, responsible for providing for my own children, I realize the importance of both parents contributing to the health, welfare and financial security of their children.  The responsibilities, as well as the joys, of raising your children should be shared.  In my opinion, this is what is most beneficial to the children. (Provided of course, that there aren’t extenuating circumstances.)  The problem that I have with my husband paying $900 a month in child support for his son is that it isn’t going to provide for this young mans needs.

My stepson has shown up wearing shoes with the entire side blown out.  He has come to our home with underwear packed in his bag that were at least two sizes too small, telling us that was all he had.  No socks.  He didn’t have any.  Or worse, wearing women’s socks (those of his mother or sisters) because he didn’t have any.  He has repeatedly worn ill-fitting clothing.  Pants so tight they cannot zip that he explained had to be worn with a long shirt so that teachers and the other kids in school did not notice.  Most recently, he has been wearing jeans that are size 34 waist, bunched up with a belt.  Who’s pants are these anyway?  My stepson wears a size 18 boys.  For Christmas, several things he was given by his mother were from Salvation Army and still had the tags on them.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Salvation Army.  Especially if that’s what your budget dictates.  I take issue with this however because my husband is paying MORE than enough child support to make sure his son is nicely clothed, properly fed and appropriately groomed.

I can hear some of the arguments now…”It’s going toward providing housing, paying utilities, buying food, etc.” Maybe partly, yes, I can agree somewhat.  But what about clothes, shoes, haircuts?  Lunch money, school supplies?  Shouldn’t these items be paid for out of my husbands child support?  Instead of spending money on the kids, let’s take just one small peek at where the money goes…

Since 2000, the ex-wife has had the following vehicles:  Mitsubishi Montero (which was my husbands but the court ordered them to trade vehicles as she had traded her four door Toyota sedan for a Mitsubishi Eclipse not capable of safely hauling all four children), New Honda Accord (which she lost due to bankruptcy), Old Honda Accord, Jeep Grand Cherokee (I had bought one so she had to have one also), Black Honda Pilot (the guy she was seeing at the time had bought a White Honda Pilot), Old White BMW Sedan (the kids told us the passenger door was falling off and couldn’t be used but hey, it was a BMW, right?), Silver BMW SUV, Black BMW Sedan, White Honda Pilot (purchased after my stepdaughter bought a new car), and a Gray Pontiac Solstice (she “needed” a convertible). Seriously?  TEN (10) cars in eleven years???

What about vacations?  This woman takes several trips every year (most WITHOUT the children).  I could list many of them, but I will spare you the sordid details.  She is gainfully employed and has finally remarried.  What she chooses to spend HER money on is frankly not my business.  I just feel the needs of the kids should come first.  Hopefully by now, you are getting my point.  It is not my husbands fault that she is so completely financially inept.  Child support MUST be for the benefit of the child/children.

When my husband visited with his attorney about the increase he asked if there was any way to ask for an accounting of the child support.  Couldn’t he ask that at least 50% of it been spent on items specifically for his son?  Couldn’t she be required to give receipts?  Unfortunately, in our state, the answer is a big, fat NO.  We asked if we couldn’t take the increase and deposit it in a trust for the child’s benefit with the balance going to him once he reached a certain age.  Once again, the answer is NO.

It’s not right.  With the child support increase, we can no longer afford to buy extra clothes, supplies, haircuts, etc. for my stepson.  So we sit by and watch the hard-earned money go up in smoke.  We don’t have much longer to pay.  A little over three years.  For all the other men (and women) who pay child support, I hope we can see change.  I hope they are someday soon given the right to know for certain that their hard-earned dollars are being spent to help their babies.

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.

 

English: A bunch of Razor Wire atop a chain li...

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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.