9/20/14

Secretary Goes To College



Molly sent me a text this morning:

Dad just texted me. He's coming here tonight. With her.

Remember when I wrote about the never ending hurts of divorce? Texts like this are part and parcel, baby. Now, this wasn't a big hurt. Not even a medium sized one. It was more like a mosquito bite.

I played it cool, texting back Yay! Free dinner! or something along those lines. Because tell me what college student doesn't welcome a meal that

a: doesn't cost them anything, and
b: doesn't come from the dining hall

I felt happy for my daughter that she'd be getting a good dinner. I felt uneasy for her because I know how uncomfortable she is around her dad, and the stepmother only makes her feel more uncomfortable.

And yes, I felt bitter. Bitter that now he shows up, almost a month later. Rides in on his white horse and takes her out to dinner, his sweet new family in tow. Where was he when she was crying when the university's website crashed as she was in the middle of filling out her application? Where was he when we filled out that God-forsaken FAFSA? Where was he at her high school graduation? Where was he when we were running around town a month ago, spending a small fortune on things like mattress covers and closet organizers and string lights?

Don't get me started on what I felt when she sent me a text later that said All three of them are here. They wanted to see my dorm room. Bitter would have been welcome. Because what I felt was a sick, quiet rage. The first thought in my head? How dare she?? Really, though, Secretary visiting my girl? She has no right to traipse into my daughter's dorm room, the dorm room I helped her furnish and set up. How dare she go there and play the role of College Mom, visiting her girl on campus and bringing a grocery bag full of ramen like someone who gives an actual shit?

I know I should be over this, I know this kind of knee-jerk "angry ex-wife" reaction is symptomatic of someone who hasn't truly accepted everything that's happened. And that's probably true. I'm a big talker about "moving on" but when it's all flayed open and laid bare in the light of day, it's painfully obvious that not all of me has moved on.

And that's okay. I'm showing myself some grace here, some forgiveness. My feelings are valid, even if they are unfounded and immature. I'm going to let them roll in, like a vengeful, sad tide. And then let them roll back out from whence they came. Back into that odd, roiling sea of feelings.

I'm going to remind myself, for the millionth time, that none of this is about me. That it's a good thing, having a dad who is alive and who sometimes acts like a father. I'm going to keep these icky thoughts and this twinging anger to myself, and the next time Molly and I text or Face Time I'll ask how dinner was and tell her that I hope she had a good time (and that I hope she ordered steak). I'll tell her that I love her and that I can't wait to see her next weekend, and when we're done I'll feel proud of myself for not being a shrew and for keeping a lid on the stinky hurts that once again hit me out of the blue.

And I might even laugh a little, thinking about one last text she sent me this afternoon:

Seriously? I hate ramen. 

I love that girl.




53 comments:

  1. Ugh! I'm so sorry that each new stage brings new aggravation. I totally get it and would feel the same way. Ramen is gross. ;)

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    1. Thanks Nina! I agree w/ your ramen opinion. Although I do still buy it for my youngest, who thinks it's the bomb. Gah.

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  2. Wait! He didn't go to her graduation? Are you effing kidding me?

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    1. We didn't see him, so if he did go, he watched from afar and then took off. Which, in my mind, equals not going. I don't think he attended, though. He skipped the graduation party, that I know fo sho.

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    2. I guess it's a really long time since I visited the HH. Big Daddy was at graduation & sat right in front of me! He was friendly & probably slightly uncomfortable, being without a posse like the rest of us. I saw him looking around after - during the madness - if it makes any difference.

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    3. YES. This makes a huge difference! I'll let Molly know, because he never told her was there! Now I'm trying to figure out who you are. I'm thinking your first name starts with "M"....

      Thank you for telling me this info. I wish he had looked harder for her afterwards. We were right in front by the big 2013 sign. It would have made a huge impression on Molly :( But I'm glad to know he went.

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  3. Ugh. Your feelings are justified. So are hers. But OMG I do love me some Ramen. xo

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    1. Thanks Tracy! And yes, a couple of my kids DO love it, too. I get it!

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  4. Duluth is my father and step mother's vacation spot, so when they decide to come up they'll tell me the day they get here. Usually I get a meal, so that's nice, but I'm something to make sure they see on their vacation, not something they actually come up to see. I would've put the ramen back in their car - how cheap can you be? And he really didn't go to her graduation?! Class act.

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    1. I think it's nice that your dad and stepmom make efforts to see you, Mara, and I love that you have (what seems to be) a good relationship with both. That takes work, from both sides.

      I will look you up one of these times I'm in Duluth!

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  5. It's gonna start sounding like an echo in here...He didn't go to her graduation?!?! Whoa.....I mean, whoa.

    Just tell Molly to save all the ramen to make that broccoli slaw next time she's home ;)

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    1. Ugh, I know.

      Ha! YES. The ramen is useful for the slaw! Thanks for reading )

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  6. You know he's a jackass, we know he's a jackass, and your daughter probably realizes he's a jackass. How he just traipsed in there having not gone to her high school graduations is beyond me. And then to take Ramen Noodles? WTF? What a cheap-ass. I have no doubt daughter sees this. But, you have raised her well....she was courteous. Doesn't mean she liked having them there much. I'm sure she was uncomfortable, and they SHOULD have been uncomfortable. Your feelings are valid - I'd feel the same way. "How dare he?!" Jackass.

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  7. Keep taking the high road, Sister!

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  8. You handled the situation really well. You recognized that your feeling are your feelings, they are not wrong or right, they just ARE. But you do have a choice as to how you react to your feelings....and you took the high road which is pretty darn classy! It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your daughter, she talks to you, tells you things, let's you in!! AND that is what is most important!

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  9. Traipsing up there like he had a hand in her getting there. How is it he'll drive two hours away from town to see her (maybe so he can brag to someone, or his parents put the squeeze on him to go, etc.) but he'll miss a big milestone in her life occurring in his own hometown? Perhaps he's been fisted one too many times by the secretary.

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  10. I'd feel bitter, too. I don't think your feelings are knee-jerk, and I think you embody an entirely new definition of grace. And I adore your girl. xoxo

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  11. Wow !! Is all I can say what could have kept him from her graduation ? I think you were valid to feel what you did and I pray he gets his act together and starts doing better for the children.

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    1. Who knows...he didn't attend the graduation party because, as he told his dad (who not only attended, but made his world famous baked beans) said, "He thought it would be weird." Mmmhhhmmm.

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  12. The douche baggery of that man continues to astound me. He. didn't. go. to. his. daughter's. high. school. graduation. Just.....wow. I don't even have words. It is so obvious that YOU have done an amazing job in raising your daughter.

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  13. I agree---keep taking the high road, at least with your daughter. She knows he's dropped the ball, but your humor and encouragement gives her permission to love him anyway.

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  14. BD and Secretary are sad people, just sad. I pity them. Pitiful people.

    But you on the other hand, rocks. Your love rocks, and your never ending love, patience and forgiveness with yourself and with your precious children. Love shows results, and bearing fruits...Look how far your daughter and boys are going, and still is going. Congratulations on your girl, and your boys! They are what they are because you stayed, and stayed, and keep on staying for them.

    I'm happy, and going for the ride on your journey, because what you're doing gives me hope.

    A big salute to you and your kids, and right now, to your beautiful girl. Just like her Mom.

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    1. Thank you so much :) This means a lot to me. So kind! My kids blow my mind. So, so proud of them.

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  15. I think you did certainly take the high road by not speaking ill of your ex to your daughter but doesn't this post defeat that purpose in a passive aggressive way?
    You had mentioned in the past that your ex read this blog and maybe he still does so he would know that neither you, and more importantly, your daughter was happy that he was going to visit her.
    Would your daughter be okay knowing that you wrote this and her Dad would see it? I too am separated and I know that any of my 3 kids would be so upset if I had done this. I think it sort of guarantees that there will not be any future visits.
    If neither of you are concerned by this, then wouldn't it be better to just tell him up front that he is not welcome to visit or he may be welcome to come on his own without his family and let the chips fall where they may.
    If his visits, with or without his family, are upsetting to your daughter then why at this late stage is she still putting herself through that? At this point, she is old enough to decide if she wants a relationship with her Dad and to try to speak to him about this as difficult as that conversation may be and she should be encouraged to speak her mind.

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    1. You might not know my story, and what the kids and I have gone through thanks to my ex-husband and his "choice". I honestly don't know, nor do I care, if they read this anymore.

      I'm trying hard to find a shit to give about being passive aggressive and/or offending them, but it seems that I have none left to give.

      My daughter is "putting herself through this" because I've raised her to be civil, even when being civil is the last thing you want to do. I don't think I reported her being upset, rather it's kind of uncomfortable for her. Kind of like having to sit down at a holiday meal with an uncle that gives you the creeps, you know? Not your first choice of dining companions but a meal is a meal.

      Thanks for reading!

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    2. I agree with the original poster. At some point, men are going to just give up, if all they get in return is criticism and/or passive aggressive responses on a blog. My DH has a daughter from his first marriage; his X made it so hard for him to see her, and when he did, she responded with nasty emails berating him for anything and everything he did/said/talked about/thought. So many times, he's said he's just done and will try again when his daughter is 18 and he doesn't have to deal with her mother. While Big Daddy did serious, gut-wrenching harm, I do feel for him a little bit. It can't be easy to know that your every parenting failure is on display for the whole of the internet to read.

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  16. I really really like this! I'll be back.

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  17. She knows what a douche bag he is, believe me. She knows. You're doing your best to handle a truly crappy (mildest possible classification) situation without sacrificing your adult dignity in the process. All of these things are good things. I have no idea if you've ever gotten counseling, but if you haven't, maybe you ought to consider it, just to help you work through what is a truly heinous divorce. If anyone has earned the right to sit there and have someone listen to them talk about their horrid ex for an hour a week, honey, it's you. The man put you through hell. You shouldn't have to heal from something like that all by yourself.

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  18. It's your candor and skillful talent that has made you so popular as a blogger. You've generated so many loyal followers by penning your feelings, good or bad, after the divorce; along with the perceptions from all sides. You have shared with strangers, now friends, how hard the times have been for you, and for your children. You've made real, personal connections with others, from those walking in your same shoes, just by telling your stories. Reading through your blog entries, we have laughed, cried, and became disgusted too, by the "balls" some have, at times; all because we could relate. We felt your pain through your visual imagery, and we were able to conceptualize it, because of your skill and mastery of the written word. We are right there with you, you are writing about us, not just your story, but our stories too. I appreciate everything that you have shared with this community, so thank you.

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    1. Thank you, so so much, Mary. Your words mean more to me than you could ever imagine.

      Jenny

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  19. It's official. I love you.

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  20. Found your blog via a divorce recovery website (looking for my sadly-soon-to-be-former-sis-in-law... But always my sister regardless!) and was soon reading from start to here! Wow! We have a similar story for sure, but at least my ex-sperm donor showed up for the boys' graduations! He doesn't visit them at all (but does offer them rooms for $rent... Even the 16 year old!!! Ha) but he's thankfully made a point to be at milestone events like that. Even if some people think this post is counter-productive, until you've watched someone discount and disregard your children and throw blame around like rice at a wedding, you CAN'T get it! Good for your daughter for her response. Yeah maybe Big Tool and Step-Replacement meant the ramen as a joke/ode to all students living on Ramen... It's in poor taste considering you were ALL forced to live on ramen due to his own idiocy! I spent 14 years as a single mom, lost home, car and everything else tangibly BUT gained an incredible support system and importantly a new ME! Your kids sound amazing! You do too! I remarried someone amazing who thinks of (and provides for) my older sons the same way he does for our new daughter. It's bren an amazing gift for the boys to see and for me to experience. Yep, they'll carry scars from Big Tool... But you've given your kids such an incredible journey of surviving and love, they'll do amazing things and all will likely be stellar parents! So glad to have found your blog!!! Sorry for the novel, this place has been my addiction this past week!

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    1. Hey JenYFur (how I love this name, sometime I'll tell you the story of why some of my friends call me JennyFur, lol)!

      Wait. WAIT. He charges them actual real money for rooms? Are you shitting me? I"m so sorry.

      I wanted to thank you for this comment. I'm sitting here, at 3:45 a.m., trying to write a post that addresses the earlier comments about how maybe Big Daddy and Secretary still read this and how that might hurt their feelings. Your awesome words have given me some good material, friend. Thank you.

      I appreciate you. Thanks for sharing a little bit of your story :)

      Jenny

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  21. This. This. This. Every other weekend or when Disneyland dad shows up to get them. My kids are younger (11, 13, and 15). I constantly struggle with not only trying to raise them to be responsible men but shoulder the majority of the financial responsibility as well. That being said, we don't have a lot of money for extras. Then super dad shows up and buys them play stations, air soft guns, skateboards, new cell phones, anything a boy can dream. I'm the big ole meanie who has to say no all the time. And when I can get a little treat, it doesn't even come close to his grandiose gifts. In my head, I know that what I am 'giving' them is invaluable - life lessons, budgeting skills, working hard for thing, etc. In my heart, I cringe every time because I want to be the hero. Just once.

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    1. Can I hug you? I smell good because I've been doing laundry and all the clean wafts onto me as I trudge the loads upstairs :)

      Spoiler alert, my friend: YOU ARE THE MOTHER EFFING HERO. I was in your shoes not so long ago, and I also felt the things you're feeling. I wept with bitterness when they'd come home with wet hair, the smell of chlorine and their rosy shoulders a testament to the weekend of playing in Dad's pool. What did I have to offer? A shitty couch, some books, and Netflix.

      But then, they grew. They grew up and out and into these tall, mature people and they let me know, in a thousand tiny ways, that they knew. They knew what was real, and what was a facade. They knew that play stations break, skateboards get stolen and cell phones become obsolete while you walk out of the store with them.

      They knew that at the end of the day, there was someone who was there for them on Sunday nights. There was someone who signed the seventy thousand permission slips and who did the humiliating paperwork to get them reduced price lunches at school and who stalked the clearance racks at Target in November to make sure they had shorts to wear in May.

      You are the hero. YOU ARE THE HERO. They will know that. You have always known that. And someday, when the kids figure out what's real and what's pretend, Disneyland Dad will know it.

      In the meantime, keep doing what you're doing. I love you, and every single woman who wears our beat up shoes loves you too. You are not alone. Ever.

      Jenny

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  22. The nature of real love (most ex-wives know the difference between that and the false kind!) is to expand, and to generate and nourish life. Children almost always recognize real love even while they are complaining. As has been said above, THEY KNOW.

    That said, I always remember (the Jungian shadow must be addressed!) a line I heard on public radio from a novel that an author was reading from. "She loved him unconditionally, but wasn't sure that was a good idea." I really liked that. We all, even children, can sense when something is awry with love. We mostly don't address that feeling early enough, though.

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    1. Oh Becky!! Hi!!

      I love that quote, so so much. It's perfect.

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  23. Missing your posts... hope you're doing OK and just busy :)

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  24. Ditto Anonymous#1.

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  25. I second that, yes also wondering if you're doing alright or if life is just doing its thing right now? You are missed��

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  26. I really hope you are ok!

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  27. I don't read your blog religiously so I don't know any back story here, but having dealt with an "angry ex-wife" for a little over 4 years now, thank you for not acting upon your thoughts in person or via phone/web to the SM. I love that you rationalize and allow yourself to hate her without letting it interfere with your kids or attacking her - physically or emotionally (as a "SM" (we're not married) who has dealt with all of the above, you're a breath of fresh air).
    Also - I'm sorry your ex sucks. I'm glad my boyfriend isn't a sucky dad to his kids and knows how to be there.

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  28. I feel like I just read a chapter from my own drama.
    My ex will bring his new wife, who is the co-cheater, to all the parenty things. Like conferences. My kiddo is only in first grade, so I know I have a lot of fun times ahead of me.
    Did I mention that she was a friend and 13 yrs younger? No? Well, she is.
    I still get the pangs and nudges of anger and hurt when I see pictures of her with my kiddo or dogs, whom we share custody of.
    I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who deals with them and can confidently say, deals nobley.
    Thank you. Next time you're up in the Duluth area, you got a dirty martini on me ;).

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    1. You have to be shitting me...my daughter goes to UMD :) Oh, this will happen!

      Mine is only 12 years younger! Has yours had a baby with her yet? When that happens they usually back off of the parenty things with your kids, so it's not all bad.

      I had one run-in with Secretary, way back in the beginning of their relationship (after our divorce was final, so technically they'd been together a while already).She came to one of my son's baseball practices, and at the end they were handing out uniforms. The equipment manager called over "Parents" to grab their kid's jerseys and pants. She waltzed over there, and said, "I'll take William's stuff!". To which I replied, "Uh..no. No you won't. Since I'm his mom, I'll take it." She had her two little dogs with her, and when I had the package of William's baseball stuff and walked away, she followed me. With the dogs barking. She started screaming at me, in front of all the parents and all the other people who happened to be at the park. "YOU ARE A CHILD, JENNY!" is what I remember her yelling.

      I looked at her and said, "At least I don't sleep with married guys."

      Martini for sure. I'll be up in Duluth when the roads don't scare the crap out of me :)

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  29. I struggle when to know how to move on.. it's all new to me, but I dont want to even feel him years from now.. I moreless want to extract and erase him altogether..... ugh #Divorce

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