R E S P E C T (just a little bit, Big Daddy)

Yes, I know...this is the year I'm going to stop being divorced.  I KNOW. But when something happens that makes my divorce-senses tingle, I can't stop myself from writing about it. Kind of like when your teen has a big white pimple on his/her face. On one hand, you don't want to do anything to make their teen angst flare up..on the other hand, who hasn't spent a day walking around on sunshine like Katrina and the Waves only to get home, look in the mirror and see that you've been conversing with humans while sporting something that looks like a giant sesame seed on your chin/nose/forehead. I always tell them about it, along with saying, "Sometimes it's okay to pop them."

Where was I? OH YEAH.  Divorce. I'm really looking forward to the day it doesn't feel sharp and icky when my ex-husband's name pops up in an otherwise mild conversation. Talking about life and kids and other things and then his name comes up.  His given name, the name I used to write and say with love. 

This happened the other night at William's hockey game. I was chatting with a mom I hadn't met yet. Our boys are on the same team, and attend the same junior high. William has what I think is a darling and completely hetero boy crush on her son.  She and I have crossed paths, but never officially met. So she came up, introduced herself and we got to chatting.  She is a divorced mom herself, and we were talking a little bit about that (see, you can say you're not going to be divorced anymore but it's kind of like saying you're not going to have freckles anymore).  She said, "I've met XXX (Big D's real name) but not you..it's so nice to finally talk to you." That name..ugh. I felt my lips curl up into the snarl/grimace that occurs naturally whenever I hear his name...honest to God I never knew I did that until one of the kids pointed it out not too long ago: "Mom..how come whenever someone talks about Dad you make that face?"  Me: "What face?" and then one of my little carbon copies tried to show me.  It was a wake up call.  Now I notice it, and stop it.  Like I did when my new hockey mom friend said his name.

She stopped abruptly, put a hand on my arm and said, "I'm sorry.  I know things aren't good between the two of you."  I smoothed out the snarl/grimace and put on my EVERYTHING IS GREAT face. "Oh, don't be sorry. It's okay.  It's fine.  We've had some issues between us, it makes things uncomfortable."  She replied, "Mine too.  But for whatever reason we still act like friends.  In fact, XXX (Big Daddy) even said something to me about it."

I was torn, for a second. Part of me was thinking, "find out! find out what he said!" and the other part, the cool girl leaning against her locker holding her Trapper Keeper and Le Sport Sac was thinking: "who gives a crap! Talk about something else!".  Cool girl lost this one and I heard myself say: "Wow. What did he have to say?"

She said, "He came up to me after a game a couple of weeks ago and remarked how impressed he was that my ex and I have a good relationship.  He said, 'Jenny and I don't speak at all.  I really respect the fact that you two are friendly'".

Cool girl wrestled the controls away from the other one and I simply said, "Hmm. Interesting.  Hey, we definitely need to hang out sometime."  Our conversation continued down an ex-free path, plans were made and we parted with a big hug. 

But I couldn't stop thinking about what she had said.  I was even inspired to sit down and write a little bit about it that night, only to abort that post in favor of taking the high road and all of that Not Divorced stuff. 

I thought I had pretty much forgotten about it until last night.

For some reason, William started talking about what it's like for him when he visits Big Daddy's house.  He said how different it is, how at my house we all end up in the same room, talking or reading or watching something together.  Like a family.  And how at his dad's house, it's not like that. He said, "I spend literally every minute down in the basement."  Then he dropped this in my lap:

"They got rid of our bedroom (the room he and Henry shared) and made it a playroom for the baby.  We don't even have beds anymore."

I am certain that my snarl/grimace was in full force, and I was ready to pounce.  Then my sweet and loving and oh-so-Switzerland child, Henry chimed in:  "Shut up, William! We do too have beds. Stop telling Mom this stuff." Henry has a heart the size of the Goodyear Blimp. He's so loyal and loving and diplomatic..he is the one kid, out of four, who has never, ever tried to play us off of each other or said a single ill word against either one of us. This talk of things that had to do with his other parent infuriated him. William muttered something about beds and basements and "not a bedroom" and then I declared, "Conversation over."

But, the conversation raged on inside my head. The talk I'd had with my new hockey mom friend kept coming back to me. Especially the part about how Big Daddy "respected" her friendly ex relationship. Big Daddy, and the word 'respect'. It struck me as ironic that a man who has shown so little respect for his ex wife, and for his own children, is able to respect something like another divorced couple's public behavior.

Respect?  Does he know what that word means?  I have to wonder where the respect was when he decided to start a relationship while we were married. When he would come home at two, or three, or four in the morning and angrily throw his shoes on the floor instead of answering my questions.  Where was this respect when his new and improved wife slowly but surely scrubbed every bit of evidence of the "old" kids out of his life?  If he has respect for something like two stranger's amicable relationship, how come he has none for his own flesh and blood? 

The room that used to belong to Charlie was made into a nursery.  Now the room that used to be the one space Henry and William could call "theirs" is a playroom.  Where is the respect there? 

With all due respect...I don't think he has any.


  1. He likes to give the impression (defined as fake reality) to others that: a) he is hard done by to have an ex-wife who (sigh) won't talk to him no matter how lovingly he tries; and b) he is sensitive and wise, and knows deeply and thoroughly exactly what a respectful relationship is but (sigh) you just won't let him have it.

    It's still, probably always has been, and always will be, about him, how others see him, how HE comes off appearing in any given situation. The rest of you don't matter, more or less, except in how you might possibly reflect HIM.

    You know it, the kids know it. We, your readers know it. Everyone who loves and appreciates you knows it.

    Which is why the slow but confident and steady progression in your writing toward truly refusing to carry this man's shadow even one more precious day is exciting and thrilling to those of us who are listening!

    And thank you that for the rest of the day I'll be doing Aretha Franklin in my head everywhere I go! (To paraphrase her, don't give XXX any more little pieces of your heart, baby!!!)

    1. Becky, yep. I can practically see him, hands in pockets, looking off into the distance as he talks about how sad he is about our rocky relationship. I bet he uses his Sad Eyes Face! I've even heard through the grapevine that the Wife likes to tell people she's "tried really hard" to be "friendly" towards me but that I make it impossible. Hmmm.

      I also loved having Aretha in my ear all day. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

      Thanks, as always, for reading and chiming in.

  2. Happy Hausfrau - I soo know what you mean. There I am, having let it all go, and being in a great place of acceptance. And then something like this happens, and it feels you have to start all over again......And that is what I try to tell people. The affair, the cheating and lying, the whole nastiness - I have moved away from there. My anger is not related to any of that. But it is with regards to how he treats the situation and the family he left behind. It is hard not to feel angry or upset when you hear these things, that there is no space in the house for your kids. Especially when he plays pityboy for the bad relationship with his ex-wife. Our exes seem quite alike. I have learned that the only way I'll have a decent relationship with him, is if I bend over and take it all - without mentioning his lack of child support, without talking back, and if I allow him to blame everyone around him except himself. But I can't ask how come he can't pay child support, while he takes himself and the GF on vacations.....Well, if that's what it takes, I guess I can do without a good relationship with my ex. Pity for my kids, but out of my hands really.....Great post again, one that gets me thinking.....It takes two to have good relationship you know!!!

    1. This is me! Just when you think you're "over it," something else happens that makes you realize you're not and may never be.

    2. I don't know Jeannette..sometimes I think I may never be 100% over it. Because I say that I am, I get all "look at how strong I am, hear me roar, blah blah" but the pain I feel when someone brings it up, or when one of the kids mentions something STUPID like a new couch they bought...it's hard for me to tell if that's the 'old pain' or the 'newer pain'.

      I can tell you this: this one little choice he made, this one single decision of his...has changed how I think and feel and react, about everything. Permanently altered me. And that is something I have to learn to deal with. Am I dealing with it gracefully? Not really. But I'm trying! And that's the best any of us can do.

      Thanks so much for chiming in, my friend.

  3. I'm not a parent yet but it doesnt take one to know a child doesnt need a damn 'play room'. I mean, that's what back yards are for. To take something from 3 kids to give something to 1 kid doesnt make any sense to me. So not fair to your kids. I'm sorry your kids have to deal with this kind of BS from their own father.

    1. Thanks Lin...Glad to hear it's not just a mommy reaction.

  4. Jenny...
    I just discovered your blog last week. Although we literally have nothing in common (I'm 32, never been married, no kids and still live exactly how I want to live with only a small regret of "the one that got away", I have found myself going through and reading all of your blog posts. You write in such a way that makes me want to know more, about you, your life, and your kids. I may not be a mom, but I know an incredible one when I see her. Hold your head high, girlfriend, because those kids you have, are growing up amazingly because of YOU. In hindsight, your ex probably never really made you as happy as you think, this is the path you were meant to lead. A hard one, but a fulfilling one with amazing little people to surround you. I hope you continue to get published on Huffington, good luck!

    1. Welcome A! I bet we have more in common than you think..one of my personalities is an independent single gal who has cable in her bedroom. I jest. I'm glad you're here!

      Thank you for such kind words. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to reach out.


  5. So he "respects" this other couple's seemingly amicable relationship, does he? (Here, imagine me laughing superciliously but genuinely hysterically, like I usually do at the hopelessly clueless:) Oh my, that is rich! THAT is RICH. He doesn't even belong on the same "planet" as the concept of respect. Why did he say such a thing to your new friend anyway...was he trying to impress her or something? I hope she could tell he is not only a loser, he's a big fat lying phony too...

    1. You know, I often think about what I would do if I had a friend like Big Daddy. I mean, what if I was friends with someone who has done something like what he has done..would I still be friends with them? I don't think so. It blows my MIND that he still has friends.

      And most people who know me, eventually figure out what kind of person he is. I don't even have to say anything.

      Thanks for reading, my friend!

  6. Just when I think your ex can't be more of a douche, you give us a post like this and it makes my jaw hit the ground. Wow. Bless your Henry, he's such the peacemaker. I just have to tell you, I was listening to some Pearl Jam the other day, and "Better Man" came on. And some of those lyrics totally made me think of you....just some, not all. Because you totally deserve a better man than what you had. See what I did there? I put a song in your head, after you put one in mine :) It's ok though, because Pearl Jam and Aretha both kick ass.

    Will be interesting to see if your new hockey mom friend has any more gems from Big Daddy.

    1. PEARL JAM! Yeah baby! That really is my jam. And I have loved that song forever. "Pretends to sleep as he looks her over".

      And thank you for putting that song in my head. I actually had to listen to it later that day :o) Love it!

  7. Sorry about your kids room. My son hasn't spent the night with his dad in about 2 years (around the same time the new wife moved in). I asked him why and he said the same thing your son said; it's boring and his dad spends all of his time with wife. They also turned "his room" into the room for her daughter. Now I guess it's a guest room since they shipped the daughter off to live with her dad.

    I read something yesterday and it said "dead things don't feel." I think I'm at that point with ex...it's tough for him to really get under my skin at this point. I just pray my boy isn't affected too bad by his imperfect relationship with his father.

    1. With a mom like you, I think he'll be just fine. I sometimes think about what kind of men boys like ours will turn out to be..if they will have some kind of sensitivity towards women because of how they were raised? I certainly hope so.

      Thank you so much for reading and for chiming in!

  8. Poor BD. Doesn't he know that Respect is a two-way street, if you want to get it, you've got to give it? My EX is crying about the same thing...and of course the reason nobody is respecting him is because I am teaching them to be disrespectful...hahaha
    Thank you for another AMAZING post!

  9. Wow -- do all our exes go to douchey-ex-husband classes?

    They learn how to save money by scrimping on child support (or making the kids eat off the dollar-menu if they are having their wages garnished as in my case). They learn how to spend time with the OW but not their kids. They learn to blame the mom for her bad co-parenting skills when the kids act up. Boy, what a curriculum!

    My ex is upset by the kids' lack of respect for him. He blames my lack of co-parenting as the problem. I told him I would be much more willing to work on co-parenting if he were to show me the same respect he wishes from me and our kids -- by ending his "disrespectful" relationship with the OW. Surprisingly, he did not take me up on that deal. :)

    Jenny -- keep on writing ... and keep on righting the wrongs you experience. Your loyal followers will shower you (and your kids!) with the respect you deserve!

    1. Last night William and Henry went over to BD's for a bit. William said they were downstairs and heard BD playing with the baby, laughing and talking to him. My twelve year old son looked up at me (or rather, over at me since he's now my height) and said "How can he be so nice to that kid and so bad to us?" I had no answer for him. I did tell him that when they were babies, their dad laughed and played with them.

      I'm shocked that your ex didn't react more positively to your very reasonable offer! Shocked!

      Thanks so much for reading, and for commenting.

  10. They don't go to ex-husband classes ... they have already been to the Douchebag School for Jerks BEFORE we marry them.

    Having learned our lesson the hard way, it is up to us to keep the next generation (and unsuspecting friends) from making the mistake of marrying one of these charming and narcissistic graduates of DSJ.

    To bring back an awesome relic term from the self-aware 70's: CRAZYMAKER. These are the people to whom nothing sticks. You (as the fall guy/gal) are always to blame, even for things that are the crazymaker's fault. Pretty soon you start to believe them. You are a heap of blubbering confusion, guilt and shame. And they kindly and nobly toss you a few crumbs from on high now and then to keep you mired in your inferiorness. There is no escape except divorce.

    Countless times through the years I have actually contemplated writing my ex a thank-you note for leaving, because I, the ever-loyal doormat puppy, would have stayed slavering at his beck and call through serial infidelity, thinking it was All. My. Fault.

    It took exactly nine days for me to realize that life was better without a crazymaker in it. Learn the signs of crazymaking, and flee it for your very life.

  11. OMG -- Becky is right -- they graduate from that school BEFORFE we marry them. I work in higher ed so I can think of all the marketing. Jenny, you should sell the DSJ pennants, diplomas, mugs. I love it. Of course, the only ones who would buy that stuff would be those spouses who appreciate the crazymaking irony, and I bet none of the real DSJ alumni would want that diploma!

  12. So, in other words, he wants you to sit back and take all his douchery while you two sit side by side at hockey games chatting about how much Molly likes her job and seems to really be blossoming; how nice Henry looked in his new outfit at his choir concert the other night; and how Charlie is doing in his first few weeks at school; all while you sit there cheering on William together, saying to each other, "Look at our kid out there!"
    Oops, I forgot. He would actually need to give a shit about his kids first.

  13. What an asshat. A douchebag. I can't even come up with gutter talk that demonstrates what I feel.

    After my husband ripped my heart out and made my children lose their innocence, he had the nerve to say to me in a disappointed voice, "I thought this could be amicable." Really? REALLY? You thought screwing another woman for 18 months and lying to your wife and children and then serving me with divorce papers before you walked out the door was going to lead to an amicable split? Apparently you didn't do your research very well because I am sure in the history of divorce that has never led to amicability. http://dowehavetotellthekids.blogspot.com/2013/04/and-then-things-got-ugly.html


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