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Unexpected heartbreak

Old 04-01-2014, 08:04 AM
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Unexpected heartbreak

Quick background. It’s just myself, 7 yo Daughter and 4 yo Son that live here…my AW lives four hours away, and has a protective order against her until the children’s 18th birthday, though she is allowed supervised visitation. She hasn’t once come up to visit them in ten months.

So, we got a new dog this weekend! A female co-worker dropped our new dog off to us Saturday night after picking it up from two states over (she also picked up a new dog from there for herself, and I was able to piggy-back since she was already going there for her dog).
My co-worker drives a Silver Jeep Wrangler. (My wife drives a red Jeep Wrangler…relevant later)

We go out to the parking lot Saturday night, and my co-worker gives us the dog. During the exchange, my four year old points at my co-worker and asks me “Is that mommy?” We chuckled and I said No honey, that’s not mommy, this lady is from my work. He just says “Oh”.

I didn’t think twice about it…until last night. I was tucking him into bed on Monday night, and he asked me, “Daddy, what did Mommy do with her red Jeep? Why did she get a new color Jeep?”
It suddenly hit me, combined with his question on Saturday night…he was literally asking if that was his mom, because he didn’t remember what she looked like…the only thing he really remembered about her was that she drove a red Jeep. I almost immediately choked up, and managed to say “Do you remember what mommy looks like?” He said, “No.”
It took everything I had to not start crying in front of him.

I told him to come with me real quick…I took him to the computer and showed him some photos of her. Even seeing them, I could tell there wasn’t really any look of recognition on his face. It was a very much “See, that’s your mommy”. “Oh, Ok.” type of thing.

I finished tucking him in, and left to my room to shed a tear or two. I know she has abandoned him by not even making an effort to visit in all that time…(she calls at the court-appointed time every other or every third day, to talk to them for a minute or two). But I also couldn’t help but think I am at fault also. Whenever I tuck him in, I always ask him “Who loves you?!”, and we rattle off everyone in the family, including “mommy”. But it never even occurred to me that I should be showing him pictures of her also. Should I even worry about it?! I do my best to tell him that his mommy loves and misses him…but is that enough? Should I be making the effort for her to try and get them together for a visit?...Isn't that just an aspect of being co-dependent and cleaning up her mess?

I could take a day on a weekend and make the eight hour round trip for a 30 or 40 minute visit with her, sure. Is that fair to the kids to take an eight hour drive like that? Shouldn’t SHE be the one to put effort into seeing them? Also, if I bring the children to her, that would set precedence that the court might be willing to make me continue. Bringing the children to her, even once, could be used in court to modify the order, since it would show that there wasn’t any hardship in having the kids go that far for a visit.

I don’t really expect any answers from this post…I just wanted to share, since I'm so down over this. Thank you for reading.
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:13 AM
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Oh my goodness... This is totally heartbreaking for you and your kids...

My kids are similar in age to yours and my xAH lives in the same town and is rarely involved.

My just turned 6 year old daughter is very sad about her dad emotionally abandoning her but sadly he did that long long long before he left...

It sounds to me like you're doing the best you can in the circumstances. Telling the kids everyone loves them in the family including Mommy is the right thing to do just as you have...

I know I often wish I could shield my kids from feeling the hurt caused by their A dad's absence in their life. But I have slowly come to accept that they are going to be sad and grieve just like I had to over the loss. You sound like a great Dad and thank goodness you're there for your kids.

My heart hurt for you just reading this and I got a lump in my throat imagining the scene and your little one asking about Mommy...

So sorry... Thinking of you....
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:22 AM
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Oh my. My heart goes out to you. That is just heartbreaking. I don't have any advice but you are doing a great job with your kids.
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:31 AM
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Hello resigned,

Is there a pic of mom with your kids for them to have in their room? It might be nice for them to have one there so if they want to look at her or think about things without 'hurting you' - they have a bit of privacy that way.

Some days we just can't fix it. You can't 100% fix the lack of their Mom in their life. I am really sorry. My RAH lost his father as a child and it has definitely played a role in who he is as an adult. I think acknowledging her and being honest is the best way to go - gently.
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:36 AM
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Do they have a female role model? That is important for your daughter.

What is your wife doing 4 hours away? Drinking? Working? Institution? I cannot remember your circumstances. Are her parents involved?
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:42 AM
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This is the saddest thing I have ever read on here.....
A little 4 year old boy that doesn't remember what his mommy looks like.....
Thank God he has you.
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:57 AM
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I don't know the right answer either, I think the idea of a picture he can keep in his room is a good one though, as is getting them involved with some kind of female role model. How sad, sad, sad.

I tend to agree that there is only so far you can go to force her to visit & care about her kids, I'm not sure I'd be willing to do an 8-hr round trip or that it's fair to the kids to go to that effort either. Besides, going to the effort doesn't force the emotion... it can still end up being awkward & fake & do as much damage as good in theory. I'm really not good with faking it when it comes to real life & I certainly wouldn't want to jepordize a future custody agreement.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:02 AM
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That made me cry.

I don't know what to say about your idea to drive there, because I don't feel like I have enough information.

Based on my experience of the American court system when it comes to custody, however, I'm willing to venture a guess that the children's mother is either mentally ill or violent or both -- because I know what my AXH did to our children, and his protective order gets reevaluated twice a year. To get a firm one till the kids are 18, the courts have had to be convinced that she is very much unfit to be around them.

Heartbreaking as it is, I would not do anything to jeopardize the existing court order, as it is giving your children a solid protection I assume they need.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by MissFixit View Post
Do they have a female role model? That is important for your daughter.

What is your wife doing 4 hours away? Drinking? Working? Institution? I cannot remember your circumstances. Are her parents involved?
Nay, they don't have a female role model. Not sure what I can do about that. Their teachers are female, that's about the best I can do.

She is living in our home that I still pay for (due to military rules on supporting dependents) with no responsibilities or job whatsoever. She is drinking still, has (had) a TransG male living in the home with her, and tries to file to have the custody arrangements changed approx every two or three months...whenever the court will allow her to file again (three times so far). So, I spend my time accruing evidence that she is still drinking, not improving her situation whatsoever...and then refute it in court where she tells the court that she's been completely sober and is ready to take the kids again, and I show the court all the evidence that she is still extremely active in her drinking. (banking statements, subpoenaed her vehicles interlock device which has multiple lock-outs due to blowing in it while intoxicated, recorded phone calls with the children where she is obviously drunk...etc)
No parents are involved. Her mom blocked her from all communication, due to all this happening.

I'm just waiting till May, when I can finally file for divorce (1 year minimum sep time required in our state) and let the asset division nightmare begin.

Originally Posted by CodeJob View Post
Is there a pic of mom with your kids for them to have in their room? It might be nice for them to have one there so if they want to look at her or think about things without 'hurting you' - they have a bit of privacy that way.
What a great idea CodeJob! We actually don't have any family pictures up in the apartment, we've just been decorating with jigsaw puzzles my daughter and I have done.
It doesn't hurt me at all to have them be interested in their mother, or to want to see her or look at her picture. They've just never asked, and I haven't thought about offering. =( It never occurred to me that just talking about how she missed them and is sad she can't see them isn't enough.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:09 AM
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Heartbreaking for you and your babies, I'm sure and I think the picture in the room are a nice idea. But honestly, you can't shield your children from life. Their Mom may love them and it's important that they hear that and know that, but going out of your way to keep her in their lives could potentially end up causing them more harm then good if she decides not to live up to whatever hopes you have of her.

I would engage her as she is willing and leave it at that. If she wants to be more involved then assist her in that process, but don't push something that isn't there.

Just my two cents.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:12 AM
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How very sad. My daughter usto have a picture book she would look at all the time when she was little. It had a slot to put pictures of your family in it. Maybe something like that? If not you could even make one and let your little one do the stories and book pages and put it in a binder. Just a thought, I know my daughter looked at it all the time.

Praying for you.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:28 AM
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The thought of what you wrote made me all misty eyed too..I can't imagine and hate like heck you have to.
While the truth is ugly I don't believe it is your responsibility to make sure your wife sees her child. Maybe let her know what her child has said and leave the responsibility to her? I don't know what the right answer is. You could take pictures you have and put them in an album that can be easily had by your little one so she can look anytime she wants..even a bedside pic? Just thoughts.
Praying for you and your family to be well.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
That made me cry.

I don't know what to say about your idea to drive there, because I don't feel like I have enough information.

Based on my experience of the American court system when it comes to custody, however, I'm willing to venture a guess that the children's mother is either mentally ill or violent or both -- because I know what my AXH did to our children, and his protective order gets reevaluated twice a year. To get a firm one till the kids are 18, the courts have had to be convinced that she is very much unfit to be around them.

Heartbreaking as it is, I would not do anything to jeopardize the existing court order, as it is giving your children a solid protection I assume they need.
You're correct Amy, in that they determined she is a sincere danger to the children. There were multiple Child Protective Services cases on her, from multiple witnesses/professional people. My son wandering the streets barefoot in the middle of winter because he'd gotten out of the home while she was passed out. Complaints to CPS from the children's school, as to the children missing large amounts of school due to her not waking up to get them ready, then when the school called her to notify her of the kid's absence, she seemed intoxicated to them. Suicidal gestures that left her in the psych ward. Our medical insurance dropping her due to too many trips to rehab (all precipitated from ER visits from sustained drinking).

I was stationed here 4 hours away the entire time, and was visiting on the weekends as I could. I knew that some things weren't right, but had no idea the extent of all of the above. I knew nothing about the CPS complaints, other than what she told me about one of them...and she told me very different things than what was really happening. This entire time, she had been telling CPS that I had abandoned them and wasn't even part of the equation...CPS was literally one day away from placing my children in foster care, and I didn't even know! When they found out I was an active parent, and when I found out all the truth about what was really going on, it was like the clouds parted and all was well when we finally spoke together, instead of having AW be the middle-man. The children that could go to another parent instead of foster care, and I had proof of behavior that I always suspected was happening, but was being blinded by her fog.

It happened rather fast after that. Multiple charges of neglect. Court, temporary protective order, temporary custody....all got turned into a permanent Protective order and full legal and physical custody faster than I could blink. I consider myself very lucky that everything was so well documented with multiple people, in order that there really wasn't ever a question of it going for her in court.

She always has the right to file in court to change the custody order, however, permanent as it may be. I think it would be very difficult for her to ever actually prove that she has changed enough to be allowed custody again, and because of that I feel like I constantly have to "monitor" her behavior to make sure that I have proof of her drinking whenever she re-files. It sucks. I just want to live our lives, but here I am having to keep records on phone calls, bank statements (that she didn't know I could see, until this last court date where I had to "show my hand"), etc.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:41 AM
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Oh my goodness..I didn't know all of the above about the mother. I think at some point a person her endangers their own children should have no rights to them. I feel sorry for your child/children.
I think having accessible pictures and explaining that the mother is very sick and not thinking in her right mind might be more understandable.
My uncle was a raging A and drug addict. He did the most awful things to her growing up. Most of my family didn't know the horrors that went on in her home. I did, but I was just a kid and didn't fully understand the long term affects of the abuse that I witnessed when I visited, both of my cousin and my aunt. It was terrifying to see.
You are doing such a wonderful job protecting your family; never feel sorry for that or the fact that she isn't a part of her own childs life. That is her choice and by the sounds of it, she doesn't need to be a part, at least not until she is healthy.
Hugs to you for the awesome job you are doing.
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:39 PM
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I too, am deeply saddened by this story, and it hits close to home, my daughter's youngest was just 2 years old when my daughter decided being a mom just wasn't her cup of tea, so I know the hurt your family is experiencing.

I have had the opportunity to watch my granddaughter at preschool just stare at the other kids, engaging with their mom's , and I just see the wheels turning in her little head, I see the look of " oh so that is what its like to have a mom" and it really hurts to have to see these little one's suffer for the mistakes of their very selfish parents.


What a loving father you are, your kids are so very lucky to have you, Bless you, my friend.

Sending you tons and tons of support.
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Old 04-01-2014, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Katchie View Post
Oh my goodness..I didn't know all of the above about the mother. I think at some point a person her endangers their own children should have no rights to them. I feel sorry for your child/children.
I think having accessible pictures and explaining that the mother is very sick and not thinking in her right mind might be more understandable.
........
You are doing such a wonderful job protecting your family; never feel sorry for that or the fact that she isn't a part of her own childs life. That is her choice and by the sounds of it, she doesn't need to be a part, at least not until she is healthy.
Hugs to you for the awesome job you are doing.
This.

Print plenty of photos of yourself and your kids at all stages that you find. Add in some of their mom during better (?) times, even ones of them with their mom. It's okay to balance it so there aren't a whole lot of their mom, but enough that it doesn't leave them wondering.

Explain that mom is very ill. That it is not their fault or yours. That there's nothing anyone can do to control it or cure it.

The three C's:
You didn't Cause it.
You can't Control it.
You can't Cure it.

Keep taking photos and printing new ones of the good times of you and your kids now. Sometimes it's easy to just take photos of them. Get in the pictures with them, and let them take some too.

You're doing wonderfully! No need to doubt yourself. It's so good your kids have you for a dad!
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