Several months ago, The Evil Ex filed for a modification of child support. This resulted in me filling out over twenty pages of supporting documents, proving the expenses I carry for our child (which The EE does not assist with at all) and protesting the modification. The result: I’m losing my child support for my daughter at a time when costs to support her will be increasing. In addition to the expenses of her starting middle school, there will be increased uncovered medical expenses for her since she will need braces and since our deductibles are increasing. The EE is ordered to pay half of all uncovered medical expenses. In the five years since we’ve been divorced, he has not paid a dime.
Of course, when all this started going down, I consulted my attorney. At that time, the idea of losing the income was all very scary. Of course, that was at a time when things were ultra tough for me financially and I was worried about making it even with the child support. I received some good advice, filed my response, and learned that I am losing child support. So, of course, I requested a hearing.
This hearing occurred a couple of weeks ago and was the single greatest source of stress for me this year. It was a phone hearing with no attorneys present. My goal was to prove that out of pocket medical expenses were going to be increasing and that, in light of the fact that The Evil Ex hasn’t and doesn’t pay his half of the uncovered medical expenses, there should be some cash medical support awarded to me for our daughter’s expenses. I’m almost certain this hearing was an exercise in futility. I won’t know for sure until I get the judge’s decision in the mail, but I have a pretty good hunch that I need to begin planning on not planning on that child support.
Sigh. It would have been really nice for that change to have happened next year. That’s just how this year is going for me.
In spite of that very disappointing downturn, there are other things that are improving for me. My bankruptcy discharge has gone through. I am now working on rebuilding my credit. I have one credit card; a small one. I pay it off each month. I refuse to take on debt again. The Hesitant Boyfriend continues in his hesitation to either move things forward or move himself out, but he is now bringing in some steady income and helping to pay for groceries, gas and bills. This definitely helps. I’ve also been able to find additional work, which will help me get caught up on paying the medical bills. I was even able to afford to put my youngest daughter in a basketball camp this week, and buy her the necessary shoes and shorts.
It seems silly to use a basketball camp, shoes and shorts as an indicator of success, but it has been a long, hard, brutal haul since I left The Evil Ex. Being able to provide my youngest with some sort of childhood before she leaves childhood completely means the world to me. I simply haven’t had the resources to do anything like this for her in the last 5 years. Even if I did, her dad would have sabotaged it by not getting her to events if she was with him when they were scheduled. The timing and cost of this camp were perfect for us. In the big scheme of things, when the last few years have been so rough, this was a nice thing to have happened.
One of the biggest challenges ever, for me, besides being completely inept when it comes to choosing marriage partners, is the act of parenting. Getting pregnant and being pregnant and even delivering the babies was the easy part, but parenting especially through divorce, financial hardship and the rest of life, has not been the easiest thing I’ve ever attempted.
For starters, I am not one of those nurturing people. A kid falls down and skins their knee slightly and I’m likely to brush the incident off with a brief, “Get up, dust yourself off, you’ll be okay.” I am also not the hover mother or helicopter mom. It isn’t that I’m not involved with my kids, but I do believe that one should never do for a child what the child can do for him or herself. This, I find, annoys children to no end.
I remember my mother telling me when my children were young, that things got better as the children got older. I remember, when my kids were toddlers, hoping that was true. I remember being so exhausted all.the.time. And, for the most part, when the kids became potty trained and could dress themselves and headed off to school, it was.
Then they kept growing up. Then they reached middle school and high school. Those are the years where their social lives explode and they aren’t yet old enough to drive. This was something I was unprepared for. It was like the busy-ness and energy drain of the toddler years on steroids and then doubled since, at any given time, I had at least two and often three or four kids’ schedules to juggle. On two occasions, I was so exhausted and stressed that I ended up in minor fender benders, not from intoxication, but from fatigue.
That wasn’t that long ago. These days, I have a 21-year-old that is away at college and won’t be home for summer. I have an 18-year-old that just got her permit. She is working on learning to drive now. By summer, she should be more independent. I have an almost-17-year-old son who doesn’t have his permit. If insurance rates for him are what I think they are going to be, it might be quite a bit longer before he’s driving. He does have a bike and he can get around to pretty much anywhere that way.
But my kids, as grown up as they are, as independent as they are becoming, still have not learned to pick up after themselves or to help out (without being told) around the house. This, combined with the constant schedule disruptions and taxi service I must provide daily, is wearing me out. This last week, with everyone home for Spring Break, leaving their stuff about and having to be told twenty times to do a basic task like empty the trash or unload the dishwasher or pick your clothes up off the floor, I lost it. The final straw was when I told my son he forgot to rinse out his bowl and put it in the dishwasher and he responded with, “You didn’t tell me I needed to do that.” No, I didn’t. I do tell him to do this a thousand times a day and the one time I don’t? Yes, it induced a fit of craziness in me. It’s at this point, that all rationality leaves me and I end up in a catatonic stupor or I end up banging my head against the nearest wall.
Tonight, this same young man, at 9:45 pm, after the day is pretty much over…a day which included a trip to the grocery store…texted me the following:
I’m actually fairly impressed with myself that I texted him that response instead of switching into Shrieking Mom mode. Fortunately, I had an extra toothbrush on hand. Obviously, this has happened before. The craziest part of all is that he has his own drawer in the bathroom he shares with his sisters. How hard can it be to get a toothbrush back into the drawer, or underwear into the laundry basket which is a mere eight inches away or trash into a trash can as opposed to decorating the bedroom carpet with it?
Yes, tonight I’ve picked on one child, but I have four and they are all equally as talented as their brother. These talents weren’t ones I encouraged. I expect children,at minimum, to pick up after themselves and I’ve diligently worked to establish and teach routines, procedures, and to implement systems that are efficient and help keep our home clean with a minimum of effort. In spite of the fact that I do have a career outside the home which is, at times, very demanding and draining, I’m not one of those overwhelmed moms whose homes you go to where stuff is scattered everywhere, dishes are piled high in the sink, and clothing or dirty dishes cover every remaining surface. In spite of my best efforts to get my kids to communicate in advance what their schedule is, to organize themselves, and to pick up after themselves, the kids aren’t getting it. I have, apparently, completely failed in my parental obligations on this front.
Weeks like this kind of have me looking forward to that stage of life called the empty nest. Sadly, I have an entire decade left before that happens. Just as the youngest one launches, the oldest will return home unemployed with graduate degree in hand (at least that’s what everyone tells me is going to happen). With any luck, I’ll be able to enjoy a few empty nest years before I am relegated to the assisted living facility. I can only hope.