Most of my long-time readers know my story. So, just a brief recap. I’ve been divorced for 13 years. My ex had an affair while I was pregnant with our third child and was a verbally abusive alcoholic. We got divorced, he spent all his time with the girlfriend while I raised the kids. For a few years he was in NY while I was in Denver. Then I moved back to NY. Soon after that he went off the deep end and disappeared. Like… I didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Even before he totally disappeared he was unreliable. So, anyway he basically missed our one and only son’s entire high school career. So, I’ve been mostly a single parent for 13 years.
The girls were at critical ages as well, 11 and 9 when he disappeared. The kids were devastated for a long time. And he stopped paying so it devastated me financially. When we got divorced he was an executive and since he travelled so much, the agreement was I would work part-time to take care of the kids and he would support the rest. Well there went half my income. It was job loss, foodstamps, eviction, mental breakdown ater that.
I have since gotten on my feet, the kids are doing awesome, got the son graduated from an exclusive HS and now he attends NYU.
Well guess who resurfaces? Yup. About a year or so ago, my ex started texting the kids again. Now mind you he hadn’t texted, called, emailed, Facebooked… nothing, in about 4 years. Didn’t know where he lived. Honestly, didn’t know if he was dead or alive. When the kids first got texts and voicemails from him they freaked. It was literally like seeing a ghost. There were tears and adamant proclamations of “I don’t want to talk to him!”. My son was just quiet, you could see the steam coming out of his ears. He vowed he was indifferent and wanted nothing to do with him.
My ex persevered. I started getting money again after NY State tracked him down. Apparently he was in Iowa. WTF? The kids got some lame email filled with “poor me” excuses but somewhat apologized, I guess. He kept at it and kept at it. Finally last year he asked my son to have dinner with him at school in NY. He said he would be there on business. Which was quite remarkable as his letter some time before that said he was staying in a homeless shelter. Anyway, my son calls me freaking out, “Dad wants to meet for dinner, what should I do?”. I talked him through it asking him what he wanted to do. He said he was curious to see him but didn’t know if he would freak out, cry, or want to hit him when he saw him. I told him to meet him but tell him you might have to excuse yourself.
They met and it was fine. This evolved into meetups every couple of months. He then swung by Rochester during the summer. My son would meet up but the girls refused. Finally after giving everybody gifts several times the girls agreed to meet. It was OK.
Now… he’s in everybody’s business all the time. He still lives out of state but he brought them an entire sack of gifts for Christmas. Then the whopper… without consulting me, he buys the kids a car. (it’s 1999 but still a car) Now the kids all have birthdays in the next couple months, they will be 20, 17, and 15. This will help me greatly, as currently I have 3 drivers and one car. The boy is at school anyway, but in the summer it was a pain.
I have so many mixed emotions. Some people have told me to say no to the car, some have told me to cuss him out (who does he think he is coming back in here blah blah blah), some have told me to tell the kids to not talk to him, but I… just don’t care… kind of.
At first I was annoyed… “you come waltzing in here like nothing ever happened.” “I wanted to buy them their first car” “Who’s paying for insurance, gas, repairs? I know I’ll get stuck with it.” “I better still have control of their comings and goings!”
But after a while, I just let go. What the hell is the sense of working myself all up? We wrote up a contract, they have to pay for this and that, he has to pay for this and that, I still control the comings and goings… all of this or else the car goes. OK we’ll see how that goes. And it will help me tremendously with trying to be in 4 places at once.
And yes part of me is hurt. I’ve been here day in and day out, through sickness and tears and not enough to eat. And Dad is the big hero with a car! But I do think my kids realize who was truly there for them. After all for Christmas they gave me an Alex and Ani bracelet with a lighthouse on it that symbolizes comfort, resilience, and strength. They said I was their lighthouse. Yea, I know. They are good kids. And I’m so done with the power struggle, however things were actually easier when he wasn’t around. What if after all this, he flakes again? And I would rather have the $60,000 (which he is paying back in like $10 increments, pfffft) he owes me in back child support than a car for the kids, but part of me is like just take what you can. What would you do?