Not so little anymore.

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She LOVES painting birdhouses. Wonderful gift!

Today I have a 7 year old.  My little baby isn’t quite so little anymore.  Seems like just yesterday she was hauling diaper across my backyard after she figured out how to run, now she’s in her last week of 1st grade.  Not to mention the 5 inches she grew over winter.

She did have school today, but was thrilled she got to wear a birthday crown and the class sung to her.  It’s the last week of school, so they have nothing but fun stuff to do.  She was excited to go, where as I was kind of sad we didn’t get to spend the entire day together.  Story of being a parent I guess.

After school and work we had a birthday party for her.  My parents and step sister and brother came over for dinner.  Despite the rainy beginning to the afternoon, the weather was warm and sunny, nice enough that we were able to grill and eat outside.  My parents brought this adorable cake (pink inside in the shape of a 7) that Ashley really got a kick out of.  She got plenty of gifts from all of us, a lot of outside toys and sports equipment which is just what she wanted.  Grandpa and Grandma got her into painting birdhouses last year and surprised her with two new ones, paint and a paintbrush set.  I think she was most excited about those.  That or the pair of roller skates I got her that she refused to take off.  She was definitely a happy girl, which made my long day at work worth it. 

I think the cutest thing though was her garden.  Ry put up a little white picket fence around a corner of our yard and let her plant a ton of sunflowers.  We even made her a sign and hung her gardening tools on it.  Then they stayed up late around a fire talking, her request over the weekend.  Listening to them just melts my heart.  She loves him so much it’s adorable.  I’m glad she has such a great father figure in her life.

Speaking of fathers, or DNA donors.  Her biological father sent some cheap gift again.  The fool hasn’t talked to her in more than a year, hasn’t seen her in more than three years, and hasn’t paid child support but just once in 5 years and still has the gall to send a crappy $10 gift.  Not even a card this time, at least last year she got a card with some sob story about his phone being shut off (read: he was getting married and having another kid).  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I had been giving her the gifts her sends but last year I found it in the trash shortly after.  She hasn’t even asked about him since her last birthday, and only mentioned him once when she asked if it was okay if Ry was her step daddy since she didn’t have a real one.  (Which yes, I explained that she did in fact have one, but that it was up to her who she considered her Daddy or step daddy, and just reiterated that family is about love, not just blood.)

I’ll have to think on it.  She’s a happy, well adjusted kid, and I hate to disrupt that.  Eh.  We all know I’ll fork it over, and keep my lips sealed about all the nasty things I want to say against her father.  The wonderful thing about children?  They remember who was there for them, who wiped their tears, kissed the owwies and who reads the bedtime stories.  She’ll come to her own conclusions (or rather reiterate them again and again as she gets older) and until then and beyond we’ll continue to be there to support her and love her to pieces.

I just hope Tim realizes that he’s doing her more harm than anything and just stops interrupting her life with cheap gifts.  She’s happy and deserves to stay that way.

Anyway, she had a lovely party, and I enjoyed seeing my family.  Noodle is all tucked in bed and it’s back to school tomorrow.  Here’s to another wonderful year with a wonderful little girl.

I love you Noodle!  Happy birthday my not so little one!

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Long Distance Part Time “Dad”

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Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in a lose-lose situation with my ex-husband.  It’s so incredibly frustrating it literally enrages me, no matter which choice I make, I lose, I look like the bad guy in the end.  It all comes down to protecting my daughter, and either way she ends up getting hurt.

I can’t say “I wish I never met him” because then I wouldn’t have that spunky mini-me in my life.  I’ll never regret her, but christ, couldn’t this shit be a little easier?  Parenting in and of itself is rewarding, even when the little one decided that she likes Asparagus as her favorite food and still will not try a freaking cheeseburger off the grill.  There are tons of little battles in parenting, and it’s become easier as she has gotten older to realize that “this too shall pass” and we’ll be back to normal.

I can however wish that he would get some sense in his head and stop.  Or drive his truck off a bridge, whatever is easiest.  His bullheaded, “parent-when-I-want” is hurting my daughter, and it doesn’t seem like there is a good option for me to prevent it.  That is by far the worst part, is that I don’t have too much control over it.

So it’s been 2 months since we got a phone call from the bio-dad.  The calls before that usually had a couple of weeks between them.  Noodle has pretty much stop caring, to be completely honest.  She rarely gets upset now, and usually it’s only when he calls.  Usually after he calls she asks a couple of questions, now that shes a little bit older (and has some friends who have scum-bags in the place of Dads) she’s understanding a bit more so I can stop lying to her.

“Why did he move?” – Because he wanted to, he thought he had work and wanted to move in with his girlfriend.

“Why did he lie?” – Because he thought it was the best thing to do at the time.  Not everyone tells the truth honey, especially if the truth makes them look bad. (Regarding coming back and calling all the time.)

“Is he coming back to visit?” – I don’t know honey, I don’t think so, Daddy has to get his life straightened out. (This was regarding both him “only going to Colorado for a couple of weeks”, and then again coming to visit.)

“I don’t want to talk on the phone” – Are you sure? If you don’t want to, you don’t have to.

Then around mothers day, Noodle and I were looking at cards to get for my step-ma.  She was telling me about the cards and presents she made for me at school (because the child doesn’t know the meaning of surprise apparently, haha).  Then she pops out with this?

“When’s Father’s Day?  I want to buy Ryan a present.  Can we pick out a card?”

I was sitting on my heels reading cards and I about fell over.

-Sure baby, if you want to we can get him a card, and one for grandpa.

“Okay, I wanna pick out a good present! [Insert rambling of stupid shit she wants to buy Ryan lol]”

-Anyone else you want to buy a Father’s Day card for?

“Nope! Just Ryan!”

It was cute.  I almost cried, and I didn’t push it.  That was just the beginning of that.  Since then we’ve had a couple of conversations about Dads.

When Ryan and I first started dating, it was right after Tim moved.  Noodle had called Ryan Dad right away, and we sat down with her and talked about it.  Ry had told her that while he wasn’t her Dad, that he could definitely do Dad stuff with her, and that he’ll be there for her anyway.  She accepted that and they’ve been buddies ever since.

The “Dad Talks” have happened a few times lately, and usually they’re out of nowhere.  The one that stuck in my mind (and completely blew me away coming from a child) was “What’s a Dad?” Conversation.

It started by talking about the stuff her and Ryan had done over the course of the weekend.  They have several activities that I have dubbed “Ryan Noodle Time”, mostly stuff that he enjoys doing with her, whereas I prefer to do by myself.  So they had cooked, gardened, and played all day, and she had apparently decided that that was “Daddy stuff” and asked me why Ry did Daddy stuff with her when he wasn’t her real Dad.

I started really slow.  I explained to her that Ryan loves her just like Mommy does, that Ryan likes doing stuff with her, just like how Dads do.  I asked her if she knew how long Ryan had been in our lives, I got “2 summers” as the answer.  I explained that two years is more than enough time to love someone.  I asked her if she liked him, if she said good night and I love you every night before bedtime, and I asked her if she liked when he fixes her owwies.  She nodded, and I asked her if she was happy doing so called “Daddy Stuff” with Ryan and she laughed and “Duuuuuuuh”.

So I asked her what she thought a Dad was, what she thought mattered most.  I got a bunch of answers ranging from spending time together to buying ice cream (too funnny) and I told her that it doesn’t matter sometimes who you’re related to.  I told her that it matters who is there for you and who loves you.  I talked about her Grandma, and how even though Grandma isn’t my real mom, I still love her all the same.  I talked about my (step) Grandpa, and told her how I still did Grandpa stuff with him even though we weren’t blood-related, how he raised my mom and did Daddy Stuff with her even though he wasn’t her real Dad.  I reminded her of her aunts and uncles, who are reality not blood-related, and how they all love her and spend time with her even though they aren’t my real sisters and brothers.

“So even though Ryan’s not my real daddy, he can be like my Daddy?”  -Yes babe, sometimes you get to make your own family out of the people you love, and that’s what matters.

She went to bed smiling that night.

So we haven’t heard from her Bio-Dad in about 2 months.  He just fell off the face of the planet, which is cool with me.  Noodle hasn’t asked about him and has been fine, and I was glad to not have to deal with it as mean as that is.  Her birthday came around and she got a gift from my ex-mother-in-law (wonderful lady) and the day before we got a package from him too.  My temper flared sooo bad I considered “Return-To-Sender” and I about threw it away after reading the card.

He had wrote in it some sob story about not having a phone for 2 months, and *that’s* why he didn’t call.  His phone has been off.  He promised to tell me as soon as he had one again.

Deep Breath. 

That is the biggest bullshit excuse I have ever heard.  I’m sorry, if I didn’t have the phone, I think it would take all of 3 days to find one.  Ask a neighbor, give them a few bucks for the bill, use any of the free apps for phone calls via internet.  Payphones.  Work phones.  SOMETHING.  Send an email, letter, tell your mother to call or write.  Having your phone shut off of 2 months is NOT an excuse for not talking to your kids.

Deep Breath

When he decided to resurface after a year and a half of no contact, I told him it was his last chance.  He had destroyed my daughter’s heart and its taken her a long time to get back to normal.  He wasn’t the one who had to listen to her cry at night because she missed him for the first couple of months.  I told him it was his last chance, that I’d give him one more chance to do things right and that was it.  The only reason I was giving him that chance is so that when Nood grows up and looks back, she’ll know that I didn’t keep him away, even though he did horrible things during our marriage and then abandoned her when she was little, I still gave him the opportunity to fix it.

I gave him a break with child support.  When he dropped off the face of the planet, I didn’t file.  I figured, good, if he wants to stay gone, I don’t need his money.  I’m completely content with Noodle growing up and finding out that her dad couldn’t even contribute financially.  When he popped back up, I asked him if since he was going to be around if he was going to pay his support, he said he needed time, I gave it to him.  Since our divorce, I have paid for *every-single-fucking-thing*, weekly tuition for daycare and school, clothes, food, toys, doctors, and now school supplies and registration.  So 6 months after him popping back up… still nothing.

I gave him a break when he started calling every 3-4 weeks.  I told him he needed to call more, and left it at that.  When he stopped calling, I didn’t harass him, I let him be.  I let him make his own choices, and focused on making my family stronger.  I figured if he wanted to be gone, fine, as long as he stayed gone and stopped hurting my daughter, that was fine.  It’s way better than having a long-distance dad who calls when he feels like it.  I figured, I didn’t need child support anyway, if he’s not there, no big deal.

Deep Breath

I’m tired of playing games.  We have a stable loving family, with everything Noodle could want and or need (besides *another* ice cream from the ice cream truck).  I’m tired of Tim deciding that he wants to be a Dad every couple of months and calling and turning Noodle’s happiness upside down.  She’s a well-adjusted, happy child until her Dad calls… and I’m tired of it.  If you’re not going to call for 2 months, 6 months or a year and a half, just stay gone and stop hurting her.  She has a Dad as far as we’re concerned, one who has raised her since her bio-dad ran away.  We don’t need a part-time-long-distance “dad” too.

So I’m not giving an inch anymore.  I am following my court documents, and sticking to my guns.  If he wants to run away then fine, go away and stop coming back.  If he wants to play this pop-up game, then fine, he’s going to follow the rules.  The next time I hear from him, I’m turning all of his info into child support enforcement (thank god I saved his ssn, DL#, addy and birthdate.  Hell, I even have a recent picture of him.)  I’m tired.  If we have to deal with him disrupting Noodle’s happiness, he’s going to pay his fair share and he’s going to follow the rules.

 

As sad as it is, I just want him to stop screwing with Noodle’s head and stay gone this time.

 

 

Fathers Day and a One Year Anniversary

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Let me start off this post with a belated Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful father’s I know out there.  From my friends, to my own Father to my boyfriend.

A Father is his son’s first hero and his daughter’s first love.

That being said, this Father’s Day was a bittersweet anniversary for Noodle and I.  One year ago on Father’s Day was the last time she heard from her father, Tim.  At this point I don’t even want to call him a father but I hate that stupid term “sperm donor”.  Anyway, last year at this time, he had already up and moved to Colorado after giving us only 3 days notice.  He had promised to call Noodle, promised her he’d be back in a couple of weeks, and promised me he was going for work and would send money as soon as he good.  One year ago on Father’s Day, he called for the last time and got mad that Noodle didn’t want to talk on the phone with him, since she was busy playing with about 15 children at a barbecue.

We never heard from him again.  Through a little digging on the internet, we found out what town he’s living in, that he’s unemployed and living off of his new girlfriend (what a surprise) and that he spends his time in the bottom of a bottle.  Tim broke my daughters heart as he broke each and every promise he ever made her.  While he was off starting another life for the 4th time, I was here dealing with a 4 year old who was facing the fact that her own father doesn’t love her.  While he was at the bar with his new girlfriend, I was rocking my child to sleep who had spent hours crying for her father.  While he was off doing what he wanted, I fed a brand new hatred for the man.

It’s been one year.  I knew he wouldn’t come back, hell, even his own mother has admitted that.  It’s been one year, and the hatred has just grown.  However I’ve become more confident.  Slowly my little girl stopped asking for her Dad, and slowly I realized I could do this on my own.  Slowly she got over losing him and slowly I got stronger.  A lot can change over a year, and my family is proof of it.  The anger I have against him has fueled me into making myself a better mom.  The burning anger at the memories of my daughter crying for her father, pushed me to spend a lot of time with her and realize I’d rather be with her than anything else.

It’s been one year since Noodle’s dad willingly left, and it’s given me one year to strengthen my family and my relationship with my daughter.  It’s been one year and she’s okay and I’m okay.  It’s been one year, and I can swear to god… if he ever comes near my daughter again I’ll rip his head off.  I will not let him do what he did to his son and pop in and out of her life.  We’re better off  with out someone who chooses drugs and drinking over his kids.  I’m glad he’s gone.

Happy Father’s Day (belated).  More importantly, Happy One Year Anniversary to Noodle and I.  Here’s to many more years!

Child Support, Court and Single Mom Rants.

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So today was the day.  I filed a motion to get child support registered through the state, and at 9am I went in for the court appearance.  Lets just say, I knew I shouldn’t waste my time, and I left in tears.

Being a single mother is by far one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Dealing with Crohns, Domestic Abuse, Unemployment, and pretty much everything else that has come my way in the last few years… well… it was a breeze compared to this.  I am solely in charge of another human being.  I am raising a daughter on my own, giving her my all, working my ass off for her.  I love this little girl with all of my heart, and I do everything I can to make her life perfect.  It’s hard enough trying to decide punishments on my own.  It’s heart-breaking to know she spends more time with her teachers than myself.  It’s fucking hard as hell to be the only one here to comfort her, for all of life’s difficulties, including her own father walking out on her.  I do my best by her, every single thing I do somehow relates back to her.  She is my world.  Raising a child is also expensive.

The way I had figured it, is when my ex-husband was still around, still part of her life, still here, I didn’t mind that he never paid child support.  He was being a daddy, and that was good enough for me.  The moment he stepped out of her life, the moment she first cried because she missed her Daddy I got bitter.  You know, I could stand for being the sole financial support for my little family, but I can’t stand doing it all on my own.  My daughter needed her Dad, and he walked out.  So if he can’t muster up enough balls to be a Dad, he damn well should pay his (court-ordered) child support, and his (court-ordered) daycare expenses.  If that fucker thinks that he can just walk out of her life, out of his other child’s life, then he damn well better pay what he owes.  Being a single mom is hard, but it stretches my finances thin.  Thank the lord I got child care assistance (for now… I’m right on the cusp) because daycare is $190/week.  I don’t even want to tell you what Kindergarten is, I have to register for that this week.  The least he could do is provide his share of her education, her healthcare, her clothing.  Nope, it’s just me here.  I’ll make it, just as I have been for 2 years now.  It’s just frustrating.

So he left us.  You know.  He ran off to a new girlfriend, for another fresh start, for another family with out any kids he has to take care of.  He’s living in Boulder Colorado.  We emailed his new girlfriend, trying to get in contact with him, she blocked us.  I do speak to his mother, whom loves my daughter with all of her heart, but besides admitting he’s a douche, knows nothing about him.  He stopped calling her once she voiced her opinion on the matter.  So finally.  Almost a year after he left, I filed for child support.

My court date was disappointing to say the least.  The judge told me that because I don’t know his place of employment (yeah right, like that fucker would work on the books) and his current address (hello, he blocked me and disconnected his phone) they can’t do anything.  Nothing.  At all.  So I asked her.  “So if I don’t know the information he’s hiding from me, I’m screwed.”  The judge tells me that I need to talk to the State’s Attorney and Child Support Enforcement.  I almost fell over.  I’ve filled out the application (for both offices) 3 times.. I’ve called numerous times.  The most I’ve gotten is a promise of a call back… once… from one office.  I’ve been trying for MONTHS.  She dismissed my motion, and I left in tears.  Short of Ryan calming me down, and a lunch date with Kenzie, the bad mood would’ve continued.

I left and went to the Child Support Enforcement Office in person, filled out another application, they promised they get in touch (again) and I left.

I never expected to see any money.  I just wanted it on the books that he doesn’t take care of not one, but two children.  But because he took off and left Noodle in the dust, he gets away with it.  He gets to abandon his child again, break her heart, and leave it up to one parent to take care of her.  The courts wont help.  I don’t expect to hear a call from the office.  I am ready to give up.

I hope, I fucking hope, when he’s laying in bed at night, snuggled in to a house his new girlfriend pays for, he thinks of the two children he’s left behind.  Noodle’s emotional wounds will eventually heal, and I say good riddance, but I hope he feels pain for the rest of his life.