No…I’m NOT a bad parent.

Alright boys and girls…take a deep breath before reading this one.


Yesterday morning I got brutalized by my VERY soon-to-be-ex-wife on the phone.  Brutalized.

I had Ankle Biter over the weekend. Apparently, after I dropped him off at the babysitter’s yesterday morning he ended up having a sore belly, a sore earache, and was crying.  He was FINE when I dropped him off.  He had been FINE all weekend. When we visited my parents’ house, he played. When we visited my uncle’s house, he played. Other than a slightly sore belly on Saturday afternoon, he was perfectly fine the entire weekend.

The Ex left work early on Monday and she called to tell me that she was taking him to the local clinic to get looked at.  She said that she would call me when she found out something…but she never called.

I emailed her on Tuesday to see how Ankle Biter was doing but didn’t hear anything back. I took that to mean either he was doing fine or he was sick and she was taking care of him. Either way, I figured she’d let me know whenever she was free.

Yesterday morning she called minutes before work to tell me that our son had a severe ear infection that probably started on Friday.  And then she began to “go off” on me in a very harsh way.

It was apparently my fault that I never saw any warning signs of the ear infection (all he had was a runny nose) and she found it hard to believe that he could be as sick as he was on Monday morning without me noticing all weekend.

Then she tore into me because the past three times he has stayed for a weekend with me, he has apparently been sick the following Monday. In all fairness, it’s been this time (ear infection) and the last time (belly aches), after which we both found out that he had a sensitive stomach and we BOTH needed to alter the diet that we were feeding him.

She knows I love him but told me that she was “parenting in spite of me.”

THEN she told me that she wanted to keep Ankle Biter last night…MY night with him…because he’s still sick and that she really didn’t trust me to look after him properly.  She said that I could have him later tonight if I wanted, but I told her that I had already planned on going to Halifax.

That’s when she really lost it.

She went off on me for not using any of my off days to spend the day with Ankle Biter. She has had to use up all of her vacation time for the year and is currently working on unpaid off days whenever he gets sick. To her, it appears as though I’m more interested in my personal life than I am with being with our son.

Oh…and also I’m a bad guy for not calling her before yesterday morning and offering to take the day off since I had pretty much guessed that he was sick.

I mean…she just went off on me.

I didn’t say much back.  I had a brutal night with very little sleep and was extremely cranky, and so with her telling me that she had been up all night looking after a sick little boy I just felt that nothing good could come from an argument over the phone when she was obviously in a distressed state.

I was shaking really bad as I walked in from my car to work.  I felt physically ill.

I just didn’t know what to do and I kinda still don’t.  I wanted to write an email to her but I feel/felt as though I really needed to take some time and evaluate what I wanted to say.

Honestly? I think she’s right to question me using almost every off day to go visit Sunshine. HOWEVER, my vacation days are almost all gone because I, too, used them to be with our son. He was in the hospital for multiple days this summer and I took time off to be with him. I took over a week off to be with him while the babysitter was on vacation. I’ve still got a couple of days vacation left and I haven’t used them for the specific purpose of spending time with Ankle Biter should the occasion arise.

I left early last Friday to look after him when The Ex said that he wasn’t feeling great but she had to go to work. ANY time she’s had to work when he was sick, I’ve been MORE than willing to look after him. I’ve told her that ANY time she needs me to look after him (regardless of reason) to call me and I’d love to spend more time with him (and she’s taken me up on the offer before, too).

She accused me of putting my personal life in front of my son’s life. But that was a HUGE blow below the belt, in my opinion. I see Sunshine four days a month….five or six if I take an off day or stay an extra night. I really don’t think I’m putting my personal life ahead of my son, especially when I’m home alone 50% of the time I’m not with either him or my girlfriend.

Is this what normally happens when I read these multiple blogs from single mothers? Are these types of situations the reality? How often do single mothers misinterpret? Does there have to be two sides to every story?

Goddammit…I’m a good father. I love my son to death. I don’t think I’m blind to what could be bad in terms of his health and I don’t think I’m oblivious or ignorant or causing her to be parenting “in spite” of me.

I dunno…I’m just all messed up right now and I need time to really let this sink in.  I mean, if she had called me on Monday night like she said she would and told me that our son would be staying home on Tuesday and she asked me to look after him, I would have booked a vacation day in a second to spend the day with him while he was sick.  I mean, my offer to take care of him when he’s sick has ALWAYS been on the table and I’ve told her that.

She made me feel as low yesterday morning as I felt when we initially split up…like I’ve got good intentions but I’m just a horrible parent who simply isn’t able to take care of his own son.

I’m feeling a bit better now that I’ve written this all out, but I’m still pissed about this whole thing. I want to write her an email but I’m unsure what to say. I don’t want to come across as defensive but I also don’t want to be a pushover that will be taken advantage of.

Wow…you want honesty in a blog? You’ve got it all right here.

Thoughts? Advice?

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32 thoughts on “No…I’m NOT a bad parent.

  1. I respect what you both are feeling but have to say
    I would let this blow off steam and not address it.
    It is only going to create more tension and illwill.

    I hear where she is coming from too.She may resent that you are off having social trips weekends and at times she may feel like she is stuck home while you have fun.
    Perhaps you should take Ankle Biter with you more often?

    Anyways I understand she reacted in a hostile manner about his getting sick(I am sure she was overwhelmed and stressed ) but I don’t think it helps adding to the hostility. Being a single mum and dad means there are going to be upsets and misunderstandings. If you were going to write a note where you sympathized with the stress she is under that is one thing, but if you are going to write an email defending yourself that is another….

    just my view from here 😉

    1. Well…I appreciate your comments but I feel like I need to address it in some way.

      And I would love to have my son more often, but I don’t see why I would need to make it at the expense of my relationship. And she has every other weekend to herself just like I do. I don’t see why that would change for either one of us.

      1. Thanks for your reply….not sure what you mean at “the expense of your relationship”.I didn’t mean that at all, simply that perhaps AB could come along a little more often with you on the treks,but obviously it is hard for all of us to comment when we don’t know your exact custody,situation, people involved etc etc,but you did ask for comments so I threw my 2 cents in there…certainly was not referring to anything at the expense of your relationship.

        You are braver than me to have strangers comment on your personal life-I could never do this,so kudos to you for having a thick skin and knowing that we really don’t know your own personal life!

  2. Gently, because I don’t think you are a bad parent and because I don’t know her at all, but perhaps she wishes she didn’t have to *ask* you to look after your son, but that you would get involved and just do it? (I know there’s a standing offer there from you, but that’s really not the same as being actively involved in dealing with the crisis in the moment.) And I would be upset too if my son’s father didn’t call to see if he was sick, just sent one email over a period of a few days and nothing else. It just seems all a little passive. And maybe she is seeing that as you being uncaring, whereas maybe you see it as respecting her space?

    I’m sorry you are upset and I hope AB gets better soon!

    1. Y’know what? That’s the thing that I’ve been beating myself up the most about.

      I know she told me that she’d call me, but after I reached out via email and I didn’t hear anything back, I should have still called as a follow-up. Totally something that I did wrong.

  3. You’re absolutely NOT a bad parent. Everything I know about you disproves that theory.

    As far as your son getting sick — it’s unfortunate, but shit happens sometimes. Ear infections can be brutally hard to detect (even when they’ve already happened) and it would have happened when you were watching him, she was watching him, anyone.

    Don’t beat yourself up over it, man. You’re a great dad and it sounds like you spend a TON of quality time with him. Maybe she’s frustrated that you’re out of town, and I do get that, but really one thing has nothing to do with the other.

  4. I totally relate to Lady’s comments and agree with them.
    It doesn’t mean you FEEL you are passive, but it may be
    exactly how your ex is viewing it.
    A good thing to think about and perhaps to sit back and ponder whether you may want to change the way you schedule in your son.
    What one feels inside our hearts doesn’t necessarily translate to the outside world.In your mind you may be the most loving present dad in the world ,but in the world perhaps there are ways to become more actively involved(and yes this takes two,and means you and the ex will have to both be willing).
    Sounds like she is overwhelmed and feeling the weight of responsibility is on her.

    1. Well, we just updated the visitation schedule a few months ago. I wanted more time, but it just wasn’t going to happen with my current work schedule. That’s why the standing offer was there any time that he wasn’t feeling well. She took advantage of it on Friday and I assumed…incorrectly…that she’d do it again whenever he was sick.

      No doubt she DID feel overwhelmed, but my issue (I guess) was that she didn’t need to take that all on herself. So while I wasn’t proactive in my offer, she totally didn’t need to take everything on herself and then throw a guilt trip at me for me.

      This is supposed to be a partnership. I’m here for our son. I can’t help if I don’t know help is needed.

  5. Maybe she’s stressed b/c her boy was sick. I would be, too, and maybe would take it out on whomever I spoke to? Not that it’s right or anything. I am certainly not questioning that he was acting fine b/c I have two kids who one minute act fine and the next minute get all sick…it’s how they do it 🙂
    I agree to let it go…say nothing. Try to stay civil. Perhaps she’s jealous about your leaving town for fun…? I don’t really know. I have no problem telling my ex to help if I need it but a lot of women may not feel that way. Asking for help from an ex might make her uncomfortable? I don’t know her so I don’t know…I’m so sorry that Ankle Biter isn’t feeling well though…nothing worse, in my opinion.
    Try not to take it personally…even though that’s TERRIBLY hard I know!

    1. Yeah…that’s another reason why I wanted to just say nothing for now. I wanted her to (hopefully) not feel so upset about the situation, especially when I didn’t even know there WAS a situation.

      She’s never had problems asking me for help before so I don’t know what changed in the course of a couple of days other than she thought (and said to me outright) that I wasn’t attentive enough to look after him while he was sick…which offends me, to be honest.

  6. Sounds like it has been a rough week for everyone. My husband and I are together raising our kids and I can tell you that I get upset with him when I have to ask him to do something. I feel like he should know when I need help and just pitch in and do it. So perhaps she feels like that too, even though I’m sure it’s much harder to do so when you’re separated. One other thing, as far as vacations days and things of that nature…from a mother’s perspective I get very angry with my husband when he makes plan and I am constantly home with the kids. Maybe part of her resentment is that she doesn’t have a getaway as you do? I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a getaway, but maybe that is how she looks at it. Anyway, good luck and keep loving Ankle Biter. Hopefully you and your ex can work things through enough to get along for his sake.

    1. I’m thinking that’s what it is, too. I don’t think she’s dating anybody nor do I think she does much other than visit her family when she doesn’t have him on my weekends. I just didn’t think it was a fair comment to make…even though I can see me splitting my off days between my son and my girlfriend going forward. I don’t want to appear as though I’m choosing one over the other, y’know?

      ESPECIALLY when I already decided that I WASN’T moving away because I wanted to stay closer to him.

  7. CBG, dont let this get you down. We have had rough times like this before too, and we are all trying to be good people. We have been told that we gave SD fleas, when it turned out to be chickenpox. We have been told that we dont care, when we try really hard, but get disheartened when she doesnt want to talk. (She is 2, and phone talking is hard at this age.) We have to go months without her, and it hurts when we feel distant, but thats what happens when you live far away. But remember that this style of parenting is NOT normal. Its not easy, and it wont ever be, but thats not something to blame yourself for. You are doing the best you can in a crappy situation. Just hold onto the love you have for your sn, and be the best person you know how to be. Thats all YOUR SON asks from you as a dad.

    And dont let your ex hold days off and your personal life over your head. Sunshine is part of your world, and you must expand your horizons to love them all, but that will NEVER make you a bad parent.
    Good thoughts for you!

  8. Your Ex’s issue is that she has to deal with a sick AB and you get to go off to Halifax and have fun. Canceling your visit to take care of AB (and give some relief to your Ex) needs to be considered.

    I also had a child with chronic ear infections, don’t take this advice as criticism, just as helpful pointers. First of all, runny nose equals bacteria in the nasal and sinus regions and this means an ear infection is possible (the Eustachian tube drains the ear into the upper throat). Watch out for bath time, no water in the ear, we used ear plugs to prevent this (sterilize them or use disposable ones). If toddlers touch their ears a lot, that can be an early indicator of ear infection pain, they are easy to diagnose at a clinic so catching them early is possible.

    1. Wait…my “going off to Halifax and having fun” doesn’t need to be considered because he was sick Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

      I was around.

      She said I could look after him tonight because he’d no longer be sick…but in this case, I had already made plans.

      So me “giving relief” to my ex should have been considered when she was really in need and I was available. And I’m around on Saturday and Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and…..well, you get the point. I’m in Halifax tonight, tomorrow night, and returning on Saturday morning. So for those TWO DAYS I’m the bad guy for not “giving relief” to her??

      And in terms of his chronic ear infections, I know what to look out for. He had a red ear on Friday night that wasn’t red the rest of the weekend. He told me flat-out that his ear didn’t hurt on Friday and he didn’t touch his ears at all the whole weekend. It’s possible he got some water into his ear during his bathtime, but he knows to not get his ears wet as it’s something both myself and his mother have taught him.

      I’m not being defensive here…I’m just saying that other than a runny nose he was perfectly fine all weekend until he woke up coughing on Monday morning.

  9. First of all, more than likely, if AB was sick at all over the weekend, he may not have shown YOU that he was. Most kids feel differently and weaker when they are with their mothers than with their fathers. He may have been not feeling well but then let it all out after you dropped him off. That’s not YOUR fault.

    Secondly, regarding addressing this, I would take a breather and then have a discussion with her. I’m sure that she is stressed because he is sick. That’s never a good time to have a rational discussion with a mother, just sayin’.

    Don’t feel guilty for having a life with your love. I get it… BELIEVE ME.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. Let her know you heard her and if she has suggestions of what you can do differently, let her know you’ll take note.

    You are a great dad, CBG. I’m sure she knows that too.

    But things like this will happen. They’re exes for a reason, you know.

    ((hugs))

      1. And for the record, the blog post of mine that just published was written yesterday.

        (I say that because I made a comment about how some divorced men can go on living their lives like single people. It wasn’t directed at you at all… rather, my ex. But reading this post, I will definitely give him more of the benefit of the doubt. Thank you. See what we learn from each other!)

        I, too, get resentful when my kids are sick and my ex is gone traveling for work. However, when I ask him to help, and he’s in town, he comes through for me.

  10. Just let it go. Kids get sick. It happens and it doesn’t need to be anyones fault. She was probably overtired and frustrated. Yes, we women have a habit of expecting you to read our minds and jump into action. She definately hit below the belt in my opinion but as long as you know you love your son and would help anyway she’ll allow, that’s all that matters. Just let her cool off.

  11. I must admit it IS nice to see the other side of this. However, I will continue to stick to my “he is a douche parent” story in regards to my daughters father.

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time, I believe you are a great father. I hope you find a resolution to this. Sometimes people say hurtful things when they are angry, I’m sorry she said those things to you.

  12. Oh the battle of the sick kiddo, and the dueling co-parents! The Monkey is sick today, and it’s once again after he spent the weekend with the Bio. Is it because the Bio is a bad parent? Nope we just think/plan differently, and more often than not they have fun doing what they are doing and that doesn’t mean that he’s not taking care of his son or noticing he’s already not feeling good. Technically, it takes 3-4 days before most cold/sick symptoms show. It’s not your fault AB is sick now, and it’s not uncommon that kids don’t show symptoms instantly…just plain facts.

    However, I do understand the issue with communication. The Bio and I battle frequently over the how/why/when we communicate about certain things. I hate when he emails me to check on the Monkey, and doesn’t just call. But you realize the error now and will ammend it, right? Good on you!

    I think we all do the best we can, and sometimes in anger the other parent just doesn’t see it. I’ve done it, and I know enough now to hold my tongue and address it slowly later with care.

  13. Jennifer, Jen, & Michelle — Thank you, ladies, for the very kind words. I appreciate hearing things like that because when you hear certain things from your ex, it’s not out of the rhealm of possibility to start believing those things whether they’re accurate or not. I’d like to think I’m not perfect, but I’m a good dad to my son. So yeah…I appreciate it. Thanks. 🙂

    Deanna — It’s nice to see a single mom acknowledge that. I’m sure Bio isn’t perfect, but he tries his best and can’t control certain things…especially if there are no signs to see.

    And yes…I promise to follow-up one email with at least one phone call going forward.

  14. Of course there are two sides to every story. Your ex sees things her way, and you see things your way. It’s just how the world works.

    With my ex, I see him as irresponsible and selfish. He says he’s doing what needs to be done to “make himself happy” (which is working during the day and partying at night).

    I say our marriage fell apart because of his “glamorous” life which involved drugs and alcohol, and hanging out with club tramps. He says he needed all of that because I was an emotionally unavailable bitch.

    See? Two sides to all stories!

    Fact is, as you know, is that you guys aren’t always going to agree on things. She’s going to have her own point of view. And truth is, she was probably tired and frustrated from dealing with a sick kid. ALL single moms will tell you that it makes us a bit punchy. But if I were her, I totally would have called you on the second day he was sick – if anything, so I could go to work and catch a break. I wish MY ex would have been available like that (before we moved).

    Anyway. My final point will be this: let it blow over, and then approach her about it. Give her through the weekend, and then say, “Hey, I get you were upset, but this is how I see things.” Make it clear that you understand her point of view, and that you don’t want to fight – you just want to put your point of view out there too.

    Aaaand I’m done. Just my two cents.

  15. You are not a bad father or a bad parent.

    Your son’s mother was out of line.

    Your decision to hold back and not say much during her rant was exactly the right thing to do, even though it may have added to your stress level. Venting here was the right thing to do.

    Wait a day. Wait two. There very well may be an appropriate time (and an appropriate way) to express that she was out of line. Or not. But for now… you’re doing the right thing by keeping cool and keeping away. She was frustrated and upset, needed a release, and decided to release upon you. Don’t send it back. Let it go.

    Now, if you can figure out how to do that, please let me know. I’m at as much of a loss when my stbx pulls the same kind of thing on me. She doesn’t do it often at all, but when she does, it really gets me wound up.

    In the meantime, enjoy your evening with someone who treats you better!

  16. Dude, what you do on HER weekends with Ankle Biter, in the most simplest of terms, is no longer any of her business. You are not her husband anymore. What she does on your weekends with AB – same thing goes, it’s not your business. The fact that she threw that up at you in this argument, at least to me, points out that there is something else going on. Perhaps she’s jealous of your relationship with Sunshine, who knows? Especially if she’s not seeing someone. Again, I think it is OKAY for you to tell her that you’re weekends are yours, and as you are not her DH, you have nothing to be accountable for.

    As for AB getting sick and her yelling at you for it, the thing you seem to be forgetting here CaNook, is that you try your best. As parents, we ALL do. Yet, as well all damn well know, we simply, are not perfect. You’ll make mistakes and she’ll get pissed at ya again for it.

    In the meantime, remember that it is NOT your job to make your ex wife happy anymore. It is YOUR job to make AB happy, and I for one, think you’re doing a damn fine job of it.

    Hugs.

  17. Late to the game but…………..

    yeah, I have advice.
    Knock this shit off. Seriously.

    How about focusing your energy on gaining sympathy on the internet and maligning the mother of your child, how about focus on what is truly important…..working towards a positive, healthy relationship with the woman you have to spend, basically, the rest of your life tied to.

    I know…..crazy idea.

    I read this post and I see me 10 years ago. When I first ventured into single parenting and I was a mom of one toddler. I had the EXACT same situation happen, and I remember it like it was yesterday. And I was your ex. And, back then, yeah, I was overly emotional and quick to tear into my babydaddy….but the foundation was fear and worry for my baby. My only baby.

    The best advice I can give you is this: Don’t make the mother of your child feel unsafe leaving this child with you. Stop saying her fears are unfounded. They aren’t, simply by merit of her having them.

    Think long and hard….do you want these fights for the next decade? Do you want it to get worse? Your marriage is destroyed, there is nothing stopping the walls of resentment from building. And I will tell you….my 11 year old daughter hates how her father and I get along. And if I could go back in time to where you are now, I would change a LOT of it. Because now, a decade later, there is so much shit built up, it seems impossible to fix.

    I am 2nd time single mom and I made a deal with myself to stop talking shit about my ex husband on my blog, and he’s a pretty huge shit storm of a shitty father, let me tell you. But me talking shit about him publicly is bad for my kid. Period. No way around it. And you know what? It doesn’t make me a better person to perpetuate it or dwell on it either. I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers for everything but………it’s working for me.

    Just my 2 cents.

    1. I think that if maybe you were a regular reader of this blog, you would know that CBG generally has mostly positive things to say about his relationship with his ex. And really, what is a blog for if it isn’t a place to be able to vent frustrations?

      Look, I’m a single mom, too. I get what you’re saying. But just because we have fears surrounding our children doesn’t make them valid. Just because a child spends more time with one parent over the other, doesn’t mean the child “belongs” to that parent more than the other.

      Let a guy get what’s bothering him off his chest. And maybe stop to realize that the single dads on the other side of things have their own version of the story, too. CBG never claims that “he’s right and she’s wrong”…he’s simply telling his own story, working through his shit, so he CAN have at least a polite working relationship with the mother of his child.

      How about this? Maybe, just maybe, instead of crapping on a single dad for blogging about his thoughts on what’s going on in his life, you try being supportive of another single parent who is obviously going through a rough patch?

      1. Look, I’m not trying to crap on anyone. I’m saying to him what I would say (and HAVE said) to my dearest friends.

        I have a “venting” blog…..it’s not public. And that’s my suggestion to anyone who actually wants to have sanity in their lives at some point…..this shit doesn’t need to be this public and it only hurts the kids in the long run. We do not need to be so selfish that we OMG HAVE TO spill our dirty laundry all the time. You can have a close circle of friends you vent to, privately, and still get your rant on.

        Make all the excuses you want but the bottom line is that this isn’t healthy and it’s not helping and it’s not constructive. What I said stands…..where does he want to be in 10 years? Does he want to contribute to the wall between him and his ex or does he want to work on having a healthy relationship with her?

        You can be supportive of your friends without enabling unhealthy behavior. That’s what REALLY good friends do. And I don’t even know this guy. But, you’re right…he seems like a decent enough dude. Again, I’m not trying to crap on anyone. Like I said…if he were my friend in real life, I’d tell him to take this blog down and work on what HE can do to make the situation better.

        And…..for the record……….if someone has concerns, they are valid (providing we’re talking about your average, normal, regular type person). It is pretty much never ok in a healthy relationship to simply invalidate another persons feelings. It’s not ok. We’ve all been there….we get hurt or upset about something and pretty much the WORST thing the other person can do is to just blanketly say “Nope, you’re feelings are totally wrong. The end”. Maybe on a practical level, CBGs ex is overreacting when she says she feels unsafe leaving her sick kid with him. Sure. But what’s the best thing to do here? Tell her “You’re full of shit”… or maybe, just maybe, be a mature healthy grown up, put the kid first, and try to understand her and reach a point where they could trust on another. At least on fundamental things.

        I’m supportive. I’m supportive enough to say “Hey, if you keep this up, you’ll be stuck in this shit for a loong time”. We’ve all been there. It’s not a fun place to be. CBG seems like an ok dude….I’m sure he doesn’t want or deserve the unhappiness and stress that go along with having this kind of stress in his co-parenting relationship.

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