Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Big Bang, 10 Years Later

It was Valentine’s Day. Yet there I was, blubbering in the bathtub.

I’d spent a fabulous romantic 45th birthday in San Francisco with Noah, and chose to look at the 10 year anniversary of the Big Bang as a necessary evil that, in one fell swoop, practically catapulted me into a new life and later, the arms of a wonderful man who cherished me.

On the afternoon of February 14th, our plane landed back in Portland and Noah and I were picked up from the airport and taken to dinner at a small Italian restaurant in the St. John’s neighborhood. Noah’s parents graciously wished me a belated happy birthday and toasted Noah and I with glasses of red wine over calzone. Later that evening, as I relaxed in a bubble bath, my phone rang. The word “kids” flashed across the screen and I cheerfully answered.

My heart sank when I heard Mike’s voice on the line. Today of all days I didn’t want to even think of him much less speak to him.

“Hey, Soph, on Friday Faith is going to a slumber party then Wanda will drop her off at her dance practice in the morning."

It wasn’t a question. Mike was informing me of how Faith wouldn’t be dropped off on my weekend. Again.

This time, I didn’t push back. For the past several months I’d been firmly but politely telling the kids and Mike that there were going to be times I would veto a slumber party or volleyball practice on my weekends so I could spend time with my kids. The older kids get, the more challenging it is for any parent to count on face to face time with a teen or pre-teen and even harder to have that time as an every-other-weekend non custodial parent. My children are extremely social and athletic, which is good. But if I said “ok” every time they wanted to make other plans or their dad and Wanda insisted they go to a practice or game, I’d never see them other than on a field while I sat on the sidelines cheering from a distance.

I’d tried to express this to Mike in counseling. He’d simply reacted by blustering about the importance of sports. I knew exactly where he thought I fit into our children’s lives and it was several levels below athletics.

After eight years of acting against my maternal instincts and disdain for the habitual over scheduling of my kids, I finally stood my ground early one Saturday morning in September and for the first time, didn’t take Faith to her 3rd season in a row of “Fall Ball” softball. It was an all-day tournament 20 miles from home, in the rain, and she was too tired to begin with. That was definitely not the way I wanted to spend my precious time with my daughter that weekend. I told Faith she didn’t have to go. I emailed her coach, copied Mike, and let him know that since I’d only found out that Mike had obligated her to the tournament the day before, we were making other plans and the team would have to do without her that day at least.

Mike was furious. He pulled Faith off the team entirely and told her it was her mother’s fault for influencing her and he told her that she had to pay him back the money he’d spent signing her up. Our parenting plan states that we have joint legal custody and decisions about school and sports activities are meant to be discussed and agreed upon together, before obligating the other parents parenting time. He also told Wanda to block my telephone number, and Noah’s, from all three of my children’s cell phones as my “punishment,” which was even the word he used when we met once with a counselor about the level of difficulty between us.

“Damn straight, it is like punishment. She didn’t take Faith to her game that we paid for.”

He also said that the cell phones they’d bought my children as Christmas gifts the year before, and most likely used a portion of the child support I paid, was a “luxury” and that they didn’t buy the kids cell phones for my convenience therefore, they had every right to block my land line and cell phone numbers from them.

“You can just call the landline at night or go through me and Wanda if you need to talk to them.” The counselor just shook his head and nothing was accomplished by the end of our hour.
When I later insisted he be rational and fair and unblock my number after months of the blocking continued, he’d been so miffed at my audacity to ask instead of “dropping it” as he’d ordered me to do that he took the kids phones away from them completely, telling them it was their mother’s fault they’d lost the right to them.

Several heated conversations followed. I asked Mike and Wanda multiple times, week after week, in a fair and polite appeal, to please unblock my phone from my children’s.

Mike sneered at me and his voice was condescending as I crouched in the bathtub on Valentine’s Day, cringing as I heard myself wimpily asking him yet AGAIN to unblock me from my children’s phones.

“I’ll think about it,” he finally said.

On the exact 10 year anniversary of the day my ex husband did what he did to end our marriage, I finally felt something deep within me snap.

Not only did he not even fathom the fact that he was mocking and bullying me, but he didn’t realize or know it was exactly 10 years to the day that I had answered the door of our safe, suburban home to two policemen looking for my husband.

When I hung up the phone, instead of feeling hurt and helpless, a new emotion surfaced, and for once, I embraced it.


(To Be Continued)


  1. Oh my..I am hooked! Hang in there it will indeed get better! <3

  2. I have so been waiting for the good "guy" to win - hoping this is finally it.

  3. It has been very difficult to find anything on the internet that explains the complexities of the non custodial mother relationship. It has been an extremely hurtful road for me since I look like the ultimate bad guy. My 18 year old daughter feels as though she has been abandoned but all the time I have been right here. Thank you for your insights and hopefully my day will come when there is more understanding on this issue. I will be reading your blog daily.

  4. I can't wait to read more! Missed reading you. Hope you are well, hon!

  5. It is about time! Cheering you on from Australia>

  6. It should be that the kids can have a voice in the time they spend with you, hopefully that could be increased time during the week, when their social lives are less busy. Custody is never easy, no matter what the time "shared" is, however ultimately, it is time for the KIDS with their parents, not really the other way around. It is a hard line to walk trying to keep them involved and their wishes known, without playing them against the other parent. They should be part of the discussion, not the referees, but this is exceedingly hard to put into practice, especially with a non-participating co-parent that wants to turn it into a power struggle! Good luck and remember ultimately, they will make their own choices on who they spend their time with. Ours are now recognizing (and prefer) the household which was less conflict-prone.

  7. I'm in the beginning stages of a divorce. As the breadwinner of my small family, I may not be the custodial parent...depending on if my husband takes this new job (blah blah). Anyways, I found your blog about a month ago, and I hope you continue to post.

  8. Great writing. Can't wait to read the next part. What a TERRIBLE situation to be in. I can hardly believe what your ex is doing. Seems to unbelievable that someone could act that way.

  9. Thank you for your post. I needed to read this today. I was also having a rough day regarding my ex husband signing our son up for baseball even though I asked him and his wife politely, multiple times, to not sign him up since I work full time and baseball is more of a commitment than soccer. Since he doesnt work, or makes his few random hours of "make believe" work, he doesnt understand the limited precious time you have when you are a working mother and have half time with your kids. I was so frustrated and feeling alone, so thank you for posting. Helped me to feel like I am not completely alone in this. I wish you the best and hope you get all the time and love with your kids that your heart desires. Hang in there.

  10. Wow. YOU guys help me to feel like I'm not the only woman/mom out there that is going through some of these things. I write to get things off my chest, and vent and "rage" in a way... since I don't do so well at saying what I mean when it's confrontational in any way. It helps me to have some peace inside, but it also helps me to come to terms with those feelings that storm inside of me but that I don't dare confess outloud since I don't want to be labelled a "bad mother" or "difficult". I guess I'm sort of tired of being the polite co-parent all the time and pretending like it's okay for my ex and his wife to call all the shots with the kids that I love SO much. I support my kids financially, I see them every single chance I get and try to be as involved as possible... but when you are the "non custodial" parent, logistically it's impossible to do the same thing for your children as if you lived with them full time. Anonymous, I am so happy to hear another parent gets frustrated when their child is signed up for sports without discussing it first. I KNOW my kids are athletic and there are so many great benefits to being on a team, but when kids are scheduled non-stop and sports takes priority over the parent/child relationship, it's time to take a good hard look at which is truly of more long term importance.

    I can't wait to finish writing about how I dealt with my smouldering frustration with my ex. I'll be posting the piece very soon.

  11. I cannot believe that I stumbled upon your blog and was astounded to read my life in your words. I am a non-custodial mother, of a teenage daughter, who has tried to co-parent over the last 6 years with little success. I was agreeable to my exes terms on divorce and parent planning in almost the exact way that you portray in your writing. As you describe your relationship with your oldest daughter, I find comfort and hope that I will someday find that with my daughter. So glad to have found you. You have found a faithful reader in me.

  12. Okay....ready for the "to be continued" part. And since I've missed you on recent trips, I'll have to consult the blog. Hope things are good - best to Noah and the kids! Miss you guys! xoxox

  13. Sorry friends for the *very* long wait for the finish to this entry. It's very challenging keeping all the balls in the air, as I'm sure you all know. I'm looking forward to Mother's Day with my family tomorrow -- all the kids will be with me -- and I thank you all for being patient! Love - Sophia

  14. I too am a noncustodial parent of two teenage daughters, no matter how much I try to convince them that they are told they are the most important thing in my life, they are led to believe otherwise. My oldest consistently manipulates me into getting what she wants including visits for more time, yet when she comes she spends time with friends. They live an hour away from me so it is alot of driving back and forth to get them and all I ever hear is complaints such as if I come on Saturday to get them, why can't I come on Friday etc. Nothing is ever good enough. Im at my wits end and much as I love them I am actually excited for them to become adults so their controlling and abusive father will leave me alone and hopefully my relationship with my daughters will become stronger. Until that time I am busting my butt working two jobs and paying child support only to have their father complain that I never pay for anything, help out, etc. I am at witts end.

  15. Would love to read the rest of your story. Has this blog been discontinued? Moved to another blog name? I have googled your pen name to try and find another posting on another site, but haven't come across any. Hope and pray everything is okay with your family.