My Letter to Honey About Visitation
I gave this letter to Honey before he came for his first photo op…I mean visit…with his children. I couldn’t believe as I wrote this letter how life had somehow come to this. It just truly boggles the mind. I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about. In my head and in my heart, I juxtapose moments of us together as a family smiling against custody agreements, terms for visitation, and divorce settlement documents. It just makes me shake my head with wonder. Who could ever have foreseen life becoming so painful? So hard? So…unfair? I know that in certain cases, divorce is necessary. But I believe most of them are not. Most are simply pure selfishness masquerading as ‘following your heart’. It’s just flowery wording used to hide the smell of b.s. To me, my feelings about it are simple. Divorce is evil. It’s evil in the same way that cancer is evil. It’s inexplicable, it’s wrong, and many times you die anyway no matter how hard you fight. I. Hate. Divorce.
As he walked up to my door for the first time, I felt like I’d been punched in the chest. I hadn’t seen him in 10 months. The very first thing that I thought when I saw how he looked and how he was dressed was ‘mid-life crisis’. I saw the wallet chain (pssst…your acid washed jeans from 1987 called. They want their wallet chain back). I saw the GIANT neck tattoo of HomeWrecker’s name. I smelled the overpowering cologne, which was new for him. And yet, when you boiled all that away, I just saw my husband who I had loved. It was excruciating. But because he is nothing but a robot to me now, I was all business with him. But inside, my heart was being shattered over and over again by the sight of him and the fleeting feeling of having my family together in one place again, if only for a moment.
He signed this letter, by the way. The whole thing was like a business transaction. Nauseating…
‘In XXXXXXX, sole physical custody is also called primary physical custody. Sole physical custody includes the right to control the child’s whereabouts, housing arrangements, school enrollment, after school care, medical and dental appointments, holiday and vacation plans.’
This is about your upcoming visit around Christmas time. I have no interest in being controlling, but I do intend to control certain aspects of this visit, for Little Man and Baby Girl’s best interest and for no other reason. If you want to believe that it’s for some other reason, have fun making me the bad guy. I have sole physical custody and I know the legitimacy of why I’m laying all this out, so just know that anything that you think about my reasoning is irrelevant to me.
This visit is not about you. It’s not about the way you think or feel. It’s not about getting to experience being a ‘daddy’ again for a few days. It’s 100% about Little Man and Baby Girl getting to see their father. It’s for them. They come first. Their feelings come first. Since you chose to move thousands of miles away from them, your sudden reappearance (and subsequent traumatizing departure) may cause reactions you don’t expect in either child. Or it could go great. I hope it does go great, for their sakes. Not for yours.
I no longer trust you as a person. Your choice to lie to me, cheat on me, and abandon us out of the clear blue sky to handle all the fallout of your terrible choices all on our own has forever altered the way that I see you as a man/protector/human being. I do not like or trust you at all. Therefore, it is very difficult to hand these children over to you, because you are not the trustworthy person that I fully believed you were. That is not ‘my problem’ or some defect within me; that is a consequence of your choice to lie to me hundreds of times and betray that trust. However, their needs come before anything else, including your horrific choices. They need to have a relationship with you, so I will always facilitate that. But…I will now do so with some well-earned wariness. Therefore, I’ve laid out some expectations that I need you to sign off on to make sure we are on the same page about your first visit with our children. If you don’t sign off, I don’t hand them off to you. Period.
Expectation Number 1: The kids have a say in coming back home
You are a stranger to Baby Girl, except for an image on an Ipad screen. You’ve only been around her for a few months of her 22 months on earth, and that was a LONG time ago. Please do not arrive with some immediate expectation of parental trust. I hope that she does trust you, so that she’s not at any point scared about going off with you and another stranger she’s never met. Aside from being in the hospital for my gall bladder emergency, she has never been away from me for longer than my shift at work, and never overnight. I rarely leave her with anyone except for Gramma or Aunt Laura, and it’s never for very long. She’s always with me.
So if she is with you and starts getting legitimately upset and won’t calm down, and/or she’s crying for me, I want you to bring her back to me right away. I’m not interested in what this does to your plans, your schedule, or your trip. Nor should you be. It should be about her best interests. If Little Man’s ok with staying, just keep visiting with him and just bring her home. I am interested in making sure my baby girl is safe, that she’s not scared or traumatized, and that her feelings are not discounted. The same goes for Little Man. Hopefully this will never happen, and all will be fine with the visit. I will be ‘on call’ for the days that you are here to be available to receive them if they do need to come home, except for the 17th, as I’ll be at work all day. On that day, my mom will be ‘on call’, until I can make arrangements to get off early if that happened.
Expectation Number 2: Stick to their routine, not yours
Routines are very important to kids this age. We have a routine for our meals, our adventure time, naps, baths, play time, story time, and bedtime. And while you’re here, all of that will be disrupted. As their parent, I presume you will want to try to keep to their general schedule, not your schedule. You may have some outings planned, and that’s great. But you should know these kids probably don’t care about that. They will just want as much time wrestling and playing with you as possible before it’s taken away from them again. And, having that structure of a routine they recognize will help them to be able to focus on the time they have with you.
They have nap daily anywhere between 1 and 2 pm, and a bedtime of no later than 9pm. They usually wake up sometime between 6 and 7am every day. We brush teeth and have juice right after. We always do books and songs before nap and night night. Unless she’s conking out, Baby Girl will need to be rocked to sleep and set down on her tummy. She won’t sleep on her back. However, if she won’t fall asleep, lie her down on her back with a baby bottle with 3 to 4 oz of filtered water. She usually puts herself to sleep after she drinks it. Little Man needs his back rubbed and many, many assurances that he won’t have a nightmare again. Number 9 truck and dinosaurs eating him are his two biggest ones right now.
Expectation Number 3: Keeping the kids safe
That brings me to their safety. You need to be mindful of this every minute they are with you. I’m not implying you’d be intentionally unsafe with them, but almost every time I’ve seen you interact with your children, you have your Iphone in your face 90% of the time. Please put that damn thing away and don’t bring it out in their presence. The last thing they need is to feel the full weight of your…exit…from their life, and then when you finally do come, your phone gets all the attention again. Also, taking your attention off them and not concentrating on their safety (even in a hotel room) because of a phone is not gonna work when they are this age. You have to watch them every minute, because they are crazy toddlers, and crazy toddlers are unpredictable. Baby Girl is very interested in electrical outlets, and I’m constantly watching her for that. She opens cupboards and drawers, she runs to go see interesting things at the worst times. Watch them in parking lots. Stores. Restaurants. Every single second. Be ready to dash or grab a hand. Baby Girl especially. Especially since she doesn’t know your voice as something to respond to when she’s bolting, or in a crowd.
Expectation Number 4: What they are exposed to
These kids rarely watch any TV that isn’t educational kid’s programming. I don’t ever watch adult shows in the background, because language, sex and violence is in everything, even commercials. So please either keep it off, or muted, or whatever. If you are going to watch movies or TV, please keep it to kids shows that are PG or G. Some things still scare each kid, even in kid’s movies. Hopefully, you will not be watching much TV anyway. Hopefully you will be engaging with your children.
HomeWrecker is a stranger to me, and to these kids. I don’t know how she behaves around children. All I know is that she refers to her own children as ‘little shits’ in a public forum that they can read.** Neither you nor her are to use language or mean labels like that around these kids. I would hope this is common sense and doesn’t even need to be said. (**Sidebar…HomeWrecker expressed her ‘woundedness’ about this portion of the letter. Where? Where else. FB.)
Expectation Number 5: Little Man’s heartbreak and his resulting behavior
A few things about Little Man you should know. First off, I’ve never (intentionally or unintentionally) said a negative thing about you in earshot of Little Man, as you implied to his therapist. So don’t ever put that voodoo on me, or project your guilt onto me. You have no idea what I’ve had to go through to mitigate the insane amount of damage that you’ve caused him. I should get a medal, but instead I get the shaft. Such is the entirety of my life with you, apparently.
This child is deeply, deeply wounded by your exit from his life, and he’s both mad and deeply sad. I don’t know if any of that will surface when you’re here, but you should expect that at some point, he will probably break down and say something to you. If that happens, do not shine him on. Do not discount him and move on to talking about something else as you always do. He tried to tell you on Skype a couple weeks ago about a bad dream he’d had about you ‘driving away so fast and not slowing down so mommy and Baby Girl and I could catch up’. He said you had a number 9 on the side of your truck (in his dream). You said ‘oh I’m sorry you had a bad dream, buddy! Is that a blue lego you got there?’ It was an abandonment dream, Honey. You said nothing. You didn’t even acknowledge that. Now, he’s having this same recurring nightmare featuring the ‘number 9 truck’ as he now calls it. He’s had it at least a dozen times. And he asks me endlessly to talk about it with him, but it still never makes him feel any better. Most nights he asks me to pray with him before he goes to sleep so he won’t feel so sad about daddy leaving, so I do. And you wonder why every time I speak to you, hate and venom come out of my mouth? Shouldn’t be a mystery to you.
So try listening when he speaks, please. Because it’s not about your discomfort in having to answer for the pain you’ve inflicted. It’s about your children. They come first. I repeat myself on this because someone who moves thousands of miles away from them just may need some reminding about putting the children’s needs before their own.
Expectation Number 6: The exchanges with the kids
You’ve told me enough times by now for me to know that you don’t care what I think or what I feel. But let me just try to paint a little hypothetical picture of what it’s going to feel like for me when you come to take these children. First, I’ve been trying to battle back emotionally from the murder of my husband. Someone killed him and took him away from me in the blink of an eye. They ripped my children’s father out of their lives, destroying our beautiful family forever. They took everything I cared about from me that day, then beat me within an inch of my life emotionally, and left me for dead on the floor with my babies crawling around me, while they drove away in their silver truck to their shiny new life. That someone was you. And next week, my attacker/the murderer of my family is going to walk up to my front door, ring the bell, and take my children for some fucking ice cream. And, as usual, I’m going to be expected to be reasonable.
So I would hope you’d understand that you are not welcome in this house. Ever. That comes from Grandpa and Grandma, and of course from me. So the exchange will be done on the driveway. If you intend have HomeWrecker in the car, it’s probably a very bad idea. But if you can’t get around it, just be advised that it’s in her best interest not to speak during the exchange. To my kids in front of me, or directly to me. I will be out on the driveway with the kids all the way up until you leave so they feel the safest. I’m going to put on my ‘everything’s cool’ voice for them, even though everything is most definitely not cool. Get the children, get them strapped in safely, and get off the property as quickly as possible, please.
I’ll separately email you dietary, gear, and daily needs for each baby. That’s all I can think of for now. Please sign and return. Thanks.