Even when things are better they aren't GOOD

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Penny Lane

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Even when things are better they aren't GOOD
« on: March 15, 2021, 03:59:41 PM »
I feel like DH has reached a really good equilibrium with his ex. He is willing to engage on productive things, but he doesn't spend a whole lot of time spinning his wheels on nonsense. She has slowly learned that his boundaries are real - she can attack him, but she won't get the response she wants. And it does seem that she's moved on to other targets.

The pandemic in some ways was a real gift. On one hand, BM was extremely reckless and we all had to quarantine multiple times because she exposed the kids to covid. On the other hand, there were no extracurriculars to figure out, no school events to attend with her, almost nothing that she and DH had to work together to figure out.

Now two things are happening, the end of all that is near, and she's going through an exceptionally bad spell. So he's trying to figure out summer activities and starting to plan vacations. And she's doing whatever it is that she does that makes the kids super stressed and unhappy when they return from her house.

I'm just so sick of it! I know what's going to happen here. The kids will not do any homework or get any sleep or do anything productive at her house for some indeterminate amount of time, weeks or months. So they'll have to catch up on everything here plus the stuff that we want to do. DH will try to work with her on summer activities, and when she doesn't respond for a month, he'll say, OK, I've signed them up for XYZ activities on my parenting time, and she will freak out and try to punish him by signing the kids up for other activities during his parenting time (one year she signed them up for camp, here in town, while we were on vacation, and then sent Dh a bunch of angry/pleading emails about how terrible he was for not "letting" them go. She also took the kids to daycare and then the kids came to our house all mad that we didn't "let" them also go to daycare on DH's days - days when we'd already planned other activities or playdates).

I think we've reached the best it's ever going to be.  It's better than it was before. I remember that one year, maybe two or three summers ago, pretty much every time the kids were scheduled to come back to our house, I'd get a migraine the night before because of the uncertainty of what state they'd be in. We've chilled out, even if she hasn't.

But still, this is not very good! I'm tired of dealing with this and I'm tired of spending all this effort on things that should be settled. She is impossible to work with - anything DH suggests, even if it's exactly what the kids want, even if it's something that she has suggested in the past, even if it would be better for everyone including her, is a nonstarter. She causes incredible problems for absolutely no reason, and we have to clean up the mess every time. We've had to lower our expectations to an incredible degree, and she can't even meet the lowered expectations.

Meanwhile the kids are caught in the middle. It seems like DSS is really catching on to the fact that she is a huge problem. But there's not a whole lot he can do. A couple weeks ago we were asking him very relaxed questions like "how are you doing" and "what have you been up to" and he lied to us, and then it immediately came out, and he started SOBBING about how he doesn't want his mom to get in trouble. What has she been doing that this young teenager thinks is so awful that she's going to get in trouble??

Thank you for listening to my rant today. We're going to just keep doing what we do and hope we all get through the summer in one piece.

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Associate of Daniel

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Re: Even when things are better they aren't GOOD
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2021, 05:13:14 PM »
I'm glad your partner is settling into a more relaxed way of dealing with his ex.

Just wondering, does he have to tell her what he signs the children up for if the activity is only happening on his time?

I've found over the years it's easier simply to not tell my uNPD exH anything about what I do/plan to do with my ds on my time.

And I don't bother asking for reimbursement from uNPD exH either.

Parallell parenting has been really helpful in my case. Coparenting is impossible with uNPD exH.

AOD

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Penny Lane

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Re: Even when things are better they aren't GOOD
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2021, 05:59:04 PM »
Great point! That would be my preference, but DH wants reimbursement. He is very clearly entitled to it per the order, and it does add up to be a lot of money. But maybe the money isn't worth the arguing, as you point out. Maybe he can do a modified version "I have signed them up for XYZ activities" and put in the request for reimbursement without really pursuing it. I also think this summer we're going to focus on low-cost events. Even if she does reimburse him, it's not at all timely, and not relying on her to do what she's supposed to do can only be good for our budget.

I didn't even get into the other piece of this, which is that their schedule is so screwy that nearly all activities occur during both parents' time - anything that's once a week on the same day OR a whole week. So without her buy-in, both weekly classes and weeklong camps are off the table. So he can either just 1. decide that the kids will only do one-day events over the summer or 2. try to get that buy-in.

Another frustrating thing is that he suggested switching the summer schedule to something that is more predictable - either week on-week off OR each parent gets Mon-Tue or Wed-Thu. She didn't even bother to respond. Of course that is her right, however, by refusing to respond to anything she's effectively preventing the kids from doing any camps OR weekly activities all summer.

We haven't decided on what to do with that piece of it yet, but I think he might try the ol' "I signed them up for X activity, I plan to take them on my time, hope you will take them on yours!" She doesn't react well, and she refuses to reimburse him, but she does usually end up taking the kids.

So all this to say, maybe the problems here really come down to reimbursement. I sort of knew that but saying it like that is somewhat of an epiphany. Thank you for helping me get there! Maybe DH and I should talk more about our budget and be willing to put in at least some money without expecting her to pay anything. The kids won't be going to sleepaway camp but we certainly have the money for, say, swim lessons.

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athene1399

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Re: Even when things are better they aren't GOOD
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2021, 06:30:01 PM »
I am so sorry, Penny. This sounds like an awful cycle. I think what makes it difficult to want to repeat is remembering how it has played out in the past. That is a stressful place to be. And unfortunately no one can control how she acts. It sounds like even if the suggestion would benefit her she still makes it  difficult. That leaves you with radical acceptance. It sounds like there is no good, magical option that can make this summer play out any different. And I am not saying you have to accept it at all times, but maybe once a day work on just accepting that things are the way they are. Maybe even take  another break during the day to not let it occupy your thoughts. Like a thought vacation from it.

I am so sorry there is no real fix for this. I am sorry you have to go through this headache all the time.

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Penny Lane

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Re: Even when things are better they aren't GOOD
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2021, 06:35:35 PM »
This is so true. Every year we wish she would participate in activities and pay for her fair share. (I have mentioned before, she makes literally twice what DH does.) But, she doesn't. There is a way around it: Sign the kids up for things, take them on our time, hope she takes them on hers. But we have to let go of the reimbursement piece and accept that she just isn't going to do that. Maybe it's time that I/we took that next step toward total radical acceptance.

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athene1399

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Re: Even when things are better they aren't GOOD
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2021, 03:52:06 PM »
I also want to add that it is frustrating when radical acceptance is all you can do. I am sorry there are no good options here. :(