Friday, September 28, 2012

Virtual Visitation with a Douche Canoe

Photo Credit: wired.com

With cameras on computers, video chatting, Skype, FaceTime on Apple products and the like, it's reasonable to schedule regular "virtual visitation" when crafting a parenting plan for divorced parents and such provisions in court ordered parenting plans are becoming more and more common.  Especially if there is a geographical distance between a parent and child(ren), it seems that being able to actually see children, while not in person, and to have them see their parent, is still better then a phone call, email or text.

It seems ...

Don't get me wrong, I completely agree that while there is no replacement for direct one-on-one interaction between individual parents and children, using technology to virtually spend time with kids can be a positive option for many divorced families.

It can be.

That's why when the STBX proposed the idea of having twice-per-week FaceTime "visits" with our then one and a half year old son during negotiations for a court ordered parenting plan and visitation schedule, I agreed without much hesitation or argument.  At the time, I couldn't think of a better way to dedicate myself to preserving and fostering the relationship between my C-man and his father through whatever means available.  With the STBX only traveling to MA for in-person visitation one weekend each month, I believed that the frequent interaction during FaceTime calls every week would help more than it could hurt.

In some ways, it has.  I firmly believe that the frequent visual contact with his father, even if it is only via my iPhone, has helped our young son learn who is "Daddy" is in a much more profound and loving sense (he was only 13 months old when we separated).  I also know that the calls during the weeks between those monthly visits ease any separation anxiety he may experience during the actual visits themselves.

And that's pretty much where the benefits end as it pertains to virtual visitation with C-man, who is now two years old.

After months and months of these "virtual visits", I'm discovering that as sensible as the concept may be as an alternative option for visitation, it is very limited in its effectiveness to promote an engaged relationship between parents and children.  Especially if one of those parents is a douche canoe and doesn't even try to make the quantity of the time spent video calling with our very young son a quality experience.

Lately, our FaceTime calls to Daddy every Tuesday and Thursday night, amount to me desperately trying to encourage C-man to "talk to Daddy", while his wonderful father (sarcasm) says hardly a thing back to him (toss in a "Hey Bud" every 3 minutes or so and that's the total extent of douche canoe's effort).  During these "virtual visits" I'm pretty much following around an active and playful toddler trying to play with him with one hand as my other holds the damn iPhone.  C-man is usually distracted (he's only two!) and has the attention span of a fly, which is to be expected, but does his father even try to keep him interested in engaging with him? No!!

And people wonder why I call him a douche canoe? 

On at least four separate occasions since May of this year I've made the suggestion that maybe the STBX pick up a few books that we have that C-man loves having read to him.  You know, since C-man is just a toddler and simply not developmentally able to carry on a meaningful conversation with his father during these "virtual visits" I thought, being the engaged mother I am, well I just thought it was a swell idea.  It seems better than tossing out a few "Hey Bud's" every few minutes while I try and wrangle C-man into looking at my phone to "talk to Daddy". I even sent the STBX a list of some of our favorite books (The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, Make Way For Ducklings etc.).  I figured he could read the book to C-man and we could follow along, turning the pages, while I propped my phone up in a way so that he could see us (namely, C-man).

Has the STBX picked up a single book to do this? No!!

Why?  Because he's a douche canoe!!

Needless to say, I've come to dread FaceTime each week and my intuition tells me that it won't be long before C-man will too.  I long for the day where my son is old enough to manipulate the phone on his own without the threat of it getting tossed in J-dog's water dish or having to deal with multiple hangups or mutes (he loves to push the buttons!), but at the same time my gut is full of dread because I know if something doesn't change with his father's effort during these calls, they are going to amount to 10 minutes of his father interrogating a reluctant child who's just waiting to hang up so he can go off and do something fun and entertaining.

And so it goes, technology can bridge distances created by geography and circumstance but it is powerless to influence the outcome of complex relationships between parent and child.  That is clearly up to the people in those relationships themselves and being that one of them is a child in this case, it would make logical and sane sense for burden of effort to fall on the parents.

I feel like I am doing my best to do my part every Tuesday and Thursday evening during this alternative visitation option for the STBX.  I truly want my son to get something out of this time with his father.  However, his father isn't doing his part and being the douche canoe that he is, I won't hold my breath waiting for him to change. I won't waste my breath trying to get him to try harder either. That ship has sailed. That's why I have this blog. Here, is where I can vent. During FaceTime itself, I smile and grit my teeth through every minute because that is just how much I love my son.     

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Learning My Truths, Episode 4: I am blessed

In just about two weeks it will be one whole year since the STBX and I separated and although I haven't been able to move on in a legal sense because of recent douchery and stall tactics dished out by the STBX, I have been able to move forward in so many other ways that I'm even amazed at my own progress on this journey.  I'm frustrated at times still and I truly wish the STBX would just let us get divorced already, but in spite of him I'm still at peace most of the time.

 

Is there a silver lining to divorce? If you asked me that question a year ago, I might have hesitated in answering. Today, I jump at the opportunity to tell you that the answer to that question is a big wonderful "YES!!!"

My divorce process thus far has taught me more than I think I can even describe.  It's been difficult and stressful and there have been many ups and downs in starting over.  I've made wrong turns, poor decisions and I've let myself and others down in the times that I've stumbled along unfamiliar paths.  However, more often than not, I've also found my way out the of darkness, made more positive and healthier choices than I ever have before in my life and I've learned how to encourage and support others even when I feel like I'm failing.

Some say marriage is a blessing (and I still believe it can be) but in my case these days, divorce brings with it many blessings no matter how high conflict and complicated.  Every lesson is a blessing in disguise.  Divorce has taught me to count those blessings.

In starting over I have been blessed to learn:

- what I really want out of life and how to go after it

- that it is okay to make mistakes and to fail sometimes

- how to truly be independent and self-reliant

- what it really means to love someone and to be committed to someone completely without losing your sense of self

- how strong, courageous and resilient I really am

- how to be more patient and understanding

- how to be a better mother 

- what empathy is and why some people don't have it

- when to emotionally detach from certain situations

- to trust myself

- that when you're discouraged the best thing you can do is to try and encourage others


Have you been through the divorce process? What did it teach you? Did you count those lessons as blessings?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When bitterness tastes oh so sweet . . .

What was already ugly is about to get uglier.

Why?

The STBX isn't just a douche canoe and suspected narcissistic psycho. Nope. He's certifiably bitter to the point of insane hysteria.

In starting over wonderful, I would like to continue down roads that point towards sanity. Unfortunately, I may be pushed down a path of insanity against my will in a bitter divorce battle that is nonsensical, financially unsound for BOTH parties and completely asinine given the brevity of our marriage and circumstances surrounding its dissolution.

Anyway, last June our visitation orders for our son were made final.  The standard schedule states that the STBX has standard visitation from Friday at 8:00 AM through Sunday at 6:30 PM on the third weekend of each month. There are various provisions in the order as to how we are to deal with exchanges, transportation, holidays, special occasions and notice of cancellations or reschedules etc., but the bottom line is his standard schedule is once per month on the third weekend of the month.

Since the order was made final, I've allowed two swaps or exchanges for weekends other than the standard third weekends and on both of those occasions, I've also allowed visitation to run from Thursday at 8:00 AM through Sunday at 6:30 PM.  My thinking was that so long as I was more than cooperative with the STBX on the issues that I had control over, he would see the open door to mutual cooperativeness and start to treat me in the same manner on the issues he had control over.

I don't know what I was thinking.  I blame my break from blogging ... that consistent reminder that he is a douche canoe was clearly necessary in order for me to maintain a clear vision of who he really is.

This is a man that is so bitter he can't even look me in the eye during exchanges of our two year old son without visible feelings of contempt overwhelming his entire body.  Yes, I see your lip curled, Douche Canoe, and I notice the stiff hesitation to even let me hug and kiss our child good-bye before he's whisked away from me.

This is a man so bitter .... that every interaction is painstaking, complicated and fraught with manipulation tactics to push my buttons, anger me, frustrate me and upset me.

This is a man so bitter ... that despite my efforts to forgive, disconnect and disengage he still clings to me in an effort to maintain some sort of connection that is entirely poisonous and based on loathing and a disgusting need to somehow seek revenge on me for merely me leaving him.

This is a man so bitter ... that he can not keep his word regarding when he'll pay child support money owed to me or about going forward with an uncontested divorce despite all evidence pointing to the fact that moving forward in that manner makes the most sense and serves our child's best interests for us being able to adequately provide for him in both the short and long-term.

This is a man so bitter .... my words are consistently misconstrued or simply not heard. Trying to reason with him is as about effective as trying to raise the water level of the ocean by spitting in it.  Trying to work out a fair property settlement is impossible, because he is just so damn bitter he finds it impossible to treat me fairly.

This is a man so bitter ... I've never been happier to be away from him and to be in a position where I don't have to listen to him, deal with him or associate with him.

Earlier this month I came to my senses and told him that, per the advice of my attorney, I was reverting back to the standard visitation schedule indefinitely and no longer would be open to the idea of swaps or exchanges of weekends.  This way, there is no need for us to be in any sort of consistent communication and I can be free from his never ending tactics to try and embitter my life.

Needless to say, this has infuriated him and he's trying everything in his power to paint me as a horrible mother alienating him from his child. Contrarily, I've told him that he is more than welcome to follow the standard visitation order as it is written.  It is up to him whether or not he chooses to exercise his visitation when he is court ordered to do so.

I've been told that he's fired his attorney and is actively seeking a new one to "make me pay".

I've also been told that he doesn't have a shot in hell to get anything more from me other than a divorce decree.

He may be a bitter man and he may force me into a bitter divorce battle, despite every effort on my part to provide us with a quick, clean and easy settlement (hey, I even paid for it already!), but a bitter divorce, as bitter as it is, is still far sweeter than a bitter marriage.

His bitterness tastes sweet to me because I know my rights, I have ample support backing me up and I know I will be free soon enough.

His bitterness brings me peace in spite of him.
 
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