OK today I just have to vent a little bit. I've mentioned already that my ex-husband and I have a pretty tumultuous relationship. He is very Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and you truly never know which one you're going to get on any given day. But he's been fairly easy to deal with for the past several months and I attribute a lot of that to the girlfriend he has had. He's worked me on changing his days for visitation when needed without putting up a fight and hasn't started any arguments in a few months and has been fairly friendly during pickups and drop offs. I haven't even gotten any vicious texts of voice mails in awhile.
I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and this week, a big steel toed hiking boot crashed to the floor. First of all, apparently, the girlfriend broke up with him. I don't know why yet... but I'm on a mission to find out. I guess it's been going on for several weeks. He's been making a lot of excuses as to why she hasn't been sleeping at their apartment, but she's still been around quite a bit to pick up or drop off the kids and whatnot, so although I was starting to get suspicious, I believed it. It's amazing that after 10 years of being lied to by him that he is still able to convincingly lie to me from time to time.
Last Friday before he came to pick up the girls for their overnight visit, he called me to ask if he could claim both or at least one of the girls on his taxes this year. Apparently his car has completely died and he has no funds to try and replace it or pay a car payment so he thought if he could get that tax credit he could pay cash for some sort of clunker with his return.
Let me just mention a couple of things here... When we first split up we owned a house that he agreed to pay half of the payment for until it sold, and 10 months later when our divorce finally went through that was something that went into our divorce agreement. Which would have been fine except he had stopped paying his half consistently a few months before. It was kind of hit or miss or he would pay part of it but he certainly wasn't keeping up his end of the bargain. And a couple of months after the divorce was final he was let go from his job (again) and stopped paying anything at all. Oh yeah... obviously the child support stopped at that point too. I didn't sell the house for another 6 months after he stopped making payments and I went almost 4 months with little to no child support. Needless to say my credit card bills started piling up and I finally agreed to sell the house on a short sale adding to the credit problems that were already starting to stack because of all of this.
Also in my divorce agreement he was to cover the girls under his insurance and pay half of their medical bills. He has never done either of these. Except for the following summer when he finally got another job but it paid significantly less so he filed to have his child support payments lowered. This was granted. At the hearing, he said he wanted to insure the girls because he was under a court order to do so, oh and wouldn't that give him an even bigger cut on his support payments? OK and yes, was their response. Oh, and then wasn't he legally allowed to claim the girls on his taxes he wondered? Um, no. My lawyer actually almost spit a drink out at this point laughing as he realized what this was all about. Anyway... child support successfully cut... a LOT... and he took over insuring the girls. Except 3 months later he got fired from that job too. No more insurance. That was nearly 3 years ago. In the 4 years since we've been divorced those 3 months were the only time he's ever insured them. He still gets the credit for insuring them, by the way. He's also not paid one dime of any of their medical bills, even the 2 surgeries our younger daughter needed for tonsils and adenoids. I have a high deductible plan so our (my) cost of those was pretty high both times. He stated that since I was the custodial parent and he didn't have custodial rights how was he to know if our daughter really needed the surgeries or not or if her doctor and I just cooked up that scheme? Seriously. This is what he said.
He was without a job that time for about 3 months and then a year later lost another job and was without that one for 4 months. No child support for me during any of that time. He has actually had a job now for about 2 years and with his tax return last year he finally caught up on his arrears so he is only paying the small amount he got them to negotiate down during that hearing 3 years ago. And not a penny more. He says he pays child support and that covers everything they could possibly need. So nothing extra ever for school clothes (or new clothes at all for our older daughter who needs an entire new wardrobe 4 times a year... thank God the younger one can wear some hand me downs!), school supplies, school fees, school lunches, school pictures, activities, sports, or anything else... including... again... his half of their medical and doctor's bills.
So I struggle. Constantly. I want to provide my kiddos with fun toys and nice looking clothes and shoes and the opportunity to be in gymnastics and take baton or whatever, and get school pictures for the family, and, well... make sure they're healthy. So pretty much all of my extra (and often not exactly extra... LOL) money goes to this end. And we are very lucky that my dad pitches in a lot to make sure that even if I can't swing gymnastics that month, that they still get to go, or that they get new winter coats and boots even when I am having trouble making those purchases. So thank God for Papa. And for Grammy who provides free babysitting almost every time we need it and often takes us all to dinner or to movies or other ways to have fun and get out of the house.
Anyway... back to my ex. I have asked him many many many times over the years to contribute to any of these extras and have always been met with, nope, that's what child support is for. I won't give the amount he pays, but... it's certainly nowhere near "half" of what the normal everyday costs of raising 2 kids are without any of the extras. So he doesn't contribute and I've just gotten used to not expecting that he ever will. But... now he wants me to let him claim the girls on his taxes this year. I truly feel bad that he's going through such financial dire straits right now but... I really can't even believe he'd ask. I said, I'm sorry, I really am, but I can't do it. I use my tax return basically as income... I divvy it up over the 12 months and it's what enables me to make ends meet, for the most part, and that includes paying for extras for the girls and their medical bills. I knew as soon as I said it, that things were about to change.
When he picked the girls up that afternoon he was short with me, rushed the girls out of the house, and wouldn't talk at all. Then I got a few short texts later that evening and the next morning regarding how the girls were doing (they were still sick that day... the one thing he did actually say to me when he picked the girls up was to ask if I would give him my children's Motrin so he could give that to them that night without having to buy any....).
So anyway back to the girlfriend. Here's how I found out they broke up. After the girls got home Saturday afternoon I asked them what they did at daddys. At this point Olivia burst into tears because daddy told her that girlfriend had gone into the woods and a wolf asked her to go with him and she decided that she would go with him so now she was with a wolf and what if he was eating her? Um, I'm sorry, what? She was inconsolable worried about girlfriend. I convinced her that she wasn't with a wolf and that she was fine but all I could think was, what in the H did he tell these girls??
I called him to ask when the girls were in the kitchen having a snack. He explained that he didn't mean to scare them... they had just been asking questions for the past few weeks and he realized that it was over for good and he was going to have to tell them something. So he tried to put it into Disney terms. Seriously. That's what he said. I said, um... whatever. Liv is really scared for girlfriend, I'll explain to them that she won't be around anymore, and that she is not, in fact, being eaten by a wolf. Thanks, he said.
Fast forward to today. He called again to ask if he could at least claim one of the girls on his taxes because he really needed to buy a car and he wasn't sure how else he could do it. I couldn't talk when he called, we were in the middle of homework and the baby was crying about something. He got pretty upset then that I couldn't talk about it and hung up. And I was left there thinking, am I wrong? Should I be helping him out and letting him do this? I swear if I were in the position to do so I would help him, even though he's a big part of the reason that I have been dealing with credit card and credit issues for the past 4 years. I would do it. But I just can't. I mean, my van is 9 years old with 150K miles on it. I need a new one badly but there's no room in the budge for a car payment right now. Last year it needed over $1500 in repairs, over half of which my parents lent me so I could keep it in good running condition... but let's be honest... it could die any minute and then I'm without a vehicle and I'm the full time caregiver for 3 young children. Plus... I mean, seriously!?
In any case... now he's angry, and I'm reluctant to have things go back to the way things were. But I'm sure I will have lots more to tell on this issue in the coming weeks... stay tuned... LOL
By way of Living My Best Life today... I basically spent all of my free time today researching ADHD and side effects of both the disease and the medications used to treat it, and education options for my daughter as I try to figure out what will be the best way to ensure she gets the best help she can get while she deals with what is clearly a pretty severe case of the awful thing. Part of Living My Best Life for this year entails making her life better and helping to give her the tools she needs to succeed and handle this disease. There is a lot going on with that right now... I may blog about that more later once I decide on any possible new course of action.