Bad Impression

A few days ago my oldest daughter gave birth to a son. The back story and the fact I had become a grandpa before I was 40 is a different story. This is the story of what I saw when I first entered my daughter’s hospital room a couple of days after the birth of her son. I walk into the room, and my grandson is sleeping. I look into the be my daughter should be sleeping in, and there is her boyfriend curled up and passed out sleeping. My daughter was wandering around the room looking dead tired.

If I had a better relationship with my daughter, I would have told her that she should be in that bed, not her boyfriend. If I had a better relationship with her boyfriend, I would have woken him up and given him talking to. Just walking in gave me a sad impression of his character and their relationship. It may be just a small thing, but that first impression is walking in made me sad.

I did not want to raise a scene at the hospital even though I should have said something. My relationship with my daughter is tenuous at best, and I have no relationship with her boyfriend. I have been too distracted with other issues to do the extra work to build those relationships.  Of course, my daughter repeatedly chooses to run away and cut off contact with me unless she needed me for something.

I hope that I caught him on a rare occasion where he was not a gentleman and putting his girlfriend first. I would never dream of sleeping in the mother of my child’s bed. There was a couch he could have been in. I don’t care how tired I am I would have made sure the mother of my child was getting the rest she needed. Maybe I am a dying breed and what happened is what everyone else would have done. All I know is it took about five seconds for me to be sad for my daughter and how she was not but before his own comfort.

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From Foster to Adoption

Nothing gets your heart racing like a phone call late at night asking if you will take a child that was living in an active meth lab. He arrived silent and wide-eyed with a chicken nugget in his hand. After, about 30 minutes the social worker left a 20-month-old boy, a backpack, and a name that he did not know. He would not fall asleep; he kept getting out of bed screaming for his mom. No combination of his name or logical nicknames would work. He would just stare at you wide-eyed with his big blue eyes and curly blonde hair. In the morning, I opened his backpack, and he had the combination of two and a half outfits, none of which were his size. All he owned in the world did not fit him. A rocky start to a long two year and a half year journey from fostering to adoption. Looking back at the road to get to the termination of parental rights hearing I realized that my journey was not only stressful but an emotional journey. That first night I realized that fostering to adopt is not for the weak of heart or resolve.

Later the next day was the first meeting with the social workers, Children’s Division lawyers, and foster parents. The only good thing to come out of this meeting was to learn that the boy answered to JJ. What was discovered in that meeting and over the next few months was hard to take. Blood work came back on JJ, and he was anemic and malnourished. He had night terrors from the unnamed abuse that he had received at the hands of his parents. Anytime one of my children would go into a closet to grab a coat he would freak out. His biological parents had locked him in closets. He had food insecurities, and he would scream if he got hungry, snack food was put in his room so he could see that there was food in the house. Quickly, it became apparent that his parents were far from worthy of being in charge of anything let alone a child.

There were weekly, one hour long, supervised visits at the Children’s Division. After a few months, the parents stopped showing up more and more. JJ’s mom had a total of three children that she had lost custody of and JJ’s father had lost custody of eight children. His mom had been ordered a to undergo a psychological evaluation. The evaluation came back and stated that the only way that his mom should have custody of any of her children is if she had someone with her 24 hours a day supervising her. She also was deemed to have an IQ of 76. JJ’s father stopped coming to visits because he had warrants out for his arrest. He thought that running from his crimes would eventually help him get his children back. All this time JJ’s mom started showing. She was pregnant with her fourth child. Then she disappeared. Despite their lack of parenting skills, we still had to work within the system.

The phone rang at 11 pm, JJ’s mom had been found. She had tried to flee the county trying to avoid the Children’s Division. She gave the hospital a false address, the doctors became suspicious and informed the Children’s Division about the birth so that the newborn could be brought into the system. I was contacted and asked if I wanted to pick up JJ’s little brother and bring him home too. Without hesitation, I agreed to take him. I drove to Walmart to buy a car seat, and then I drove the almost two hours to pick up JJ’s little brother, we called him Joe. As I was putting him in his new car seat, security walked over to his mom’s room and informed her that I was taking him with me. Now we had two jurisdictions to deal with because neither county wanted to relinquish their case. Thankfully the visits as infrequent as they were, got to be held at the Children’s Division closest to our house, only about 25 minutes away.

I am not sure what was harder, taking the boys to the weekly visits that rarely happened or forcing JJ to talk to his mom on the phone because one of her lawyers got the judge to approve weekly phone calls on top of the visits. I started recording the phone calls because JJ did not want to talk to his mom. I did not want the court to rule against us because some of the phone conversations were only a few seconds long. As soon as JJ said he did not want to talk anymore, we hung up. I lived each week in fear that the court would rule for longer and longer visits. It had happened in a previous placement. (Despite no one thinking that the mom should have increased visits the judge ruled that she went from supervised one-hour visits to eight hours minimally supervised visits). These things were hard but were nothing compared to the court dates and termination hearings.

I never knew what would happen at a hearing and that very unknown weighed heavily on me. The hearings were so intense; the dad had a lawyer, the kids had a lawyer, the Children’s Division had two lawyers, the mom had one lawyer to look out for her best interests because of her diminished mental capacity and one to plead her case. Then there were the social workers and their supervisor, and the foster parents all in a small courtroom.  In the county that would hear JJ’s case, Judge Darryl Missey was known for taking the side of the biological parents no matter what. I had a friend that should have had an open and shut termination hearing, and it took Judge Missey six weeks to decide in my friends’ favor. In Joe’s court was Judge Maria Martinez and she personified the idea that the family court judge was the ruler of all. Termination hearing after termination hearing was scheduled and rescheduled. They were on the docket for two full days. Just sitting in the court for an hour or two was intense and trying. I could not imagine how hard it would be to sit for 16 hours over two days and watch another fight for the right for me to eventually adopt these boys. Finally, that was about to come to an end.

Joe’s termination hearing was first. I could not sleep the night before the hearing. We dressed up in our best clothes and waited as each second that moved closer to the hearing caused my heart to tighten because of the unknown. All I could do was hope for the best and preparing for the worst. In the courtroom, I was a nervous wreck. Their dad that had been missing for months had been in the county jail all along. He was there and able to plead his case. Their mom never showed, but this time she had three lawyers. I was so scared that the court would rule for the biological family and Joe who had only lived with me was going to end up going back to a horrible situation. I started to feel a little better about our chances when I realized that one of the lawyers that were supposed to be fighting in their mom’s favor was subtlety asking questions that were basically tanking their case. Within seconds of closing arguments, Judge Martinez ruled in our favor. Parental rights of the parents were terminated, and Joe was free to be adopted. Six weeks later was the termination hearing to sever the parental rights to JJ.  The Lead lawyer for the Children’s Division met us outside of the courtroom. My heart sunk for a moment. I was sure he was going to tell me the trial had been delayed or something worse. Instead, he smiled. JJ’s mom had relinquished her parental rights voluntarily. There would be no fight. It was all a formality. By the end of the day, the parental rights to JJ had been severed.

Adoption day is more than just the culmination of years of pressure, time and money spent, or a name change. It is the day that the judge makes you stand up and swear that this child will be loved and treated as if they were of my blood. I had to swear that I understood that what I had they would inherit. I understood that their birth certificate was changed so that in the eyes of everyone they had always been my child. Throughout the entire process, I was just a placeholder. I felt the weight of the world and tried to love a child as if they were going to be mine forever, knowing that at any moment they could be removed from my house. Adoption day changes that fear and pressure because they are mine. Leaving that courtroom there is a freedom that is impossible to explain, but it is instantaneous. Now, the pressure is no longer lawyers, court dates, and fear but the simple stresses of parenthood. My kids may have become mine through a nontraditional route, but they did become mine.

My HeartWeeps

I was not prepared for the phone call I got Wednesday night. A police officer called my cell phone asking for my home address. (I was not at home.) My Daughter had told some of her friends online that she was going to hurt herself. I rushed home and met two police officers in front of my apartment. When we entered my daughter was nowhere to be found.

My heart sank.

I had no idea where she would be. I had no idea what she had done. They searched her room looking for clues. My only suggestion was that she might be across the street at a park. More police came and looked for her. A few minutes later I heard over their radio that she was found in a building. she was incoherent and only semi-conscious. It was estimated that she took upwards to 150 ibuprofen. There was no telling what else she had taken. She acted like she was stoned out of her mind. She refused to admit she had taken anything else.

She could not even stand she was so out of it. She was put on a cart and put in an ambulance. In the emergency room, she was virtually unresponsive. She quickly lost the ability to answer any of the questions asked of her by the police, nurse, or doctor. She had four blood tests and all turned up negative for alcohol and drugs. It was as if her brain could no longer function under the weight in which it had been under and she cracked.

Finally about four in the morning she started to rustle around and appeared to be on her way to becoming coherent. At about seven she was taken over to be evaluated by behavior health. By two in the afternoon she was admitted into a locked psychiatric facility, about 16 hours after we got to the hospital.

Through all of this, I discovered things my daughter had been hiding from me. Things that no one should have to bear alone and yet she had tried. My heart hurts knowing now what I know. I love my daughter. I love her more today than I did yesterday and probably not as much as I will tomorrow. She has a long road to walk.

We have a long road to walk, together. She will know that I love her. That she will never doubt.

Erase or Reflect

Life happened, I know it did. I was married for more than a decade and I have the pictures, gifts, and general stuff to prove it. My problem is I don’t want any of it. I try to balance saving things for my kids to make sure they can have things passed down to them. But the reality is I do not look upon any of my marriage with a smile, fondness, joy, or any other emotion worthy of reflection. I miss having someone to call in a moment of excitement or sadness. I do not miss her. It wasn’t always that way. I did not want a divorce, I tried to work things out even though I knew while we were having meetings trying to work things out she was actively having an affair.

I constantly am trying to balance erasing evidence of my marriage and trying to reflect on the good times we had. Two days ago I deleted more than 14 gigs of photos. Entire vacations were erased with a few clicks of the mouse. Repeated warnings asking me if I wanted to erase the pictures made me question my actions. Then as quick as that they were g0ne.

I don’t feel anger, desire, or fondness towards my es or my memories. I do feel shame and sadness. I honestly don’t dwell on what was yet I do remember from time to time. I have decided to continue to walk the balance because I do not want to lose the man I am becoming  by erasing entirely what was.

My Year

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I recently had my birthday and I reflected upon my last year. I realized that it was most definitely a good thing that I did not send out one of those year end family newsletters. I sit here drinking beer and eating my kids’ goldfish crackers and it becomes clear that my year was a doozie and not in a good way.

In no particular order 10 things from my last year

1.My oldest daughter miscarried

2. My middle daughter was hospitalized for failing kidneys. She also had two STDs

3. I had to put my dog down.

4. I got officially and legally divorced

5. Oldest daughter got pregnant again

6. 20th high school reunion

7. Middle daughter ran away

8. Youngest daughter moved in with me

9. Ex wife’s boyfriend (dude she had the affair with) “rents” her basement

10. My spirit has broken

Maybe this year I will remember who I am and rediscover the things that give me joy. Who am I kidding? I am doing this whole adventure thing completely wrong. If I try hard enough maybe I will figure this new life out.

 

 

Thankful for the Dry spell

Don’t tell anyone that I am admitting this but I am very thankful for my current dating dry spell. In full disclosure, my dry spell is not being done willingly and if I thought I could end it tonight I would. It has been about two months since my last date and maybe two weeks since I last was seriously chatting with someone to possibly go on a date with. The last date halfway through she told me that so far she had not gone on any first dates that she wanted to have a second date with. That felt nice knowing right then and there.

I am thankful because while going on dates is nice and helps me get comfortable and back into the dating game it is also expensive and time-consuming.  I am thankful because I have gone from just wanting to get out there and participating to now having a better idea of who I want to spend my time and money on. I am thankful because I have worked through the desire to just fuck anything that moves to wanting a friend to spend time with. I know if I was better looking I would have gone crazy and tried to have lots of meaningless sex. But we all know sex isn’t meaningless and that is not who I am.

I am thankful for the dry spell because it is making me a better person. I am rediscovering who I am. I am discovering who I should be. While I would be happy for the dry spell to be over and I feel like I am ready for a relationship I am glad I am being forced to take it slow. I am doing my best to prepare myself so that when my times come I am the best version of myself.

Facebook Official

I was going through my facebook feed the day after Christmas. It was a great chance to see all the fun things people did while I was home alone. It was fun to see all the smiles and family time. It was heart warming reading all the Christmas greetings from my friends. Then. I. Saw. It. A picture of my kids with my ex and her boyfriend at his mom’s house. I felt a little pang that they get to build these memories and I miss out. While I was still ruminating over the picture, I saw what I had been expecting for months. Even expecting it does not stop the sucker punch to the belly.

My ex and her boyfriend have become facebook official. Now the whole world knows that she is in a relationship. What they don’t know is that they both choose to rip apart existing marriages to fulfill their initial lust and then relationship. I felt many many emotions as I looked at the picture of them together, smiling. As I looked and saw the comments about how happy she looks, how great her hair is, and how they make a cute couple. These are people that have never asked what happened to me. They have never bothered to tell her that her vows said before God meant something. Nope, just words of praise.

None of the emotions I felt were of regret, envy, or wishing I was there. I felt sadness. I was sad because I was reminded once again that my kids have to pay for our decisions. Sad that the kids have to be shuttled back and forth and feel our uncomfortableness. I felt jealousy of even having a relationship. Having that person to be with, of course those feeling hit harder because I was by myself for the second straight day. The overriding feeling that I felt though was foolishness. I had been made a fool during the last year of the marriage. She was showing the world her status in life but to me it was her advertising my failure, rejection and lies I had been told.

I have no desire to get back with her, in fact just seeing her my stomach turns. I just feel like I am stuck and she got her fantasy. I know I can not compare her life to mine. Even knowing that I am a little jealous that she can show the world she has moved on and I get to have Christmas alone and take selfies because there is no one around to hold my camera.

The name should have been a clue

When it comes to profile names on dating sites I typically just use a common nickname I have. I have always figured a simpler profile name the better. Women seem to be a bit more colorful and imaginative with their profile names. For instance on Christian Mingle they will use names like DaughterofGod17. Sometimes I will comment on the names when I message them.

Then I came across a name that I should have realized was a big clue. Her name is Batshitcrazy (with a number at the end.) I have not even gone on a date with her. It seems she likes to play games and and drag things out. As time has gone on she has lived up to her name.

She has called and or texted me in the middle of the night and told me she is angry. When I try to talk to her and ask why she just apologizes and won’t answer. She will just spend the next hour or two sending texts saying she is sorry.

Then she will text me and ask me what is wrong and when I tell her nothing, which is the truth she never believes me and for the next day or two she repeatedly texts and insists I tell her what is wrong. By that point the only thing that is the matter is her insisting I tell her what is the matter.

The final thing is when she told me that her dad and ONE of her ex husbands got into a fight in her front yard. Her dad knocked out one of his teeth. Last I heard they were both pressing charges.

Yes, I should have clued in on this train wreck. Maybe next time.

I will not repeat History

I am divorced, my marriage failed and I have to own that. Since my divorce I have done much soul searching. Seeing what I put up with, accounting for my failures. Knowing myself better. Wanting to bring the best of me to my next date, and not just assume I am a great catch. I don’t want to change the core of who I am but to strengthen that. I do want to change the crap I do that I don’t need to do. Those things that I can and should change.

One of my problems is time escapes me. I don’t intentionally ignore or neglect but sometimes I think maybe a day or two has gone by since I said something nice. Really, I don’t notice the time slipping by. I try to be aware of this and over do things just to compensate for this. I bring this up to explain my latest adventure.

I had gone on a few dates with a woman. We went on two dates the first week, because I was going on a two week vacation. In the two weeks I got back we went on one date a week. So in approximately five weeks of knowing her, with two weeks being on vacation, we went on four dates.

Fast forward to the last date. The fourth date, the one where the conversation starts about if it is a fit, or what are we doing. You know, the labeling conversation. She asked me a great question. “If I was ready to have a relationship.” I told her I was, that I had worked through my divorce, that I wasn’t harboring anger or mistrust, and that my kids were also ready for me to date.

She said she wasn’t so sure, that she felt I hadn’t made her a priority and that one date a week wasn’t showing that she was a priority. I told her I disagreed, that I was also trying to respect her family time and not assume that we needed to spend every possible second with each other. I told her that if she was wanting more contact and more time that I could do that, now that I knew that was a need for her.

That night I texted her hoping that the stuff she had planned the next day went well. In the morning I texted her and again wished her the best of luck, then that evening I told her I hoped her day had gone well. After about 14 hours from my first morning text she finally texted me back. The next day I texted her a few times about my son’s upcoming birthday and a few other things. This time it took her a full day to respond. I texted her again about something. She took three days to respond and her response was her new job and running training schedule was kicking her butt. I told her I understood and typed something else. A week has gone by and I haven’t heard from her.

I don’t play games. Don’t tell me you don’t have time for you when we are going on a date a week. I work full time and have a half dozen kids. She was a consultant and then got a job with normal hours and runs. Yet somehow that is okay but my reasons were that I just wasn’t ready for a relationship. Don’t tell me you want me to give you more of my time and then ignore me as I do that.

When I was trying to save my marriage my wife told me that I would be the only one trying. So maybe I am over reacting to my past but I don’t need to be made to feel inadequate again. I am working on myself and striving to be a man worthy of someone’s heart. But I won’t fall into old traps and somehow be the one that messed up this time.

 

So this happened……

A few months ago I was supposed to go on a lunch date with a woman. I showed up at the agreed upon time and place. She wasn’t there. I texted her to let her know I was there and no big hurry on her part. She texted me back and said she had over slept (she worked an overnight) and would get ready and then come. Throughout her getting ready we we texting back and forth as I waited. Eventually, she texted that she was about five minutes away.

I waited……and waited…….and waited…..and those five minutes came and went. Fifteen minutes, then 30, then an hour and finally an hour and a half. She never showed. I was crushed not because I had high hopes for the date but because the only solution I could think of was that she had taken a look at me and drove a way. I texted her after an hour and 45 minutes that I was giving up and going home.

I told you that story so I could tell you this story…..

I had a lunch date with a different woman, she actually showed. It was a very nice date at The Cheesecake Factory. In the course of the conversation we talked about dating again and I relayed the above story to her. She told me how horrible that was and how she would NEVER do anything like that. After, a great lunch we decided to go for a little walk enjoying a beautiful day and making the date last a little longer. We eventually went our separate ways.

A week or two later we talked about having another date. We wanted to do something really fun. She suggested we go to a dollar theater and sneak alcohol in. It seemed like a good idea so we finalized plans and met at the theater. About a half an hour in she got up to smoke a cigarette. Then at about an hour into the movie she went to the bathroom. She never came back. After the movie was over, a little more than an hour after she went to the bathroom I went out to the parking lot and looked for her SUV. She was gone, obviously. I texted that I noticed her car was gone and that I hope she got home safely. I am yet to hear from her.

Dating is hard enough. I have enough issues but these things just kill what was left of any self esteem. I didn’t even try to get a date for a few months after this. I laugh about the two experiences now. I have no choice. I have enough other shitty things to get me down in my life. I truly view these things as an adventure and a wild ride. I just hope that it takes me somwhere instead of just heartache and laughter.