Friday, June 23, 2006

walk through the park

It's been a rough week, mainly due to the unreasonable behavior of my child's father. Although he neither pays child support nor has any legal custody whatsoever, it has always been my policy to treat him with respect and to allow him to see the child whenever he wants to. I am being quite sincere when I say that I have treated the man amazingly well; better than he deserved, in fact.

Instead of gratitude, he regards me with utter disdain. I have never understood that. I am unaccustomed to being the target of anyone's hatred.

Threatening to "take me to court", he bullied me into letting him have the child this weekend, Friday through Sunday, and he is demanding the same every second weekend, plus every Wednesday night, until the child turns 18. I have been advised in the past, by the city's best domestic attorneys, to do everything I can to stay out of court because any father (short of a convicted murderer) will be perceived as a hero by the court if he asks to see his child. Yes, he'd have to start paying child support, but my sole concern is limiting my child's exposure to a man whom I consider a poor influence. Until now, the two had spent only a few hours per week together. I was OK with that.

I have an appointment set up with another lawyer this coming week. Perhaps court is the only way to go at this point.

Meanwhile, the father picked up my child at 5pm today (Friday). As I said goodbye to my little boy, I asked him to call me tonight and tomorrow night before he goes to bed. His father roared, "HE'S NOT CALLING YOU, AND YOU'RE NOT CALLING HIM! YOU'RE SICK!!!" I said that any mother would expect to speak on the phone to her young child away from home, and he bellowed,"YOU'RE WRONG!!! YOU'RE FUCKING CRAZY!"

Of course, as he sped off with my little son, I very seriously questioned whether I should have allowed the visit. The child has been safe with him in the past, and that's why I gave in. Once I speak to the lawyer about recent events, I'll know how to proceed from now on. But this weekend must be endured somehow.

At the suggestion of friend TA, who assured me by telephone that both Betty and son would survive this weekend, I took a "meditation walk" in the rose garden outside of my house. In other words, I tried not to march like a bat out of hell, but rather to stroll, like a peaceful, aware wanderer.

There were many people to be avoided- that was my initial goal. I wanted to be alone- quite a challenge on a pleasantly cool evening amongst the roses.

I happened upon a wedding rehearsal. Curious, I observed the participants. The people appeared calm, reverent and supportive. Why can't people just be that way all the time, I wondered? Tears clouded my vision.

Then I thought of my own history. I've never been married. What is it about me that has deemed marriage elusive? And what is it about me that attracts people like the child's father into my life?

I left the questions at the altar and continued on toward the casting pond. I passed a family: mother, tiny son and father. The father looked at me as if I were the most important person on the face of this earth, as he smiled and nodded at me. Again, tears erupted.

It reminded me of a story I had read about a young man who was deeply depressed. He jumped off a bridge to his death. At the site from which he had jumped, a note was found which he had written. It said, "I'm on my way to commit suicide because I feel so alone. But if anyone smiles at me during my walk to the bridge, I will not jump off."

Lest I alarm my readers, I am not suicidal. But I am awed by the stark contrast between my child's father's hatred of me and this stranger's display of unearned, unconditional love.

Then, as I meandered back home, I thought of the little dog who had so graced my life. This was the same route my child and I had followed with our Chihuahua the night our dog was killed by another dog in the park. I re-experienced in my mind our dog's complete and utter jubilant exuberance. Again, tears, as I thanked our departed dog for the consolation in absentia, and the reminder of what life can be.


Sideways Chica said...

Dear rhyme or reason, which is so often the case in such matters. I know money is not a primary factor here, but he would also have to pay all of the back child support. Having said that have the upper hand. Often when someone does not want to pay up, they disappear into the woodwork. At what cost to the child then comes to mind. Limited exposure, a lot of exposure, or no exposure with his father. Hard to say what is best, as you wear your shoes and I wear mine...but I have witnessed many friends go through this, including the opposite in my own situation.

I do know one thing for sure...the best defense is a good offense. Seems as if this is what the father of the child has implemented from his play book. He wants you to think he has you over the metaphorical barrel...when in reality, you - the mother - has ultimate control.

I am glad you are writing about this and the little chalupa yapper. Please know that I am always around for you.

I guess I should have included another duck in last week's article..."Deadbeat Duck," comes to mind. ;)

Ciao bella...hugs to you and the child.

Sideways Chica said...

P.S. I knew you posted this morning before I came by... ;)

Anonymous said...

You only owe your child and yourself. Men like the father rarely have the stuffings to own up to their responsibilities by pursuing legal avenues, preferring to bully and whine or puff up their ugly chests to get their way with sweet peaceable people.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, and here is your smile.

Shankari said...

Dear Betty,

At times all it takes is a random smile from a stranger or unexpected respect or reassurance that has us crumble at the otherwise graceless experiences we are occasionally subjected to. Enjoy these graces and let them enrich you- seek them out and glory in them, as everything is so fleeting- the graces and their lack too.

Glad you are able to talk about the little Chihuahua. He is in my thoughts each time I run into a lovable dog.



Betty said...

Dear Teri,

Thank you for knowing that I had posted! Most of my former readers probably think I've abandoned my blog because I post so infrequently these days. I decided to go out on a limb and write about what's bothering me instead of continuing my silence.

And it paid off. I wouldn't have had your support and wisdom on this topic otherwise! I like your speculation that he might disappear into the woodwork.

Here's to Deadbeat Ducks Disappearing!!!!


Betty said...

Dear anonymous,

Thank you for that smile and for the insight which rings true.

Endless smiles,

Betty said...

Dear Shankari,

You're right- it makes sense to seize those fleeting graces and milk them for all they're worth. As in the case of the Chihuahua, sometimes the benefits last a very long time if we allow them to.


garnet david said...

This is one amazing post. Brava.

You convey your plight with elegance and grace. Any man worth anything will see your beauty and validity. Rest and remain continuously assured of that. Hold that thought... You are worth it.

"I left the questions at the altar and continued on toward the casting pond."

What a grogeous, poetic line. Music.


Betty said...

Dear TA,

I cherish your encouraging words.

Thank you,

Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
Encounters such as the one with your ex leave one exhausted, wondering if humanity and decency exist on earth....

Court is stressful. But with bullies, there's no other option. So say a prayer, take a deep breath, and do what feels right. For one, it sends the message that you're not afraid of him. And like Teri said, the thought of paying up might put him off for a long while.

Your thoughts so resonated with me when you talked of the stranger smiling at you. I too have had similar thoughts. And have come close to tears, wondering why someone I had thought of as "mine" couldn't be as kind.

Today I saw a small dashound puppy running about excitedly, and remembered your chico.

Take care.


Betty said...

Dear Priya,

Yes, I'm starting to see that it's very important for me to show my child's father that I'm not afraid of him. I'm strong enough now, I think, to take action for the first time. Just today I made that decision, and it's a great relief.

I'm flattered that you thought of my little chico!

Hugs and smiles,

Anonymous said...