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Feeling burned out

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I don't know where this goes, and my mind isn't clear right now, so please excuse the bad grammar, missed words, etc...

My ex and I have 50/50. Everytime my dd comes home I get so overwhelmed... The baby is crying right now, and I can't even look at her I am so stressed. DD1 just wont shut up... I can't do anything because she follows me like a shadow, and I just yelled at her, so she is crying too... She gives me a running dialogue of what is happening... I'm making the baby a bottle, and she is repeating the baby is crying, the baby is crying, the baby is crying... She is nearly 4 years old, and has had 4 'accidents' today. Everytime she tells me, i don't want to be a bad girl anymore... She is whispering to herself right now, i want my daddy, I don't want to be here, i don't like this place... I never tell her she is bad, or good for that matter, we don't talk like that here. I just need space to take care of both of them, and she is right in my path all the time.

I am an artist, and I work by drawing... She wants to scribble out everything that I am in the process of... It ruins my work, and she cannot do it, but when I tell her no, she crys and says that i make her sad. I gave her paper to draw on, and she just told me I just want to scratch out all that crap!!! where does that even come into context with her? To my ex, my work was always 'crap' but she was way too young to remember hearing him talk about my work like that... I can't win. She is so clingy and needy when she is here, but she always wants to be with him... She wants me and him at the same time, which isn't going to happen. She never wants to leave to go with him, and she never wants to leave to come with me... If she is with him and she ever wanted me, he wouldn't tell me, because that would be admiting defeat. He has always tried to teach her that she doesn't need anyone but him and his dog... yep, he tells her the dog is her mama at his house... And he is NEVER going to date again because his girls are all he needs in women... (again, DD and the dog) There is never anything that happens at his house that I am told of. He says she is always perfect, and there is nothing that we need to work on together, she only has issues with me. I don't believe that for a second, but there is no way to go about working on it when he doesn't admit that there is a problem.

I am at the end of my rope right now, and I don't know what to do or where to turn. My mom has her a lot of weekends when he works, and right now I have her Sunday thru Wednesday, so though we share custody, he will have her only one day this week... That isn't the way it works every week, but that is not unheard of either. I am even taking her on thursday so he can work, bringing her to my mom on fri and sat, and bringing her home with me sunday. The baby is going to my mom too, because I NEED to get some work done! I have not been able to do anything, and I have 3 commissions to work on (money that we desperately need,) and I am so far behind deadline on one of them that I am going to have to drastically reduce my price.

My ex wants me to tell him how much money I make every month, and then give him CS based on the differences in our income, but only if I make more than him. I had a miscarriage two weeks ago, and in May I made NO money, and he doesn't want it to work like that, only have it even out when I make more money... "For DD's benefit."

He takes and takes and takes from everyone, and never gives in return, and I see it in her... I am beginning to see this sense of entitlement in her. We have no TV, and she screams for TV shows at particular times during the day... Upsetting the baby and I think that is the point.

anyone have any advice?
post #2 of 17
Your 4yo needs her Mommy. And honestly? I think you need to re-prioritize. What I see is a child who feels like she is always in your way and a burden to you. No matter what happens when she's at her Dad's - no child deserves that.

Put your drawings away when she is with you. Or make some that it's okay for her to HELP you with. Make her proud of them by putting them on the wall, the fridge, over your bed, on the bathroom mirror. Tell her how much you love her. Involve her in helping with the baby. Make her feel as thought she's important and she matters in the family the three of you share. Because right now? She doesn't.
post #3 of 17

Obviously, I can't say anything to fix this. Your ex is who he is and that won't change. Your daughter is little and insecure and sad. You are tired, stressed and recovering from something that is incredibly hormonally bewildering (I've been there), not to mention the emotional aspects! Be forgiving of yourself for your impatience with your daughter. No one could blame you for it, given the circumstances. If you can try to be gentle with yourself - and let yourself lean on your mother right now, if she's willing - perhaps you'll be able to be more understanding of your daughter. She doesn't realize how she comes across to you or how she makes you feel. She's just following the impulses that strike her. And plenty of 4-year-old girls are self-centered drama queens. It's very characteristic of that age. That doesn't mean she's adopted your ex's personality, or that she'll always be like this. The more you move toward security in your life, the better she'll feel and act around you. When she talks to herself about not wanting to be at your place, just pick her up and hug her. Tell her you don't want her to feel like that and that you do want her there, but that you're tired and sad and you're sorry you snapped at her. Tell her you love her. Hugging your children - even when at first you're not really in the mood - almost always makes you feel better.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
My 4 year old has her mama... Only my 4 year old has her mama... Which is why I prefaced my post by saying I had to let the baby CIO. I don't know what you do, but in my home there isn't this perfect little fairytale where mommy is the house wife and raises the babies and daddy brings home money for everybody... Doesn't work like that... I can't "put up" wall-sized pieces of art... Wouldn't it be great if we had a big 'ol house and I had a studio where I could keep them... hell yeah, but that isn't happening any time soon either.

It is ok for her to help me with some art... that isn't the point... The point is that my four year old is swearing and her goal isn't to create, it is to destruct my "crap." That wouldn't be alarming to you?

Where do you get that my daughter doesn't matter? What did I say that in any way shades my daughters worth in my family? Because if anything, it would seem like the baby doesn't matter as little attention as we are able to give her... We focus 95% of our attention on our older daughter. We do not have any negative reinforcement here... The whole reason I posted was because I yelled at her and shocked myself and her into crying...

I'm burned out over giving one person in my 4 person family nearly all of my attention and I need to re-prioritize and give her more attention? How? What should I cut down on? What should go undone to give more of myself to my daughter? God knows I haven't done housework since she was last with her father. I never do... I don't have time. Surely there are parents with 4 year old who have the ability to do basic things like wash dishes... Not here... I turn my attention off of her for a second and she is distraught. What is a burden to me is having a sweet little girl who takes so much pleasure in making her sister cry, or ripping books apart, or ruining 30 hours worth of art work, or putting plastic bags over the cat's head because I said it would kill the cat...

And by the way, what parent DOESN'T put their kids art work all over the walls? I mean really? I don't think I could name one, even the worst parents that I know...
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you Jeannine... I am at a really rough place over the miscarriages... This is my second in 4 months, and I swear it has been hell. I hadn't told anyone yet this time... I was 10 weeks, so my mom doesn't even know. It was too hard tell everyone after the first one. But being my mom, she does know that something is up and that I need help. I am trying so hard right now with my big girl, I just am about to snap. She doesn't get it, and I don't know how to get back to a place where I get it even...
post #6 of 17
A few things.

At your child's age, I don't see anything wrong with 50/50. Granted, by that time we had week on/week off, and I think that helped, but 50/50 can work well at that age.

This does mean that you have to make the best of the time that you have with your DD. If you work at an easel, you may have to set one up right next to you for her. Make your art a together thing.

I don't see anything wrong with your ex inquiring about your income WRT CS. In a 50/50 situation, often CS isn't paid (DH does pay in our case). Your income should be compared to his over the course of a year, then CS should be determined (DH and DSD's mom have the right to see each other's tax returns). In our state, even with 50/50, the parent that makes more pays CS. Things should be fair.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
We couldn't work taxes out like that because last year, though I made over $10,000, It all came in within 4 months. I only work on commission and barter, meaning I don't just paint and draw all the time and then show my work at galleries. Many commissions take several weeks to complete, and I don't have time to go above and beyond right now. My ex made significantly more than I did last year, he just misses the large lump sums of money that would come in a few times a year. He doesn't want me to get a regular CS check, he just wants a portion of my money if I had a month where I made $5,000... He won't take into account the 4 previous months where I made nothing. The part that bothers me is that he only wants to talk about child support during the months where we have a little extra. I only ask for 10% to start a piece, so when I am done with tons of work, I get 90% of my pay. I think its unfair to us to have to pay him those months, even though I don't want to take his money the months I am not bringing anything in. He isn't inquiring to make it fair.
post #8 of 17
OK, here is some good news. You think you are having a major issue with your dd, but I would guess that at least half of it is the anger and resentment you feel towards your ex for all the "taking" he's been getting away with. You can intuit that he's doing things like telling dd that your art is "crap," and it is making you crazy because you haven't resolved the custody/cs situation and the emotional boundaries yet.

Look, if you made $10,000 last year, then there's no way in heck you should be paying cs to somebody who made more. If your mother watches your dd (for free!) during your ex's parenting time on a regular basis, then physical custody is not truly 50/50 and the legal arrangements should reflect that. And for heaven's sake, don't turn over a scrap of financial information that hasn't been formally requested by a court.

If you want to make this better, go to mediation (or back to court) and try for a custody/cs arrangement that reflects reality. Even if you don't get a modification, you'll have called him on his behavior, and established a new boundary in the relationship.

Then don't talk about whatever challenges you are having with dd during your parenting time. That's your family issue, and he's not in your family. In fact, don't talk about ANYTHING that's not a straight-up logistical issue. That sick little factoid about your dd and the dog being all the woman your ex needs in his life? You shouldn't know that. That's the kind of remark that comes out in the course of a conversation that you shouldn't be having with a man who you've decided is dishonest and a taker.

When YOU can draw the line between his house and your house and make your house a place where the emotional conflict doesn't enter in, your dd will have a model for how to do that. And if you can get a cs payment that reflects reality, you might have a little less financial stress.

And don't worry about the baby. The baby is not dealing with living two separate lives, one of them with manipulative weirdo. Nurse her, hold her, love her, avoid CIO if you can, but your MENTAL focus is rightly on your toddler. She is at a more vulnerable place right now, and she needs you to be a source of strength and peace. (Easier said than done, huh?)

post #9 of 17
for Smithie! I agree with everything she says! I'm sorry you're dealing with this Mama.
post #10 of 17
Originally Posted by makinganescape View Post
My ex wants me to tell him how much money I make every month, and then give him CS based on the differences in our income, but only if I make more than him.
He doesn't want me to get a regular CS check, he just wants a portion of my money if I had a month where I made $5,000... He won't take into account the 4 previous months where I made nothing. The part that bothers me is that he only wants to talk about child support during the months where we have a little extra.
I think its unfair to us to have to pay him those months, even though I don't want to take his money the months I am not bringing anything in.
That may be what he wants but it doesn't work that way. If he wants CS from you he needs to file for it. You don't HAVE to pay him anything unless it is court ordered. I would be shocked if he got anything from you based on your last years income. And how does he know about the months where you make more money?? I would really detach from this guy--normally I say restrict conversation to kids and finances.

In this case, I would say restrict it to scheduling. He has shown he is not doing you any favors with your daughter. By disengaging you give him less opportunity to say hurtful things. And why talk about finances unless there is court ordered CS? (Have you looked at getting CS since you made less money than him last year? Some states do it even with 50/50)

Your daughter sounds like an intense and very stressed child. She has a lot going on. I think 50/50 can be really hard when the parents don't get along--it can't be easy for her to hear or feel his attitude towards you. Add in a new baby and you having a high stress level... Can you do some play therapy for her?
post #11 of 17
Everybodies already said it on the cs stuff...I would go the legal route since it doesn't really seem like it's 50/50 with your x...maybe your mom...and your x may very well owe you. It's seems this poor little girl is living in 3 different homes and with 4 already being a tough stage I can't imagine what she's going through. Do you qualify for state health for her? Play therapy could be really helpful. I hear that you're really struggling and I've been there but I really encourage you to stop projecting your issues with her father onto her. I really have been there with that and it's hard....but it's not her fault.
post #12 of 17
Originally Posted by makinganescape View Post
We do not have any negative reinforcement here... girl who takes so much pleasure in making her sister cry, or ripping books apart, or ruining 30 hours worth of art work, or putting plastic bags over the cat's head because I said it would kill the cat...
I've been teaching pre-k in some capacity, on and off, for...OMG, so many years I can't count them.

Negative reinforcement would change your life!

I'm not talking spanking or anything a reasonable person could possibly construe as abusive. I mean calm, intentional negative consequences that will help your daughter learn there ARE expectations of her behavior; she CAN understand what they are; she CAN control herself (if not to make your life easier, then at least to avoid the negative consequences); and that her life will be happier, she will get better responses from people and she will feel more confident and proud of herself when she behaves properly.

Some of the sweetest, gentlest, nicest people I know enter parenthood with the aspiration of never punishing their children, never telling them no, always finding positive ways to guide them. You may not be quite to this extreme. But, when you felt that a PP was attacking you, you did feel it necessary to defend yourself by saying you don't use negative reinforcement. Well, every parent I've seen who's pledged no negative reinforcement - and stuck to it - wound up with preschoolers who had a harder time controlling their impulses than their peers and who were more demanding and less considerate of others. I'm not saying this to blame you, or add to your burdens!!!! Again, it's a kind, sweet parenting goal. It just isn't developmentally or psychologically appropriate for most preschoolers!

Your average 4-year-old is at a stage of life where they've gained mastery of some basic things (like toilet training) and are starting to feel confident, "big", bold and ready to take on life and test boundaries. Then the very next minute they feel overwhelmed by how big life is and how small they are and they worry about all the changes on the horizon and that gaining more independence will mean losing the comfort of Mommy. (Especially when Mommy and Daddy have split up, there's a new baby, Mommy seems like she's at her wit's end, etc...) Preschoolers want to see whether they can demand and manipulate their way into being in charge - of their family, their classroom, any environment they're in... but although they'll never admit this, they DON'T REALLY WANT TO SUCCEED. Let me emphasize this: THEY DON'T REALLY WANT YOU TO LET THEM CALL THE SHOTS. Because deep down they know they need the protection of bigger, older, more capable people... and if those people aren't strong enough to stand up to THEM, how can those people protect them from monsters, or skinned knees, or scary dogs, or nightmares, or anything else they're not ready to tackle yet?

You need to use the simplest, clearest language to explain to your daughter - consistently and as many times as you must - what the boundaries are, at your house. When she violates those, give consistent negative consequences. (Even as an adult, what motivates you more? The thought that something good might not happen, or the thought that something bad will happen?)

It may take a while to figure out what the best ones are. Every kid's different. Some kids will sit in Time Out if you tell them to, others will bounce out of the chair with their tongue stuck out and may need to be put in their room with the door shut. Some kids love the privacy of their room, but taking away a favorite toy - and putting it on top of the fridge or somewhere the child can see what they're missing - is a strong motivator.

It sounds like a key with this particular child will be finding some way of restraining her. I don't mean tying her down, of course!!!! But you can't have her jump up from Time Out and go destroy your painting from spite, because you walk away to change the baby's diaper. There needs to be a room (it'd be great if it weren't her bedroom, but it may have to be) where you remove anything she can destroy and where she can't get out until you say so. A 4-year-old can probably outsmart a baby gate, but a half-door with a lock or latch is a great way to enforce that a child may not come out without permission, but you can still see that she's safe and let her see you (and not feel like she's locked in a cell).

You'll also need to experiment with how long consequences last. Taking away a favorite toy, for example, shouldn't go on longer than a day, or she will feel it's gone on so long it's hopeless that she'll ever get her toy back and she'll lose the connection between her behavior and the consequence. But for some kids, an hour will do the trick. Time Out or being sent to her room needs to last at least several minutes. You don't want to enable her to throw on the cloak of good behavior the minute she's sent there, so she can exit immediately, then go right back to bad behavior as soon as she's released. But if she spends her 4 minutes of Time Out screaming and raging, there's no sense letting her out while she's still doing that. She needs to be calm enough to acknowledge why she was sent there.

Make sure you reinforce (again SIMPLY, briefly) WHY she's receiving the consequence - both before and after you give it to her. If she's receptive, also state briefly what the benefit would be, if she were behaving properly. "I was planning to play Chutes and Ladders with you. But now you've been mean to the baby, so I need to pay attention to her, instead. When you are nice again, I will pay attention to you."

Especially at first, you will feel really mean disciplining her and it will seem like it's not working - it's just making her more hysterical. Yes, because she wants to be in control, but you're taking control! Try to be as consistent as possible and not let on if you feel guilty. She needs to know you can outlast her. But if you find good consequences that motivate her, she will eventually learn to behave how she must, to avoid them most of the time. That's just human nature.
post #13 of 17
I absolutely agree that children, particularly children who are feeling anxious, need to know their parents are in charge so they can feel safe and secure. That said, for children who are already anxious and clingy, time out is likely to increase their anxiety. If your daughter's behavior stems from this anxiety (and kids can feel anxious for any number of reasons-- temperament, physiology, trauma (major or minor, past or present), environment...) then using forcible separation from you is likely to increase both the clinginess and the other challenging behaviors (like destructiveness).

I would instead opt for lots and lots of regular reassurance that you love her, that she is safe, that you are setting limits because you love her, that you can't let her hurt the baby because you love them both... I would probably do lots and lots of telling her what behavior you like, with things like "I love reading with you so we have to take care of our books. I'll be happy to read with you and help you treat the books gently." I would also give her words for the things she might be trying to say with her actions: "I can see you're angry that I'm not able to read with you. If you're feeling mad you can say..." "I can see you really want my attention, and you feel frustrated because I am nursing the baby. You can say 'I want a snuggle mommy' and I will give you a snuggle just as soon as I'm done feeding the baby." If you aren't sure what she needs you can give her choices: "I can't let you ruin mommy's work. Are you wanting to make your own art? Or are you feeling like making angry scribbles right now?" And I would try to give attention to her positive behavior at every single chance I got.

I think a good play therapist could be really, really helpful.
post #14 of 17
Originally Posted by makinganescape View Post
My ex made significantly more than I did last year, he just misses the large lump sums of money that would come in a few times a year. He doesn't want me to get a regular CS check, he just wants a portion of my money if I had a month where I made $5,000... He won't take into account the 4 previous months where I made nothing.
When DH and DSD's mom were figuring out CS arrangements, one of the clauses was that they were to exchange W2s. DSD's income that counts towards CS can be sporadic, like yours, so a W2 allows you to look at it over the course of a year.

If he made significantly more than you, in my state, he would be paying you CS, regardless of how the pay was divided over the year. In your case, just let him take you to court for money. He is not going to get anything from someone earning $10,000 a year.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Wow... I took a few days off from the internet.

First I want to address 50/50. I have NO ONE that would help me out on this issue. My entire family is so afraid of his kooky behavior that they would help him out rather than me. My family doesn't know what to do with someone like him. We talk things out, they do what they are going to do, and no one holds grudges against each other. Sure we have our problems, but we are a pretty close family, and we try to come to some sort of understanding. My ex, on the other hand, is always the "victim" of everyone else. He doesn't talk things out, and he is vindictive. If my family allowed me to say that we have her for more than 50% of the time, he would just "take her away from them." They do what he says, because they wouldn't see her otherwise. I don't like that at all, but no amount of talking will work it out. I really wanted to see her on my birthday, but it was HIS time, so he brought her to my moms house so he could work. So, I went to my moms to spend the day with her. I left that night, and he was going to come get her. Since I live two blocks from him, and my mom lives 45 minutes, I just brought her home with me, thinking he may be grateful that he didn't have to drive all the way out there. We told him in text messages before hand, but when he came to get her, he was FURIOUS... That was in October, and since then, everyone has been toeing the line.

I'm not afraid that he will get CS, I just don't like the manipulation that he uses on me. We have a pretty similar circle of friends, so he always knows what is going on. In Feb. he found out that I had moved out of the house with DP, and he insisted that I couldn't see my daughter until I got my life straight... Actually, that was right after my first miscarriage, and I was really upset about it, which was what cause the fight. It wasn't dangerous or unhealthy, I had never lost a baby before, and I didn't know how to wrap my head around it. He won't compromise, and everytime I get ahead, either financially or emotionally, he tries to bring me down. If I took him to court for child support, which I wouldn't do, and I won, he would make me pay for it.

I have tried to communicate through writing only, but he will not get an e-mail address. He swears that he would do whatever it takes to make the situation better, but I have to allow him to come up with a solution. He told me that. I set a bad precedent when we were together by allowing him to control me. I was young when we met, and he is 16 years older than me. I don't think that anything is wrong with that in general, since DP is 12 years older than me. Of course, 18 and 34 is much different than 26 and 38.

I know this was all over the place, and I want to say that tues and wed were much better since I didn't do anything but play at the park, and feed her the things she likes the most, etc. It also helped that DP was home and he's the fun one. They planted a garden together, and he pushed her in the stroller, (she wants to do anything that the baby does) way too fast for my liking. I got some time alone with the baby too. It was good. She is coming back tonight since ex has to work, and then tomorrow I am taking them both to my mom so I can clean my disaster of a house, and get some work done.

About the negative reinforcement thing... One of the things that I did when she was little was to make sure that I never raised my voice. I guess that is why I had to post the other day, I screamed at her, and I had never done that before. I scared myself. I don't want to lose control. I tell her when she does something I don't approve of. I don't like the idea of timeout because I don't think it teaches anything other than when I do xyz, no one wants me around. I have told her no much more than I have ever wanted to, but I try not to be a meanie. I have not taken toys away, but I may have to start that. She doesn't have a favorite. She likes to read and write. She loves anything that the baby is already playing with. I have been so frustrated with her that I have stopped her from doing something she was really enjoying... Like, she was splashing water in my face so I made her get out of the tub. I feel like such a novice, but I have been doing it for nearly four years now.
post #16 of 17
Originally Posted by makinganescape View Post
About the negative reinforcement thing... I don't like the idea of timeout because I don't think it teaches anything other than when I do xyz, no one wants me around.
Certainly, you needn't do Time Out if you don't want to. But you might consider that one of the things we all learn in life is that when we behave badly even people who love us don't want to be around us. It's one of the quintessential things that helps us learn self-control.

When I send a preschooler away from Circle Time, I often say something like, "I've warned you twice about kicking the kids next to you. Now I have to make you leave the Circle. When I invite you back in five minutes, I SURE HOPE you won't kick anymore, because I like you and I really want to have you with us!"

Originally Posted by makinganescape View Post
I have been so frustrated with her that I have stopped her from doing something she was really enjoying... Like, she was splashing water in my face so I made her get out of the tub. I feel like such a novice, but I have been doing it for nearly four years now.
There's nothing wrong with that. My 2-year-old is regularly warned about dumping water out of the tub and he knows that if he wants to stay in the bath, he must control his impulses and keep the water in the tub. Sometimes, he does control himself and I praise him. Other times, he doesn't and I get him out. I don't feel guilty about it, so I don't get emotional or angry (although he is sometimes angry at me, about getting out).

A 4-year-old is more than capable of living with a rule like this. If it's consistent. If sometimes you think, "I'd be a meanie if I took her out of the tub - even though she's splashing - because she loves it so much," then she's never going to know, from one bath to the next, whether you REALLY want her to stop splashing, or you're just saying it. And sometimes, she's going to be surprised when you get fed up and seem angry about it, because other times you've let her continue splashing.

As long as you have reasonable expectations (For example, a 4-year-old who hasn't gotten to run around outside all day will get hyper, out-of-control and destructive at some point in the late afternoon. To treat that like a discipline problem and put her in Time Out would be unreasonable. She needs exercise.), giving your preschooler consistent consequences for out-of-bounds behavior teaches her that she can control herself and it will help you feel more confident as a parent and have fewer outbursts because you're at your wit's end.
post #17 of 17
OP, I am so sorry for your trouble.

But if you love your daughter, you will stand up to this man. You will go to court and explain the situation and ask for primary physical custody. You will refuse to give him money. You will refuse to hear his threats and you will refuse to let him have control.

Pull yourself together. You are in turmoil because you KNOW that you are failing to do your utmost to protect your dd. When your own mother "toes the line" for your ex, then either she's a terrifying freak or HE is. Is your mother normally a sane and loving woman? Is she being exploited and abused by your ex right now?

Even if nobody else is brave enough to stand up to him - especially if nobody else is brave enough - the buck stops with you and you need to alter this dynamic. You are being abused, your mother is being abused, your child is being abused. Fight back.
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