My heart is breaking for my son right now. He is five and a half, and tonight, in the the car in the middle of a conversation about old houses we'd lived in, he says:
'Amanda doesn't love us anymore."
(Amanda is my ex's girlfriend of the past 2 years- they all live together, she is a mom to them, and I sadly joke often that I have split custody with her because she essentially does most of the parenting/transporting/communicating.)
WHOA. Whoa. I asked him to clarify.
"Amanda doesn't love us anymore. My daddy told me on our last daddy day"
"Did he tell you she didn't love "us" or "him"?
"Us. Me, my brother, and daddy"
I told him she would NEVER say that, that she does love them and if something happened between daddy and her it was between grownups and that didn't mean she didn't love or care about him and his brother. I told him she was like a mom to them, and I am a woman and a mom and I know this to be true. Well he insisted his dad said that and elaborated that "there was a big fight and now she is moving out and taking the dog... but she is still there because she needs to find somewhere to live"
Sounds like a breakup, but his dad didn't mention a thing to me. I admit I texted him asking if he had really said that to our son. No word back.
I am furious if he did tell my son that- all the things you hear about kids in divorce blaming themselves- and he essentially displaced the blame right onto my kids! So perhaps I am assuming too much, but I know my ex. And that kind of sounds like him.
Here is some back story:
I got pregnant with my first 2 months into our relationship. He is 9 years older than me. His treatment of me turned fast. Not going into details, but the next 4 years were hell. He was emotionally and mentally abusive, intimidating, and physically abusive and intimidating at times (He always said "I never hit you", but he threw shit at me, punched holes in walls beside my head, pulled me out of bed my my ankles, kicked me out of the house in the snow when I was very pregnant, etc). He put himself first before everything, even our babies. It's hard to explain getting sucked into that prison, and a counselor I had once put it best: " It would be easy to leave if they were all bad all of the time. The trick is they are your best friend part of the time. and you see their pain. And you want to fix it. BUT ITS NOT YOUR JOB."... I had all healthy relationships prior to him, and after. My Husband now is AMAZING. I am absolutely blessed. I know some people have habits of being in abusive relationships, but it was a total fluke for me, and the only thing that really tied me down was I was in my early 20's and wanted to "do the right thing" for our kids. So finally it got so bad one day (or over many, many days) I left.
Since then we have had "shared" custody. while he gradually built up to having them "half" the time, Which has never been equal, I do all of the appointments, therapy arrangements (son with asd), school arrangements, transportation, missing work when kids are sick etc- and, for example, I have my kids from about 6 AM to 6 PM (before/after school) every day, regardless of parent days (because I would rather have them then have him put them in daycare- and besides, he has never arranged daycare for them and I always had to pay his co-pays out of child support)
To some it probably seems bizarre that I never fought for more custody- but he is usually a very loving dad, especially to our son with autism. He WANTS to be a dad to them, even though he doesn't always hold up his end. I also avoid going there because he is intimidating- I'm fearful of the wrath that would follow any legal/court action on my part to get more custody of the kids. He is very smart, and good at manipulating.
He dated on and off after I left him, immediately having new girlfriends pick up my kids, babysit them, take on the mom role right away. They didn't last long typically. Then he met his recent girlfriend. It was also a fast relationship and She moved in with him right away. And assumed a lot of wife/mother responsibilities right away too. She has had the same job the whole time while he has gone between jobs and living off unemployment (and not telling me and having me still take the kids to preschool every day). His car was broken down for over a year and they shared her car- but then it broke down and they traded it in for a nice, newer, big car- in her name/credit, mind you. So then he got a new job and insisted he needed the car to work (construction), and now she is driving his totally dangerous p.o.s. car to work while he is cruising around in her nice car. Total deja vu- I left him shortly after we fought about a similar thing, He wanted to take my parents car I was driving to his job and have me drive THE SAME p.o.s car- with my kids- because he needed to be "safe" driving to work in the next town over.
I have always worried about her. she is 3 years YOUNGER than me (I am pretty sure), really sweet, always reliable, and kind of shy. She really loves my kids. But I can tell she is really isolated- her parents died when she was young and her grandmother who raised her passed about a year ago. My ex even made reference to her friendships kind of dissolving "because they didn't like that she wasn't single anymore". So many things look like tiny windows into my past. I know the statistics on abusive partners turning themselves around doesn't look good. I can hope that he's changed, but it is not very likely.
The reason I am writing all of this is because If she is leaving him, part of me is happy for her, but sad for my kids- How do you comfort and counsel your kids after a parent figure in their life for the past two years is suddenly gone? And after their parent tells them something horrible like "It's because she doesn't love us anymore"?
Also, I am waiting for the shitshow that will follow if they do separate. His "work vehicle" Is hers. If he keeps the house, it is WAY more than he can afford on his own- and you don't exactly pick up a roommate easily if you have a child with autism who is loud and up half the night! And what if he keeps telling my children things like that? What can I do? How would you handle it?!
Last but not least... Would you look at my situation and honestly thing I should attempt to get more legal custody of my children. I gave all the background so you could see I wasn't just stressed out over a "breakup". This is from experience, and It's hitting a really sore spot right now. People have often asked why I don't try to go for more custody. My kids DO love their dad. But I have no Idea what they witness at his home. I don't pry. I know my son with ASD has been a mess the last 2 weeks and now I wonder if it is coming from stress at home- he always regressed when stuff got really bad when my ex and I were together. I am scared of my ex, I admit it. I don't know if I should just let it be or if it's time to do something. How did you arrange (uneven) custody? How did you come to those decisions? How did you handle the ugliness?
Mostly, my heart is just breaking for my son. He sat on that for TWO days before saying something.