Dd is 18 mos. and has never seen her father at his apartment. Part of this is due to the fact that the visitation schedule we agreed on when she was younger was hour-long blocks of time several times a week. Part of it is due to the fact that her dad doesn't have a car or driver's license and it would take 45 minutes on the bus to do his share of the transportation. And the largest part of it is due to the fact that his place is an absolute sty.
By sty, I mean this man lives in a bachelor suite that is cleaned once every four months at MOST, that has huge piles of months-old laundry littered everywhere, where empty beer bottles and full ash trays are strewn about, where every single dish is dirty and growing stuff in the sink, where full boxes are piled in towers (moving boxes from his move four years prior), where low shelves are decorated with breakable knick knacks and bongs and other non-child-friendly paraphernalia, where several computers and all their various cords are set up in random spots in the room, and where he has been known to chain smoke regularly.
When dd's dad first expressed interest in taking her to his apartment, I asked him whether he'd be willing to clean up and childproof his place. To which he responded "I don't know what you mean by clean or childproof, but I'll be with her at all times, so I'm sure she'll be safe." I stopped the conversation there. Are you serious, buddy?
But in the meantime, he's been seeing her largely outdoors for his visits, and I'm going back to work in September, and his current visits are first thing in the morning. He hasn't been willing to agree to a schedule that has longer blocks of visitation so far because I am insisting that the schedule be regular and predictable. He doesn't like regular and predictable because he chooses to work on call. To put that in perspective, he has worked approximately one shift per week for two years. Rarely has it interfered with his visitation, and he currently comes six times a week.
At any rate, things are going to have to change when I go back to work in September, and he is going to have to see her less frequently for longer blocks of time. Which means getting his apartment ready.
So... I have a good relationship with his mother. She's very helpful and will be caring for dd a few days/week when I go back to work. Incredibly nice woman. But we don't talk about dd's dad at all or the hell it's been for me dealing with him since the time I got pregnant. Really, I have no idea what she thinks of him or his problems or how he's behaved, or my role in everything. It's a strange dynamic, but seems necessary in a way to keep her from being caught in a drama triangle, kwim?
Anyway, I decided to break the communication barrier on this issue a little bit today because I need to know that dd will be safe before she starts visiting her dad at his place. So I asked his mom if she'd use her judgment and let me know if she thought his place was up to snuff when the time came. She agreed, and said she'd offer to help him get it ready.
Great. But then she said, "Oh, I'm sure he'll be motivated to do it because he really values his time with dd." Excuse me for feeling perplexed, but WTH? Fine, he values his time with her, but he has had TWO YEARS to get his place ready, and he hasn't even started. To be honest, how much does he really value his time with her if he, a) hasn't yet set up an appropriate environment for her, and b) hasn't agreed to a schedule where he would see more of her?
She also said he's working seven days in a row this week, and lamented how hard that would be for him. I think that it's great that he's working. But since when does working have any bearing on whether or not you set up a safe environment for your child to be? Especially when it's the only seven days you've worked in a month? Seriously, I am parenting two children 24/7, and I still have to feed and clothe and house them and make sure they're healthy and safe. And I'll still have to do all that when I go back to working 50+ hours/week.
I don't get her response. Does it make sense to you?
I think maybe I'm just sad that her response was pretty much making excuses for him, when that's exactly what he does for himself all the time. I'd like to believe that his dysfunction is independent of his mom, because she is generally so functional. But there is a definite dynamic there of him being this person who doesn't need to be held accountable for his actions (or, more accurately, lack of action)... BTW, his parents are currently supporting him while he "gets on his feet" with work. The man is 32, has a spotty, unskilled work history, and believes himself to be not only above entry level work, but above the post-secondary educational institutions of the world which might be the gateway to him attaining anything more.
I guess I'm writing all this because I'm feeling a good amount of anxiety about how this schedule change is all going to go down. And if history predicts the future, he's going to spend a good amount of time blaming me for all his choices. Not fun. Sometimes, I just feel like I could use some validation from the people who know him best, because I'm imagining that they have dealt with the same bull as I have. But, OTOH, if they're the ones who are feeding his narcissism and okaying his excuses, they wouldn't see it as bull.
I know it's completely unreasonable to expect the validation from his mom, btw. It's just something I struggle with because I like her and see her so often, and yet also end up spending so much time caught in circles with her son.
Okay, I'm going to stop now. If you read this far, you're amazing.