The Shock that Shouldn’t Have Been

shocked woman computer

I often debate with myself on what’s right to share on a public platform and what isn’t especially after one of my Aunts told me she worried about our generation’s penchant for “oversharing” and the trouble that causes. And she’s right, you know?

There are things that come up that I want to talk about but I don’t because I feel like it’s too much, too private. And there are things that come up that I do share because even though I do feel they are pretty private, they’re important to talk about, especially in regards to single parenting. It’s those posts that vary– some are easier for me to write and share than others. I have written, and deleted before publishing, many posts on this blog.

I was going to write this post on Wednesday when it happened. Instead, I reminisced about my childhood and at the same time I made a private post on Google+ and got some support and encouragement that way which helped deal with the initial sting of it. But the situation is having longer lasting effects than I thought it would and is, although difficult, worthy of being discussed publicly.

On Wednesday, an email came in from K-Fat (Kids’ Father).

Hey, I’ve been waiting on my tax return for a couple weeks now and I called to check on it again today and I was told my entire refund was taken for child services.

Mute, I’ve been counting on this money to get back on my feet with rent, car payment, bills, etc… and get you sorted out. Can we please split the refund. I need this money to survive. I appreciate it.

K-Fat

The email triggered a tsunami of reactions. I had actually just finished when one of my closest co-workers happened to walk into my office, took one look at me, and said, “What’s wrong? What happened?”

In December, I got a letter from the IRS telling me they had gone ahead and received the notice from Child Services to proceed with this method of enforcement. They also told me the letter I got was a copy of the notice that was sent to K-Fat. When I read the letter, I had two thoughts in my head: 1) He’ll probably have his tax return rigged so he gets nothing back OR 2) He will ignore this letter and when they do garnish his tax return he will ask me to return it. He has asked for child support payments before when they were ones he had not planned for.

Even though I had gone through that thought process in December, my stomach dropped to the floor when the email came in. Not only that but, I haven’t gotten any kind of payment from Child Support and when I checked the account online, the only payment they show as being received is the infamous $100 payment from January. I didn’t see it coming.

I could not reply to the email. I dragged it to the folder I keep all the emails from him and left it there. I’d occasionally go back and read it because I am masochistic that way but for the most part, I just let it sit and discussed the email and what my response should be with those close to me.

He texted me yesterday informing me he had sent an email. I still didn’t reply.

This morning, when I started writing this post, he texted me again

You’re not even going to respond?

I am. I’m just really not sure how because that email really gets my emotions cooking.

My dad has given me, what I think the best response is. It pays to have a psychologist in the family. He suggested I respond with something along the lines of:

It has taken me some time to respond because I am surprised and disappointed by your request. Child Support has not sent the kids a payment since June with the exception of a $100 check in January. If the IRS did garnish the return, the kids have not received it. I would think that someone who has been unable to contribute to their children’s well-being in a dependable and meaningful way for eight months would be relieved and happy to finally have the chance to do so. No, I will not violate the court orders and return any part of any child support payment.

I dread responding. I know that I am right. I do not feel an ounce of guilt in using every cent of that money, whatever amount it may turn out to be, for my kids and my kids alone. And yet, I dread it because I fear what his response to my response may be. And maybe I dread for nothing. At this point, gauging from his last text message, he must know the answer will be no. But I feel like he has become even more desperate, more irrational. I fear this may come out to the kids and that they will lay the blame at my feet. Like they did with the thermoses.

On Wednesday morning, I packed the kids’ lunch boxes with a sandwich and  snacks and, as a treat, chocolate milk boxes my mom had sent just for them. Usually I send my kids with thermoses filled with ice cold water. So hooray treats! That day, their father picked them up and took them home. The next day, he took them to school. My mother was told after school by Daughter that they were not given anything to drink for lunch that day. “Oh? What happened?” my mother asked. “Mommy forgot to pack the thermoses,” Daughter replied.

Mommy. Forgot.

Later that night, the kids were with my Dad and it came up again– Mommy forgot the thermoses. My dad said, “Wait a minute. Mommy packed your lunch boxes?” He basically went on to explain that when the kids are with my parents, my parents are responsible for caring them. That if they are at my parents’ house for a sleepover and I didn’t send the lunch boxes, my parents have to figure out how to fix that problem. They could call me and ask me to bring them, they could find a different way to send the lunches, or they could give them money so they could buy lunch at the cafeteria. It’d be their responsibility to take care of the lunches, not mine and if they did not send the lunchboxes, it would not be my fault, it would be theirs. He explained the same thing applied when the kids were at my house. Their dad is not responsible for something I do or don’t do. Eldest objected to this way of thinking at first insisting that if I had sent the bottles, their father would have sent them drinks. My dad kept talking with them and when it seemed like they understood, he asked them if they understood that, if they were ok with that and they said yes.

Eldest apparently wasn’t.

Last night during dinner I was telling the kids how I saw this cute thing I wanted to do where you dye the bottom tips of your hair a pretty color like pink or blue or purple. Eldest got very angry. Plugged his fingers into his ears, balled up, and covered his eyes with his knees. I tried to get him to stop and to just talk about what was bothering him. Daughter and Baby were looking at the pictures I had pulled up on the Nexus to show them what I was talking about and they were exclaiming about how awesome they were which made him angrier and before I knew it, big fat tears were rolling down his cheeks, he was refusing to talk to me, refusing to look at me and I sent him to his room. We kept having a huge back and forth as I had to go in there to get Baby’s things for the bath and it was just not good.

Later when I had calmed down, and talked with my dad some more (if he charged me, I’d be bankrupt) I went back to his room. I basically told him there was no way he was so upset about something like hair. And to prove my point we drilled it back with a bunch of questions. Ok he doesn’t like funky hair colors and he’s not thrilled that his mom wants to do something to her hair he doesn’t like but that was not the reason for the tantrum. He said it was the only thing that he really hates that has happened in his life and it’s the divorce. He hates that it happened and some times things happen that make him think about it and he can’t help it and starts to cry because he never really cried about it when it happened. And that’s why he cries so easily. He said his dad and I don’t even talk to each other. That we could at least be friends. He said it doesn’t seem right that I was with his dad and now I’m with somebody else. He said he doesn’t like that he doesn’t see his dad that often.

Speechless. I tried clobbering together some inane responses that felt so hollow to a kid in such deep hurt. I also asked if maybe he’d like to speak to someone about the whole thing. I explained what therapists were and what they did. He was weirded out by the idea because, as he put it, They would be a stranger. But he warmed up to it and I did mention his grandfather does that for a living and he could always talk to him. His grandfather doesn’t tell me what they talk about. So, I don’t know. Maybe my dad will talk with him and evaluate the need for an actual professional to step in.

And this is what is playing in the background as I have this email pending in my inbox. My kids know their father and I are not on good terms because we don’t speak to each other on the phone. They probably feel the tension acutely when he and I are forced to be in the same room together no matter how much I think we’re hiding it.

And this came on the heels of Baby getting upset because he asked me if I loved Daddy and I honestly responded, “No.” I explained that we were parents and it was different but there wasn’t love there and boy did that go wrong. It was in the car and Eldest and Daughter were there. They didn’t say anything, but they were there listening and seeing their little brother cry.

Why does it feel like things are falling apart now? This has been something we have been dealing with for five years. Why now?

Could it be the finances? That’s the only thing I can figure. There must be some really crazy tension on both ends because of finances. And maybe they are thinking things would not be so stressful if their mom and dad were together instead of apart. Which I know that isn’t true, but how could they? Especially the youngest two who have very little memory of a life with both parents together.

And now I’ve been put in this ridiculous situation by their father with this ridiculous email and I’ve got my kids on my mind and I swear to god that I really wish, I just really really wish, that I could say “Keep your f@%^&# money” and be done with it.

But I can’t. And even if I could, I just shouldn’t. The money, it’s the kids’ money. It’s their money and they have a right to it plain and simple.

In classic avoidance style, I am going to wait until 4:59 PM to send the email from my work address which I do not have access to until Monday. Not that it will stop him from responding to me in other ways but at least it delays one until Monday. If he responds at all. Which I doubt he will.

And so there you have, my overshare of the year. Internet, give me strength.

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