He called as I was getting the kids organized to head out for the hour long drive back to their house.
Back to the house that still bears my name on the mortgage. The house that is in active foreclosure now. The house I'm not "allowed" to go into without his permission. His personal rule, not a legal rule.
He was out of state and informed me that I was to drop the kids off at the house where an aquaintance from church was going to be staying with them overnight and until he returned. I agreed, as usual automaticly responding without thought. But by the time we were in the car, I was having serious second thoughts.
What kind of mom just drops her children off with someone she doesn't know well? For an unknown length of time? Overnight no less. And while their residential parent is out of state more than 3 hours away? When she herself lives more than an hour away? What if something happened to the other parent or to the kids? Alarm bells.
Ok. Be rational. Kids are 14 and 12, old enough to tell someone if they are scared or hurt or being treated inappropriately. People who are to watch the kids are aquaintences with their own child - and are coming to the kids house to stay there with them. But still - you know, it's unexpected for them and for me and I have some questions; I'm still the mom and I have some right to be informed and to have some say. I know several other people with whom I'd feel more comfortable leaving the kids with and maybe we can find a compromise.
I call him back and leave a message saying that I have concerns, questions, and I am not comfortable. I say I'm not refusing to bring the kids home but want to talk about it with him before I do so.
My son is instantly upset. He thinks I am going to get in trouble. He doesn't want that. I have to explain to him about A) my job as a mom, B) that I am still the mom, and C) that a mom does what is best for the kids regardless. He is only slightly relieved.
I call a friend who lives near the kids and tell her whats up, ask her opinion, ask her insight. She understands and validates my concerns, is worried about legal implications however. We talk about the logistics, the facts, the outsider view of what it looks like for me if I DO just blindly drop my kids off and if I DON'T. We toss around some options. He calls back.
I explain my concerns; I say very clearly, "I am not trying to cause trouble or make waves, but this is really important to me. Can we find another place for the kids that I am more comfortable with? Here are some options I can think of..." and I list the three or four I've come up with.
He says, "You have no rights. I am the sole physical custodian and that means I get all say in where the kids go and who they go with. You don't have any choice in this. Your responsibility is to drop the kids AT THE HOUSE at the designated time and that's all. You do what you are legally told to do or you'll be in violation. Until you have proven that you are capable of responsibly following legal guidelines, that is how it will be and END OF STORY."
That is followed by some "discussion" if you will - me protesting and reminding him that we have joint legal custody, that I have spent a year following his every demand and order (and him interjecting that it wasn't true) and that it's reasonable to discuss this issue and consider some options blah blah blah. His near screaming of, "YOU ARE NOT TO BE IN THE HOUSE - do you understand? do you? do you???" is the last of our conversation.
Now is not the moment to write about my heart, my pain, my distress. But it's there.
I call my friend again and we come up with a solution that makes me feel better. I will indeed drop the kids off at their house with these people, but I will stay the night at HER house (a few blocks away) so I am close by if the kids need anything. That's the point you see - that a parent is within easy reach if the kids need something. With him out of state, and me living an hour away, I was uncomfortable leaving the kids there alone.
Now it's over and done and I wait for the repercussions. I wait to see if my actions will impact me negatively, if it will make things even worse for me, if it will make a judge think I am as incompetent and irresponsible and crazy as he keeps calmly stating that I am - and as is being evaluated.
He wants it his way, all the time, in all ways, and with no arguement. He wants 100% control of every single thing. He did that our whole marraige and up until the year before I left, I always agreed and complied. When I started putting up resistance is when things got very bitter and sour - and while I briefly believed that my opposing opinon was invalid, unreasonable, irrational and worthless, as was my own life, I no longer believe that.
The problem is that every single action I initiate is suspect, up for review, subject to scrutiny with already tainted viewpoints. Even if I did something obviously and grossly RIGHT, it would initially be suspicious. The thing that I can't stop thinking about right now, right this minute, is that no matter what happens in court in a few weeks, he will always be this way. No matter what rights and responsibilities are granted to me, no matter what considerations are allowed for me, he will insist on 100% control in every area he can. This? This frightens me. Immeasurably.
Tell someone. Tell someone, on my behalf, that what is happening to me is not right, is backwards, is hurting my kids, is empowering his agenda for power and control. Tell someone that I don't have resources and I need help. Tell someone because the even scarier part is that I am not the only woman out there in this situation.