School Issues

lovehadleyAugust 9, 2010

I'm concerned about the custody schedule, school and BM.

I posted about it before. Basically, BM and her DH are sharing one car and have been all summer long. It's NOT working.

Yesterday BM called DH and said she had made SS a dentist appt. for this morning but that she was going to be unable to take him (9 AM) because her DH would have the car. DH said she kept putting the phone down and he could hear her yelling/swearing at her DH about the whole issue.

She asked DH if he could take SS to the dentist. He really couldn't but he reschedule some appointments this morning and was able to take him.

But this is the second time in the last week that BM has been unable to transport SS where he needs to go.

They did a week by week schedule this summer and DH had to bring SS out to her every single time because she never has a car.

I'm concerned because school is starting next week. BM has to pick SS up from school every Monday, every Tuesday and every other Friday. (She drops him OFF at school every Tuesday, every Wednesday and every other Monday.)

His school is about 3 mins from our house but about 30 minutes from hers.

I am worried because I just don't see her being able to do all this driving to and from. Not sure what is going to change in the next week, you know?

Call me SELFISH but I am worried this is going to end up affecting ME big time. I am a planner. I need to know what the schedule is and where I need to be and when.

For example--right now--I KNOW that I pick SS up from school every Wednesday, every Thursday and every other Friday. I plan accordingly. I work part-time during the school year, but it's flex and from home. I don't work after 3 pm ANY DAY because I always pick DD up from school. BUT she has after-school things (Girl Scouts, swim team 2x a week this year, acting class, etc.) The afternoons we DON'T have SS are the days I try to plan DD's activities, or do things that aren't easy to do with 2 kids.

I'm afraid that I'm going to wind up being "on call" for BM and I am NOT okay with that.

It's a crap situation because if BM calls DH and says---hey, I can't get SS today, then he is going to expect ME to do it. Realistically, I cannot expect DH to leave work to get SS.

I would be FINE if I just knew that was the case, like if I KNEW I had to get him every day---but it's the unexpectedness of it all that bothers me. It makes me feel like an unpaid babysitter---like I am at their mercy and I can't plan anything because I don't know when BM is going to call and say she cannot get SS.



I tried to talk about it with DH and he said "It's not our problem, if BM cannot get him from school, she will have to figure it out" but he doesn't really mean that. At the end of the day---if BM calls at 2 pm and says I cannot pick SS up from school, OF COURSE DH is not going to leave SS sitting at school. No, he will call ME and if I say I cannot do it, he will be irritated with me.

And then the prob is---let's say I do pick him up for BM---then what? Am I supposed to wait around at home until she finds a way to get him? At what point do we say "you know what, he just needs to spend the school nights here with us" ????

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DH has somewhere around 50-50 custody, correct? I think you are being WAY too accommodating of the chronic no-shows/cancellations.

It is of course BM's responsibility to pick up her son at school on her days - if she calls at the last minute to say she cannot do it, then DH should tell her that neither can you or he. Call the school and give them a heads-up; and have yourself positioned not too far from the school at the designated time. If BM is a no-show, have the school call you, pick him up then - and then just keep SS with you until her next scheduled custody period. I don't see the difference between that, and, say, my SS's BM no-showing for her visitation. We certainly are not going to allow her to just randomly show up to take him at her convenience 12 hours into her scheduled visitation, and I can't see the court ordering that.

Unless it is in the court orders that you (well, DH) are responsible for transporting SS back and forth, I certainly wouldn't do it. I'd wait until you have three or four of these no-shows and then go to court if necessary for modification.

This needs to be nipped in the bud at the beginning of the year or you will end up being last minute unpaid babysitter. Why not? It certainly would be more convenient for BM to have you pick up SS and deliver him to her home at whatever time she chooses, so why would she want to change a good thing?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 3:34PM
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"DH has somewhere around 50-50 custody, correct?"

He has exactly 50-50 custody. BM has Mondays, Tuesdays and every other weekend; DH has Wednesdays, Thursdays and every other weekend. (A weekend is Fri at noon to Monday at noon.)

This summer, we've actually had SS for more time than BM. They are doing a week by week schedule---each is supposed to have him for 7 nights at a time. BUT with BM's lack of a car, etc. we've been having SS for 8 nights at a time, while she's only been keeping him for 6 at a time.

I totally don't mind--it's been a GREAT summer.

Like I said, I just friggin' refuse to be an on-call babysitter, if you will. I feel like DH enables BM to be the way she is. Her days, her responsibility. If it becomes a pattern, then DH will have to take her back to court to modify custody.

If it becomes a prob, as much friction as this would cause between me and DH, I feel like HE needs to be the one to feel the hurt---HE needs to have to leave work and pick SS up if/when BM doesn't.

Last week---prime example---when we gave her an extra day and she said she'd pick SS from camp; then she couldn't/didn't and it fell on me. Like I said, it wasn't a problem b/c I was picking DD up ANYWAY; but during the school year--it is true I am NOT always readily available. And I don't see why I should.

If DH makes it easy on BM....then there is no reason for her to change anything.

UGH. It is more of an issue between ME and my DH honestly.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 3:45PM
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I was wondering if that was part of the issue, that DH is being very agreeable and cooperative with your time. It is ridiculous to expect you to be available to pick up SS at a moment's notice; it is also very stressful to continually feel like your plans can be changed with no notice at any time. I agree with you that DH needs to feel the pain as well. Maybe you can compromise? Offer to DH that you will be "on-call" a day or two a week, but the rest of BM's scheduled time HE is the on-call person. That way you're not throwing it all on him but it is completely unreasonable that the entire burden be on you either.

I'd bet after a time or two of DH having to leave work to pick up SS he'll be pushing for modification of custody. If not, at least your stress level will be helped by knowing that you have even a day or two that you can make plans and keep them.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 4:30PM
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"I was wondering if that was part of the issue, that DH is being very agreeable and cooperative with your time. It is ridiculous to expect you to be available to pick up SS at a moment's notice; it is also very stressful to continually feel like your plans can be changed with no notice at any time."

Yep. This is it in a nutshell.

This issue--among many others---landed us in marriage counseling and we even endured a brief split this past spring, living apart for two months. A lot, a lot, a lot of this was due to DH's attitude towards BM and the crap that's gone on with her--and his lack of taking it seriously.

Not sure how familiar you are with my "history" with BM but long story short--she is most certainly an alcoholic (supposedly sober about 15 months, hope it is true). After a heated custody battle, she ended up getting drunk, not getting SS from school---I picked him up---she came over to our house, totally wasted, and wanted to take him. I said NO, she tried to anyway----I called the police and she punched me in the face.

Horrid night.

I got a year long restraining order, DH got residential custody AND a provision was added to the custody agreement saying BM cannot consume alcohol when SS is with her. HUGE victory for DH.

Anyway--after this happened--DH was angry at her for awhile but gradually, his anger faded. Next thing I know---she is on our porch dropping off a gift for SS, even though the restraining order says she is not to set foot even in the DRIVEWAY. DH didn't think it a big deal. Little things like that. DH would never flat out say he was on her side, but it was like continually, he felt I needed to be the bigger person--and it pissed me off!

NO ONE in my life has ever physically attacked me like that and I see no reason why I should have to put up with that behavior.

Anyway---it's been an on-going issue with us--me feeling like he isn't validating me or taking me, as his wife, seriously.


Through marriage counseling, we have improved our communication tenfold and DH sees my side of things ever so much more clearly. It's been good, but I still stress about things backsliding.

He is completely generous with "my time" and it does irritate me.

That is a good idea. I might tell DH I will be "on call" on Mondays. On Tuesdays and the Fridays BM has SS, DH needs to let HER figure it out, or HE needs to feel the pain and leave work.

I am praying this doesn't even become an issue but I have a bad feeling. Couldn't get him from camp this past week, couldn't get him to a dentist appt. today....not sure what's gonna change when school starts next week!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 8:09PM
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On bm's day to pick up ss from school you and dh need to let her calls go to voicemail. This way she is unable to ask you to pick up ss for her. Then call the school and tell them if bm does not show to call you. If you pick up ss because bm "can't" then she should not be allowed the chance to pick him up till her next scheduled visitation. Maybe if she misses visitations she will start figuring out how to pick him up. Can't she drive her dh to work so she has their vehicle for the day?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 11:11PM
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Hi LH I have read your posts for a long while and I agree that I think your DH is a bit liberal with your time. After all what on earth would he do if he were single and and BM rang him at work to pick up SS? And you weren't around to pick up the slack? I bet he would put his foot down a lot faster.

But I am going to stick my neck out (ouch!) and play devils advocate for a minute. DH works fulltime and you dont. Is it reasonable to assume that your DH contributes significantly more $$ to the household than you? Elec, gas, phones, cable etc etc? Mortgage, groceries, repairs etc etc...please correct me if this is not the case.

So if I were to reverse the roles, if YOU were single and were raising your daughter singlehandly with whatever child support you may or not may not be receiving, is it fair to say you might be living differently? Would you be able to afford the luxury of being a part-time working (from home) mom who can pick up HER child and drive her wherever is needed or wanted?

So can I suggest your husband sees you as being at home/available and he is busy at work with customers and gets that all-annoying call from BM. And dont think for a minute I am letting her off the hook. Her child - her problem...ABSOLUTELY!

But if my above assumptions are somewhat true, I think if I were him I might be a bit irritated by the dogmatic stance some are suggesting you take.

Certainly the problem of BM is a big one and needs to be addressed, and your DH needs to understand that and deal with her (and that is a whole nother issue in itself!), but at the end of the day their is a little boy who is waiting at school to be picked up and brought home.

But maybe he is feeling "Geez I work hard all day and she (LH) is at home and could go get SS from school...what is her problem!!"

I think you know really deep down that this issue is with your DH and you. You feel undervalued, taken advantage of, used and abused...I get it. But I am not sure he does.

What on earth did your DH do during your 2 month trial separation? How did he cope with school? (Sorry am not from the US so may not be in sync with the school holiday seasons)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 12:03AM
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"At what point do we say "you know what, he just needs to spend the school nights here with us" ????"

I agree with keeping him until her next scheduled visit & she forfeits the visit when she can't pick him up on time. If it happens two weeks in a row, then that is when I would suggest telling her if she can't get the transportation figured out, then she can have him every other weekend (or every weekend if that works for you) but there is no way she should be allowed to expect you or your DH to accommodate her on a regular basis. She knows she has an obligation to get her son, if she wants to see him, she will figure it out. She can drop her DH off at work & have the car, or she can ride a bus... she can get a friend or family member to drive her. It's HER responsibility to figure it out and your husband really needs to stick to that. and yes, you should make him leave work to go get ss if it comes to that. Will he be irritated with you? maybe. But, if you have to go pick up SS for him, you will be irritated with him. Why would HIS feelings be more important than yours? If he has to do his own picking up, he is more likely to put his foot down and tell BM no, can't do it. and if she absolutely cannot get her son, then SS should start staying with you guys until she has a car.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 2:16AM
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I agree with both imommy and saxon here even though they have somewhat different opinion. If your DH is the only one working and supporting not only you but also your DD (and you get no CS), then he probably feels it is somewhat fair game that you are flexible to accommodate his child's needs (even if it is BM's fault still his child needs to be picked up from school). I wonder if he might be building some resentments too.

But what Bm is doing is ridiculous, she must make arrangements. When DD was at school, I had arrangements with different people because I COULD NEVER DRIVE to school OR PICK HER UP due to work schedule. BM could ask her
parents or pay someone for car pool.

And to add to this 50/50 is usually way to stressful for children, going to different houses during the week is stressful. And it appears to be stressful for adults, it causes too many problems in your family. If BM cannot pick up SS, then time to ask for full custody or some other arrangement.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 6:58AM
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I agree with both imommy and saxon here even though they have somewhat different opinion. If your DH is the only one working and supporting not only you but also your DD (and you get no CS), then he probably feels it is somewhat fair game that you are flexible to accommodate his child's needs (even if it is BM's fault still his child needs to be picked up from school). I wonder if he might be building some resentments too.

But what Bm is doing is ridiculous, she must make arrangements. When DD was at school, I had arrangements with different people because I COULD NEVER DRIVE to school OR PICK HER UP due to work schedule. BM could ask her
parents or pay someone for car pool.

And to add to this 50/50 is usually way to stressful for children, going to different houses during the week is stressful. And it appears to be stressful for adults, it causes too many problems in your family. If BM cannot pick up SS, then time to ask for full custody or some other arrangement.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 7:26AM
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love, this may sound off-topic but I think it is very much on topic and you'll see why. Two years ago, I worked at a position (in IT) where, due to a change to extremely incompetent management, most of the department quit. I ended up being on call for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for almost a year (the business hours were 15 hours/day all week). I know how stressful it is long-term, to feel that you cannot ever really make plans, you cannot relax because, at no notice, you must always be ready to jump up and take care of something. By the time I left I was a twitchy nervous wreck; it was physically affecting my health (I wasn't sleeping), emotionally I was a basket case who was liable to burst into tears or get irate about tiny issues - it was awful. It's fine in the beginning or for a day or two a week but most people simply cannot handle it for an extended length of time (medical residents aside). After awhile it no longer matters if you're actually being called that evening or not; just the fact that it could happen is enough to make you feel on edge all the time, anxiously waiting for the phone to ring.

To finish my story, FDH (at that time) and I talked one weekend after I broke down, and he convinced me to just quit. I agreed because the previous morning I'd almost driven through a red light - while staring straight at it, just so tired and stressed that I wasn't comprehending. In my state, you can get unemployment if you quit a job if, basically, you have no other choice. It took several months, and I had long since gotten another position, but eventually unemployment sent a letter stating that they found "the working conditions were so onerous that the claimant had no choice other than to voluntarily quit" - this being right in the height of the poor economy. There were other issues too but the constant on-call was a huge part of their decision.

To an outsider it may seem like if you're only being called to change plans once or twice a week it's no big deal. But, as someone whose lived through similar, if perhaps more extreme, circumstances, I know what this can end up doing to you. For your own sake and the sake of your family, you've got to try to set some ground rules.

I agree that if you end up picking up SS then he should just stay with you until her next scheduled custodial period. To me it's no different than if BM didn't show up to pick up SS; we're not simply going to hang around all weekend waiting to see if she decides to come late. I also think that these pick-ups should be limited to making sure SS is not stranded, like at school. He misses a dentist's appointment - oh well, it can be rescheduled (unless it's an emergency, of course). But you cannot be constantly picking up the slack for BM at no notice.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 9:29AM
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Lots of interesting points.

"But I am going to stick my neck out (ouch!) and play devils advocate for a minute. DH works fulltime and you dont. Is it reasonable to assume that your DH contributes significantly more $$ to the household than you? Elec, gas, phones, cable etc etc? Mortgage, groceries, repairs etc etc...please correct me if this is not the case."

This is true financially. He makes a lot more money than I do. I do contribute financially, but it's about 1/4 of our general household expenses. For us---it was kind of a cost/benefit aproach. If I were working full time, we would have to factor in after-care for DD (and SS on our days), care in the summer time, etc. We decided---especially given the fact that DH's job is quite unpredictable, some nights he is home at 5, others at 8 or 9 pm--it was better to have one of us be more flexible. Given the fact that he will ALWAYS make a lot more money than me, it made sense to have me be the one more available.

Now--I will say I do A LOT that he doesn't do. Pretty much all the housework---laundry--grocery shopping--cooking--helping with homework in the evenings, transporting both kids to activities after school or on Saturdays--ETC.

I struggled with this initially but ultimately came to the conclusion that THIS is my primary job and contribution. Therefore--SS IS my responsibility on our days. I pick him up from school every Wed, every Thurs and every other Friday. (DH drops him off in the mornings.) DH works on Saturdays and when it's a weekend SS is with us, I take care of him all day.

In the summer time, I have SS all day---DD, too, of course---and same goes for school breaks, etc.

I don't mind doing it, it makes sense to me and I wouldn't complain about that. I do what I need to do so that DH can be successful in his job--because realistically, I know it's not possible for him to leave work at 3 pm 2-3 days a week to pick up SS.

BUT I don't feel that on BM's days, it is fair of DH to volunteer my time. I feel like it's easy for HER to think---at the back of her mind--"Love can do it" and DH too readily agrees.

This hasn't really happened yet THIS YEAR, but it has happened in other areas many times. And given the car issue, I just KNOW it's going to be a problem next week when school starts. This stuff is not going to magically work itself out.

Wrapping paper sale, for example. BM had helped SS sell tons of boxes of wrapping paper last year. She was supposed to be at school to pick up the goods. She couldn't do it last minute and asked DH if he could do it; he said no, she said "what about Love?" He said SURE without consulting me.

Halloween cupcakes? BM volunteers to bring them to the school party---she all of a sudden forgets or can't do it. Asks DH, he's at work. "Well, then can Love go get them and run them up to school? They need to be there in an hour."

BM forgets to pack SS shin guards for spring soccer---"oooops, can Love go buy an extra pair and run them to school?"

BM forgets to send SS with his allergy meds. to school. OOPS. "Can Love run to the pharmacy, get the prescription refilled and run it up to school?"


This situation has been repeated over and over and over again. And it is one thing for me to pick up slack for DH, it is quite another for me to pick up slack for BM.

DH and I have been addressing it in counseling and we've gotten a solid handle on it, I hope.

I do think Mattie hit the nail on the head with the overall stress of the situation.

"I know how stressful it is long-term, to feel that you cannot ever really make plans, you cannot relax because, at no notice, you must always be ready to jump up and take care of something"

This is EXACTLY it. I always feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. There's also some stress combined with DH, as well--like I just never know when he is going to let BM do this or do that and make me feel like I'm being trampled on.

He has never really set firm boundaries with her and it's caused a huge strife in our marriage, so much so that I really, really, REALLY contemplated divorce. The stress was killing me.

As far as BM and the car goes, it is a mess. She cannot drive her DH to work because he is in roofing sales and he basically drives all over the city all day, every day. It's not like dropping him off at the office and picking him up 8 hrs later.

Apparently, he needs her SUV b/c he has to transport ladders. He has a Honda Civic but it's a stick, and BM can't drive that.

(If it were me---I think I would learn and learn fast!)

He has some truck---that he could and used to drive--but apparently, it's not running anymore and it's too much $$$ to fix it. Or so DH was told.

I don't know. BM's mom lives, like, 2 blocks away from them--doesn't work--so there is NO REASON BM couldn't borrow her car on her days to get SS.

I don't know. Hopefully--she will figure it out.

Just in case, though, I like Mattie's idea. I already ran it by DH last night. I told him I will be "on call" on Mondays to get SS (but not to tell BM that!) and that DH needs to be on call on Tuesdays.

That way I am not making DH feel stressed--but I also don't feel taken advantage of. I do also think in terms of boundaries with BM---DH is a LOT more likely to be firm and not enable her if HE is feeling some of the hurt.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 11:38AM
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Love, good job! Now will come the next part - sticking with it on Tuesdays, and not giving in "just this once" (unless it is a true emergency).

I suspect that your DH feels that you shouldn't mind (too much) because he views it as helping SS rather than BM. But it's not. What it is actually doing is displaying to SS that there are two kinds of people; one kind who are irresponsible and don't plan for anything - but it doesn't matter, because the other kind (you) are always going to be available to swoop in and fix everything. Now which kind of person does it sound more attractive to be like? I know I'd like to happily wander through life and do whatever I liked, secure in the knowledge that my fairy godmother will just follow behind me and take care of anything and everything I've neglected!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 9:25AM
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Mattie, you are perceptive. :)

"I suspect that your DH feels that you shouldn't mind (too much) because he views it as helping SS rather than BM."

This is the center of arguments surrounding this issue. YES, he feels that I should do these things because of and for SS---and forget that BM exists.

But it's just more complicated than that and I feel like BM AND DH both use SS as "an excuse" to have this codependent relationship.

DH has gotten a lot better due to counseling with me, but the issue is still there, still a work in progress.

I don't have an ounce of a problem doing for SS when he's with us or when he is in my care. Over the last year, he and I, particularly as I have become much more of a caregiver for him, have grown close.

I genuinely enjoy having him; this summmer, with such long stretches of time, has been really great.

I do things for him all the time "just because" or because I WANT to--same as with my DD.

If it's our custody day-- we are responsible, therefore I am responsible. THat is my contribution and help to DH in regards to our family life--I take care of SS in the afternoons/early evenings and on weekends or any other time DH is at work. I don't mind.

But BM and DH have JOINT CUSTODY. If BM doesn't want that, that's one thing--but I know she DOES and therefore, SHE needs to figure out how to continue to make that work. I refuse to be a backup solution for her, an on-call babysitter or errand girl.

Like I said, I would be fine if I even knew--that we had SS every day, all school week---but it's the lack of control and planning that gets to me.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 9:55AM
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LH I totally sympathize with you. I stopped working full-time due to my dh's work schedule. It was just too much on me to do all I do around the house and for the kids and have a full-time job on top of that. In my field I didn't just go to work and put in 8 hours, I had to also bring work home with me. There just was not enough hours in the day to get all I needed done with the household, the kids, and work.

Now that I have time and am able to do more I would not want my skids bm delegating more to me. She does practically nothing and at least I can count on that. I think I would go crazy if I was constantly getting phone calls to go do things for her. At least I already know I am helping with classroom parties or picking kids up from activities and school, etc.

I am so glad you told dh that you are only "on call" once a week. Stick to it. And DH needs to agree that when you make these "on call" pick-ups for bm that she forfeits her visitation for that day. If she calls and says I can't pick up our son today, can love do it? Your dh needs to say "sure, but then you are not going to be able to see him today".

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 3:37PM
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Thanks mom2emall. It helps to know others can relate. I don't mean to sound like a whiny, ungrateful b*tch for all DH does for our family--or that I don't want to help with SS. I am and I do.

I just do not want to pick up BM's slack and be viewed as an unpaid babysitter, not by DH but by HER; having a plan in place to not be used/taken advantage of is important.

IE--tomorrow, we are going out of town for 5 days, and BM ( I will grant her this) is being nice enough to give up the remainder of her week with SS so he can go w/us. :)

She told DH a couple days ago that she would meet him at 11:30 AM Thurs. to do the exchange; we are hoping to get on the road around noon, as we have a five hour drive.

DH said fine but privately, he and I said "how is she going to do that without a car?" Then last night--shocker--BM called and said no, she could not meet him after all, because her hubby wouldn't be able to loan her the car for the morning. DUH. I don't know why she thought he would. So, as usual, DH will drive to BM's to pick up SS--in this case, as it is beginning our custody time, and our vacation, it's FINE. But it is just typical. She cannot seem to get anywhere these days, so I don't know how the h*ll she is going to get SS to and from school.

She maintains to DH she will work it out. We'll see.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 5:39PM
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I fail to see how not wanting to be an enabler of an irresponsible BM translates into not wanting to help out with SS. That's just outrageous. Part of being a parent means that one has responsibilities to go along with rights; how does BM end up with the "right" to see her son 50% of the time and play Mommy, but you seem to end up with most of her responsibilities?

Is DH worried that if he takes her to court for modification of custody during the school week that it won't go well? Does he like to avoid conflict? What's his deal? I don't understand why he's putting up with this, let alone expecting you to.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 6:18PM
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"Does he like to avoid conflict?"

He buries his head in the sand like NO ONE else. It's a major character flaw with him. I'm not criticizing; okay, I AM, but not in the fact that he has a flaw. We all do. This just happens to be his.

He will do ANYTHING to avoid confontation and conflict, even when he has nothing to be afraid of. It is a huge issue with him and plays out in other areas of his life, not just with BM.

He would so much rather keep things on an even keel, smooth sailing, if it means he doesn't have to face difficult decisions or unpleasant confontations.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 6:51PM
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Has DH been to assertiveness training? At any rate, presumably he is aware of his desire to avoid conflict. Does he agree, in the abstract, that BM should not constantly be canceling things and expecting you to do them? I can think of a few things that might help. Firstly, maybe you, DH and possibly the counselor could help him prepare and rehearse some responses when BM asks for something last minute. I'm guessing DH fears the unknown, so to speak, with the confrontations - so if he's prepared as to what to do in case BM starts screaming (hang up), shows up in person and starts screaming (call police), etc. he might be able to start saying no sometimes.

The other one I'm wondering about, and I'm not sure how/if it could work in your situation, is if BM had to somehow contact YOU since you are the one that she needs the favor from. It might be easier for DH to say no if he only was saying no, he was at work and thus not available, and was unsure of your schedule. I think YOU would have no problem saying no, I cannot drive SS over to your house, etc.
Of course none of that would help with the canceled pick-ups, since SS cannot be left at school.

The other thing to keep in mind is that DH is setting a precedence by his desire to avoid conflict. For example, you said that BM has not driven to pick up SS all summer. If this keeps up, and you end up in court, BM is likely to demand that he continue to do so - and she may win. Your DH has agreed, by the fact that he has continued to deliver and pick up SS, that it is just peachy fine for BM to not have to do so. If DH keeps this up he is liable to end up with a custodial schedule that involves you picking up SS from school and delivering him to BM's on her custodial days - he's setting the status quo for it.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 8:50AM
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"He has a Honda Civic but it's a stick, and BM can't drive that."
I don't buy "but I can't drive stick" as an excuse from a grown adult. Unless she has a disabled left leg or right arm, she is perfectly capable of driving a vehicle with a standard transmission. She might not be GOOD at it, but she can learn to get from point A to point B a few times a week.

I very firmly believe that EVERYONE who has a license should know how. You don't have to do it well, but you never know what sort of emergency could arise that might necessitate you to drive a standard.
For example, a few years ago some friends of mine were out on the highway and were about 2 hours from the city. The driver started feeling very light-headed and dizzy; she could no longer drive the car. The other friend didn't know how to drive a standard and was too freaked out by it to even TRY with coaching from the car's owner. They sat on the side of the road until some family members were able to come "rescue" them. If she'd been able to drive a standard, things would have gone much easier!

I'm done ranting. Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 9:44AM
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"Does he agree, in the abstract, that BM should not constantly be canceling things and expecting you to do them? "

Yes, he does. The problem is--when these issues happen, then HE views it as BM asking "him" to do something for their son. He thinks (and I *guess* I can kind of see his point) that SS is his responsibility all the time, even when he's with BM. I mean, if BM truly cannot get SS from school, DH is NOT going to leave his son stranded. KWIM?

So he views it as BM asking HIM for a favor---and then when HE agrees, but asks ME to do it, he then twists it into I am doing HIM a favor. He says that all the time. "You're not doing it for BM, you're doing it to help ME out."

"The other one I'm wondering about, and I'm not sure how/if it could work in your situation, is if BM had to somehow contact YOU "

No way. I am NOT going down that road again. We have such a long, awful history, and I refuse to take any more of BM's abuse. I changed my cell phone number after she punched me and she will never have it again. See---for the first few years of my relationship with DH, BM HATED me. She was threatened, jealous, whatever--not necessarily about DH, but about my role with her ex-BF, and my role as a maternal "figure" in SS's life. She was awful to me for years--nasty emails until I blocked her, phone calls, banging on our window drunk in the middle of the night, telling SS how I was taking his dad away from him, etc. Horrid. It was truly horrid.

Then--gradually, she came to see that I am a good person with a good heart. Then she sort of had this love/hate relationship with me. By the time DH and I got married, it was like BM wanted to be friends with me. She would call me multiple times a day--if I didn't answer the house or cell, she'd keep calling, over and over. She'd call DH at night on HIS cell and ask him to put me on the phone. DH would feel caught in the middle--and often BM would be upset, fighting with her own DH or what not, and would beg to talk to me.

"I don't have anyone else," she would sob. It never had anything to do with SS, she just wanted someone to talk to, a friend. She was lonely, depressed, etc.

So I did my best to be supportive to her---encouraging her to stop drinking, go back to school, focus on getting her life in a good place.

But she never would.

I think---I know--she genuinely liked me and knew that I was good to SS. She genuinely liked me as a "friend." The problem with BM is she seriously has some hormonal, chemical issues---I have NEVER known anyone to fly into a rage like she does. She literally goes ballistic---she knows it, too, everyone does. You can tell when she is ready to fly into one of her moods--her voice gets this b*tchy edge to it, and that is when she will take the smallest thing, twist it and turn it into WWIII. She is completely irrational.

Once she calms down---usually a day or two--she is back to normal. But its during those episodes that she would act insane, and do crazy things--show up drunk at our house, pound on the window in the middle of the night, tell SS bad things about me or DH, leave nasty voicemails, call CPS, etc.

After the punching incident--I was granted a year long restraining order--and then about a month later, SS supposedly had a bruise on his wrist. BM blew this up about a week after he supposedly had the bruise. She decided I had done it. Poor SS was crying to her in front of DH and saying "but mom, Love didn't do it, she didn't." But BM was bound and determined that I had done it. The funny thing was---NO ONE ever saw this "supposed bruise!" I mean, if your kid had a bruise and you REALLY thought a step-parent had done it, wouldn't you take a picture or get them to the police ASAP? Why would you wait a week?! You wouldn't.

She called the POLICE and sent them over to our house---it was so bizarre because SS was with me at the time, and there was NO bruise. The police showed up and I had to briefly talk with them--they saw there was nothing going on--and when I showed the cop my restraining order, he laughed, and left.

It was some kind of custody ploy, I believe, because this was in the midst of her heated court stuff with DH. Her mother even admitted as much to DH--she told him "well, BM was just doing what Love did when she got the restraining order, protecting her son, just like Love was protecting herself." WACKOS, all of them.

It was a month or two later that DH was granted residential custody for schooling purposes, and the no-drinking order was placed on BM.

Anyway--the bruise thing was just so awful and upsetting to me. First of all, then CPS had to come do an investigation the next day---required by law---and although they saw SS didn't have a bruise, and closed the case, it was still traumatic for me. The social worker had to speak w/each of our kids individually, with me, with DH, etc.

I was so angry and humiliated by the whole thing, and most of all, furious that my daughter had been subjected to any of this crap.

BM's cousin told DH about a year ago--same general time frame as the CPS/bruise incident-- that BM had cooked up this plan to follow me to the pool with the kids--and call the police and claim that she saw me smack both of them in the face. Then I would have my daughter taken away from me and wouldn't that be funny.

HAHA, right?

I see nothing funny about that.

So you see, I keep this woman at a MAJOR distance from me. She will NEVER have the ability to contact me again, or know where I am or what I am doing. I have bent over backwards to be kind to her--the night she punched me, I sat with her in MY kitchen, made her a pot of coffee (though she chose to chug her bottle of wine rather than try to sober up) listened to her sob for an hour about her terrible her life was, offered suggestions, gave her positive encouragement.

And she reacts like that? It was a long story, an awful night...the problem is, when I allow BM any access to my life, she runs with it. It's like if she has any access to me, then all her feelings---good and bad--about me are triggered, and THAT is when problems happen. Her feelings regarding me are intense--like, dislike, jealousy, threatened, etc.

She tried to talk to me on the phone a few weeks ago about a marital prob she is having-and DH said "no way."

I won't go down that road again. :)

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 10:38AM
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Pfft. My 2 cents says BM has several options she can do:

1. Learn to drive a stick...I learned to drive on a stick belonging to a neighborhood HS boy at age 13. Took it out to country road and empty parking lots, it's not considered a 'special talent'.

2. Can't drive the vehicle the guy leaves BM with, then trade off said worthless vehicle and get one that is able to be driven. Totally selfish to hog one vehicle leaving BM without transpo.

3. Make arrangements to hire transporation or beg relative into lots of favors.

4. Reconsider 50/50 if I (BM) can not steadily and reliably do my (Bm's) required duties on my 50.

It's really up to BM to figure this out. Why should Love and/or Mr. Love jump because BM refuses to take BM's lack of vehicle seriously? I don't see it as a case of 'helping out and doing things for SS', I see it as BM being selfish and self centered.

I would have taken my SS to any appointment necessary and driven miles and miles out of my way and at a moments notice (and cheerfully...just as Love always seems ending up doing) when and if a unexpected need arose...but I would not have done it solely on count of a BM not knowing how to drive the only vehicle provided for her. BM owning that undrivable vehicle is a choice BM and her husband have made all on their own. While I totally understand why Love can't in this situation under normal non-threatening cases I would teach her to drive that stick myself.

There is a difference between being helpful/assiting your child's other parent in doing their parenting needs and enabling them to be self centered and selfish and taking advantage of one just because you share a child. BM is using the second half of this statement. Time for her to step up to the plate and get her household into a functional manner. How many of the posters here would sit helpless without a vehicle and expect someone else to take care of the problem for them? Bm needs to be discussing the matter with her husband, not Mr/Mrs Love.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 11:20AM
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All good options, justmetoo.

I personally think BM's DH is being ridiculous and selfish, expecting her to be in the house all day with all the kids. Also think there is more to the story than she's letting on, and DH agrees. He asked her point blank the other day---since her DH HAS a big truck that just needs work to get it into running order, "why don't you put the $$$ into fixing his truck instead of trying to buy another car?"

And she changed the subject.

Ordinarily, my Dh wouldn't even be involved---but he's in the car business, and BM's DH called him asking if he could find them a van. DH said he could get them a cheap one for about 4K if they could get the cash together.

Neither BM nor her DH can get a loan and are in the process of having HIS dad cosign. BM's parents refuse to get involved b/c the SUV--the one her DH is driving---is actually BM's, and HER dad cosigned that loan for her, but then had to take over the payments because BM and her hubs weren't making them.

DH flat out said to BM's DH, "You guys are crazy if you're considering taking out another car loan. You can't make ends meet as it is. Buy something cheap with cash and be done with it."

My DH goes to car auctions every week and he routinely sees 2K cars go through--I don't see why BM's DH couldn't scrape together the cash for a cheap car for himself and give BM back her SUV. OR put the $$ into fixing his truck. Or help BM learn to drive the stick!

It's a mess. And I do agree--it is a mess that really should not wind up being MY DH's problem or MY problem.

I tend to agree as well, it would be one thing if BM got the stomach flu or if she had a flat tire--a one-time occasion that truly made it impossible for her to get SS. THAT is different. Things do come up from time to time, and asking the other parent to pitch is okay.

NOT when it's a routine problem that needs to be addressed, though.

I mean here we go again---we're leaving town today, coming home on Monday--have to be back by 5ish b/c SS has a back-to-school thing. BM told DH she didn't know if she would be able to make it because her DH will probably not be home from work yet. HONEY, school starts on WEDNESDAY and if you cannot make it somewhere at 6 PM, HOW on earth are you going to manage to pick your son up from school at 3:30???

I am on pins and needles waiting to see what happens.

I don't think it is that BM doesn't take her responsibilities seriously, or that she doesn't want to be with SS--she does and I think she feels really helpless and frustrated now. BUT she still needs to figure it out and take out me and DH at the back of her mind as a viable option.

Volunteering to bring cupcakes to a school party and then backing out an hour before the event, and then asking DH or me to get them? NOT COOL.

KNOWING the car situation is an issue but still making plans as though things will magically work out--dentist appointments, pick-ups from camp, etc--and then expecting DH or I to fill in last-minute? NOT COOL.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 11:41AM
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I like that so many people are unwilling to learn to drive a stick! There's been a few times I've gotten great deals on my favorite little Hondas because so few people can drive them anymore. Plus, they always served me well when I was younger; friends couldn't borrow my car because they couldn't drive it. :)

I knew that there had been a past history of violence on BM's part; I wasn't sure if now that she's not drinking (I think) that things might be better. But I can see, given the circumstances, that that is not a chance any sane person would take.

Well, you know what's going to happen. The only question is what you will do when it does. Maybe you should try to get DH to agree now to a time limit/cancellation limit of when he will discuss SS staying with you during the week. Maybe he'll agree that if, say, BM cancels pick-ups 6 or 7 times in a 4 week period he'll pursue modification. That sounds so outrageous that he might willingly agree, but you know that it seems very likely that exactly that is going to happen.

Also, what you need to do is to keep track of all this; write it down at the time. You may need details for discussions with DH, and you will certainly need them if it ends up in court. But DH may honestly not realize how often it's happening (after all, it's not he who is dropping everything to rush off and save the day again). Make up a nice calendar; color in BM's days and then color the days red that you had to do something to cover for BM. If, as I suspect, half of her days are actually being at least partially covered by you, it may be the wake up call DH needs.

"I don't think it is that BM doesn't take her responsibilities seriously...she does". No, actually she does not, or she'd be prepared.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 12:26PM
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OMG Love.

I'm sorry, but at this point I think she needs to be hoisted by her own petard. Hang her out to dry. SS may not get cupcakes that BM promised, and he will realize that having BM promise things doesn't mean she'll come through.

I have one aunt who would always promise to do fun things with me. I never believed my mom that she was a flake. One day I waited after school for the super fun activity she had planned and got me all worked up for. And waited. I finally called my mom at 6pm when they were closing the front office and mom came and got me. LOL. OOOOPPPSSS. I never made that mistake again.

I think the calendar is a good idea.

You're being taken advantage of sweetie. I know you want to do it for SS, but keeping him in the dark, and aiding dad's willingness to pretend it's not happening will not serve any of you in the long run. I'd imagine BM still makes it to the personal events she does not have a Love to cover.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 4:39PM
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