By: Mia L. Hazlett
My youngest has coined a made-up word for me, “Meaniac.” Whenever she doesn’t get her way, I’m a Meaniac. Okay. I’ll take it, it means I’m doing my job. But like I’ve stated before, me and her father are separated and I am the custodial parent. I have found for many of the single custodial mothers I speak with, they too are “Meaniacs.” These are conversations I must continue to have because I know I’m doing a good job with raising my kids as my kids and not my friends, but it becomes frustrating when they come home from their occasional visitations with their father.
I get it. They don’t see him that often and when they are all together, they just want to shove a month into the day or two they get to spend with him. They get to go out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner or all of them. Bedtime? What is that? And they are out and about going here and there. They usually return on a Sunday, which means Sunday night is a school night. So here come the tears, fighting, and I’ve lost my damn mind and think I can talk to Mommy the same way I talk to Daddy. Point is, it takes a good two or three days to get them back on track. I do my best to have the kids in bed by nine every night. The weekends I might kick it up to ten, but I do my best to wear them out during the day so they just crash. My ten year-old, it takes usually a day or two for her to adjust when she returns from her father’s and has stayed up until past midnight sometimes. But with my five year-old, that can throw her whole week off, seriously.
Then there is the “stuff” they come home with in all the extra bags. It’s the same stuff I say no to in the store or will make my oldest buy with her own money. I’ll admit, sometimes it’s the much needed clothes and shoes. But they know me, it’s Justice (with their nice 40% off the already 1/2 off clothes) Target (Mix and Match sales) and on sale shoes, usually Payless. The clothes seem to be within reason, but we still disagree about the Jordan’s that keep coming home.
I only know I have raised my kids to speak to adults with respect. My oldest is sweet as pie. My youngest, I’ve learned to pick my battles with what comes out of her mouth. I’m not with them when they go visit their father. All I know is when they come home there is a bit more attitude in the pronunciation of words. With my youngest daughter right now, she’s still in the learning process and so am I, when it comes to her filter. I believe there is a fine line between smart-ass and one’s personality. I love her personality. It keeps me on my toes. With my oldest, I am like white on rice with her right now. She is going to be eleven this year, and she has a few toes crossing over to the smart-ass side and I’m seeing her personality change a bit. Daddy doesn’t experience these two personalities, he is always met with the sweet darling little daughter. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a whole bunch of trouble out of her, but that Sunday night when they get home and I call her name and get “whaaaattttt?” instead of “yes mommy,” I call on the Lord…a lot. Now if she had spent the whole weekend with me and pulled the “whaaaaatttt?” that would be a different story. But instead I know she is overtired and trying to snap back into routine and she is really asking for my help.
Now understand, I still speak with the soon-to-be-ex. We speak on the regular about the kids and he was even nice enough to pick me and my youngest up from my job last week and drive us back to the Cape. She had to come in with me to work when I was sick and she had a half day. Unfortunately, my oldest saw this as complete betrayal. In speaking to him, he said he would drive us back so we weren’t on the train and he could see our oldest. We’re currently planning my five year-old’s birthday party for next month and splitting the cost of that. A year ago I wasn’t thrilled about the iPod touch gift, but I understood that by us being in Houston and him here in Boston, they were able to still “see” him. Here and there, if they speak during the week, they still use face-time. So this is not an I hate him post.
I’m just adjusting to transitioning into my role as the custodial parent. My conversations with my friends who have walked in my shoes have been a requirement so I don’t cave in and try to be Fun Mom to compete with Fun Dad. I’ll be honest I’ve wanted to do it. But there’s this chick I know. She’s walked in my shoes and she always knows what to say when I call her and am beating myself up, because for once I would just like for him to be Mean Dad. She told me one time, “Fun Dad is fun dad because they want to be on their best behavior when they visit him. And it’s easy to maintain one or two days of good behavior. They can’t do that with you because they would have to go three maybe four weeks straight without arguing or fighting with each other. Be happy your kids don’t want to be fake around you.” So when my daughter folds her arms, pouts her mouth, and spits out, “Meaniac.” I just say, “That’s right, and don’t you forget it.”