Tag Archives: first child

Celebration of a New Life

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Today, I am having a divorce party. I’ve been struggling with the title…”A Divorce Party”.

Turns out, there are actually businesses popping up who plan your divorce party such as the Divorce Party Planner.  I don’t plan to celebrate to the point of needing a planner but it’s good to know that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the United States!

I tried to wrap my mind around WHY I was having such a hard time with the title.  I didn’t want those around me to get the wrong impression.  I care a lot about what people think- sometimes too much.  Most people in my world have no idea what I’ve gone through in this process.  I took the high road and chose not to speak publicly about the specifics of my divorce.  The people in my life—“my people”….they know.  They have been on the sidelines, in my court and sometimes in the trenches with me.

If I wasn’t already struggling with what others would think about my “Divorce Party”…I got an email which confirmed the outside thoughts.  The subject line: Divorce Party?  The message basically said, “I will not be able to attend your party.  I hope you know that I think highly of you however, I must confess that I am disappointed to see that you are so publicly celebrating the loss of your marriage”.    

I am not celebrating the loss of my marriage—BUT I am celebrating a new life.  I am celebrating the end of a nightmare and the beginning of my new life.  I have been through battle and I’m not naive enough to think that it’s over just because I have a piece of paper.  I am celebrating the end of a huge court battle that was always on the forefront of my mind.  This was a court battle that kept me up late at night with mounds of paperwork.  A battle that I thought about day in and day out.  I didn’t have an attorney to go to battle for me.  I had me.  It’s over and I am celebrating.

The milestones that I lived for had to do with the next court date—or the next filing deadline for the next court form.  As much as I WANT to “live in the moment” and practice what I preach when it comes to enjoying life…it’s been impossible for me to do.

So…tonight I will celebrate this new life with my closest friends and my people from the trenches.

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Not in front of the Children

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 Saturday October 10, 2009- I took the girls to meet him at Starbucks – our normal pick up location.

As I got out of the car and started to help the girls out of their car seats, he handed me a piece of paper.  The paper detailed a new visitation schedule he was proposing which was centered around his triathlon/marathon training schedule.  I briefly looked the paper over and told him that I was not going to sign the document.  I told him that we could address this situation in court on Wednesday.  He looked at me and said, “You are an idiot”.  My response, “this is inappropriate in front of the children”.

As I continued to remove the car seats and children’s items from the car, he said, “You are a pathetic human being”.  At this point, my daughter started to cry and repeat that she did not want me to go.  She became hysterical and I took her over to a bench to comfort her and talk to her.  She said to me, “I don’t like it when Daddy is mean to you and I don’t want you to leave”.  He said, “Tina- this is divorce and THIS is your fault”.  I replied,  “Divorce does NOT need to be this way.  You are causing this situation in front of the children.  Please stop”.

My daughter continued crying for about 10 minutes repeating over and over that she didn’t want me to leave.  After 10 minutes, I explained to her that I would see her first thing tomorrow morning.  I gave her a hug and turned her over to him — she cried for me over and over as I walked away.   My heart was breaking with every step that I took.

As I drove out of the parking lot, tears streaming down my face– I received a phone call from my friend who was driving behind me and witnessed the entire episode.  We drove to a side street, got out and hugged in the middle of the street.  She felt my pain and I feel that God put her there at the moment I needed a hug the most.

A Few Very Dark Days…

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August 29, 2009 6:30am- I made the call to the Women’s Shelter.  I drove my pink-pajama clad little girls (ages 2.5 and 4.5) to a local parking lot to meet an intake volunteer.  We then followed her car to the shelter- a hidden residence where we would be safe.

Have you ever “almost” been involved in a car accident that leaves your legs shaking so badly that you can barely keep your foot on the gas pedal?  My leg was shaking so badly as I drove my car to the shelter that I could barely drive.  I vividly remember that my teeth were actually chattering due to my nerves.

How did my life come to this?  I thought I was making the right choices.  I got married to someone who appeared stable and successful by every sense of the word.  He was smart– he went to a good college– his parents had been married for 30 years.  What was happening?  Nine months ago I was living in a brand new, 4,000 square foot home in a gated community.  Today, I was taking my children to check into a shelter.

Shelter.  That is what I’ve tried to do for my daughters.  I’ve tried to shelter them since our world started crumbling.  I could barely look at them through the rear view mirror as I drove my car across town.  I was trying to keep them safe but I felt like I was failing them as a mom.  “Where are we going?”, I heard a little voice ask from the backseat.  “We are going to a hotel for a few days…we are going to a special hotel…a Women’s Hotel.  It’s going to be like having a slumber party with other moms and their children”…I answered through my tears.

We were taken to our room– it was actually a little house away from the main house.  We had privacy– we needed to go into the main house to use the kitchen but had our own space which I was grateful for.  Three little twin beds…I remember the girls jumping on the beds and giggling.  They thought we were on vacation.  There was a little playground…and a handful of mothers with their children.  I felt alone- like I didn’t belong here.  A million thoughts going through my head (why, how….I was a good person….why was this all happening to me?!).

These were the darkest two days of my life.  I would have paid a million dollars for a hug.  I wanted my Aunt…my dad…my sister…my friends…Glenn.  Anyone.  I cried during the day- and sobbed during the night.  I was overwhelmed.  I had a million court documents to prepare since he had stolen everything I’d been working on.  I worked late into the night and I put everything I had into those documents.

September 1, 2009- The Judge awarded me “exclusive use of the home” barring him from entering the house.  Prior to that, the police had told me that they couldn’t keep him out.  Now I had a court order, a hammer and mace.  I checked out of the shelter and went home with a false sense of security.

September 2, 2009- I took my laptop and went to a local coffee shop.  He entered my home while I was away.  I called the police- they came and took a report.  They called him and told him that they would arrest him if he came onto the property.

I was devastated.

He was above the Judge and he was above the law– he has no regard for either.

My sense of security was gone.

Lying in Wait

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Friday, August 14, 2009- I left home for the weekend in Orange County to visit my little sister and her family.  I actually had peace of mind leaving him with the girls as our nanny was moving into our home that day.  She had cared for my children since my youngest was a wee little one and I had complete confidence that she would keep an eye on things during my weekends away from the girls.

I got a panicked, teary call from “the nanny” on Saturday night.  She had snuck away to call me despite being threatened to remain silent about what was happening at home.  The house had been gutted.  Stripped bare.  Everything that I owned…everything that we had worked for during our ten years together was gone.

“He” had a Uhaul truck and his Aunt lying in wait.  Waiting for me to leave for the weekend.  Almost as soon as I left the house…they began to remove all of my belongings.  My bed, my dressers, my houseplants, my kitchen table, couches, art….every single thing I owned was removed from the house.  Everything except my daughters’ bedroom furniture.  They even took the photos of my children off the walls.  Every photo…gone.  $20,000 worth of my possessions….but it was the loss of the photos that hurt the most.

He insisted that the nanny meet him for coffee on Saturday morning.  This was the day she was moving in.  He looked weird…shaking…stuttering…and he told her that he would evict her that day if she called me and told me what was happening.  She was afraid of him.  Didn’t know what to do– had no where to go as she had given notice at her former home.  She called me anyway and then she made plans to move out of our home…the day she was moving in.

I was numb.  I cried a lot that night.  The tears had to do with the things but they had more to do with the realization that I was beginning a really scary journey with an unstable person.  I didn’t want to return home and “react” as I knew that’s what he wanted.  I was incredibly thankful that “the nanny” had called me and warned me….which gave me time to process and cope.

Upon returning to the home, I found that he had replaced my bedroom furniture with a toddler bed from IKEA along with matching dressers.  He decorated my room like a child’s room…pink boas, stuffed animals, child’s comforter, framed photos of me as a little girl and other bizarre items.  He left a book on my bed titled, “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”.  My entire drawer of undergarments was also missing.  He left my clothing…everything else was gone.  I was scared and I was worried for my personal safety.

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2010….one year later…I found a video tape in which he had created during this weekend.  It was a bizarre video of my daughters.  He wanted to “capture” their reaction to the home being gutted…he waited for them to come out of their bedroom on Saturday morning…he was talking in a high pitched, manic voice.  Almost like a Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood tone…he sounded happy….pleased with himself.  This isn’t Mr. Rodger’s neighborhood and we aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.

I can’t watch the video to this day without crying….

Hurting My Little Girl

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We were still in the “in between”.  He had verbalized that it was done however, he was transitioning to a new job in the Bay Area so we were living under the same roof– trying to be civil.

Everything in his world was for show.  Had it been up to him, we would have had 2.5 children just to completely fit the mold of the perfect, all-American family.  We arrived home from an errand in his car– all of us together.  I had just warned him that our oldest daughter (almost four at the time) didn’t nap and was a bit cranky.  I knew he was in a bad mood– I could tell it was the type of quiet anger that frightened me.

I started walking into the house (through the garage) ahead of him –carrying our youngest daughter.  Our oldest daughter was upset about her jacket not being on properly and started to have a mini-meltdown.  The meltdown wasn’t the problem– it was the fact that she wasn’t “acting perfect” and there were neighbors watching.  He needed to “stop her” from throwing a fit– remove her from the eyes of onlookers before his image of perfection was tarnished.  He picked her up and carried her quickly through the garage– arms wrapped around her chest and squeezing her tightly to make her stop.

Squeezing her and hurting her to make her stop being a tired, four year old little girl.

I heard the commotion– her cry– the garage door shutting to keep the world from seeing the imperfection.  I turned to see him carrying her through the garage and into the house– the look on her face of shear terror.  I grabbed her from his arms and told  him to leave- to get out of our house.  Our renter was in the kitchen making tea– she was also our former nanny and the girls’ Godmother.  We placed her on the counter– she was in complete hysterics.  She look liked a caged animal.  I had never seen my baby look like this.  We held her– she was gagging…she couldn’t catch her breath.

I started a bath to calm her down– we sat with her and soothed her.  She continued to gag during the bath.  My heart broke that day.  My biggest regret and one of the few regrets in my life: not calling Child Protective Services.  

Days later, I insisted on going to our marriage therapist to explain what happened and ask for advice.  I notified him that I was going and it may be reported.  He attended the session- he admitted what happened and apologized.  The therapist told him to go back home and sit down with our daughter– admit to her that he did something very wrong and to apologize.

The therapist told him that he would assume this was a one-time occurrence but if it happened again…it would be reported.

I’m Going to be a Mom

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As a young child, I decided that I didn’t want to be a mom.  It seemed like SO MUCH responsibility.

You know those women whose eyes glaze over and they become weird when they see a baby?  They want to “smell” the baby and then claim that it is the “best smell in the world”.  That wasn’t me.  Everyone said that would change as I got older.

I was married at 26– still no urge to have a baby…27, 28, 29, 30….nope.  Still no urge.

At 30 years old, I found out that I was pregnant.  Every emotion in the world came flying at me 1.3 million miles per hour.  I was terrified.  I didn’t have a mom growing up and I didn’t know HOW to be a mom.  If you don’t have a role model for motherhood, the thought of being a mother can be quite daunting.  I didn’t have a support system– my family was 2,000 miles away and my husband was less than supportive.

I’ve been faced with many circumstances in life that would make most people crumble.  I cope with all things the same way:

1. I cry.  My nickname is “The Fountain” and the level of severity depends on the problem at hand- the tear scale varies between 1 tear and 100 tears.  After that, I call my “Aunt Bev” for advice.  She is a realist and will give it to me straight- whether I want to hear it or not.

2. I pull up my big girl panties (a quote that I am famous for repeating) and my tiara.

3. I access the situation and my options.

4. I put a smile on my face and I go forward.  Staying behind doesn’t sound appealing to me!

5. I am a fighter and I am a survivor- always have been and always will be.

When I discovered that I was pregnant, I did each of the above things in order except this time, they were maternity panties that I was pulling up.  If you’ve had the pleasure of pulling up maternity panties….one word: sexy!

I was going to be a mom!  I embraced my new path and I actually got excited about it.  I then decided that I wanted two daughters.  Leave it to me to go from zero to two children before my first trimester was complete and then go so far as to decide on the sex of the babies.  I was planning how far apart my “daughters” would be in age before my first ultrasound.  Two years- that was the plan.

I took advantage of every pregnancy perk this side of the Mississippi River:

1. I welcomed offers to cut in line in the bathroom.

2. “Stork Parking” at Babys R Us?  Yes, please.  I needed every product, gadget and nursery  item known to woman.  American Express loved me….a lot.

3. Cravings and food in general: “Why thank you,  I would like a bite of yours, too!”  (***I went from 118lbs to 167lbs– desserts were my friend).  I ate the same sandwich (a “Pismo Beach”) from our local coffee shop, Nautical Bean every day– twice a day.

In April of 2005, a 7lb 9oz little person came into my life and changed my world in every possible way.  My daughter taught me the meaning of being selfless and loving unconditionally.  Looking back, I couldn’t imagine my life without her.