Reflecting on Another Visit
This month, we celebrated my youngest daughter’s 7th birthday. Her father flew in to help us celebrate and I’m happy to say that the visit went as smoothly as it possibly could have given outside circumstances.
Dealing with the Outside
Remember my former landlord? You know, the one that allowed me to stay in his other home at no cost while I prayed, fasted, sang, and worked to figure out in which direction I would be going?
All at the same time, her dad struggled in solitude and silence dealing with cancer complications that he still has not fully disclosed to any member of his family…
Well, her dad’s things are still at the landlord’s house.
But the landlord has not responded to text messages or calls. And my daughter’s dad is very upset about the things that he left.
He seems to think that I got “played” because the landlord has (in his mind) taken his things hostage and has gone into what appears to be hiding.
What I found interesting is that before, the items in the house were HIS things. Now that he is trying to recover those items, they have transformed into OUR things. It would seem that he had an epiphany after his latest bout with cancer.
And he was talking about getting those things and placing them in my home. A home that he was also referring to as “ours.”
Dealing with the Inside
I honestly had to check the bitterness that was trying to resurface during this visit. I had to restructure the retaliatory questions that my EGO wanted to scream out at him.
“When did these things become ours?!”
“You wanted to sell the house out from under me at one point! You left and withheld any monetary contribution on your part. I had to continue paying the bills to keep me and the kids off the street!”
“How is it you weren’t going to move?! You told me you were done with this country and that I had to choose between my daughter and leaving with you…then you started packing stuff in boxes!!”
“You said you had a buyer for the car which would have left me on foot, in the mountains, kilometers from the nearest bus stop!”
“You left and didn’t return for TWO YEARS and you’re blaming that entire time frame on your cancer treatments?!”
“You didn’t bring your sorry tail back into the picture until you knew I had moved and you wanted to know where I was and where your things were! Admit it!”
Instead, I looked at him and said, “I can’t fight for those things. I would have no idea what I would be fighting for. They are your things. You never let me know what all is there. And we can’t say they are meant for [our daughter], because she has no connection or memory with any of that stuff.”
I also told him that I would help him find a liaison to help the attorney that he says he is talking to.
The Eye of the Storm
Some neighbors have asked why I don’t speak with the landlord myself. And I understand that they are asking because they are on the outside looking in.
They weren’t there during the hour-long conversations between me and my landlord. They weren’t there when I bawled more than once in the arms of my landlord’s pastor. They didn’t see the bathroom full of items her dad had packed to show me he was serious about leaving. They didn’t hear him tell me he had a buyer for the furniture, the business and the car. They didn’t know that I had lied to his sister when she asked if he was sending me money or helping me in any way. They had no idea that he had sent $200 for the girls’ Christmas gifts and then demanded that I send the money back.
Unless we are in a person’s house, we really don’t know their story. We haven’t walked their path.
I gave one neighbor who was trying to help a snippet of my story. He had actually walked down with my daughter’s father to talk to the landlord’s son.
After he listened to what I had to say, I could tell he wasn’t sure whose stance was right. My landlord’s or my daughter’s father. All my neighbor could say was the two men needed to speak to one another.
I agreed. And I made sure to mention it to my daughter’s father during our weekly call.
How is your communication?
Do you find it difficult to communicate with your child’s other parent? What method(s) do you implement to improve communication?
Improved Co-parenting Communication
One thing I’ve learned in my co-parenting journey (that might have helped earlier) is to learn how to communicate effectively with my children’s fathers. Of course, since none of us live under the same roof, we have to use online tools.
Well, as an introvert, I naturally don’t desire to have an “open-door policy” when it comes to my accessibility. But, I do want to make sure that the online communication tools I use:
- make conversations more convenient
- improve our ability to share information
- increase the frequency of sharing
- improve the quality of our conversations
These are things that weren’t happening before and it is essential that we are able to get to these points now for the sake of our children and our own well-being.
Jennifer Wolf recently updated her article, “5 Best Online Communication Tools for Co-parents.” I was surprised to find that I already use two of the tools she mentions to keep dads and other family members aware of what the girls have going on in their schedules.
Clair Gillespie, author at SheKnows, also has a “Best-in-Show” co-parenting apps list. She describes the apps in her list complete with cost and available free trials. You can read “The 7 Best Co-parenting Apps Out There” to check out her descriptions.
Interestingly enough, you’ll find that a few of the apps show up on both lists.
If you find that you need to improve (or document) your communication with your child’s father or mother, one of these tools might be a good fit for you.