I woke up in bed next to my children to the sound of my phone blowing up. It was a string of text messages from HER.
“I won’t live in a war zone.”
“You two just are not compatible.”
“I can’t have this unpleasantness around my perfect grandchild.”
The night before flooded into my brain. “Fucking bitch,” I mumbled under my breath.
I picked up my phone and texted her back.
“We fight because of you. YOU are the issue. We deserve to have a chance to be parents to our children and raise them our way. I am the mother, you are the grandmother. Sam is my significant other. He and I should be the team, not you and him.”
“I know it hurts but he doesn’t want a family with you. He is a loner, always has been.”
“SAM ASKED ME TO MOVE IN. SAM WANTS ME HERE.”
“He only asked you here because he felt bad for you. It was only temporary. He said he would give you to the end of summer but now you’ve pushed it too far,” she concluded.
I was getting pissed.
“YOU invited yourself back here when you knew I was looking forward to spending the summer with my daughter, Donna. I haven’t had her all year. You have seen your granddaughter ten times more than I’ve seen my own child and you live halfway across the country! It is NOT ok for you to come here and play favorites with Sam’s daughter. It’s not ok to be taking her to Disneyland and leaving my kids out. Sam and I are a family, we should be taking care of OUR kids together. When I work he watches them, when he works I should be the one watching them. ALL OF THEM. That’s what functioning co-parents do!”
“I’m sorry but Sam doesn’t want a family with you. Sam asked me to come for the summer to help out.”
“You have been here for two months already, we need some space! Besides that, if Sam doesn’t want to be with me then he can tell me that himself!”
“He has been telling you that but you don’t listen.”
Grrrrr! I started texting Sam.
“Your mother is breaking up with me for you. What the hell, Sam?”
“Huh? I have no idea what’s going on. Why do you guys keep putting me in the middle?” He messaged back.
“Go talk to that stupid bitch now!” I ordered. “She’s telling me you don’t want me here.”
“I just don’t want to fight.”
“STAND UP FOR ME! NOW SAM!”
But as usual, he didn’t.
A few minutes later he came into the bedroom and told me that he read all of his mother’s texts. He said I was delusional, that she never told me I had to leave. But that I could stay until the end of summer.
…if I kept my mouth shut of course.
I began packing my bags anyway. The last time I was told to leave by a narcissist and didn’t, a false restraining order had been issued against me. I would be damned if I allowed something like that to happen again. Not only that, but I couldn’t stand the way Donna treated my children. I had to take a stand for them.
I had waited all year for my court battle to finally end. When my ex husband, Beans, refused to return my daughter after a two week visit to his home and instead enrolled her in school a year earlier than planned. Immediately, I went to the police.
“I share the custody of my daughter with my ex husband. He is refusing to return her to me. He has enrolled her in a school, in your state, without my permission, what are my options?” I had asked them that day.
“Sorry but we can’t respond to cases like this. You must take it up with the court.”
So that’s what I did!
A week before school was to start I had reopened the custody case. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given a court date until December. Even though I went ahead and requested an emergency hearing, it was denied and we hadn’t attended the actual trial until March, almost the very end of the school year. I had only seen my five year old daughter a total of three weeks during the entire year.
It was the afternoon following a lonely Mother’s Day the envelope containing the verdict finally arrived.
I was off work early that day and had promised to take the neighbors son to the park with my son and step daughter, unknowing that the verdict was sitting in my mail box.
I arrived back to the house in the late afternoon. I greeted my step daughter and told her and my son to change into their after-school clothes in an effort to ready them for the park with their friend.
*Of course Donna would be joining us too. Not just because she tagged along on almost everything we did, but Sam had decided somewhere along the line, that I was no longer allowed to be trusted to take his daughter anywhere alone.
“Something came in the mail for you today,” Sam’s mother, Donna, informed me once I was through the door.
“Oh?” I asked, curious.
“Looks like it’s from the court.”
“Oh no, that must be it.”
“It came earlier but I didn’t know if you would want me to tell you about it when you were at work. Last time something like this arrived, you were upset at Sam for doing that.”
“No, thank you. I would have had an anxiety attack there and probably been pretty useless until I clocked out. Yes, thank you. You totally did the right thing.”
I picked up the envelope and opened it slowly.
I scanned past a few pages of redundancy before I saw it.
“Father maintains full physical custody of the child during the school year.”
“What the hell?” I whispered. “She missed 12 days of school! Beans isn’t even responsible for getting her to school! My son has missed zero days! Beans lives with his parents in Nevada! My daughter’s siblings are here in California! How can this be?”
Just then, the door bell rang.
“Who is that?” Donna questioned.
“Oh crap! The neighbor! I was supposed to take the kids to the park!”
I jumped up to answer the door.
“I’m so sorry,” I apologized to my neighbor, “I just got the verdict from my custody battle, I lost my daughter.”
As soon as the words escaped my mouth, a flood gate of tears burst through my eyes.
“I’m so sorry! I don’t mean to cry on you… I just opened the letter a second ago and… sorry.”
My neighbor acted fast.
“It’s ok! I’ll take the kids next door to my house to play for a few hours instead.”
“Oh my God, thank you,” I said.
“Is not a problem! You need a little time to absorb.”
“Thank you so much.”
“Come on guys,” she ushered the kids out the front door.
“NOOOOOO!” Donna screamed. “Not my granddaughter! She has to stay here!”
“It’s fine Donna,” I assured her.
“She will be fine,” the neighbor reassured.
Donna’s face flashed white, “My granddaughter will not go there!”
“Donna, the kids go next door all the time. Sam is fine with it,” I countered.
Before Donna could stop her, the neighbor already had the kids walking down the sidewalk.
In a huff, Donna picked up her phone and scurried to the bedroom to call Sam. I sent him a text about what had happened, sat down in front of the computer and began researching what I would need to do to appeal the court’s decision.
A few minutes later my phone rang. It was Sam.
“I really don’t want my daughter at the neighbors,” he scolded me.
“What? What are you talking about? You have let her go there before.”
“That was because I was down the street and could check in.”
“I’m next door Sam, I can check in. I just got my court verdict. I lost.”
“That sucks. I’m sorry. But you already know my ex doesn’t want you watching her.”
“Your mom can check the fuck in then! Whatever! She just threw a fit in front of the neighbor a second after I read the verdict. I was crying in front of everyone, it was really embarrassing.”
“I’ll tell her she needs to be more considerate next time,” he promised.
“This is nuts Sam, you know that right? It’s not healthy. Your mom insists that the neighbor watch my son because she doesn’t want to, you allow that. Yet neither of you think the neighbor is good enough to watch your daughter? You won’t even stand up to your ex about me watching your daughter when you watch my kids all the time. Those are ALL double standards!”
“Explain to me how it is different.”
There was silence.
“It just is.”
Frustrated, I hung up on him as Donna entered the room.
“It’s not safe for little girls to be with strangers. It’s different with boys,” she began lecturing me. “Predators don’t go after boys.”
“That’s not true Donna! Boys are just as susceptible, if not more so. But that’s not the point! We know the neighbors, we watch each others kids all the time. Sam allows his daughter to go over there,” I pointed out once again.
“Only if he’s here to check in on her! That’s what he told me!”
My blood began to boil as my frustration grew.
“You can’t shelter her like that, it’s not healthy and she feels left out. The kids need to be equals!”
Were these people retarded? What was up with all these double standards? It only got worse, but I’ll have to tell you about that later.