By Friday night, I was dreading the thought of 8 hours working a conference while simultaneously keeping a 2-year-old entertained. I kept dwelling bitterly on the thought of “I shouldn’t HAVE to choose between making money and spending time with my daughter,” so my defiant solution was to combine the two options. The logistics were starting to materialize a very BAD situation in my mind.

She was awesome. She was an image of toddler perfection. She didn’t go to the darkside once. She flirted with the participants. She laughed at the police dogs. She served cookies and milk. People were coming up to me and saying how smart and friendly and wonderful she was. I was basking in selfish pride.

 There was no Finding Nemo to distract her, no playground to entertain her. It was just 8 hours of mommy and daughter time; talking, reading, playing with puzzles, pretending to shop, putting Ariel to bed, painting with watercolors, and yes, eating lots of cookies. At the end of the day, after we had cleaned up and collected paperwork, I was completely exhausted, but the satisfaction was oh so sweet.

I kept salavting on this thought: Maybe just being near me is enough to make her happy?  Which could also translate simply into: She likes me, she really likes me!

I’ve been thinking about my initial reaction to being away from LB, and how depressed it made me. I started to realize that maybe I’m scared to be without her, because it intensifies the lonelinessof single parenting. At least when she’s nearby, I have a purpose; I feel useful and needed. When she’s gone, what’s my purpose?  I know this may sound pathetic, but every decision, action and intent I’ve had in the past 2 years have been centered around what she needs, and my brain is having a hard time unhinging from that.

 I don’t want to think about how lonley I am, so I cling to my daughter’s presence. In way, I’ve become co-dependent on LB, and that’s not fair to her.

What I discovered on Saturday is being away from her has given me a deep appreciation of the time I DO get to spend with her. I get to see how intelligent, inquisitive, enjoyable and beautiful she is. This may just be a coping mechanism I’ve created in order to deal with separating from the child I gave birth to, but I think this philosophy may do me some good.

I’m filing for a modification of child support. I’m paying almost $250 more than I originally filed as my childcare expense. They increased the tuition about a month after I received an order, and I didn’t want to go through the paperwork again. Now I really have no choice. Its obvious that I can’t foot the bill anymore and I might as well try everything I can to recieve the child support that’s owed to LB.

Merry Christmas ya filthy animal Rooferman.

Hurting the Public

I had absolutely no time to blog yesterday. I didn’t even have time to eat lunch. I lost count of how many angry phone calls I answered. Here’s a recap:

  • One mom told me I obviously didn’t know what I was talking about, and I might as well forward her to someone who “can actually make decisions.”
  • Another mom screamed and threatened and eventually started crying after 15 minutes on the phone with me.
  • A grandma came into my office and asked if there was “anyone here who actually knew what they were doing.”
  • Another mom told me that the way we are running our program this year is wrong, completely unfair to working parents, and she will take this up with the board of education.
  • The most common response was “You’re kidding, right?”
  • The nicer parents were the ones who told me “Well, I know this really isn’t your fault, BUT….”

Due to confidentiality, I’m not going to blog about what program is being met with such resistance. Those of you who live in Durango and have school aged kids, I’m sure you know what program I’m talking about. Ever since my boss was told that changes needed to happen this year, or else the program wouldn’t exist, I have been dreading the beginning of this school year. Why? because I feel for the parents. Hell, I AM one of those parents. I don’t have alternative options, extra resources and a variety of choices.

How do I tell a mom who is crying because they are about to foreclose on her house that, no, I can’t make an exception? I can’t defer her payment until September. How do I tell a mom who is currently going back to school that she needs to pay for services upfront, even though tuition, books, and college supplies have drained her entire bank account for the month of August? How do I tell my single mom neighbor that her three kids are going to be turned away from the program because she hasn’t pre-enrolled them?

I hate my job right now. I hate hurting parents. I hate being the bad guy to people I don’t even know, and who definitely don’t deserve to be screwed over. I can hear people’s voices cracking over the phone. I can hear them trying to keep it together, hoping they can keep themselves under control. I hear that aching silence on the other end of the line after I give them an answer they don’t want to hear.

You can feel the tension everywhere: at the gas station, in the grocery store, at the bank, and by the time moms & dads get to my office, its the last straw. I’m cannon fodder for people feeling the squeeze.

My boss came over to my desk at the end of the day and said “I think you should talk to my husband.” Her hubby is a therapist. She also offered to watch LB so I could take her tickets to the Bar-D Wranglers last night.

Man, I must look pretty busted.

I thanked her and politely declined. I didn’t have the energy to be social, to fake another smile. I just wanted to go home and sink into the couch. I did exactly that, while LB played on the floor with her aquadoodle. As I stared up at my ceiling fan, and felt the heat of my apartment surround my already sweaty body, I wept.

I wept for the mom who is going to lose her house. I wept for my neighbor who was fired from her job yesterday. I wept for LB, who keeps coming into my room at 4 am, shaking with sobs. I wept for the woman thee doors down who was thrown through her bedroom window Tuesday night . And I wept for myself, cause school hasn’t even started yet.