I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m 26, and still have a tinge of naivety, but I aways hold out hope that when I meet my ex to drop off our son, there won’t be any tension between us. I like to envision that every time we meet it’ll play out like we’re old colleagues; two people that have been in the trenches with one another. We may not have liked each other all of the time, but we can share a wry smile knowing we’ve seen some shit, and we can darkly chuckle about it.
But, of course, that is never how it goes. We hardly make eye contact. My attempt at a sunny disposition falls flat against his irritation and defensiveness. In our most recent exchange, I was less than thrilled to see that the carseat (that we unfortunately exchange, rather than having two)* was put in wrong, and when I calmly pointed out it needed to be installed correctly, my ex did what he has always done, and blamed me.
“Well you’re the one that put the car seat in”.
Ah, the gas lighting. I immediately had to rack my brain to remember if I had been the one who installed it two days prior. If it was me who put the carseat in, I know I always triple check to make sure it’s put in tightly and correctly.
His defensive response triggered me to go into my own defense mode. The one I was always in while we were together; where I had to sift through my memory with a fine toothed comb to make sure I wasn’t going crazy, and that I was actually remembering accurately.
Should what is supposed to be a 10 minute exchange have to be so exhausting? I wanted to fight him on it, but instead I dropped it and focused on how happy I was to see my child after two days of being apart.
I go through about 20 different emotions on the ride back home (we live two hours from one another and meet in the middle) after an exchange with my son’s father. I’m irritated at his behavior, I’m sad he and I still can’t just interact normally. I’m inquisitive as to what he did during his time with my son, yet I’m too worried that if I ask too many questions he’ll verbally lash out at me for not trusting him as a father. I’m angry at the fact that I even have to co-parent with this person who I’ve given so many chances to, and still somehow blames me for everything. I’m hard on myself for still being emotionally stressed by our situation. I also wonder if I’m being unfair, or not seeing clearly enough from my ex’s perspective.
He was an emotionally abusive partner, and I think because we had a child together and never gained any sort of true separation, that I still have a tendency to allow my emotions to act accordingly.
Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if the split had been amicable, and the emotional stakes hadn’t been so high.
Would our son’s pick ups and drop offs be completely different? Would we be able to grab coffee and discuss our child’s activities while in the other’s care?
I guess I don’t have a solution to this particular problem. The only thing that keeps me from getting more upset about it, is that our son is so happy to see the both of us when we pick him up.
It bother’s me that after nearly five years of knowing one another, the ice hasn’t thawed. Will it ever? Is it more sustainable for our particular situation that it doesn’t thaw?
Oh, the questions of a single-mother, just trying to exchange her babe with some level of harmony…
I guess we’ll see how the next one goes in Part 2.
*please don’t judge my passive aggressive behavior…but rather revel in it.