My daughter’s father stayed with me for 6 days. Here’s what happened….

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The time has come again for my daughter to spend 6 days with her dad. It’s his turn to come to us, in Sydney. But bad news, he is not taking her on a trip. This means that my ex is staying at my house. He has been here just over 24 hours and the shit has already hit the fan.

Why is he staying at my house you ask? Because it’s in our court orders. Fun times.

Whenever he is due to visit, I feel excited about the prospect of getting to step out of my full time single parent shoes and having a little break. Yeah right. I should have learnt by now that life is 100% more stressful when he is staying here.

Here is my diary.

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My Ex and I – Day 1

It usually starts quite civil, until something happens and all hell breaks loose. This time it started a few hours after he arrived. Once he had settled in, and after he and my daughter had had their beautiful reunion, I decided it was time for me to go to the supermarket. I had been putting it off until he arrived, because who wants to go to the supermarket with a three year old in tow? Well my daughter wasn’t very happy about me leaving her. In fact she was quite hysterical about it. So in the end we agreed they would both come with me, however NO ONE was entering the supermarket, but me.

Things seemed to go swimmingly whilst I was gone, and my daughter persuaded her father to buy her a donut with pink icing and sprinkles. She has him wrapped around her little finger. I even convinced them both to go to the beach together afterwards and have fish and chips on the beach for dinner (special treat). Winning!

So when they returned AFTER her bed time, and they hadn’t been to the beach after all, let alone had dinner, I smiled whilst I tried to push aside my anger, bit my tongue, but silently screamed “WHERE IS THE F***ING COMMUNICATION????”. There I was relaxing, thinking I could clock off for the evening. My daughter would come home tired and fed. Her dad would help her with a shower and bed time, and I, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN TWO MONTHS COULD PUT MY FEET UP.

But no. Instead, I was rushing around trying to get dinner prepared for them, which they both didn’t like (because… lentils), before I knew the inevitable would happen… my daughter would absolutely lose her shit, because she was exhausted.

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What do you know? My daughter lost it. And who got the blame? ME!!!! ME!!!! Because I’m raising her the wrong way, and she acts out because of the way I parent. And everything is my fault because I broke up with him three and a half years ago, and blah blah blah. It’s the same and only conversation we have on repeat.

After everyone calmed down, and my daughter passed out, my ex and I sat in different rooms ignoring each other.

Day 1. Tick.

My Ex and I – Day 2

Today didn’t start off great. The problem is that I “expect” it to be my break. I shouldn’t expect it, I should know that it’s going to be the most intense 6 days of my life until the next time he comes. So when my daughter woke me up at the crack of dawn, I smiled and said “guess what? Daddy’s here. Go and see Daddy!”

Off she went, and I settled back into bed excited to get at least another three hours of sleep. “Ahhhhh”, I thought. “I don’t have to be in charge today”.

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Five minutes later she was back. “Daddy is sleeping” she whispered. WOW! I had no idea she could be so considerate of people sleeping. “So am I”, I whispered in reply. “Go and wake him up!”

This went on for a couple of hours, until I threw my hands in the air and gave up.

We went downstairs to find her dad fast asleep. How lovely.

OK I admit I probably didn’t wake him in the nicest way. “Are you kidding me?” I said (quite loudly). “It’s your turn! This is supposed to be my BREAK. I’m going back to bed”. I gave my daughter a big cuddle and told her daddy was awake now, and now it was my turn to sleep.

The two of them had a row within minutes of me returning to bed and there was hysterical screaming. I gave up on sleep, and raced downstairs. My daughter was crying and telling me that her dad didn’t love her. My heart broke. I told her that was absolutely not true, and we BOTH loved her very VERY much.

I tried to diffuse the situation between them, before I got another barrel of abuse thrown at me from my ex. It was pretty much the same as yesterday, except he threw a few “piss offs” in too. I gave him my wide eyed questioning “not impressed/quite cross with you” look that I give my daughter when she plays up, and told him firmly that his behaviour was absolutely not acceptable. And I would not tolerate that sort of language in my home. Did he need some quiet time? My daughter watched, wide eyed and amazed. She wasn’t the one in trouble for once.

It’s always difficult to manage his behaviour because on one hand I don’t want to add fuel to the fire by responding, but on the other hand, I want my daughter to know that treating people like that is not OK, and I will not accept it.

I told him “as we have seen from past experiences, it is best for everyone if we are not in the same place together for long”. I had already told him yesterday when I anticipated to be out, and when I would need to be home, and it would probably be best for everyone if we avoided being in the house at the same time.

Because it didn’t look like they were leaving anytime soon, I announced I was going to the gym, and I’d be back at 11:30 am and I’d be leaving again at 3:45 pm for the rest of the evening.

My daughter lost it again, because I was leaving. After the row she had had with her dad, she didn’t want to be with him. This set my ex off again. Everything was my fault again.

I thought I’d better get out of there ASAP.

It’s so hard knowing what the best thing to do is. My daughter is my number one priority, and I want to be there for her. But this then aggravates him more, which in turn is horrible for my daughter. What do you do?

So I left, with my daughter screaming for me. My heart broke again.

I went to Pilates, but found it pretty hard to relax. I called my ex as soon as I’d finished to see how my daughter was, and to my surprise he answered the phone. He was agitated and angry because he was lost trying to find Sky Zone (a trampoline park). My fault again. I calmly tried to direct him. They eventually found it.

I didn’t see them for the rest of the day, and when I got home at 11:30 pm (party animal!!!) they were both asleep.

It was a huge relief to see my daughter tucked up in bed. I had written my ex three text messages and tried to call him once asking if our daughter was OK. No response. I had also left instructions on how to operate the television, and how to turn the oven on. I had prepared a tuna pasta bake during the day and had already put it in the oven, ready to go before I left. No response, no “thank you”… silence.

I get a little anxious when he doesn’t respond. It’s silly I know, but I would prefer if we could just communicate with each other. So I was a little on edge whilst out at dinner with my friend, and I was happy to get home and see everyone was OK.

Day 2. Tick.

My Ex and I – Day 3

I knew I wouldn’t get a sleep in, so I wasn’t disappointed this time. I re-booted my mind set today. Besides, it was nice to have cuddles with my daughter and hear about her afternoon after I didn’t see her for most of the day yesterday.

We went downstairs, and all sat at the table and had breakfast together #happyfamily. There were only a few snide remarks thrown at me by me ex, which today, I chose to ignore.

It’s a bloody mission to get the guy out of the house. Yesterday I had written up a whole list of suggestions that he and my daughter could do together. I inquired about their plans for the day a couple of times, and slowly tried to gently nudge them out of the house. I thought it would be best if they left the house before me, after yesterday’s debacle and so just wanted them out ASAP before World War III broke out. At midday they finally left. Success! And my daughter was (relatively) happy too.

A spontaneous text from one of my best friends who lives interstate regarding dinner together tonight was a welcome relief. As a single mum, it’s not very easy to be spontaneous. Especially when you have your child full time. So it was great to have something to look forward to.

At 6 pm I was home cooking dinner for the two of them again. I’m starting to feel like I’m running a Bed and Breakfast. Another dramatic episode was carried out by my daughter when it was time for me to leave at 7 pm. She opened the front door with so much force that it crashed into a bookshelf knocking down a photo frame, which shattered all over the floor. I was starting to think I’d never get out of the house. But eventually my daughter calmed down, and I did get to go.

I spoke to my mum on the way to meet my friend and ranted to her for about 20 minutes about how this whole visit absolutely sucked, and it was far more stressful than me being on my own.

I had a wonderful evening with one of my besties though, and when I got home they were both fast asleep again.

Day 3. Tick.

My Ex and I – Day 4

My daughter had a pretty restless night. She was awake and restless for a good couple of hours. But thankfully slept until 8 am, so I got a bit of a sleep in. I even convinced her to go downstairs and see her dad.

When I left to go to the gym, she was actually COMPLETELY FINE. What a relief!

They were out for most of the day and there was a brief cross over at dinner time. We all had dinner together and in the evening I ducked out for a Podcast interview I had arranged. My daughter was fine; her dad had bribed her if she was well behaved when I left.

When I got home, my ex and I actually had a nice conversation. It was amazing. It lasted about four minutes. There was a brief moment, when I thought the conversation would spiral out of control again, but we managed to veer it back on track.

Day 4. Tick.

My Ex and I – Day 5

Today was a really great day. I went to the gym again whilst they went back to Sky Zone. There were no dramatic episodes #winning.

In the afternoon we all went to the city to get Santa photos done. It was the first year my daughter’s father was able to come so she was very excited. He was excited too… apparently (on the inside). We even all sat down together afterwards for a coffee.

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Afterwards, I thought I’d better leave them to it. It was good to leave while it was going well and there were no arguments. They went to the playground and then we all had dinner again together at home.

I even went out again that night. A friend and I went to a recording of the ABC’s Q&A which was quite interesting given the recent election and the new President Elect Trump. I can’t even remember the last time I went out for four nights in a row.

Day 5. Tick.

My Ex and I – Day 6

Today was another successful day with no major arguments occurring. In fact we haven’t had any major arguments since our four minute chat on Day 4. Admittedly we don’t talk often (mainly through our daughter), and I think we have gotten better at not being in the same place at the same time for long.

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My daughter and her dad were out all day flying a kite and going to the playground. It was his last day in Sydney and he is flying out tonight. We all had another lovely dinner together.

We had a brief argument right before he left as he demanded suddenly to see the group day care photo from 2015. I was a bit thrown and probably over reacted, but I didn’t like his demanding tone. PLUS, as if I can whip something like that out on the spot. I don’t even know where it was.

I did apologise and we moved on.

My daughter and her dad said goodbye not long after that. It was time for him to go. I asked him where my hug was, and to my surprise he gave me one. It ended on a good note!

Day 6. Tick.

The Aftermath

After my ex left, my daughter and I had lots of bonding and connecting time. We had a bath together before she went to bed. I have missed her. Even though I’ve seen her every day, it was her dad’s time with her so I stayed out of the way so they could have their own quality time.

Since he left, we have been talking a lot about daddy, and how we are going to miss him until the next time we see him (although hoping it’s not like our last visit). We talk often about all the fun things they did together, and her favourite moments with him.

There hasn’t been an emotional breakdown this time, unlike last time, and it’s been quite smooth sailing.

As much as my ex annoys me, I am so happy to have met him. Plus, I’m sure I annoy him just as much as he annoys me. We are just incredibly different. My daughter is the love of my life, and if her father and I hadn’t been in a relationship, we never would have had her. I will be forever grateful to him.

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