Why I will no longer stay with my ex, or have him stay with me.
Someone asked me on Instagram recently why I stay with my ex when I take my daughter to see him in Perth. It’s a good question. I can see why to an outsider this may seem bizarre, but this has been our normal for the last few years.
There is no simple answer for this. When my daughter and I moved back to Sydney from Perth shortly after she was born, her dad dropped out of her life for seven months. When my daughter was one, he started getting involved again and we took turns visiting each other interstate so my daughter and her dad could spend time together. At that point I certainly wasn’t going to drop off a baby to a man whom she barely knew, and let him take care of her for a week. Particularly when our communication with each other was so poor. I was also still breastfeeding her. So I stayed too.
He had no interest in listening to anything about her routine and blocked me when I wasn’t there. He had never been alone with her for a night. It took me a long time to feel comfortable leaving her with him. She was two and a half when she had her first night alone with him. Over that year and a half I facilitated any contact between the two of them that I could. I took my baby to Perth so she could see her dad, and so he could see her. I let him stay in my home when he was in Sydney so he could really maximize his time with her. I always stayed at his house too. And I initiated as much contact between them as possible.
When my daughter was almost three, he dropped out of the picture a second time. All because he was furious that the court had granted my daughter a passport. This time we didn’t hear from him for over eight months. But then he came back.
Currently their relationship and bond is growing, which is great.
It is also in our court orders that we provide accommodation to each other when we visit each other interstate for our daughter. I could put him up in a hotel when he is in Sydney, but I have allowed him to stay at my house so they can make the most of their time together. The other option is that I could stay in a hotel or with family or friends, and he could stay at my home with our daughter. But truth be told – I don’t want him alone in my space and in my home that I have set up for my daughter and I. He is also a snoop and I don’t trust him around my things.
Now my daughter is at an age where she is OK without me. I don’t HAVE to stay at his house when I’m in Perth. I have started staying with friends sometimes, or I stay in a hotel if the environment where the two of us are in the same space is too toxic for my daughter. Earlier this year I went on a trip by myself for six days whilst she had her time with her dad.
There are however two issues that I have when I’m not staying with them. The first is that I worry for my daughter in regards to her dad’s patience (or rather lack of). He is not used to being around a small child so he often doesn’t cope with toddler antics very well. It can get very heated and I believe it is not an ideal situation for my daughter to be in. When I returned from my six day trip last time, my daughter was traumatised due to his behaviour. I want to be able to comfort her and be an emotional support to her. At the same time, I know I have to accept that I have no control over what happens when my daughter is at her dad’s house. I am just very protective of her.
Second of all, our interstate co-parenting lifestyle is expensive. Every time I fly us to Perth and back it costs me $1,200 in flights alone. Sometimes when I can’t stay with friends, I stay in a hotel so I am away to keep the peace. But then there are the additional expenses that add up – hiring a car, and food for example. It can easily add an extra $1,000 to my trip, and when I’m doing that several times a year, it can cost me over $8,000 a year. I could go on several fabulous holidays with my daughter instead with that money.
It is a lose lose situation because if I stay with him, then I have to deal with his potential nastiness and aggression. And I am potentially putting my daughter in a very toxic environment where she has to witness how horrible he is to me. If I don’t stay with him, then I have to potentially deal with the consequences of how my daughter is affected when he can’t manage his anger. I also have to spend a lot of money on hotels and extras when I could be using that money instead to take my daughter on a holiday or two (we had a wonderful holiday together in Fiji during the second time that her dad dropped out of the picture that you can read about here).
I agree it may seem unusual to some, but I have been trying to create harmony in a pretty shitty situation.
However since our visit to Perth this time, and the extremely unhealthy environment that it created for my daughter, I have changed my tune. I don’t think it is mentally healthy for any of us to be in the same space together.
On my last evening staying with them, my daughter and her dad returned from a particular outing. My daughter came running into the house, and was very upset. Her dad had said some bad words about me that involved some foul language. I was absolutely fuming when I heard what he had said and how upset my daughter was. It is totally not on to bad mouth the other parent to a child. I really believe that it can be so damaging to children.
I have decided enough is enough. He has crossed a line with me, and I will no longer be having my ex in my home. Nor will I stay with my ex in his home.
I will be attempting to get the court orders changed because I now believe that it is in my daughter’s best interest for us not be in the same space together. I tried very hard for four years to build a positive co-parenting relationship with my ex, but I now know that for us, it will never be. It is now causing her more damage than good. I know I may have to heal my daughter emotionally after a visit with him, but in general she has a good time with him. But it is better for her if I’m not there.
DID YOU KNOW?
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