You think it’s Easy Being A Bitch?


Warning:  *This is a rant post* A good one, but a long one.

When I tell people that it took massive amounts of forgiveness to arrive at the level of coparenting that I have accomplished with my ex husband, I am not exaggerating.  

When I walked away from that marriage, I left him with the house and almost everything that was inside of it.  I took my girls, our old camping dishes, and some old basement furniture.  He racked up a $900.00 phone bill in my name, because of the obscene amount of text messages he had exchanged with his new girlfriend.  I couldn’t afford to pay it, so my phone got shut off and turned into collections.  His mom bought him a new cell phone and paid the bill for him.  My mom didn’t even know my phone was shut off, because she refused to talk to me, because she was mad about the divorce.  

He quit his job as an assistant bank manager, to work a minimum wage job in a screw factory, so his child support would be next to nothing.  Three days after the divorce was finalized, he had a job lined up making over $50k per year.  I could not afford the $100.00 fee to file a motion in court and have his support raised.   So the girls and I struggled while he flourished.

All of my money went to rent and daycare.  I had to wash laundry in my bathtub because I couldn’t afford the laundromat.  And he was all over Facebook, taking his new girlfriend to fancy restaurants and staying in fucking castles for the weekend.   

A few years into the divorce, he inherited about a quarter of a million dollars in assets from his grandfather, including a house, classic cars, property, and two newer vehicles that were all paid for with cash.  He also inherited plenty of cash.

My grandmother passed away that same year. My inheritance consisted of her beloved coffee mug that says , ‘You think it’s easy being a bitch?’ And even though it seems like life can be unfair, I fucking love that cup.  My dad filled it with Hershey’s kisses when he gave it to me.  A little reminder that sometimes you have to be a bitch on the outside to protect the sweetness within.  And if you are truly a good person, than being a bitch can be the most difficult thing to be.  But being a bitch is essential to the survival of modern day women.  My grandmother taught me feminism in a million different ways and because of that, my inheritance was worth so much more than his will ever be.

I have had my job for fourteen years.  I make decent money.  But it was never enough to pay for everything.  And even though I am better off now than I was back then, my financial life since the divorce has been my greatest struggle.  

And now this mother fucker has the audacity to tell me that he wants custody of my youngest daughter because he fell in love a few months ago and his new girlfriend will be able to stay home with her, rather than have our fifteen year old daughter babysit.  He thinks that I am unreasonable for making my teenage daughter spend her summers as a daycare lady.  

I think it keeps her out of trouble and I see it as us being a team and making our little family work with what we’ve got.  The money that I save in daycare costs is enough to pay for that daughter’s brand new iPhone 7 and a few summer getaways.  For example, we’re driving to Kentucky this weekend to watch the great American eclipse in it’s totality.  A trip that I absolutely can not afford.  But I can’t really afford to miss it either.  When science this glorious falls upon the earth, we are driving eight and a half hours to witness it!  

Aside from the summer daycare, there’s a half hour before and after school that she babysits while I’m at work, and I have the flexibility to rearrange my schedule when my oldest daughter has after school activities.  This system works great for everyone involved until he starts interfering and telling the girls that they shouldn’t have to do anything to help.  He doesn’t understand the value of responsibility because he has never had any.  

One month ago I was hiking through the upper peninsula with my ex husband and bragging about our incredible coparenting skills.  Today, I am fantasizing about choking him.  
He actually said that he missed out on our older daughter’s life, so he wants to make that up with a chance to raise our younger daughter.  

I’m sorry….What? 



He is the one who decided to move 100 miles away from us after the split.  I would have never…no matter what…moved 100 miles away from my kids.  He made that choice, not me.  And now he is expecting me to just hand my daughter over to him and his new family and just accept the fact that the little girl who I have raised on my own for the past six years will now live 100 miles away from me.  Not happening.  Not a fucking chance.

My eight year old daughter resents me now, because I won’t let her change schools and live with her dad.  She loves him.  She misses him terribly.  And she should, he is a great dad!  He fucking shines at being a divorced dad..every other weekend and a few weeks out of the year.  But she was too young to remember his violent temper.  She doesn’t know that her hero of a dad punched holes in our walls and knocked out three windshields.  She doesn’t remember him trashing the kitchen in a tantrum over his lost keys.  She didn’t see all the neighbors rush out to their front porches while he screamed in my face and threw garbage cans at me.  She only sees him in small doses, while he is on his best behavior.  He knows and is aware that even one outburst while the kids are with him, and his weekends will be reduced to nothing.  He has two weekends every month to put on a smile and be the fun guy, the one they love to be with because he is a good dad.  But he is not a good person, and he should not be in charge of raising children just because he found a girlfriend who is willing to help him.  

I have worked really hard at forgiving him.  It’s a process , but I have absolutely found forgiveness here.  However, I have not and will not forget what he has put me through.  

I will give him 100% in an effort to coparent.  I will consistently bend over to help in any way that I can.  But when he starts fucking with my kids, feeling entitled and thinking I owe him a second chance to get it right, I will unleash my inner bitch like he has never seen before.  She has been very hard at work, growing boundaries and learning how to defend them.  

Just like my Grandmother’s cup asks … You think it’s easy being a bitch?  It’s not!  I want so badly to let my guard down and have a genuine friendship.  But that guard protects me.  Every person who has ever broken the barrier has fed their ego with my bones.  I’m all done being a blood doll.  I’m a bridge burning woman, now.  Because I have to be.  

And I knew it all along. 

*end rant*

The Aftermath 

I recently wrote a post about my week on Lake Superior with my ex husband and our children.  I wrote about how awesome it was to vacation with an ex, because it was amazing for our children to experience being a ‘together’ family.  My eight year old is actually self conscious about being a child of divorce.  

I always assure her, that when she gets older, she will have more friends of divorced parents than not.  And then I tell her that since she went through it first, that she will be a great friend to help the newbies when they experience it.  Still, she was so happy to go on that vacation, to have her dad around.  I wrote about the absolute joy it was to actually have an ex husband that I can get along with.  It really was a great week.

What I haven’t written about is the crippling depression that followed our adventures.  I crashed hard after the high of being part of the family that we could have been for a short time.  It was incredibly emotional for me to experience that, only to have my kids go with their dad for two whole weeks right after.  I went from having everything that ever meant anything back for a week to being completely alone, in a day.  My girls have never been gone this long.  It has been a dark time for me.

These emotions are more complex than what I’m used to.  It has nothing to do with wanting my ex back.  I absolutely do not want my ex back.  But at the same time, he remains the only man I’ve ever really loved.  He represents my greatest achievement, being a mother with a family of my own.  He also represents my greatest failure, tearing that family apart and struggling ever since.

It was the nostalgia of the way it used to be.  It was talking with my ex mother-in-law, who I love talking with now.  But also remembering that she used to drive me insane.  And then realizing that I always took her unconditional love for granted, because I didn’t really know what the hell to do with it.  I resented her for being everything my own mother wasn’t. I pushed her away, divorced her son, and she is still the closest thing to a loving mom that I have ever had.

It was listening to the old CD’s and talking about our first date.  It was reminiscing about bringing our little girls home from the hospital.  It was admitting that we had both done wrong, understanding that we went through it all together, and seeing each other as both family and strangers in a vulnerable new blending of the people we had become after hurting each other for ten damn years.  

And while he drove off with our girls in his truck, on his way to see his patient new girlfriend and assure her that his heart is hers now and no longer belongs to me, I was left in the emotional wake of being completely alone.  Just me and the cats, sitting around thinking about how my life has been a series of bad decisions that landed me alone in a trailer and crying over the fact that my kids really are probably better off living with their dad.  He is building a home and a family for them that I will never be able to give.  He cooks beautiful and healthy meals and manages his money like an accountant.  I can barely take care of myself some days and am starting all over again in life because I fell in love with another guy who couldn’t stand me.  

And this is the darkest side of single parenting.  The guilt never really goes away.  The pressure of doing it all never really becomes bearable.  And sometimes you sit and think about how much better it would be for them if you weren’t in the picture.  And then you remember that you love them enough to try harder.  So you get up off your whining ass and get started with rebuilding your damn life again.  Because eventually, if you keep trying, you know you will get it right.  And if you don’t, they will at least know that you tried.  And kept trying.  For them.

The Crab and the Kite


So I spent the past week rambling through Northern Michigan with my ex-husband, our two daughters, and a three-legged American bull dog. It was a crowded 900 miles altogether, packed into the extended cab of a Silverado with pillows and blankets and Capri suns. I was nervous about this co-parenting experiment with the guy whom I spent the entire decade of my twenties with. We have always done little dinners or day trips every once in a while. We’ve done holidays together and apart. We have also had some challenges over the past six years, since the split. I wasn’t sure how this was going to play out. This was our first week long family vacation. I was hopeful, but apprehensive about how this trip would feel, to me or the kids. It’s a little strange to spend a week as the family that we used to be, but that no longer exists.


It couldn’t have gone any better. Everyone was happy. Our fourteen year old daughter had no service on her cell phone. She played scrabble and laughed so hard, she had to hold her belly. We had a family joke, where she said that I looked like a Susan and her dad looked like a Brad. Then she joked about making ‘Starter Pack Memes’ with our new names. Like the Brad Starter Pack would include a vape pen and Jordans and some shitty techno music. The Susan starter pack would include tarot cards and cats and cheap leggings from Dollar General. We made up names for the girls and carried this cheesy joke through the whole trip. I think that joke will end up being our favorite souvenir.  


My eight year old went fishing, and impressed her grandfather with the ability to bait and remove her own hook. She smiled so much, her cheeks hurt. I think ‘Brad’ and I both enjoyed the scenery of watching our girls play together, and discover the breathtaking beauty of Northern Michigan, along the Lake Superior coastline. We had real, family conversations about the steady stream of changes in all of our lives, while hiking through a wild wonderland of beautiful waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, and forests that could heal your soul.  


We got to be those nerdy parents who sat by the fire and shared dating advice with our fourteen year old daughter while we drank some two hearted ales, just miles away from the actual river that beer is named after. Our daughter got to engage in a very entertaining conversation about how we met, and the things that we went through, and how she came about, and how much we loved her. It was the kind of conversation that could have never happened, had we stayed together. Because her dad and I have dated other people off and on for the past six years, we both have a lot of knowledge to share in that department.  


There we were, in our old tattoos that used to read each other’s names, now covered up by a crab and a kite, explaining how dating was different in the nineties, and how some things will never change. My daughter must have been impressed to receive dating advice from her divorced and relationally dysfunctional parents as we sipped just enough alcohol to take the edge of the awkwardness off. But I will bet you, she will remember that night for the rest of her life. She will know that her parents love her enough to plan a crazy divorced family vacation for her. And she will tell her children one day of the time we hiked to Mosquito Falls, uphill both ways, with a three-legged dog and a family that stayed a family even though it exists in different households and in different cities.


Now that the trip is over, and life is back to normal, I am filled with gratitude for the way things turned out.


 And I am very proud of the fact that my children will continue to benefit from a truce that turned into a genuine friendship.

Back to Reality 


My ex husband and I have been spending a lot of family time together. We’ve sat down to have dinner as a family every time we meet up to swap kids for the weekend. I absolutely love that my little divorced family still shares a meal together every couple of weeks. A lot of ‘together’ families don’t even do that anymore.  

Lately those dinners have branched out into Sunday afternoons of hiking together and going to the theater. We’ve even discussed taking a vacation together this summer.   It feels like it’s a bit too much.  

I’m not going to lie, it feels good to get out and cover up that single parent shame. It feels good to see other families out together, and not long for that primal feeling of belonging to a tribe. Because I have that belonging feeling when I am with my family, even when we’re just pretending to be complete.  

I felt awkward when the lady at the park asked how old my dog was. I had walked my ex husband’s three-legged American bull dog down to the lake for a drink. I just looked at her, wondering if it was worth the effort to explain that I had no idea how old the dog was, because he belonged to my ex husband.  

‘He’s three.’ I was impressed with my ability not to share my story. To just keep it short and simple.  

The truth is, every one is always complimenting us on how well we coparent our children after the divorce. And we do an amazing job of it, now. But it hasn’t always been this smooth. It hasn’t always felt like a genuine friendship. It does now. But that friendship comes with a price.  

I am sitting here, smoking a hookah, getting my night cap on, thinking about how I will graduate in one week from massage school. A career I was pursuing when I had met my ex husband. I’m thinking about the two hour phone conversation last night that started out about the kids and ended with reminiscing about our first date when we got high on my parents front porch and listened to the frogs in the pond. We joked about how his suitcase was always packed because we fought so much and he was always running away. And I would always call him back. It felt like a conversation we would have had when we were dating. It feels like I’m time traveling through the late nineties. 

And my eight year old daughter cried after he left this past weekend. She has never done that before. She asked me so sweetly through her tears why her dad and I couldn’t get back together. ‘It can’t be so hard to just get married again.’ She demanded. I couldn’t help but laugh, appreciating her innocence and naïveté. I started to realize that all this family time was having an impact on her, that we hadn’t expected. It was having the same impact on me. Nostalgia is a seductive liar.  

Maybe spending so much time together is not as healthy as we had thought. It was like taking your dream car out for a test drive, and then walking home. A thrill for sure, but not realistic. So many obstacles lie between the car and me. The last time I drove it, the car was mine and I walked away. I didn’t want that car after I had it. I hadn’t wanted that car in years. But lately, I’ve been remembering all the things I loved about that car. Maybe the car reminds me of home. Maybe the car is my daughter’s idea of normal.  

There’s an aching inside me right now that wants to give her normal. But normal has never been an option in my life. I could never risk her heart to split our family up again. We have to keep aiming our lives in separate directions, because the pull towards family is very strong. But the pull towards each other is not.  

This retrograde is pulling at heart strings I had tucked away a very long time ago.