2005-06-22 - 11:37 a.m.
I just realized something that I think important to consider:
Since a HUGE source of discontent and conflict in my relationship with WESTELY has to do with my difficulty in being on time and his INTOLERENCE of that- he takes it as a personal affront and is HURT when I am not on time for something relating to him.... the thought of us SHARING a car, and he in fact ever relying on me to drop him off at work SEEMS LIKE A FUNDAMENTALLY BAD IDEA!
After further discussion with him last night in which he articulated that he bought the VOLVO for me to have a safe car to USE not as an ASSET, and that although I can of course sell it if I want to-- he thinks it not a very nice thing for me to do considering as of winter HE has been using it and maintaining it. He said he thinks I should reconsider just telling the court I am out of money, showing them the copy of our nuptial and my own income statement and get a court appointed attorney.
I suppose I should seriously consider that. But I have been reluctant to even consider that as to do so means the STRENGTHS of my case WHICH ARE THE ADVANTAGES of income and opportunities that the kids CAN'T get with their DAD are then made moot. I can't very well argue quality of life differences VERY EFFECTIVELY if I claim I PERSONALLY fall below the poverty line too....That't a TRUTH I think irrelevant because although I AM A DEPENDENT and make no money, Westely in fact DOES provide many advantages for the kids than they wouldn't otherwise have. OK so right now things are tight... but in a little time I am sure we will be back on track and as soon as I am working again all my income goes to family discretionary spending for wants and desires like music and dance lessons! But the kids being the stellar kids they are that win competitions and scholarships I think that in the end those opportunity differences are not ALL THAT important... except that Katerina hasn't had a violin teacher. I don't know HOW important that REALLY is to her. She hasn't been horseback riding and I KNOW she misses that.... but if we had NORMAL visitation I could then at least facilitate those activities for her on weekends with me in the long run. I won't be out of the work force FOREVER! But regardless of whether it REALLY means any substantial differences for the kids or not I think it LOOKS better for me to have the private attorney while my EX is considered the indigent! There really is a HUGE difference between being personally without income by CHOICE because you live a fine lifestyle while being a supported STAY AT HOME MOM, than being in the poverty indigent status due to mental illness and substance abuse problems that have interfered with ones ability to work consistentely and develop a work history that enables one to get decent employment. I mean the guy is going to have a hell of a time EVEN NOW despite if he cleaned himself up as he will ALWAYS carry his past history with him.
I too carry my past history-- and its a strong one I am very proud of! In some ways it is a saving grace for me that during the times I failed the BAR exam I can just discuss having been home with children! ON an ancillary note (isn't almost all my writing of that nature? Blame loving James Joyce and being Irish...) my peers in LAW SCHOOL, ALSO have had trouble and failed the NY BAR a few times. AND NOT JUST ONE OR TWO Of THEM... a few.... considering about 50 %of those that take it FAIL the first time I am not too surprised by this. Fortunately I have OTHER peers who were friends who have had stellar careers thus far! (Not all my friends are the losers! HA HA!....) But really back to the point... I am HOLDING OUT AS LONG AS I CAN to maintain my private attny and will continue to grapple with how to handle this. THERE HAS TO BE A WAY... I am NOT ONE TO GIVE UP and my short term goal is to keep my attny MOTIVATED and not piss her off too much by arguing with her. I've been trying to follow her advice all along and keeping my ego in check.. but it hasn't WORKED well for me. So with the shitty settlement I am now taking GREATER control of she who is working for me. And in doing so I am undoubtedly stressing her... so at the very least I will do all in my power to PAY HER BILL and then move forward from here with either a new attny if I can manage to get the VA one to work on this... or maybe swallow my pride and go for the court appointed one and cross my fingers it isn't a horrid move... or PUFF UP that EGO and think I HAVE BEEN ON TRACK AND CLEAR SIGHTED ABOUT THIS ALL ALONG... and go in PRO SE and try to REFOCUS the whole thing back to SOLELY THE POINTS ON THE PETITION AND MY RESPONSE.
I think my GUT instint was dead on, that a better attny would have done that from the get go: all the other discussion is indeed ANCILLARY and off point. In the end if we go to trial the statements ALLEGED in the petition ARE ALL I need to focus on! I can RE-DIRECT all discussion back to them! And looking at FACTS and then applying the LAW to them... I STILL don't see HOW I CAN LOSE. To me it seems SO DAMN CLEAR.
VA has a statatorily protected right for parents in loco to use Corporal Punishment. (Read the SERIES of Unfortunate EVENTS book ! for a great exposition of that!)
Westley did so.
UNLESS there was a CLEAR CASE of ABUSE which LEGALLY has to be determined BY EVIDENCE of PHYSICAL HARM....
So in a court the kids WOULD COME BACK TO ME
as despite what they want THEY ARE NOT YET SIXTEEN so their wishes while considered are not controlling.
NY ONLY HAD JURISDICTION IF AND ONLY IF THERE WAS A CLEAR CASE OF EMERGENCY.... the CPS guy, LOUDOUN COUNTY and the initial social worker from ERIE all determined THERE WAS NO EMERGENCY and even that NY Social Worker assessed THE KIDS SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM MY HOME
IT HELPS ME TO WRITE THIS ALL OUT SO I AM NOT INTIMIDATED BY THE LAW GUARDIAN and MY ATTORNEY HERSELF who act like its SUCH A CLEAR CASE THAT THE KIDS SAY THEY ARE AFRAID OF WESTLRY SO THE JUDGE WILL ORDER MY EX CUSTODY
I think the issue of their FEAR is VERY IMPORTANT FEAR OF WHAT??
No one even probed into what they are REALLY AFRAID OF.... The social worker seemed to think they were AFRAID OF GETTING IN TROUBLE and indeed AFRAID OF SPANKING AND BEING YELLED AT She actually seemed to think that they also didn't like THE ADDED WORK FROM BEING ON A FARM... she herself seemed to think they PREFERRED the added attention and EASIER lifestyle that they have in BUFFALO. She brought up CULTURAL differences. She also recognized they don't have Great LOVE for WESTELY but she thought, like me- while not optimal that's PRETTY DARN NORMAL in step families! Heck I told her like I tell everyone that Westley is damn near OCD and yes DEMANDING, and DIFFICULT and a near perfectionist that indeed places high expectations on the kids like EVERYONE he meets. She like me recognized the problems with this... but still had that response "WHO IS THE LAW GUARDIAN THAT PUT THEM IN HIS CARE?"
She was APPALLED by the courts initial decision! She said she could SEE how it happened! She said I have an uphill battle and she also said that "BEtween you and me" she thought is was really disconcerting and indeed TRAGIC as she TOO THOUGHT I have a slim chance of getting them back DESPITE her report as the law guardian is SO INFLUENTIAL.
I think that question of FEAR is a pivotoal one and the court is bound by a policy that whenever there is FEAR in kids THEY MUST ASSUME it is DETRIMENTAL. Despite the fact that even if not the best parenting techniqe there is ALWAYS a certain amount of FEAR that motivates correct behavior - in ALL INDIVIDUALS! I mean I am getting CHILD SUPPORT checks GO FIGURE... why arrears being suddenly paid? (AS OF LAST WEEK!) OUT OF FEAR that to not so would LOOK BAD when this gets to trial! FEAR indeed is a powerful motivator! WHY HAS WESTELY GONE TO ANGER MANAGEMENT WHICH I SEE HAS HAD A POSITIVE AFFECT ON HIM?? FEAR .... Why did SOREN STOP LYING in our home over the last two years he was with us? FEAR... Why did KATERINA NEVER LEAVE HER VIOLIN AT SCHOOL WHEN WITH US... FEAR.... BUT it is not all that BAD FEAR! However I can't even FATHOM getting into an in dept discussion of this in the court! TO say- even though MOST PARENTS BELIEVE that there is a degree of FEAR that MAKES ALL PARENTS HAVE NECESSARY AUTHORITY is something the court WON'T and can't ACKNOWLEDGE due to the SLIPPERY SLOPE FEAR that shapes policy!! SEE IT IS FEAR itself that is the driving force behind policy decisions... FEAR that if you give an inch a mile will be taken. FEAR that if it deemed OK for a parent to instill FEAR of mis-behaviour to compel DESIRED behavior patterns and then GOOD HABITS in children, that it will mean PARENTS CAN THEN ALSO instill THE INDEED DAMAGING AND ABUSIVE FEAR WHICH DESTROYS A PERSON'S SENSE OF ESTEEM AND WORTH AND THEIR OWN INTEGRITY rendering them a mess!! (KIND OF LIKE my EX is! And his mother indeed was a psyco yeller control freak... HMMmm..... But she NEVER instilled GOOD HABITS or POSITIVE ESTEEM THROUGH PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT.... so seemed to use FEAR ONLY in the NEGATIVE SENSE!) AHH... Her issues of childhood unresolved that came up in her marriage and then divorce, that come up in her FEAR of WESTELY as I am sure he reminds her of HER FATHER who undoubtedly went overboard with parental FEAR ... HER issues of having been FORCED to practice piano and feeling contolled and hating structure... and HER ISSUES of thinking that KATERINA is being treated THE SAME as she was! But I ramble again... (KAterina by the way, when asked if she felt PRESSURED in regard to violin or FORCED says a RESOUNDING "NO! YOU just made me make a commitment to practice if I wanted to play, and didn't let me not follow through! THAT WAS GOOD! OTHERWISE I couldn't play like I can today!"
SHE ACTUALLY APPRECHIATES all the things we have done for her that we have been CRITICIZED for! ITs so amazing!
Westley also thinks I am very stubborn to fight this to the hilt KNOWING that as long as the Kids REALLY ARE DOING WELL And WANT TO BE WITH THEIR DAD, and as long as their DAD is staying clean and REALLY in their lives I WOULD LET THEM STAY THERE...
He thinks I am fighting just to WIN and being stubborn. But that's not it- I am fighting so that I HAVE THE RIGHT to bring the kids back home IF OR WHEN their DAD dropped out and things there ARE NOT GOOD for them.
I still maintain that this time spent with their FATHER is in fact GOOD for them all! I of course was honest in telling all parties that all along.... with the emphasis that AS LONG AS IT IS NOT A PERMANENT SITUATION.... IN fact I would even be OK IF IT ENDED up being that they are indeed well cared for and happy and indeed if Katerina has opportunities there she is thriving in and EVEN IF that became permanent as taking each day at a time her FATHER REALLY DOES LIVE UP TO the Demands of being a PARENT! But that would be OK by me if it DE FACTO occurred as a result of good choices NATURALLY based on the best for the kids at EACH STEP... each day... each year. Fundamentally I believe they NEED BOTH their parents in their lives... so despite the injustice of it I think even though it is counterintuitive and AGAINST public policy the decision being pushed to have them in custody with the parent who would OTHERWISE not make effort Might just be best for many kids!!
I mean maybe the courts have had it wrong for years! By granting custody to the parent who is most involved the one less inclined to be involved then reduced their involvement in children EVEN MORE. With the reverse MAYBE generations of kids who would otherwise have only ONE ACTIVE PARENT would then HAVE TWO... and we all know there would be TREMENDOUS benefits to that.... So maybe the crazy law guardian sees herself as PROGRESSIVE... maybe she's sick of deadbeat dads walking away when she knows she can COMPELL them to be involved-- just GIVE THEM CUSTODY!
But I ramble... and think EVEN IF THAT IS THE CASE... my kids SHOULDN'T be the guiena pigs.... It's just too much of a gamble.
It STILL would be disappointing and upsetting to lose custody IF I COULD HAVE THEM FOR VISITS ONLY.... but to not even be able to have them VISIT My home with WESTLEY is really just TOO EXTREME.
Back to the TOY FEST of TODAY with the little ones! I exercised the one parental right I have retained regarding Katerina and SOREN: The right to reposess AGE inappropriate toys that they used YEARS ago! I have passed a bunch on to the girls who have been playing HUNGRY HIPPOS CHUTES AND LADDERS and a few other games all morning. The fake money and fake cash register entertained for a LONG time while I wrote. They just discovered FOUND BUBBLEs from the box I raided in the garage which I got ready to take on my next trip to BUFFALO. I also pulled out the LEAP PAD which need batteries but had early pre reading activities for the little ones. SOREN will be excited I found the pen to his QUANTUM pad he forlornly told me he couldn't use with some DRAMATIC story of how COUNT OLOFF meanly THREW OUT THE MAGIC ERASABLE accompanying pen he needs to use it in a RAGE ... Hmmm.... it was such a dramatic telling. I asked "When did that happen?" and had that mother's instinct of his over-reactive imagination... although I gave him the benefit of the doubt at the time and just EMPATHETICALLY LISTENED. Well there it was in a ZIPLOCK with all the accompanying literature about the QUANTUM PAD. I just called to talked to SOREN and got the message machine (which has been all I have receive the past 4 or 5 times I called. You know I NIXED the part in the settlement proposal that my EX has the responsibility to have the kids call me back. I thought I COULD make effort to keep calling! I never thought I SHOULD HAVE TO HAVE HAD THE BURDEN of making sure they called HIM BACK EVERY TIME HE CALLED OUR HOUSE. I mean I think it REASONABLE that when REASONABLE PEOPLE ARE COURTEOUS THEY DO RETURN CALLS... but it seemed silly to me to have that much detail in the settlement! I nixed all such nonsense BABYSITTING his every move as I wouldn't want anyone to babysit me to that degree! But after leaving at least 4 or 5 messages and now having trouble reaching them... it makes me re-think that! I KNOW I COULD LIKELY CALL THEM AT GRANDMOM's BUT I AM STILL STUBBORNLY REFUSING TO DO SO. I prefer to talk to them when at so called HOME so I have been relying on reaching them first thing in the MORNING before SCHOOL on MON thru THU when they are USUSALLY at DAD's (ALthough sometimes then they have not been there and he's said they are at GRANDMOM's ON those occassions I just call back the next morn... or the next MON morn if close to the weekend.)
My parents traveled to Cleveland over the weekend. Its really just a hop skip and jump to Buffalo for them to see the kids so I hope maybe they get a visit in. I gave them all the contact #s and told them to feel free to facilitate contact with the kids and whatever relationships they care to WITH THEIR DAD, and their GRANDMOM. I stressed that MY DECISON to not call HER HOUSE is MINE but I encourged them to MAKE THEIR OWN to do what is best FOR THEM To facilitate seeing the kids! (SO I in FACT HOPE THEY were COMFORTABLE CALLING THERE TO SEE THE KIDS IF THEY WANTED TO!)
I think I AM MATURE and WISE about this as I know MY CONTACT with her was nothing short of DISRUPTIVE TO MY LIFE. AS LONG AS I CAN STILL FACILITATE INVOLVEMENT WITHOUT HER AS A CONDUIT I WILL DO SO.
We'll see what happens now that summer is here! I am anxious to hear about the kids last days of school! Katerina had field day on MONDAY and the last day was yesterday. Soren excitedly told me of the BOOKS his teacher gave the kids! HE sent them each home with a HALF DOZEN paperbacks! I Think he had an AWESOME TEACHER this year !(YES THE ONE SOREN CRIED ABOUT IN TELLING ME HOW MEAN HE WAS AND WHO SOUNDED ALOT LIKE... COUNT OLOFF.... HMMM.... A TREND HERE???? SOREN IS REALLY OVERLY DRAMATIC.... yes gifted in that area!! I am thrilled he won a SCHOLARSHIP to STUDIO ARENA to futher hone that talent...) But this time he talked of his teacher with FONDNESS.... similar to how he has also talked about WESTLEY at times too!!! But no one else HEARS that version of his reality!
OH WELL.... back to the toy fest. They jsut discovered the bubbles I found and the girls are getting shoes and socks on so we can all head outside with them.
OH- and Katerina proudly reported she got 100% on her math final! She was proud and I think that was particularlly important to her as SHE JUST missed the cut off for that gifted math program... She didn't mention ANY OTHER finals to me but was particularlly focused on that! SO I was pleased for her!
I TRIED SO HARD to NOT BE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE in my latest conversations with them... I had to REALLY CURB it... but out slipped one comment "Hey ARE YOU EXCITED SUMMER IS HERE! YOU GET TO SEE YOUR DAD IN THE SUMMER!"
It really wasn't nice... Katerina gave a flat "YEAH..." and she REALLY DID sound a bit upset at getting the meaning of that. I said "Just joking as you are there already. But you USED to look forward to that. " and then I tried to focus on WHAT SHE IS LOOKING forward to during the summer. There was no discussion of visiting me and I was glad she didn't ask.
To say "I don't know" seems to be so unfair to them.
I don't even WANT to schedule a visit with them on July 15th when we have the next hearing. I hate to schedule sandwiched in visits on days of hearings. Typically those suck as I spend the time with them crying and trying to not cry and I think it not very productive to our relationship for them to be made to feel bad. I am also typically UPSET after the court appearances and I can't think that's the best thing for me to have to stuff that all inside then let it sneak out in tears over pancakes at the Greek restaraunt we all enjoy going to (TAKIS near the court house which is run by my old friend and co-worker DANICE and her hubby TAKI the greek man she whisked off his feet and married when she took a trip to GREECE!
But then that IS LIFE so they and I have to deal with it. So we go have pancakes and all PRETEND to be happy in the time we spend together. And at some point we all are reduced to tears. Katerina tearfully saying "Mommy I'm sorry"
OH, and JULY 15th the next ct date is ALSO KAtie's 4th birthday! So we have to plan to celebrate for her! Maybe that weekend.
OK I Am DONE with writing and venting today. LUNCH TIME. Been going back and forth watching the bubbles and kids. THANK GOD FOR THE TOYS!!! They at least are having a blast today!
And has all this writing helped me in formulating a decision? In making a plan? MAYBE... it keeps me mentally healthy at least, and that's something. I am giving myself the deadline of FRIDAY to decide how to handle this. Westely is bringing me a letter that he confirmed was received in VA from my attny who responded to my questions in writing. (According to her paralegal who called me back today to say mail en route-- WITH NO DISCUSSION OF CONTENT) I think it telling however that she said the attny responded to my QUESTIONS. I HAD NO QUESTIONS, JUST THREE CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS!!!
So we'll see... If she DOESN't have the motion to change venue done.. then it is time for me to act responding to that as the next step. I have to at least file that motion next- even if I have to do that myself! So I think I'll work on that in the next few nights if her letter doesn't indicate she did it!