From here on out, the ex will be referred to as "X."
When X moved out to L.A., I really really wanted him to be able to meet the conditions for visitation. I wanted him to get what parenthood was really like. Me and my constant need for validation, I wanted him to understand what it was I was dealing with on a daily basis. I wanted the girls to have two parents. Not under the same roof, but two parents nonetheless.
In CA, once you've filed the divorce papers, there is a temporary order in place to keep things as they are - in this case, it meant sole custody for me. I'd conditioned his visitation upon (a) being able to pass a drug test, (b) having a driver's license and (c) residing in L.A. County.
He took care of (c) first. But (a) and (b) were harder.
I was suffering from "must keep the bond between the girls and their father" syndrome. I had read all the articles and heard all the sound advice about how to do the right things by your kids in a divorce. Sylvia and Riley loved their dad. They deserved to have a relationship with him.
The trouble was, as was when we were together, having a relationship with them wasn't a top priority for X.
He had all kinds of excuses of why he couldn't get a driver's license, or take the drug test. I think my favorite was, when I met him at his friend's house (where he was staying), he couldn't go to the bathroom. I was angry and frustrated, but I still went over there again - and he passed. (Still don't know how he managed that one.)
Sylvia asked constantly about seeing her father. I was anxious to make that happen for her.
I'd quit wanting for the normal, happy family. Instead, I just wanted the normal, divorced family - where the kids went to their dad's every other weekend. Where the dad paid child support, and helped out every now and then with the big ticket items. Even though I was making it, I was definitely living paycheck to paycheck - and my dad was paying my car insurance. My fellow single mom colleague and I checked our bank balances every single day. We had no room for error.
X was still trying to get under my skin again, but since he was rarely giving me child support or meeting the other conditions, it was easier for me to hold my resolve. Not easy - just easier.
While I'd stopped wanting for the normal, happy family, I was still in mourning for the loss of that dream. School events were the absolute worst.
So when X passed the drug test, I thought we'd made some progress, and I could bend a little. I said they could stay at his friend's place (I knew X's friend from long ago, and knew him to be a good, trustworthy person) for the weekend, so long as he didn't drive them anywhere.
I found out after their weekend with him that not only had he driven them somewhere, he did it without car seats! (Of course, he tried to blame that on me for not giving him the car seats but he wasn't to be driving them anywhere in the first place!!) And it gets worse. When he saw a cop, he told them to duck so that the cop wouldn't see them.
Needless to say, that was their first and last weekend visitation with their father.
The day after that, I ended up in the hospital with gall stones.