So here's what happened. I may have mentioned before that the girls haven't heard from their dad much this year. He neglected to call on New Year's, but managed to call for his own birthday in January. The girls noticed that he didn't call on Valentine's Day and hasn't called since.
Sylvia was getting more and more emotional and having more and more unexpected outbursts. She admitted that they were due to anxiety about her dad. I encouraged her to call him herself, but she didn't want to. Come to think of it, she'd been the first to make contact in 2009. She called him several times before he finally called back, and then called again on his birthday. She didn't want to call again.
So I offered to call for her. He'd been living with his parents so I called and spoke to his mom. X had stolen from her, stolen from her friend, and she kicked him out. He'd been coming around for a while and then just stopped. He also had a "friend" that was now coming by every morning and causing a noise disturbance - apparently X owed this friend money.
Sylvia asked as soon as I picked her up if I'd spoken to X, and I told her about my conversation with X's mother. She was very upset so I offered to take her back to therapy. I also encouraged her to talk to her school counselor, which she did the next day. The school counselors don't really offer this kind of counseling, but they do have a program set up, and Sylvia's on the waiting list for it. In the meantime, we've visited our family therapist a few times over the past several weeks.
The weekend before last, X called. Out of the blue. Left a vm: "Hi! Just wanted to talk to those lovely girls!" Like nothing. Like he hadn't disappeared off the face of the earth for 2 months. SO frustrating.
The girls were with my parents, so I called him back. I mentioned that we hadn't heard from him in forever, and HE has the nerve to say to ME, "well, you know the phone works both ways." Yeah, I'm aware of that. So I told him about my conversation with his mother. He lied to me about how long it's been since he called - saying it had been the end of Feb. And this was just after I mentioned that he hadn't called on Valentine's Day. Mid-Feb. You know, it's one thing that he lies to me - what I can't stand is that he thinks I'm so STUPID that I'd believe that.
I told him that he's added no value to their lives, only hurt. I tried to explain how hard it is for Sylvia, but the more I talked, the more I knew how useless this exercise was. Obviously, I'm a big fan of venting, but this...it was just too much. I was the one crying on the phone, and then crying to Nancy, and then crying to Kori...and he'll just never get it.
He stopped lying to me, and started acquiescing. Which was almost even more frustrating because I was the one yelling and crying and sounding irrational, and he's just being all calm, and saying, "you're right." Which was what really started to drain me.
It also bothered me because these were the few hours I had to myself at home. I wanted to relax, to do housework, to use this time for what I wanted to do. Instead, I spent all the hours that the girls were gone crying, furious, frustrated. Then I went to pick up the girls. I suppose I should just be grateful that I did have a few hours to have my own little breakdown without the girls around.
Last week, I met with my therapist to discuss what to do about a trip we had planned to San Jose, where X and his family lives. I was going up for the PTA Convention, and I thought the girls would love to spend time with their cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. With X out of the picture, it would've been perfect. With X back around, that changed everything.
So I told the girls on Sunday that we were going to have to cancel the trip. There was just too much cause for concern, and we'd have to plan something else for seeing their family. They will spend the days that I'm gone with my sister. Sylvia was very upset at first, but she's now talking about what bathing suit she'll wear when she goes down to my sister's house and seems to have accepted it.
I do feel bad because I know it's not X's family's fault, and I like them. But his sister and I have already started talking about maybe planning something in the summer, away from San Jose, away from here. I think we could have a good time. Just so long as X is nowhere in the picture.
I'm still not letting the girls talk to X on the phone. The therapist and I agreed that Sylvia's just way too fragile right now. Her grades have suffered, she's still so raw emotionally...she needs to get back to treating herself better. I see glimmers of hope, like her smile and confidence when she performed in the cheerleading competition, and singing Karaoke on Sat. night. When she laughs and hugs me. I know she'll be okay, but only if I continue to protect her right now.
Part of me worries that she counts on me more than she should. I worry that she's not learning how to protect herself. But right now, she can't handle it. So I have to step in.
Riley is doing okay. While she was disappointed that she won't see everyone in San Jose, she loves going to my sister's house and spending time with the dogs and swimming in the pool.
They've both said lately that they hate their dad. I don't stop them. I think it's just their way of saying that they're very angry with him right now, and they have every right to their feelings right now. I know deep down that they both love him still.
I've had some pretty vivid images of what I'd like to see happen to X, but I don't share those with the girls.
Now, we're back to just taking it all one day at a time. We've had some really great times lately that I think have bonded us closer. On Saturday night, Sylvia and I are having a "date night" to take her shopping for new clothes ('cuz she just won't stop growing!) while Riley's with my parents and I think that'll be good for both of us.
It always sounded so trite when my mom would say it to me, but all I want is for her - both of them - to be happy.