The Dirty Laundry.

by mssinglemama on October 23, 2008

He shows up every Tuesday morning to pick up Benjamin.

I gave up asking him about the massive credit card debt of his I had to assume or asking him to help out with Benjamin’s medical bills long ago. Instead I just brief him on Benjamin’s little happenings of the week – he doesn’t know because he never calls. Then I leave for work… a few hours later they take off for my ex’s town, my hometown, about an hour and a half from here. Less than 24 hours later, when I’m at work on Wednesday he brings him back and they spend the afternoon here in my (Benjamin and I’s) house.

Every Wednesday night I take stock of the damage.

Kitchen. Trashed. Living room. Even worse. I don’t even walk up to Benjamin’s room, I always save this for later so as not to send my body and mind into complete convulsions. But it’s just as bad. I’m not completely innocent here – much of the mess in my place is definitely mine. But every Wednesday night instead of coming home to a few dishes put away or maybe a swept floor, I come home with my mess on top of his.

There’s something you should know about me… I’m not a paranoid person. I don’t care that he’s here. I have nothing to hide. In fact, I like it, because I know my son is safe and sound in his home where he belongs. I don’t even mind that my ex helps himself to my coffee and my food.

But today I found evidence that he’s been doing his laundry here… he’s also been using the diapers I buy for Benjamin. Every little bit adds up and I’m not rolling in money. His child support his four percent of my income, it’s enough to cover Benjamin’s health insurance every month and a few groceries.

He can’t give me more because he his broke. But he could at least help me out.

So why am I sitting here feeling bad for this man because he can’t afford to do his own laundry or buy his own groceries? And why is part of me still so petrified of what will happen if I do say something? A fight. A blow out. In front of Benjamin. Something he never has to witness.

And people wonder why I’m so scared of falling in love again. My heart blinded my mind so severely in the past… and I’m still picking up the mess.

On a related note: Will you ever get married again? Take my latest poll.

More posts about my ex:

When is Daddy Going to Bail?
The Man in the Kitchen

P.S.

I’m sorry if yesterday’s post pissed some of you off… I can see why it makes me appear a tad arrogant (I wrote it with a few beers in my system). But I do think single moms are awesome and that I won’t ever apologize for…

Related posts:

  1. Single motherhood – turns out, not so easy, but not so tough either.
  2. Toddler-free (for one week?)
  3. Daddy! Daddy! Daddy?
  4. Minor crisis or blessing in disguise? You tell me.
  5. When is daddy going to bail?

{ 3 trackbacks }

Eyelashes
December 27, 2008 at 1:49 pm
Reality.
January 13, 2009 at 10:00 pm
No Show
February 10, 2009 at 7:22 am

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

jonb October 23, 2008 at 5:28 am

A,
You are far kinder than me. I wouldn;t let this clown(sorry) in my house if he had so little respect for it. Honestly, what does he offer Benjamin, what example does he set if he messes your place up and doesn;t clean it? If he uses your laundry machines and doesn;t offer to help out? I understand wanting to work to make sure your child has a relationship with his father, but a man should be a damn MAN if he is respnsible for a child.

My father set the bar very high and I will not back down one bit, I’m sorry if my opinions seem harsh. My father met my mom and me, would move in, and he carried his share of the load. He worked, cooked, and cleaned. He played with me when she was exhausted from her 14 hour shifts as a retail manager. For a couple years, I remember him working THREE jobs to keep the bills paid. Run his business. Drive a limo afterwards. Then work at a gas station till sunrise. Back to work at his business. Sometimes I went days without seeing him and we would go see him at work, or on a slow night I rode in the limo with him. When things were slow at his shop he would sleep there so when he was home he could be up with me and mom.

I have no respect for a man who acts like a child. I have no respect for a man who makes excuses constantly. And I certainly have no respect for a man who shirks his responsibilities as a father.

Although the relationship failed, being a father to a little boy for the last year was the best and most rewarding experience of my life. I taught him things, but I also learned from him. i found joy in playing and stopped worrying about life’s troubles so much. He wasn;t my child, but every spare penny and minute I had went to him and my ex. I couldn;t have been more proud when I looked over and saw him pull my car jack out, and jack his power wheel up like he had seen me do with my car. I smiled when he reached out to shake hands with people the way i did.

A child is a responsibility. A father is his first role model and his first image of what a man is and should behave. You have to think of not only letting him see his dad, but what will he take from it? If dad is just a free for all and fun time, how will he act when he is older? If dad acts with no responsibility or respect for other people’s things or resources, what message does that send your child?

Like I said, i know I may sound harsh, but I had a wonderful and amazing father. Not only did I like him and love him, I respected him, and that has only grown as I have gone through life. Being a good father is a choice, and to choose not to be that is a travesty.

Reply

Jim H. October 23, 2008 at 6:00 am

Maybe you’re not “rolling in money” because you recently went to Denmark.

Please don’t play the “money card” when it’s obvious you have at least enough money to waste on a foriegn trip. Maybe “every little bit adds up” to a plane ticket.

Reply

pt-lawmom October 23, 2008 at 6:12 am

Man, people are in pissy moods this week. Your ability to save for a vacation and your income has nothing to do with your ex’s obligation to pay child support and not abuse your kindness. Your income is irrelevant. You both had this child. He should do more. I heart you, Alaina. Don’t let the haters get you down.

Reply

Jolene October 23, 2008 at 6:16 am

Ok, seriously I think we may have married (and divorced) the same guy. My ex husband came to my house to do his laundry last night and I just could not tell him no in fear that it would cause a huge fight in front of the kids… it didn’t matter, we fought anyhow. My issue I have with my ex coming to my house is he is always looking around (snooping) looking through my bills on the table ect… Someday I will get up enough courage to tell him no… still working on that…. But until then… I guess us woman just need to be the bigger person.

And I have to say again, with the slam comments…. I am sorry to say this but until you have walked a mile in my shoes you have no idea of my life, and yes Ms. Single Mama has let us into her life some but you still have no right in commenting on the way she spends her money…. That is just outrageous and rude! Freedom of speech is one of the reasons I love this country however… there is this other little phrase that I tell my 5 year old and maybe I need to tell y’all also…… if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all….

Reply

Anonymous October 23, 2008 at 6:31 am

“So why am I sitting here feeling bad for this man because he can’t afford to do his own laundry or buy his own groceries? ”
Why? Because you loved him, once. Because a part of you will always care about his survival (not his happiness maybe, but survival, certainly). Because he is your son’s father. Because you don’t want to waste energy fighting a battle that can’t be won, and isn’t important to win. Because letting him do his laundry at your house makes you a better person, and sets an example for your son; that helping out others, even if they don’t reciprocate, is what it means to be a good person.

Reply

Treemama October 23, 2008 at 7:19 am

okay, yeah, like i felt bad for my ex when i drove him to his broken down car and just sat in mine as he continually tried to get it started. i wanted to do more, but the reason i left was that he is irresponsible with his money and if he managed it a bit more, he could be enjoying a good life.

i sacrificed my happiness for his for five years, now he needs to figure out how to do it on his own.

but yes, we loved these men at one time and for some (sick, twisted and somewhat insane) reason there is that teeny tiny little place where we don’t want to hurt them or at least go through the guilt laid out for us by them when they don’t get their way “for the kids sake”.

Sorry Alaina, but you are better than me. I won’t let my ex in my home, i’ve worked hard for it.

But you are a good person, and you care, even for people who have hurt you.

If it’s too much, then put an end to it, if you can deal with it, deal.

thanks again for so much honesty.

Reply

trl October 23, 2008 at 7:19 am

My ex used to do all this and I had similar feelings to yours. Then i started going to therapy and healing. Now i have boundaries I have set with him. It is hard, I had to take baby steps. You take back ownership of your life and control. I feel so much better now. My heart has room in it for others and only good relationships. It is worth trying. Get a sitter and go out for coffee together. You need to do this on neutral territory anyway. if you are as strong in your convictions about how awesome single moms are (we are indeed) then you can do this. You are allowing him to be co-dependent on you. Is that the example you want to set for your little guy? that people can use you and not reciprocate your kindness? Ask your self some tough questions. Thn sit for a while with your feelings. And when you feel good about the decision you have made then you can start taking action. Make a list of what you want out of your relationship with your ex. And then through your actions you will get closer to it. Judges call time with dads during the week “McDonald’s time” for a reason. Ever go to one on a midweek night. They are crawling in single dads with their kids.

Reply

Wyliekat October 23, 2008 at 7:56 am

I think there’s a line that eventually we all have to cross, in regards to our exes. It’s a hard line, it’s an ugly line, and we avoid it like the plague.

For me, it came very early, when I had to take him to court to prevent him from harassing me to share full custody with him. I did it because he’d just come back from a suicide attempt, and hadn’t even bothered to acquire a home where she’d have a room of her own.

I knew, when I did it, that I would be making him my enemy. There would never be forgiveness or buddy-buddy understanding. Just the clinical relationship of parenting a child from two different homes.

It happened exactly as I anticipated, and it was hard and sad.

But now, I can see when others are skirting that line, where you want to be a likeable person and you don’t want to make war. But eventually, it comes down to what’s in the best interests of your child. And that (soooo often) does not jive with what’s in the best interest of either parent. He wasn’t happy because I took him to court. I wasn’t happy, either. But my daughter benefits now from time spent with him, but with the security of knowing where her home is.

Reply

DC October 23, 2008 at 9:03 am

My wife and I deal with exactly the same thing you deal with now. Her ex (and her daughter’s dad) bitches and moans about every single penny he has to pay in child support because he’s broke. He has a rotten paying job even though he’s college educated. But my point is, why is that your fault? Why should that be your son’s fault? He has made decisions in his own life that affect other people than just himself whether he wants to realize it or not.

Like I have told my my wife, what’s to stop her from quitting her job and having absolutely no money for ANYTHING??? Responsibility. She has a sense of responsibility and knows that she needs to do what it takes to help support our family. When she was alone, it was the same way. She had a crappy job and was on WIC to have food available to eat but she did what it took to make ends meet and provide for her daughter.

Don’t feel sorry for your son’s father. He has responsibilities as we all do.

Reply

T October 23, 2008 at 9:42 am

Yeah, you did love him once. And he is the father of your child. Still… tough love has to step up sometimes. You cannot enable him. No, it doesn’t have to be a fight but maybe using some Love and Logic (Have you ever read this book?) would work in this case.

You’re doing great Alaina. You’ve still got a big heart and lots of love to give.

Reply

Carrie October 23, 2008 at 11:22 am

Your ex is taking advantage of you and you’re letting him do it. You need to set some boundaries. It’s a slippery slope: you let him into your house because you feel your son is “safe” there, but pretty soon he is eating your food, doing his laundry there, etc. Careful.

Reply

pisceshanna October 23, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Don’t feel bad. I’ve let my ex get away with a lot for the last 2 years, and yes I had the same fear about getting into a fight. I’ve started to get over it slowly (finally taking him to court), and hopefully I’m making steps towards demanding the respect I deserve.

Yeah, also completely paralyzed at the thought of falling in love again.

Hang in there.

Reply

liv October 23, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Yeah…Jim can stuff it. I’ll tell you why. Because when you’re a single mom, busting your ass and tired, and trying to have some semblance of a social life to make you feel as if one day you might be something to someone else other than someone who needs a diaper changed or a nose wiped, YOU NEED A VACATION. He may pay you what he can right now, but it’s no less than he should. And he shouldn’t eat your food and do his clothes at your house. IMO, he shouldn’t be in your house. So, when someone who wants to hate on my Alaina and wants to editorialize about a live that he’s not living, kindly pass him on to me. madnessisay at gmail dot com

Reply

littlemansmom October 23, 2008 at 1:45 pm

There was many a time when I was afraid to speak up incase the X decided to pull a power trip and threaten with one thing or another…or perhaps start a fight in front of littleman. Then, one day, I had enough…I put my foot down…enough of the wonderings, I needed to know just *what* was his worse so I stood my ground…and he backed down completely. HE realized I was done being played and being taken advantage of.

I say take a deep breath and stand your ground honey. You are better off knowing through trial and error than being taken advantage of or living in wonder.

As a side note…i’m sorry he can’t afford to do his own laundry but he’s a grown up who has only himself to look after, YOU on the other hand are a grown up with a little munchkin full time to look after and you manage…time for ‘someone’ to grow up….

Reply

Mike October 23, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Great answers in the comments.

I love hearing from both sides. As a guy who once was in this situation (sort of) money is an emotional thing for guys and therefore hard to handle. Women tend to be more analytical with it. The direct approach is always the best. And even if you have some type of feelings for him you need to set boundaries when he is in your home. And discuss money by letter or email. That’s how my ex and I handle ours….

Good luck.

Reply

mssinglemama October 23, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Yeah – all of these answers are awesome.

I think there’s one thing we can safely say – all situations are different. Me, for example, I have no emotional ties to my ex at all anymore. But like many of you said – there will always be this piece of me that feels like he’s part of my family – because we had a child together.

As for the laundry thing, I think I’ll just see if it becomes a pattern and then call him out on it. But as for the messes, the piles of Benjamin’s dirty clothes in a plastic bag and the moved furniture – all of that – it has to end or he can’t come here anymore – period.

There has to be some kind of mutual respect.

Reply

Cyndi October 23, 2008 at 6:29 pm

You’re a bigger woman than I am. I could never let X stay in my house when I’m not here. He wanted to do visits here after I left and threw a fit when I said no, but there was a total lack of boundaries in our relationship and I had to draw some firm ones to get me through leaving. It was’t easy but it’s his responsiblity to be a grown up for once, not mine to keep enabling him. You’re ovbiously a strong woman so draw that line and stand your ground.

And what’s with the money comments? Seriously, you have to do something for yourself for the sake of your sanity and your child or everyone suffers. He has an obligation to help pay for the child he made regardless of how much you have.

As much as I like the idea of a marriage and family, I to am terrified of blindly making the same mistakes I did last time. I just have too much at stake now. We all do.
Hang in there.

Reply

Tricia October 23, 2008 at 6:51 pm

I hate it when my ex in the house. And it’s not that I’m paranoid…this just isn’t where he belongs anymore. He gave up this home, so now he is nothing more than a guest. In fact, I’d be interested to learn the circumstances behind how you ended up in this arrangement of your ex spending the afternoon in your house with Benjamin.

But I’m exactly like you in that I pick my battles. When it comes to money (beyond child support, which I have garnished from his paychecks), my ex has none. I just don’t even bother…wasted breath, wasted energy, wasted time. I’ve just resolved myself to the fact that it’s up to me, and I don’t count on him for any more than I absolutely have to.

Sounds like our exes would get along great.

Reply

Leah October 23, 2008 at 7:02 pm

I like how you have gotten more clarity on this MSM! My ex (when he was in my ds) life used to do visitation at my (what used to be our) house. I too liked knowing that my ds was in a comfy environment esp since my ex also lives pretty far away. i’d rather he have fun at home than be stuck in a car endlessly. So I can relate to your situation.

I also used to come home to the same kind of mess. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to bring it up. So it’s cool that you are feeling empowered to set some healthy boundaries. Way to go…

Reply

elisabeth October 23, 2008 at 8:08 pm

I am so tired of hearing my ex tell me how I should be spending “his” child support. “The money is for the kids, not [me].” Are you kidding me?

Reply

Laura October 23, 2008 at 8:40 pm

Gosh I couldnt ever have my ex in my house – EVER!!

If he HAD to he would need to understand the rules!!! VERY CLEARLY!

But I totally get how its hard when you in that situation!!!

Hopefully the laundry was a once off so you dont have to confront him!

Reply

LTP October 24, 2008 at 7:40 am

When my husband and I split, I let him keep our house–mostly b/c I was dying to get away, be somewhere (in the same town) new, away from memories….and believe me, I regret that decision nearly every day. When I have to go over there, which is rare, it breaks my heart–to see my overgrown flower beds, the paint colors I chose, the murals I painted in my sons’ rooms….but that was the choice I made. It’s HARD to now want to look around, notice things on the desk, stuff tacked to the fridge….I mean, this used to be MY place, too!!! There have even been a couple of times that I had to go over there when he wasn’t home….and it was soooo tempting to snoop around, but I didn’t….again, it mostly just made me sad.

I’m not sure how I would feel about the laundry thing but leaving messes everywhere is just silly and immature. Leaving a mess has nothing to do with lack of money–it’s just rude. A few loads of laundry? Not such a big deal really….unless it’s like 13 loads of laundry and he uses all of your detergent/fabric softener/dryer sheets!! That crap is expensive!!!!

My overall feeling is one of agreement with MSM…..at least your son is in a safe and familiar place with his dad….

Reply

solo mama October 24, 2008 at 10:33 am

I’ve been there, mama. My ex used to come to my house to spend his “parenting time” with our daughter too. But I kept coming home to a trashed house and evidence he was showering and doing his laundry. We both a greed that she would spend the days at his new pad and we would designate a public place to conduct the kid swap. This is working for us now and I feel like my life is more private and clutter free and it’s easier to toss that loose “baggage” out the window, if you know what I mean.

Reply

Mr. Anonymous® October 24, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Hey Alaina! [smile]

It was great talking to you, but Denmark was quite some time ago. JUST started reading your blog again, and…

Hmmm…. wow… you ARE in the thick of it.

and bleeding all over the page.

As someone who can speak with great authority after raising 2 children alone. NO mother. I played BOTH roles and can now see, 15 years on what path you are currently walking…

I didn’t read ANY comments before i started writing, cuz i suspect there are a few HATERS in there and i didn’t want to color what i had to say to you.

You seem to be “coping”, yet you deserve so much more and it’s so hard to point and say LOOK, because we all must EXPERIENCE it firsthand to gain understanding.

EX? – Hubby in the mother’s Den – NOT a good idea. Here’s why. For some time, Benjamin will attempt to s-t-re-t-c-h reality as you hear him say things like this “Mom, why can’t dad live with us?”

“Why can’t daddy move closer to our house” (or vice-versa.)

SEVER THE BOND BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR EX-HUSBAND BEFORE it becomes a problem for BENJAMIN.

Dad lives 90 minutes away – so be it.

KILL THE TRANSPORTS. Ben has NO business playing the football as he’s swapped between camps…

ONCE a Month is PLENTY. Ben doesn’t need Daddy right now. He only needs YOU.

Daddy don’t give a shit so fuck him. He’s just USING YOU. AGAIN.

LAUNDRY, C’mon what is he 19 ?

- Cut the shit before it cuts you. You’ve got to start building LIMITS a.s.a.p. or before you know it, hubby will PROGRAM the crap out of the boy and you’ll have a MAJOR battle on your hands. The type that requires a telephone call made to your workplace during the day stating that “Daddy” has showed up UNANNOUNCED at the daycare and all hell’s gonna break loose…

START Drawing the lines [BORDERS] on the map the way YOU wnat to see them MAINTAINED for the next 10 YEARS !!

Tell me i’m wrong…

ps: GET SOME SLEEP, You look beautiful !

ps2: send him to “Dad’s” ONE Weekend a month, WEDNESDAY night TO SUNDAY.

ps3: Let Daddy know you DON’T love him.

SECRET TIP: Get Ben a Prepaid CELLPHONE and HIDE IT. butt resist the urge !! – DON’T CALL, He’ll call you.

Reply

Spinnster mama October 26, 2008 at 12:45 pm

I am a single mom to an awesome 2 year old girl and am currently trying to establish boundries… my ex only wants to be involved with our daughter if its really easy for him to do so, can’t have unsupervised visitation because of drug use, so wants to do it at my house which I am not comfortable with. But if it means more time my daughter gets to spend with him… well you know the guilt drill.

If he would pull his life together I wouldn’t be in this position so in a way are we enableing them to continue to be irresponsible and not doing what they need to do to be somewhat decent fathers? Its a short term/ long term quandry… if we say no- go get your sh*t together and when you do then I might go out of my way a bit, then we are “taking that time away from their relationship” (really he is taking that time away, but you know how it seems). But if we say yes- then they get by doing whatever they feel like doing, working whatever they feel like working without the drive of doing better for their childs welfare motivating them like we do, and nothing ever changes. We continue to be walked on and the ex has a superficial child-like relationship to their child, more of a buddy than an actual parent.

I don’t know what to do either, but I’m very thankful that there is someone else writing about her experiences in the same kind of grey-area single mom issues to help others feel like this lameness isn’t just limited to them ;-)

Good Luck!

Reply

Ms. Single Mama October 30, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Because of your inspiring comments I suggested to the Ex that he take one day off of Benjamin this week – to cut down on his time at my place.

He took both days off instead.

Sigh.

I think we will have to sit down and I’ll have to tell him not to come into my house anymore. I think Mr. Anonymous’ point about the blurred lines – Benjamin’s blurred lines wondering why dad is in the house so much and not living there and also seeing him leaving a mess and not cleaning it up – leaving a bad example. Those really hit home.

Wish me luck and thank you all so much for your insight. It’s helped me more than you know.

Reply

Single Mom Seeking March 25, 2009 at 6:43 pm

This post was so honest and real that it inspired us today at Singlemommyhood. Thanks Alaina!!

See: http://www.singlemommyhood.com/2009/03/does-dad-c

Reply

Leave a Comment