One big happy family, my big fat ____

Speaking of therapy, or things that come up in therapy, not too long ago, I talked to my therapist about my anxiety over money and buying the oldest son a car.  I probably shed some tears because after all of the repairs that I’ve made to my new-used car, I don’t have much confidence in myself in the used-car-buying area.  There’s also some anxiety about losing the money that I have in savings before I can make the car purchase.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I was married to a gambler, so it wouldn’t be the first time that I watched all of the money I scrimped and scraped to save just disappear without a trace.  (It’s also the reason that I withhold more taxes from my paycheck than I should.  I would never advise a client to use the IRS as a savings account, letting them withhold money from your paycheck and then returning it as a refund at tax time, but you do what you gotta do when someone spends your money as fast as you can save it.)

Anyway, we decided that there is no harm in purchasing a vehicle in advance of the big summer birthday.  Go ahead and rip off the band-aid so that I can get back to living without all of this dread and worry.  Seriously, I am afraid to even buy a donut in the morning.  What if something happens and I need that donut money to help pay for the car?  A bit extreme perhaps, but well, that’s me.

I mentioned to the counselor that I was also considering enlisting the help of The Ex because he was the one that purchased all of our used vehicles during the marriage.  I might not trust his judgment on which team to bet on, but I can trust his judgment on a used car.  (And I don’t trust my judgment in that area right now.)

She wrinkled her nose.  Now I’ve been visiting with her for long enough that I can catch her subtle clues.  Or more realistically, we’ve been chatting for so long that her clues are no longer subtle.  I don’t take hints well.  She asked if I thought that I could maintain the boundaries that I’ve worked to establish, if I let him in on this process?  Hmmm, you might have a point.  The man has never met a boundary that he didn’t like to cross.

We discussed it some more and when I left, I thought that I was prepared for the conversation and request for help, so I called him.  I told him that I trusted his judgment and that in the spirit of co-parenting, I thought that finding a car for our first-born should be a joint effort.  He was thrilled.  I told him how much I had worked so hard to save and what I had in mind.   (The boys and I like to play the “first car” game.  Well, I like to play it.  They cringe.  They point out cars that they would love to have and yell “First Car!”  I laugh and shake my head, then point out a jalopy running on spare tires with duct tape at least one window and yell “Real First Car!”  It’s hysterical.  To me.)

Apparently, I should have played this game with my ex prior to having this phone conversation.  He doesn’t agree with my ideas on an affordable and practical first car with great gas mileage and hopefully many miles left in it.  He considers that type of car a “geek mobile,” and he thinks that we should buy him a “chick magnet.”  Ugh. [Hand slaps forehead.]  I argued that this was our practical child, you know the one that’s like me, and he would prefer something economical.  He doesn’t want to bankrupt his mother, thankfully.  He even said that it’s just a car to get him where he is going.

“Yeah, he says that, but that’s not what he really wants.  Sure, it’s cool that the kid understands we’re broke and doesn’t want to hurt us, but that just means he’s a good kid.  So really, he deserves a nice ride even more.”

Seriously, y’all, what was I thinking?  Asking someone with the mentality of a 16-year-old to help with a grown up decision?  My bad.  Nevermind.  I listened to him ramble for a while, then got off the phone and logged that under “Complete Waste of Time” and moved on with my day.

Then Sunday happened and I really saw the full extent of my mistake.

I was busy making lunch when there was a knock at the door.  I called for my son to answer the door because I figured that it was for him.  I’m a mom and who visits a mom, right?

A mom’s ex-husband that needs money and knows she is sitting on a little bit of savings for a used car for their son, THAT’S who.  I stepped outside and was greeted with “Can you help me out just one more time?  Hear me out.”

Remember when he was arrested for hot checks back in January?  He bonded out of jail to wait for his court date.  Which was last week.  While he was at the lake playing one-big-happy-freaking-family with his girlfriend and all of our kids.  He claims that he didn’t know.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW???  You mean, you just skipped your court date, causing your bond to be revoked and another warrant to be issued for your arrest?  Do you even have a brain or did you hock it along with your golf clubs and everything else?

No, the answer is just no.  I will not use our son’s savings to keep you out of jail.  And why me anyway?  Why am I the one that he turns to EVERY time he gets in trouble.  Last I checked, I’m legally known as his EX-wife.

I’ll tell you why it’s MY door step he turned up on, and it’s only partially out of habit.  No one else knows that he was arrested.  (Except for all of you reading this.)  The girlfriend doesn’t even know.  The arrest happened as soon as he pulled out of my neighborhood after dropping off the boys.  The DPS officer pulled him over because he didn’t have a front license plate on that over-sized, stupid truck with the enormous brush guard on the front that prevents proper placement of a front license plate.  That stupid truck that was repossessed a mere 10 days after his arrest.  I guess the girlfriend thinks he was just hanging out in my driveway for an extra-long time saying good-bye to the kids?  Who knows.  She’s living under the shadow of denial.  I’ve been there, done that.

Even though I was strong and said no, I’m just so angry that he even showed up on my doorstep and asked.  I have clawed and scratched to save that money.  I have avoided donuts and other temptations in fear of having to touch that money.  MONEY FOR OUR SON.

You know, there’s a reason that I’m still angry almost SIX years after the divorce.  There is a reason that I not only can’t sit with the Wonder Couple at ball games, but actually want to shove them off the bleachers.  He keeps putting me in these awkward positions where it seems I am the only thing standing between him and being homeless, losing a job opportunity, or going to jail.  And since all of these things are unknown to the stupid and apparently blind girlfriend, I am essentially funding their big-happy-family life.  I am the reason that she can sit in her happy state of in the bleachers, while I sit in anger, imagining her tumble all the way down to the field.

My therapist was right.  Of course, he would try to cross that boundary.  Just knowing that there was money somewhere that he might be able to access was too much temptation for him.  And if you give that man an inch, he will take it all.  Not just a mile.  All. Of. It.

If you let him.  But I didn’t.  I kept that boundary in place.  But you know what?  I’m still angry.  Big happy family, my big, fat ___.



  1. We are thinking about the first car for my oldest, and my ex won’t be any where near that decision. He’s shown time and time again his priorities are himself, not the kids. (In case you missed it, your ex is the same).
    But, YAY! for boundaries! Your ex is an f’n dummy. He always will be. He smells money and thinks he deserves it more than your son.
    Good luck with the car buying…maybe take a work dude, or soccer dad dude, or some other dude with you…or at least hit them up for advice. Anything has to be better than dealing with your ex begging for your money!

  2. YAY for you!! You can be angry, no problem. Better to be angry with your money where it belongs than angry and kicking yourself for giving it to him. He needs to start being honest with his girlfriend or deal on his own. He is a big boy who is not married nor is he living with Mommy and Daddy…Grow the EFF UP MAN!!

  3. Yay for you indeed! Great job staying strong and on your boundary. And this helps you to believe he’s the person he’s showing you – not your imagined, hoped for, good dad…

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