Please help me - (d)h left a year ago. DDs and I are suffering. I don't know what to do.

(49 Posts)
Cristiane Mon 21-Jan-13 13:04:49

I used to be a really regular poster. But my life turned upside down last year and everything has changed. I hope you’ll welcome me back, I so need MN help.

My children’s father left a year ago and has moved to another country. He had bad depression. He is slowly getting better but he has decided he will not move back here. He is living with his parents and slowly getting back to work, but can’t financially contribute, but is now able to pay for his flights back. He’s been back three times since he left. The first couple of times were awful, he was drinking far too much and not looking after the children properly, so it was hard.

His last visit was better but I think it mainly involved watching tv with the kids and taking them out for lunch. I moved out while he was over as my house is too small for us all.

I work full time. I have little support, my mum does come over but usually when I have to travel for work (I travel within the UK, every six weeks or so will be away overnight).

I feel like I am running on empty. At first the adrenaline kept me going but I am running out of steam. The children seem to be suffering.

DD1 is 7. She has a few issues, and they just seem to be getting worse
1.sometimes she has a ‘meltdown’. She will cry, for hours, without wanting comfort from me, and won’t tell me what is wrong.
2.She doesn’t want to ‘do’ things, so going anywhere (to a friends house, museum, park) takes hours of cajoling and is so frustrating. And usually if we do finally get there, she then makes a huge fuss and doesn’t want to leave. So she is really just being contrary.
3.Insomnia. This is my biggest worry. She will not/ cannot sleep. I’ve tried so many things and it’s been going on for months. Her usual time to go to sleep is now 11pm which is just so late. Last night I lay next to her until 10pm trying to get her to drop off. Then she asked if she could read. She has to get up about 7am for school. At the weekend, sometimes she will sleep till 9am but that is unusual.

In terms of school, I’ve spoken to her teacher, who says she is enthusiastic and alert and has not spotted any problems. She finds her schoolwork too easy I think, she reads very well. We talk well about things and she has a great imagination.

Her reading is very good, she reads easily a book a night, usually stuff like Iggy and Me, or Jacqueline Wilson, or Wimpy Kid kind of stuff. I let her read at night.

I have been to the doctor about the insomnia and we are waiting to see a mental health team but please if anyone has any tips I would love some help.

DD2 is 3.5. She is ok but a bit naughty sometimes. She is very sweet but her temper is getting shorter, but she is at that age I guess. Her sleeping is also very bad. She will not go to sleep in her bed, she refuses and cries. I cannot keep her in her bed and she ends up going to sleep in mine. If I put her back into her room she wakes in night and screams until I get her and she really wants to cuddle all night long. I don’t know how to break the cycle. She gets occasionally a viral wheeze so I have never had her in a good sleep routine but now it is ridiculous.

Her nursery teachers tell me she is settled. Her routine is nursery two days a week, nanny at home three days a week.

I feel like my mothering skills are being worn away. I feel that their behaviour is owing to their father leaving and i am clearly lacking. He is not good at regular contact by Skype and is terrible at committing to his next visit – he says he can’t be sure with work and money. He said to them he might be here in February but now that isn't happening so might be Easter now. He was going to come at Christmas then didn’t, he gave me some notice on that but only because I tried to pin him down.
How can I get him to be more definite about his visits?

I feel the girls need more certainty. I need more rest. I have no time at all now when I am at home and my children are asleep so I can get stuff done, like laundry or even sit in my bed reading. As DD2 is in my room, I have no sanctuary. I am so tired. Please any advice. How can I be good cop and bad cop at the same time? How can I help them sleep? How can I reassure them?

fromparistoberlin Wed 23-Jan-13 11:03:55

BTW he sounds like a piece of shit

I KNOW you are putting your daughters first, and when you see them miss him you want him to have time with him. Buy jesus he does NOT deserve them!

sign, it must be so hard XXXX

Cristiane Wed 23-Jan-13 13:26:42

emblosion that is really interesting that you didn't want to show your mum that you were upset. I have thought of a couple of people DD1 could chat to, and if necessary we will try a counsellor. Still waiting to hear from CAMHS for her.

liandlulu I know what you mean about running out of sympathy. I did before DH left and at least for the first few months it felt so much easier not having him around to look after too, as it was like having a third child in the house, but a child who could try to help himself a little! Ie. go to the doctors when he said he would, stop drinking, go for a walk or a run... He seems so happy to have the labor of 'cyclothamia' now to describe his symptoms and now he lives back in the lap of luxury with his parents. But I don't know what is best and I admire you for standing your ground and sticking at it. You don't deserve that worry and frustration.

betty thank you, you're right about the enabling. I do try not to, but it is really hard. If he is here and he has no money, and he is with the children, I feel I have to contribute. I do get what you say though. However, when I have tried to talk to DH it is really hard, he blames his mental health, or says that I am being unfair and if roles were reversed he would have no problem helping me. However, I have drawn a line now and refused to support him financially. I don't know what to do about where he should stay when he comes over. I don't mind going away for a few days because in a way I feel it is less unsettling for the girls to be in their own environment when he is here. Maybe I have got that completely wrong.

I don't want anyone to walk over me! It's a fine line I guess. I tried so hard and so faithfully to help him through his terrible depression, I bent over backwards and forgave a lot, and I coped well and looked after everyone. I'm still grieving a bit I guess, he 'left' mentally some time ago, but only physically a year ago. I guess I cannot believe this has happened to my children, I just want to make things as stable for them as I can.

He has never been very grown up. He is very childish. And useless with money. It was a mistake to marry him. I know that now.

fromparistobelrn thank you for you kindness. Reading this is all very powerful. I wish I had posted over the last year!

Cristiane Wed 23-Jan-13 13:28:53

Label not labor - predictive iPad!

greenpostit Wed 23-Jan-13 13:39:24

You are doing a great job, so don't think you are lacking. Their "father" is lacking and you are picking up the slack. I would definitely let 3yo sleep in your room for security for her. It can work wonders. If you find her wriggly, you could try putting her small bed next to your bed, this is what I do for my ds, who needs security for different reasons, he is autistic. I think your 7yo is a much more complicated proposition as she will be so much more aware. She is still a little child as well though so it is difficult. It may be really helpful if she is able t express her feelings/worries to a child psychologist because then you will be better placed to help her address them. In te meantime, I would ask her to tell you if she has anything she would like to talk about or if she needs anything.

Cristiane Wed 23-Jan-13 19:56:09

greenpostit thank you that is a really good idea about a little bed. Do you think mattress on the floor all cosy would be ok? Although is is such a limpet, I am not sure if she wouldn't try to climb in all the time. No matter how I try and move away from her clutches in the night she finds me... We end up occupying 1/8th of the bed... Together

Just had another v strange evening with the girls. I think dd1 definitely needs to speak to someone. She is just so volatile in her moods. I think she is tired. I have a holiday booked in July to take them to France which is so exciting, been years since we had a proper holiday, but goodness that seems far away. But I think home time with them is deserved and overdue and I am going to prioritise that.

lizandlulu Wed 23-Jan-13 21:37:23

Do you do stuff on weekends or are you at work?

Getting out in to the fresh air together might take their minds off things for a while.

When he was at home, was he a good dad to them?

BikingViking Thu 24-Jan-13 05:49:19

Your story is similar to mine OP in that my exH buggered off almost a year ago (except we live abroad and he moved to the UK as was offered a job there!) He's been back twice in that time to visit the dc's and I took them over once.

Sleeping - my two are now almost 5 and 6.5. In the beginning we just co-slept in my bed. They needed the comfort and I came to the conclusion (in terms of bad habits etc) that they're not likely to still be sleeping in my bed as teens. They now go to sleep in their own beds (they share a room) but often come into mine in the early hours. Ocassionally they sleep through in their own beds so it is slowly getting better. Maybe consider co-sleeping as a temp option for now, if that's what they need?

First time exH was here, I did as you and moved out for the weekend to let him be with the dc's. The second time, I put my foot down and insisted he find somewhere else to stay, which he eventually did (not without lots of bitching/childish comments. By this point we had been living apart for over 6 months so I felt stronger in myself and less affected by his comments so stood my ground). I know you want so much for your girls to have a relationship with their dad (and you're going beyond the call of duty) but definitely consider setting some boundaries in terms of where he will stay when in the UK. In a way (just from what I've read in your posts and the similarities with my situation) it seems like he has a lot of power over you (calling the shots, expecting you to pick up the pieces and wait around meekly for his convenience). I would strongly consider taking some of that power back for yourself and your girls. Although it's easier said than done. But still, the burden you are shouldering now is wearing you thin (as it would anyone - other People's flakiness is bloody stressful and even worse when you're trying to shield your dd's from it).

You're doing a fab job. It's bloody hard working full-time with 2 small children when their father has fecked off out of the country and won't prioritise committing to his relationship with his children. You should be proud of what you're doing and when the girls are older and more mature and perhaps start realise what you're doing now, I'm pretty sure they'll proud of you too thanks (and wine grin)

(Scuse disjointed post - on phone!)

fromparistoberlin Thu 24-Jan-13 08:49:23

My guess is that DD1 is greiving, and its all coming out.

I think yes get help, but in some ways its a very natural thing and to be expected

I am not saying dont address it, but maybe if you can accept that yes, she is upset, and that in time it will pass

I know that if our DH went away my DDS1 would be devastated, its normal

poor little lass

and keep on patting yourself on the back

BoffinMum Thu 24-Jan-13 09:14:12

Can I add to all this sterling advice that a long weekend at a family hotel with a staffed playroom/creche might let you all have a break - kids could play, you could sleep/chill and potter a bit, you could step away from the everyday hassles and take stock. £400 better spent on that than their dad tbh.

Hi your situation sounds similar to mine except my ExH lives in the same city.

For over a year after he walked out (when DD3 was a week old) I tried so hard to get him to have a relationship with them but all it did was cause me stress which in turn made me actually ill.

A few things have happened over the years that helped me distance myself from he and now I just leave it up to him. He knows my phone number and address so if he wants to see them he just needs to call.

He still lets us down. He was supposed to be having them at mine on Monday while I did a course but didn't turn up. DD2 asked why he hasn't been I just said I didn't know. She then said she thought he had forgotten so I said probably.

He is DD1s SDad and she doesn't seem that bothered. I have heard her tell him she misses him but doesn't mention he. DD2 misses him most but even she says she doesn't want to go over there some times and DD3 doesn't really have a relationship with him. On Christmas Day they saw him for about 15 minutes before going to his mums. DD3 went to the toilet and started crying and hiding in the corner because she thought her dad was outside.

What I am trying to say in this epic post is that I have learnt that it is better for my health and there well being to back off. If he is bothered he will step up to the mark if not there isn't a thing you can do to force him (trust me I have tried)

Really hope everything works out for you and your DCs.

Cristiane Thu 24-Jan-13 13:40:30

lizandlulu he was a good fun dad, good at tickles, fun, not good at taking dd to school (I was told after he left that sometimes he didn't bother taking her in some Fridays). He was not very responsible and believes it's safe to drink and drive, say half a bottle of wine and two pints. Eugh.
I don't work weekends and I do try to get them out, but they are so reluctant to do anything, they say they just want to stay home with me, but I agree, it's so much better to get out and about.

bikingviking thank you for the boost and the flowers. Sorry to hear you are in a similar situation. I slept with them both last night and it was dead cosy. I got up really early to go on a flight and my mum came to stay last night. It is so good to have another adult in the house, I think it's just the overwhelming weight of responsibility actually that I need a break from. I think that I will ask her if she can come and stay for a week or so, even if I am working it would just help so much, and it is so much easier to have another adult in the house! Now my meetin finished early and I am at the departure lounge to fly home and I am having (get me) a gin and tonic! God knows why but you guys have made me feel so much stronger and I felt like celebrating!
I will not let him walk oer me. I will call the shots, and tell him when it is suitable to visit, suitable to call, all that kind of thing.

fromparis yes that is a good point, perhaps it's just s stage of grieving, I think I understand that as well as something I have gone through. The adrenaline, e anger, the confusion, the denial and now the sadness and acceptance...

boffin give me the name of such a place! I would love that!!

threedaughters how can he let them down like that? I find it incomprehensible. And to leave you when your dd3 only a week old? I hope you are feeling stronger now. Thank you for the words of advice. I am backing off as of now. I have let him run circles round me. He always says he is 'too busy'... How is that possible when he works three days a week, has no responsibilities, has someone to wash his clothes, his parents have a maid and cook... It's ridiculous.

He does it all the time. He says he will have them set days a week but it normally only lasts couple of weeks then there is another excuse.

His DSis had a baby last year and he turned up on her doorstep drunk crying about how I won't let him see the kids, it is a joke!

I can't let myself get wound up by it. Last year I had infection after infection and joint pain which was all cause by the stress I have had. All that has gone now that I have managed to detach from him completely (well nearly completely)

We had been going through a rough patch at the end of the pregnancy and he met somebody else so left. She then dumped him so he came back, that was the pattern until about August when I decided enough was enough.

At the time it seems so hard to break away emotionally but now I see him and feel nothing. He phoned me on Christmas Eve crying saying he loved me and I really didn't care. I don't hate me and to be honest it feels good.

As for being on my own I am quite happy. I am lucky that my best friend is as well so we meet up when we can and talk on the phone a lot. Remember being on your own is better than being with somebody who isn't good enough for you!

Do you have any hobbies?

lizandlulu Thu 24-Jan-13 14:35:20

It's good that you have someone who you can rely on, your mum staying sounds like a good idea. Just even if it's to chat rubbish to, it's adult conversation.

My dd would love to stay in the house all day, not cause of the situation we had with her dad, just cause she is a home bird. But I go stir crazy if I stay in all day, I just can't do it. Even I only go int town and satin costa for half an hour and back again, I have to go somewhere

Cristiane Wed 30-Jan-13 18:11:45

Hello. I had a terrible week. First of all I have been threatened with no bonus for last year (expected about 30% of salary) owing to my emails being read by group it and one of them (out of thousands) had something in it of a 'sexual' nature - it was all innocent fun to someone I had been on a few dates with, not client, not colleague...
Then this morning my nanny resigned
I just don't know why I can't get cut some slack sometimes

threedasughters I love cooking so I do that

liz just asked my mum to come over as I need the support. But she is clear she can't take over and I can't ask her too.

henrysmama2012 Wed 30-Jan-13 18:52:30

Just wanted to say that you sound amazing and it sounds like a lovely idea for you and your little ones to sleep in the same bad for a while - I bet they will really love it. Your ex sounds like a jackass and he doesn't sound so safe to be around your kids....

henrysmama2012 Wed 30-Jan-13 18:57:25

Sorry my LO just woke up and I cut my last post short...your ex sounds like he put you in a really tough situation and I don't know what to say other than I agree with other posters that he has to stick to a very clear schedule else he loses his right or see the kids. Also just wanted to flag up that you don't want anyone questioning your kids safety and making trouble for you if they hear the kids father is looking after them while drunk, etc-you can't risk any fall out from that kind of situation.

Maybe it is better to stop him visiting for a while and find a way of talking to the kids about it? He seems pretty bad for your mental health and theirs and you sound like such a lovely mummy. I think your older girl in particular might benefit from more mummy time not daddy time and some more stability.

BoffinMum Thu 31-Jan-13 09:03:40

OP I would go in really hard to HR on that one,and make a formal complaint about being victimised if it really is a minor infraction. Sounds like they are looking for excuses to save money. I cannot believe nobody else in the entire company has sent a flirty email to someone they have dated. And if they haven't disciplined you at the time, they have no grounds for withholding bonus now. Verbal warning would be more appropriate.

Cristiane Fri 01-Feb-13 00:06:23

boffinmum that is a really good point. Thank you. It was really a minor infraction.

henrysmum thank you for being so kind. I do need to spend time with the older one. I will think of a way. Thank you for being so nice smile

BoffinMum Fri 01-Feb-13 11:44:14

Just dig out the company disciplinary policy, and absolutely insist they stick to it. And remember the sorts of shenanigans that very senior men get away with whilst you dig your heels in.

samarcanda Fri 01-Feb-13 13:43:32

Christiane, you are an amazing woman in a very difficult situation... You re doing you absolute best, and partly compensating for how useless the father of your children is being. For as much as you want to compensate, your kids will be able to understand that their father is useless, for whatever reason, might be just a temporary issue due to depression or just his long term personality. I also think in time you should place some boundaries on him, it s good for you and it
S good for him ...if he disappears he will have to answer to his children. You will not be able to protect the girls from having an absent father, they ll have to grieve and find their own way of accepting this.... Time will help you and I wish you to find a life companion that is worth your value !

lizandlulu Fri 01-Feb-13 19:08:40

Have you been able to find new child care?

Cristiane Thu 07-Feb-13 17:59:43

lizandlulu I have found a new nanny and I am taking next week off and she is coming in for a couple of days to learn the ropes. What a relief

boffinmum the story from work keeps changing. I took it right to the MD and everyone's story is very different, someone has some kind of issue with me there clearly, now it seems it was nothing to do with any kind of flirty email at all! It is concerned with the most ridiculous petty silly things I cannot believe it. Now they are saying that it is 'highly likely' I will get my bonus. But the whole thing is very weird they are desperate to 'draw a line in the sand' which reads to me that they realise they haven't a leg to stand on and want to move on as quick as possible... Hmmmm

samarcanda grin thank you... H sent me a text 'by mistake' n Sunday with some photos of his desk.... With of a very pretty girls set as his screensaver... The text said 'see, I can't get enough of you'.... So he has a new girlfriend... Anyway, I am not paying for his ticket over and I am waiting for him to book it. I cannot believe this has happened to me and my children. I keep wondering if I could somehow have prevented it...

Thank you everyone for your support. I only have the chance to write when I am waiting for a plane it seems! Sorry for the slow response

Cristiane Thu 07-Feb-13 18:00:30

With a photo of a very pretty girl... Sorry bad iPad typing

Cristiane Thu 07-Feb-13 18:04:09

Ah I meant to add... Referral to CAHMS came through for dd1 and we are seeing them in March

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