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Trying, and struggling, to believe I'm doing what's best for my babies

(43 Posts)
WishICouldThinkOfAGoodUsername Tue 18-Jun-13 13:02:22

Hi everyone! o/ First post on here though I've lurked on and off for a while.

sooo, background.. I'll probably ramble on for too long so sorry in advance.. if anything just writing it all down might help give me some clarity and stop annoying my parents/friends with my waffling, but if anyone can manage a reply too, that would be great smile

I'm Daddy to two wonderful little angels. Son's 4 and daughter's 3. Their Mum walked out on me more than a year and a half ago and we've mostly worked things out since. A close friend drowned and I got pretty depressed for a while after, so she helped by leaving. (...)

Initially she moved to a place not far away - walking distance. Schedule of child care was vague and often changing (on her end usually) but was mostly 50/50ish and I didn't have to fight with her to get that. She "was leaving you, but not taking the kids away from you".

Six months later, after suggesting that she might move a bit further away, she did. She doesn't drive and moved to a place half an hour's drive away with Mr. New Guy, who she'd been seeing since 10 days after we split up. He worked up there so they'd been "struggling"? for him to get back from work late and such. No mention of how it would affect the kids or their nursery places, me being able to help when she did need it.. If it was a problem anyway, tough, because she'd already rented a place.

We changed to an entire week with both kids for each parent, as a trial. An idea suggested by me as I certainly wasn't too keen to just "pop up" every time she decided she wanted to change today's plans for some reason, nor have to do 2/3 trips up and back each week. She agreed to try it and we've done the same ever since (not that she's happy about it).. more than a year now as I've refused to cave in to her idea: that children should be with their Mother from Monday to Friday "because I'm their Mother".

She still worked in my town and the kids were attending a great nursery here too. Eventually she gave up trying to bring the kids down to my local nursery (and her job down here), and nursery had to tell me they couldn't have the kids any more as they just couldn't have kids one week then not the next.

I found a new nursery, even better than the last, just a bit out of town but not all that far. They're in the grounds of a great primary school too - ideal for the boy to start there this September. She's never been there, doesn't ask how they're getting on, hasn't been to parents' evening or asked to see reports or anything.

For two whole months they also went to a second nursery with their Mum, on her week, in her town. A place that I thought was crap personally and chosen for her convenience but hey, it's her week, "I can do what I like with them when I have them". (which included not telling me she's gone to the other side of the country to see her Mum for a week, but I apparently DO need to tell her if I want to take them abroad [technically correct, yes but it would at least be nice to tell me they're 350 miles away]) Soon she again gave up work and stopped sending them to second nursery, so on her week I feel they've been missing out on the social interaction with other kids, plus have a completely different schedule to a week at my place.

A few months after deciding to quit work and be a SAHM (her bf doesn't make nearly enough for that), she's now back at work and the kids are shuffled around whoever can look after them while she works. Her bf, his mum, a friend of her's.. whoever's willing, it seems. No mention of them going back to nursery.

She instigated mediation between us to try to end up with the kids M-F but now the tables have turned and if I don't change anything, I'll be the one ending up with them M-F.


Soo, why am I even writing this post/essay?

Schools, maybe, I think. lol

I get Child Benefit for the boy and she gets it for the girl. So essentially, I'm the one choosing or with more clout to choose whichever school I want our son to go to in September. Back in January I filled in the form and put down the school right next to the nursery they are currently at when with me. Come April, I got what I wanted and he has a place at the school, yay.

How we would carry on doing a week each, I wasn't sure, but obviously using public transport to cover a half hour drive turns it into a 2.5 hour trip to and from school, twice a day, for her and of course for the kids to endure as well. Maybe that would have been enough to make her move back to my town and we'd all be closer again. However, she's "not moving back to [mytown] because it's [mytown]" Lol. So, in mediation I'd even offered to do approx 500 miles a week driving up to hers, picking them up, bringing them to school then taking them home again after. For her. Because she moved away and can't very easily travel. Ridiculous, yes, but this was my way of keeping what I wanted - for us each to keep the kids a week each and for him to go to a good school which he's already expecting to go to.

I don't feel it fair on the kids or one parent to only have them for 2/3 nights a week at the weekend. I don't want to only have them m-f myself and don't want her to either. A whole week. It works. Serious/normal "work"/school week plus the fun weekends together too. Balanced, fair for all; suits me fine. Kids aren't missing out on being with either of us. I'm a real Dad, I have my angels 7 days and nights and do everything for them; they love and depend on me and it's frankly the best thing in the world. I'd be crushed if I ended up seeing them for just two or three nights in a week or even one weekend out of two, yikes. Don't get how some Dads out there don't bust a gut to ensure they get greater access to their kids but hey, different story.

Where I have so far done everything I've been able to do for the children, my infinite capacity to screw everything up has left me without a driving license for three years. Stupid, yes. Happened, yes. So where have we gone from here? Well, it's become quite clear that her move a year ago has been sustained by the fact that I could drive and now that I can't, we're all screwed. My fault or hers for moving away when she couldn't drive?

As their Mum's intent on not moving back to where the kids were born and always lived until she moved away, causing a nursery change, leading to me applying to the school he currently still has a place at, I guess I'll have to move and change everything to suit her. Makes everything easier for her, for the kids.. not exactly for me but if I have to move to a crappier town, I'll have to. We'll lose out on having my parents a mile away from me who are always offering dinner and any other help they can. But then "grandparents shouldn't play such a big role in the kids' lives". Facepalm.

So I applied asap to change schools to [hertown]. 1st June rolls up and .. ah. Too late, the three schools are full, have waiting lists and were filled even in the first round of allocations. He's still got his place for now at the school that I can get to but Mummy can't.

Just yesterday I managed to get a call back from the admissions board to let me know exactly how many places are currently available in which schools in the area. (both my area and hers, or at least close to hers but a bit further than the three we applied for in her town).

So for the third time I'm back to looking at schools, comparing results, trying to find what's best as yes, unfortunately, it seems we're going to have to move them from where they are at nursery now to a different school for him and new nursery for her. And a new house for me, if I can even find a suitable one to move to in that dump of a town.

Either I move and we change schools/nursery, or she can move closer to where he already is meant to be going, or I'm going to have to have the children for mon-fri and her at weekends.

Of the schools that I now know have places, the closest ones to her have been ruled out by her because, like my town, "they're not going to school there because it's [townname]" Someone please tell me that this is daft and which town it is is irrelevant; it's more a question of which school will give them the best education and start in their school lives.

While I've looked at every school in the entire county pretty much, three times over, she's done nothing at all as is evidenced by her total lack of comparative knowledge on the schools. Sure, I get his Child Benefit so my decision is "more important" than hers, but some input from her throughout the process sure would have been more helpful. Or rather, useful input would have been useful, instead of just "they should be with me anyway as I'm their Mum" or "not going to a school in [townname]".

Since starting to write this last night, having a sleep and carrying on, she's actually just this morning said to put down two schools that are in the town next to her that she previously refused to consider, which I guess would then be fine, she's also pushing the idea of home schooling and keeping him on a waiting list at a school closer to her. Trying, desperately to get her way and end up with the kids at school right on her doorstep and I'll just have to move close to her and deal with it. We're only talking like 3/4 miles away; one stop on the train or 20 mins on the bus.. hardly impossible. That's as far as I go now to take them to nursery anyway.

As the kids have already been to nursery for about two years, I'd think they can cope with changing to a different school - they've both managed fine when we changed nurseries and are shining more than ever where they are. Not that I'm against home schooling really, I just think being in an actual school, with other kids would be so much better for them. I know that I don't know everything myself and given that they could go to a multitude of schools really, I don't see the point in doing it at home. How would she/I work? How many friends would the kids have? What about the level of teaching itself...

I better draw this post book to a close, partly because it's so long but also because there's not actually a point to it really. I'm not even asking a question I guess. Just a single 50/50 Dad having a bit of a rant, who's getting too tired of battling ideas that always seem based around what's best/easiest for their Mum, where I'm always prepared to do whatever's best for the children. It shows in how the kids are with me that I'm doing my job as a Dad more than well enough, I've just had enough of being made to feel so shit for everything I do or don't do. Always being threatened that she'll take our daughter away to her Mum's and such.. like huh? You think that's really a good idea, to separate them and move 350 miles away? REALLY?!

Thanks for reading and any snippets of help or wisdom anyone can give would certainly be appreciated, if anyone's gotten this far. smile I need a coffee now...

Fairyegg Fri 28-Jun-13 14:26:22

This is why 50:50 parenting just cannot work with school aged kids unless you live very near to each other and have a good relationship. You have neither. Personally I would be seeking iegal advise about contact, but prepare yourself for eow.

wonderingagain Fri 28-Jun-13 14:05:44

Another thing you mention is that she never asks about how the dcs are doing at nursery.

Actually the nursery should be informing the mother anyway about what's going on. She doesn't need to ask you or discuss it with you. Of course it would be nice if she did, but perhaps she feels it's best not to. You are making massive assumptions and judgements about her.

NynaevesSister Fri 28-Jun-13 13:58:56

He doesn't want all weekdays as then not the 'fun' of the weekends. But. I don't think you have a choice. It doesn't matter one jot what the circumstances were. You drank alcohol and you drove. End of. Be a man for your kids. Have them Mon to Fri and move near the mother. This isn't about her or whether it is fair that you have to do this and she doesn't, she left you etc. the only two people who matter are the kids. Focus on them an stop making it about you.

Flyingtree Thu 27-Jun-13 10:22:36


She abandoned her marriage to move in with a new man she met just 10 days after leaving you.

You should be given Mon-Fri custody of the children as this will least upset their routine and education.
The children are already used to living with both parents separately so they wouldn't be disrupted by this.

Would you win this kind of custody arrangement in family court? Unlikely, sadly. But it's worth fighting for. It's clearly the best arrangement for the children.

Damnautocorrect Thu 27-Jun-13 09:46:54

The 50/50 thing is only ever going to work if you are nearby, so that's one of you two making the compromise for the kids. You'd also need to divvy up school holidays fairly. But this could mean you'd end up following her around the country if she decided to move and visa versa.

Or which I think may be better suited given the school and driving problem, you start m-f (divvying up school holidays so you get fun dad time too). Then in a year or so's time when the dust has settled and your relationship with their mum is separated better from the relationship you have with your kids look at it again if its not working for you

kungfupannda Thu 27-Jun-13 09:27:17

And if it was a reading at that level, I assume you're also on a community order/suspended sentence? If not, you've been extraordinarily lucky!

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 27-Jun-13 09:16:43

I do do 50:50. But level at which you must have been over the limit to get at three year ban ( not just one glass) makes me unable to provide you with advice.

ClayDavis Thu 27-Jun-13 09:08:19

There's no way his justification of it not being black and white like speeding and one drink can push you over the limit can be true. If it was he'd have got a fine and 12-16 month ban. Aside from that who tries to justify a drink driving conviction.

kungfupannda Thu 27-Jun-13 08:53:38

I have to say that your comments about the drink drive do make me a little dubious that we're getting the whole side of the story.

There are 2 ways in which you can finish up with a 3 year ban - one is for this to be the second drink drive conviction within 10 years, and the other is for the reading to have been extremely high (120+ in breath).

ClayDavis Thu 27-Jun-13 08:19:35

I don't think there's any chance that the LA will provide transport. They will almost certainly argue that this should have been settled between the parents before they even applied for school places.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Thu 27-Jun-13 00:46:51

Agreed clay, would have had many rants back from relationships!

You sound like you are muddling the two issues - kids and your relationship with her, it seems you still feel bitter and angry. Maybe try counselling to help that as it clouds judgement...

As for dc they need stability. No idea how a week with each could possibly work for say an 8 yo. By then they will have friends in one town or the other, clubs, beavers..., not fair on them to only go alternate weeks. They either need to go school and socialise at one or the other - maybe yours as grandparents near and she was the one to move.

She can move back again at any time.

Have you looked into transport for dc through the la which the school is in? This could solve your long public transport issue.

ClayDavis Thu 27-Jun-13 00:00:32

Breathe, I thought the OP's first (very long) post was a bit me, me, me. I realise it was a rant but there's a lot of stuff in it about what the OP wants justified by using the excuse that it's for the children. His subsequent posts sort of back that up in my mind.

Like a PP I'd also be interested in the other side of the story. Sadly I suspect that there are twp children stuck in the middle of a massive point scoring/wall pissing exercise between their two parents. Neither seem to be painting themselves in glory.

I don't agree with a lot of stuff said on the Relationships board, but I think the OP should probably count himself lucky he posted in Primary Ed and not there.

breatheslowly Wed 26-Jun-13 23:37:29

Your first post made it sound like an open and shut case - you offer more stability and are the reliable parent.Given that she made the decision to move away, I would have been convinced that you were the best bet.

Your second post mentions the DUI.

Your third post attempts to minimise the DUI and also mentions that you lied about which schools you had applied to. You also fail to understand why 5 weeks away could be a bad thing.

Do you have any more things to tell us before we post replies?

wonderingagain Wed 26-Jun-13 23:17:57

Yes, OP did lose it to DUI - it was very hard to find in the ENORMOUSLY long posts that he made.

I know a woman who is mentally unstable and the dcs dad look after them as main carer and she has them every other weekend. The Dad later moved them 3 hours drive away. The thing she is judged upon is the fact that she has made no attempt to move closer to the dcs. It was possibly wrong of the Dad to move them so far away, but there was absolutely nothing stopping her from moving closer. A parent that truly cared for her children would have done what it took to get closer to them.

NynaevesSister Wed 26-Jun-13 22:54:52

Ha! That was meant to be DUI - driving under the influence. Although attempting to plaster a wall while driving would be dangerous too.

NynaevesSister Wed 26-Jun-13 22:53:18

I hope you can keep this from going to court. Although it doesn't feel like it to you right now, things aren't that bad. What you need and haven't got is emotional distance. You are still a wreck over this relationship. You need to let go of the irrelevant stuff and disengage from her. It is utterly pointless wasting time over the holiday thing. The law says the other parent needs to be notified if you go out the country that's all. Yes it is common courtesy to let you know where she is but you can't force this.

1. Learn to pick your battles and save your emotional energy. You have another 14 years of this.
2. I am guessing you lost your licence to DiY. But regardless you lost it and the high ground. I think your only choice now is to move near her to minimise disruption for the kids.
3. Start keeping a log. Do Not put anything emotional in there. No she said this or it's not fair or anything judgemental. Just log every call, date and time, you and the mother have, every night the kids are with you, every trip to the doctor, dentist, parents evening, piano recital etc. I cannot stress enough how important that you do this as you go along and that you write, and date, everything. Whenever she accuses you of something or indeed if you make a slip up. BUT keep your own judgements on her actions out of it.

Should this go to court any judge will view a journal in your hand that has clearly been written at the time very seriously. Then will not look at anything that was written in retrospect and they will not consider anything that smacks if he said, she said.

wonderingagain Wed 26-Jun-13 20:14:01

Did you get her permission to take them away for 5 weeks? Why are you implying that she wouldn't miss her children for that amount of time? Would you?

3MonthMaid Wed 26-Jun-13 19:45:44

From what you have said, it seems to make sense that you have them m-f and she has them weekends. In fact I can't see any other solution (at least in the short term).

I can see your point about being the "boring work week" parent, but I can tell you from someone who is the m-f parent, that you will be the main parent in that scenario. You will be the one who lives the every day with them and that's what counts really. You will probably find as they get older that they have parties and play dates with their school friends (in your town) and that might mean more contact too.

wonderingagain Wed 26-Jun-13 16:31:09

He's gone all quiet. hmm

wonderingagain Wed 26-Jun-13 09:58:03

I know people that do 50/50, they live close by. They do it because both of them want to and it's for the best.

wonderingagain Wed 26-Jun-13 09:54:01

What exactly has she done that is so wrong? If she is bad for the children you need social services involved. Other that that all you can do is support your angels and let ex make her own mistakes. As far as i can see, you don't like her, it's a personality clash. That isnot a reason to be so sneaky and defensive. You need to let her go and accept who she is. She is their MOTHER and much as you don't like the idea, thatis the deal clincher and always will be, NOT who earns the money, who gets the child benefit, who lives nearer the school.

I agree with others that you both need to make a long term plan and discuss what happens if she separates, if you find someone else, what if either or both of you die. Do this through a solicitor, together, so that it doesn't become a battle. In the meantime, if you want to be closer to them, move closer. If it's a crap town, make the best of it and accept that this is what the woman that you chose to have children with wants.

WishICouldThinkOfAGoodUsername Wed 26-Jun-13 08:49:56

Hi all. Thanks again for all the replies, whichever way they advised. Been too busy to pop back here and reply since.

Yeah, I did skim over my somewhat massive mistake (singular) too much. Not exactly super proud of myself for it but I sure could have addressed it more. I've lost enough family members due to alcohol to know that such a move was completely stupid, irresponsible, dumb as f***, whatever you want to call it.

First time I've even been out for an evening/drink since August; it's hardly a common thing for me. Had had enough of all the crap that's been going on and needed to let go for once. I'm sure most/all do at times which is fine. Unfortunately, what isn't so fine is that at the end of the night, poor judgement found me attempting to drive myself home and consequently being arrested. I'm glad the Police did their job and stopped me before anything tragic happened.

curlew I said it has happenED, not happens - just looking more at what's best for the kids now neither of us drive.

What I've heard a lot of since worries me more than my own one off stupidity.. just two examples: "Oh, shit, you got caught? Gutted. I drive home drunk every week" or "I tend to have three pints each Saturday then drive home, I guess that might put me over the limit". Apparently, it does happen and not just once in a blue moon; weekly.

Don't see how speeding can just happen, however. The limit (e.g. motorway) is 70. Not 70ish, 70. While the law allows you to consume an amount of alcohol and still drive, half a glass of wine might leave one person totally off their face and five pints might not affect someone else at all. Varies a lot based on sex/height/weight/when you ate/many things. Not quite so black and white as the speed limit.

TalkativeJim Whether you'll read it or not.. "her" children? Pretty sure they're here now because of a contribution from both of us. I'm not counting any stars at all. I know it doesn't paint a good picture on my side, yeah. Given that I'm not an alcoholic and obviously didn't have the kids with me at the time, I fail to see how removing me from their lives entirely would benefit them.

I could try to illustrate her side of the argument but that's a bit hard when I'm not her. I know I waffled on and on about what she's done but other than the obvious problem above, even if I'm trying to look at myself from her side, I really don't know what she'd say. I don't get the foundation of most points she raises, if she does, other than how things would be easier/cheaper/make her appear "better" - for HER, not the kids.

I lied about which schools I'd put down. Of three choices, I said I'd put down two in her town but the first preference would be in my town, next to the nursery they already attend. I'd had enough of her tearing into me in front of the kids, so lied to diffuse the arguing and get out of there. I put two in my town instead and he got the place offered at the first school anyway, making whatever the second and third and choices were completely irrelevant.

I took them to France for 5 weeks last summer. This was apparently bad - being away from home for so long... having a great time for so long... a holiday they've spoken about every week since last year and are super excited about going again this year. We're doing three weeks this year because exP would miss them too much while they're gone. Oh, how wrong I am....

It seems nobody's read this thread that is already doing shared 50/50 care time wise. Or at least, not replied anyway. It seems most people think one parent or the other should have the children on weekdays and the other at weekends/holidays. Does nobody out there actually do 50/50 as has worked well for the last year with us? I know I have my failings, as does she. From things the kids say, they don't have the best of times while with her, but I'm not trying to "win" them during the weeks, I'm not saying things like "I'm the better parent" or "I'm their Mother so should have them during the week". I accept what she does even if I don't agree with it, that's her right - to do how she sees best. Still think the kids would benefit most from having the pair of us in their lives as much as possible - it's certainly not their fault that their parents aren't together any more.

Anyhew, thanks again to everyone and all your opinions.

TalkativeJim Wed 19-Jun-13 12:34:34

My first thought after getting through a few paragraphs of your very long OP, in which you describe in minute detail how much to blame she is for absolutely everything, made me think 'I'd love to hear her side of this'.

And when I got to the bit where you gloss over your drink-driving conviction, I thought (before stopping reading) that her side of this would probably be quite an eye-opener.

Your glib style is massively irritating and possibly says quite a lot about you - it certainly highlights your ability to excuse your own massive mistakes while ranting endlessly about hers. 'Stupid, yes. Happened, yes'. Do you really think a quick 'too cool for school' soundbite about something so absolutely awful is appropriate? In a nutshell, nothing you now say about your ex's conduct could cut any ice with me - no, drink driving doesn't 'happen' to a reasonable responsible adult. I would deduce from that that you are not the best person to care for your children if you can show such a disregard for basic safety and for human life. Yet you happily judge your ex for not sending your children to nursery.

No point in commenting further, as it's as plain as day that your very long series of complaints tell a very biased story. Perhaps just thank your lucky stars that your ex doesn't now take this to court to make sure a criminal drunk-driver isn't left in charge of her children. Because she might have a very good case.

AwsomeMrsFox Wed 19-Jun-13 11:28:29

same as what juststartingtothink said, but they put it in a much better way!

AwsomeMrsFox Wed 19-Jun-13 11:07:48

It seems to me there may be a lack of commitment from the mother. What is to stop her is 2 years time from just moving again, meaning you have to pck up and follow? I missed a few bits of your post, do you have a job that can be transient?

I admire your ethos of placing you childrens happiness and wellbeing first, but I'm not sure that trailing around after her will be great all round in the long run.

Possibly one move to a mutually agreeable location might work, but I doubt there would be anyway to ensure there would be no future moves.

I agree with pp's about sticking to your guns and sending your son to your local school. The mother (and her fickleness will have to fit it round it) - maybe time to get a proper legal custody arrangement in place too as stability will help your children.

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