Therapy? or Blog.

Today has been a day for the ages. My battle with my ex has been going flat out since my last post, and I have been holding off posting until we came to some sort of agreement. Guess again.

As you will note my title above, I’ve began to ponder if this blog is going to quickly become my therapy. As I sit here at my table writing this, I’m infuriated… I am a few short seconds from snapping… I’m hurt, and I’m dumbfounded.

If you’ve read my previous post you will remember that my lovely ex wouldn’t agree to 50/50. In fact, she was only agreeable to a slight increase in time.

Please remember.. she offered Every second weekend and every Monday. Got that in your head?? good… lets move forward.

I told her that I didn’t agree to that, and if she wasn’t going to agree to 50/50 then I would compromise and meet in the middle. Every second weekend, and every Monday and Tuesday… for now. And we will re visit this in a few months. We waited for her lawyers reply for about 5 days, finally my lawyer emailed…

She wasn’t agreeing.

Her offer you ask? Every second weekend, and every Second Monday.

Wait.. what?

Yup.. you read that right. She took a Monday off the table now. That’s no longer an option.

Although I wanted to be an ass.. I figured. Ok, ill play ball. Ill compromise some more.. I countered with her original offer. Every second weekend, and Every Monday. Lets sign this bad boy and get on with our lives.

Nope.

Not agreeable. What did she come back?? With no explanation at all… she comes back with ” Every second weekend, and Every Second Monday.

Again. I cant make this up.

Lets recap.

I asked for 50/50… she said no. Countered with every second weekend, and every Monday.

I countered with every second weekend, and every Monday and Tuesday… She said no, and then Countered with every second weekend, and every second Monday.

I countered with her original offer.. Every second weekend and Every Monday.

She said no, and countered with every second weekend and every second Monday. (yup her same offer)

My lawyer and I spoke, and enough is enough. We are going to move forward with a family court ordered assessment. The shitty thing about this assessment is that she still doesn’t have to agree to what is recommended.

So i sit here at 5:15… wondering where I have went wrong? I also begin to wonder, why is my family law system letting me down? She is making me question my ability to be a father… am I doing something wrong? What makes me such a horrible dad, that you refuse to let me see my kids more. Even one day per week more??

I often wonder if there is something I can do to bring awareness to what is going on the system when it comes to fathers. I’ve thought of many ideas, many ways I could have shit changed. But then reality sets in.

I’m one guy.

Long story short… .I’m not giving up. I don’t care what it costs… I don’t care if it takes me into bankruptcy. My kids deserve to see their father more.

I honestly believe that all kids should be able to see their father as much as their mother…. unless deemed unfit. I am not unfit.

I beg, plead, and urge you to share this with someone you know going through the same ordeal. I am here to talk.. I am here to listen… I’m here to help in any way possible.

Once again, I thank each and every one of you for reading this blog, for joining in my life’s trials and tribulations.

And mostly … for being my therapist.

thebarkingdad@gmail.com

Custody battles are NOT as simple as Yes or NO

I drove home that day, Giddy as school boy. Finally I was going to have my kids more. Finally I was going to be able be a dad.. Not just a visitor.

The next morning, I reached out to one of my employees who had told me that he has a family lawyer in the family. I got as much info on this lawyer as possible, and decided that I needed to call him. My employee had ranted and raved about this guy, and that he was good at what he does, and that I wouldn’t be disappointed.

I walk into my first meeting with the new Lawyer, whom we will call “Andy.” At first impression Andy was young… well put together, and confident. My alpha male attitude was immediately thinking that this was not going to be a good fit. I .. Couldn’t.. be .. More .. Wrong..

Not more than 15 minutes into my meeting with Andy, I was pouring my heart out to him. 8 years of the hell I had been going through, was quickly laid out on this guy. He took it like a champ. He sympathized for me, but also told me where I had gone wrong and where I had been an asshole.

I’m not sure about the rest of you .. but my experiences with lawyers goes as follows… Visit lawyer, leave, wait for them to draft an email or letter to lawyer, wait , wait, wait for a reply from your ex’s lawyer, annnnd repeat…..

Not this time… Dude literally wrote up a draft email to my ex on the spot. He laid out different options of custody for her, acknowledged her consent for a 50/50 agreement, told her he could act as both of our lawyers to keep costs down.. which why not?? Its just an agreement that needs to be whipped up right?

Within an hour and a half, Andy wrote up a draft email, a fancy little graph that would show Trudy which days she had the kids, and which days I had the kids, and a proposal regarding on going child support, and expenses.

Man.. this guy IS good.

I left feeling great. Feeling like finally someone had my back. This guy could see right through all the bullshit that I had been put through, he could see that she wasn’t acting or thinking rationally the past few years.

I think I waited about a week for a reply from her. I was so excited to get her reply to see which custody schedule worked best for her. In my head, I was already planning my next few months out and what I was going to do with my kids, where we were gonna go.. when we were gonna go fishing etc.

Then it came…….

She wasn’t agreeing. I cant even make this up.. her reply was simply that I misunderstood our conversation. That she doesn’t feel it would be in the best interest of the children to take them away from their friends, activities, and school…. Wait.. what? Read that again. “not in the best interest of the kids to take them away from their friends, activities, and school”

I don’t think I ever said I was taking them away from those things. We live in the same city… why would I take them from their school? Why would they not be able to see their friends?? and… lastly… I take my son to his sports on the weekend that i have my kids now… sooooooo how is that a thing?

She claims that what we talked about was a small increase in time with the kids. That she thinks giving me every second weekend, and every Monday is what we discussed.

Guess I was at a different discussion, because that’s NOT what was discussed.

Andy writes to me, “doesn’t seem like she is on the same page, and doesn’t have any valid points, call me to discuss”

Immediately I call him and ask him what world she is living in? That I don’t quite understand how her concerns are even valid.

After a lengthy discussion we discuss our options.


Before I tell you guys what my decision was…. my question is ..


What would you have done?? Comment in the comments and let me know!!


Would you accept her offer of every second weekend and every Monday??

or

Would you keep pushing for equal time?

Let me know!!

We have an agreement.. or do we?

Hello world. I am back after a lengthy absence. Its been an interesting last 6 months. Covid happened, life happened….Trudy happened.

For those of you who have followed this blog, you will remember that I moved to Trudy’s city to be closer to the kids. I needed to be close to my kids as they are my absolute world.

Things have been going well on that front. Ive been putting on this “snow white” persona where I agree to what Trudy says, I dont argue, I dont fight…. I just lay down. I make sure that I am supportive of her decisions, (even if I dont agree) If there is conflict with my kids, I take her side.. and make sure I’m following through with her wishes.
Its been great. We have been getting along, I’ve been getting more time with my kids . life is great!

Then one day it happened. I asked if she would be agreeable to a 50/50 custody arrangement.. she replies ” go for it”

Not sure what that means…….

I ask her.. is that a yes, or a no. She replies “well if you ask the court for it, you’re going to get it anyway” ….. umm say what!!??!??! You’re agreeing??

Then Covid hits. Courts close… I cant do anything.

Months go by living by our same arrangement, seeing my kids, getting closer to my kids.. my son turns 13, my daughter is now 10.

Then it happens… again.

Im dropping my son off after picking him up from creating his first bank account. Trudy tells the kids to go inside that she needs to talk to me. Immediately I can tell this is a serious talk. Ol Trudy doesn’t just strike up random conversations.

Then it jaggedly rumbles out of her mouth…. ” Were you still wanting more time with the kids?” ummmm.. #$)#E*$)#$!!!(#@#…..

Calmly…I reply…. “Yeah of course”

She asks what I’m thinking for custody… As she asks me, I’m looking around to see if this is an episode of Punkd or some horrible joke…. nothing.. Ol Trudy is serious!!!

I explain a 50/50 scenario, and she doesn’t say no…. she does however suggest letting me have them every monday as well as every second weekend as a “Trial” run.

Im passed a trial run by now.. this has been 9 years of me wanting my children. I tell her that I will come up with a few different ideas, and will have my lawyer get ahold of her when its done….

Simple right????

Not so much.

thebarkingdad@gmail.com

Attempting to Co-Parent.

First off, I need to apologize for my lack of entries lately. I really enjoy doing this blog, and I love sharing my experiences and helping where I can. I feel like it kinda takes a toll trying to deal with every day life, deal with an ex, and then come on here, and be happy and chipper and give the best advice possible.
But here I am.. I’m back, and I promise to try and post more often.

Recently, someone I know has been going through a divorce/separation. Id like to say that shes going through a divorce with a man…but hes far from that. Hes a child.

They have a child together.

As easy as it is to be biased in this situation, I try not to be. Hes a dad, I’m a dad, normally I should be understanding, and try see his point of view… but his point of view is out of this world.

He had an affair.

I’ve mentioned this girl before.. its Lexi. Remember my girly girl when I moved back here? Yup… same girl.

Lexi is one of the kindest, sweetest, most caring person you will ever meet. Shes the type of girl that will literally do absolutely anything for anyone.

One problem with that…. People take advantage.

Cue her ex. We are gonna call him Lionel. Why Lionel? He looks like a Lionel..

This manchild has an exaggerated sense of self-importance. His main priority in life is fabricated success, fabricated power, and fabricated success…. but thats a story for another time.

Lionel cheated on Lexi. He “went on business” and cheated. Not that cheating is ever ok, but having a daughter, you would hope would stop you from ever consider being with someone else.

Lexi was smart. Once she found out about the infidelity, she got out. And she got out quickly.

I’m gonna skip a lot of the financial stuff, because its long, and i’m not here to completely bash the dude… lets just say.. he doesn’t pay his way.

With the divorce still ongoing, custody is always a sensitive topic. Lexi had agreed to try 50/50. After all, Lionel never missed visitations, he took her when he was supposed to, he was in all accounts being a dad.

When people talk about the term 50/50, most people are referring to equal custody… equal shared time..etc. Which is correct, but as a parent, 50/50 should mean 50% parenting.

See the difference? Sure you can spend 50% of your time with mom, and 50% of your time with dad…. but then you have to be all in at 50%.

In this case, even though Lionel and Lexi are sharing 50/50 custody, Mr. Lionel, isn’t sharing 50% of the responsibility of being a parent.

If you are going to be in a 50/50 custody arrangement, be prepared to help out and bring your child to activities. Be prepared to take your child to school functions. A lot of parents out there want the 50/50 because you wont have to pay child support. WRONG! You do have to pay if you make more than your other spouse.

This is such a horribly wrong reason to want 50/50. In my case. I want 50/50 because I want my kids more. I want them and I to have a great relationship. I want to be part of their lives.

Not this guy.

Dude.. Grow up.

For example. Lionel’s daughter loves to swim. LOVES IT. You put this little girl into the pool, she will refuse to leave.

She has been in swimming lessons since I’ve known her. Lexi has made it clear to Lionel, that she will be putting their daughter into swimming lessons for the upcoming class, but that since they are 50/50, he is going to have to take her when it falls on her day.

Shes not asking for this dude to build her a pool and commit his life to teaching her to swim… nope.. shes asking him to take her to swimming lessons on a Saturday when she is with him.

He refuses. Heres some excuses.

  1. Hes busy on Saturdays.
  2. He goes back to the town his mom lives in on Saturdays
  3. Saturdays are the days he does things with his daughter.
  4. Nothing is open on Sundays, so he does everything on Saturday.

Blah, Blah, Blah.

Heres what I hear.

  1. Excuse.
  2. Excuse.
  3. Excuse..
  4. Excuse.

When you have a child with someone, what you want doesn’t really matter any more. Your child comes first. You signed up for it… you slipped one passed the goalie, and you damn sure didn’t wrap it up….. Time to be a dad.

I’m going start to sound like a broke record and I apologize. If you have a child.. Be a dad. Be present. Who cares what your agenda is. Who cares what you think you are gonna miss on the weekend by taking your child swimming. Your child is going to love spending that time with you and love showing you what he or she can do in the pool.

Whether its swimming, baseball, football, hockey, dance, golf, ballet…. Show an interest. It takes an hour out of your day. Man up … be a dad.

Lexi has tried to compromise, but the truth of the matter is that there might only be one day that she can get her daughter into swimming lessons.

The sad part…

He wont compromise. It has to be his way… or no way.

To be continued…….

I was going to end it with that… but there’s one more thing that ol Lionel does that absolutely pisses me off.

Lexi has one request when her daughter is with Manchild. All she asks is that he allows Lexi to facetime with her daughter every couple of nights when he has their daughter. Simple right…. NOT.AT.ALL.

He refuses… again. excuse after excuse. The new one is that “he doesn’t bother Lexi during her time”

Um… no… You’re a loser, and only pretend to be a dad when its convienient for you.

What hes doing is alienating his daughter. This one is a minor case… but at the end of the day is alienation, and its child abuse. Both Lexi and Lionel, should give every opportunity to their child to have a relationship with the other parent. I see Lexi try… why cant he..

Ill end this entry, cuz im getting worked up. But I wanna part with this:

When you are going to through a separation or divorce that includes a child. Your feelings towards your ex do not matter any more. It doesn’t mean anything if you hate him, or her, or vice versa… The absolute only thing that means anything, is the look on the face of that innocent little child.

Our kids cant fight for themselves. A 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, even 10 year old child, doesn’t have a voice.. They are still too young to really understand what is going on. They don’t know why mom and dad aren’t together, but they rely on us to make sure they have a relationship with both parents. They rely on us to make sure they aren’t missing out on life because mom and dad are going through a divorce.

Put your kids first. They, just like you, live one time on this earth. Set them up to have the best, happiest live they can have.

Lionel is preventing that right now.

Who suffers?

Not Lexi…….

His daughter.

What kind of man would ever want to hurt his daughter?

thebarkingdad@gmail.com

No Retainer… No problem.

I know a lot of my readers have the same issue. Coming up with a retainer for a lawyer is damn near impossible when you are paying through your ass in child support, expenses, life, etc.

During my separation, I always thought it was amazing how my ex could want so much money from me, as well as watching me pay for a lawyer and then get angry with me if I missed a payment to her. It goes back to hurting the kids. By her dragging this out in court, it was taking money away from me, in turn hurting my ability to pay for my kids, yet, she was quick to complain when I couldn’t make a payment to her.

Like many of you out there, I often wondered how the heck I was going to continue to do this. There is self-representing, which is muuuuuuch cheaper, but takes a lot of research. Research that unfortunately isn’t out there. If you’re a low income person, there is always legal aid services. If you aren’t familiar with Legal aid, its a legal service that is provided for you at an income based fee. If you have an income of over (I think) $50,000 you will not be eligible. So now you are back to the ol drawing board. Whats next??

As I mentioned before, you can self represent, or… you can get a lawyer. But there’s another option.. .a Hybrid option if you will.

Pay as you go- Self Rep.

What the heck is that you ask.. sounds made up?? Its not. Smaller legal firms, will allow you to pay as you go. So if you want to self represent, but are stuck and you don’t know how to file certain paper work, or you don’t know what your legal options are, you can pay for a visit, pick the lawyers brain, and get a good understanding of what you need to do.

Some lawyers will be annoyed by doing this over and over again, and will wonder why you just didn’t pay a retainer and have him/her look after your whole case for you. We all know that sometimes that’s not an option. So make sure you are up front in your first visit, and tell them that you are looking for a pay per visit advice type service from them.

My suggestion would be to do as much as you can by yourself. Get the paperwork you need lined up. The court house clerk will always help to make sure you are filing the proper paper work, but its on you to fill it out right, and make sure you are attaching the necessary forms.

Once you get all your forms, fill out your affidavit.. attach screen shots, documents, anything that helps prove your case and why you are filing whatever you may be filing, then call a legal firm, one that deals with collaborative family law, and ask to speak with someone that you could hire to look over your paperwork. Chances are, you are going to get referred to a junior lawyer. Who cares don’t be scared off by that. They know enough to be able to look over what you have and what you don’t have, and be able to advise you what you may or may not need.

Obviously this is still going to cost you money, but compared the 1000-5000 you will need to pay for a retainer, this is nothing.

Thats it.. Simple right.

Going forward, you will be doing it by yourself, but you will also have a lawyer in your corner that will know your case, and be able to properly advise you.. for a much smaller fee.

I really hope this helps anyone that thinks you are stuck. You aren’t. I wish fathers like Freddie Dalton knew of the options that were available , and that you don’t have to spend thousands to fight for your kids. Sure you have to spend some time and energy to do it yourself, but that’s a price well spent, and a price you can afford to make sure you get your deserved time with your kids.

Today was just a short post… it was just something on my mind that I wanted to chat about and let you know that there ARE options.

If you guys have any questions at all, please dont hesitate to comment, or email me. I’m not doing this blog for my gain…. this is for you guys.

Please hit the follow button, and share with friends and family.

Thanks again.

thebarkingdad@gmail.com

The Run Around..

Being a single dad, you really know how you would like things to play out. You have a different set of thoughts than your ex most times, and more times than not, you just don’t see eye to eye. Lately, I have found myself completely dumbfounded by Trudys thinking. Let me explain.

Now that I am in the same city as the kids, you would think it would be a no brainer for me to be more involved. I don’t even mean custody wise. That will be figured out by itself.. and very soon.

What I mean… is extra time. When Trudy is at work extra time.

My kids are very active in other activities. Trudy also works shifts… which means there is a lot of time that she isn’t home. Luckily my son is old enough to be home alone, and can watch his sister.

Lately, while Trudy has been at work, my son and daughters activities are falling during her work time. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have their dad pick them up and take them to these activities???

You would think so.

Nope…. she will instead ask her parents to take them, or will place the task of driving them around with her new Fiance. Not their dad.

Just doesn’t make sense.

My kids have asked numerous times why Dad cant take them. And she will answer back with the infamous “he can change it if he wants.” Very true, and i’m going to, but so can you. There is absolutely no reason to get the courts involved in order for me to spent a few more hours a week with my kids.

Its absolutely disgusting how immature, and petty she is being. If she would ask the kids who they would want to take them. I guarantee they would choose me everyday of the week.

Her “he can change it if he wants” comment is getting old really fast. Last week, she told my son that “its her time with them, not mine”.. my son quickly quipped back “but you wont even be home, you’ll be working” and again she replies “he can change it if he wants.”

My son is 12. Hes at the age that he sees whats going on, and hes getting frustrated by it. And rightfully so. It makes absolutely no sense, why you wouldn’t let your kids be with their father when you are at work anyway.

I know it kills her that i’m involved. She would like to continue on with this perfect little family illusion that she seems to have envisioned in her head.

I think maybe the worst part of it all, is that shes hurting her children. Forget me, take me outta the equation for a minute. Shes hurting her own children. They want to see their dad, they need to see their dad… and shes stopping it. Its a form of child abuse, and unfortunately our family law system turns a blind eye to it.

I’m not perfect. I don’t claim to be. But i’ve adapted. I held on to a lot of anger over the years, and have straight up despised her.. but I would never intentionally keep her from the kids.

I’ve became more civil. I treat her with respect, I treat her fiancee with respect… and i’ve moved on. There’s no use crying over spilled milk right???

I guess the reason for today’s entry is that I want to make sure that everyone out there realizes how every single decision you make, affects your child. My kids are feelings resentment towards Trudy right now…. because of her choices. My kids are acting up at home and at school…because of her choices. I’ve said it a million times. Kids need BOTH parents. That’s why it takes 2 to make them. Work together and co parent. If you think that being civil with your ex is co-parenting… its not. Making decisions together, spending equal time together, raising your kids together is co-parenting.

Time to change the narrative on separation and divorce with kids. It doesn’t have to be ugly. Starting putting the kids first. End of story.

thebarkingdad@gmail.com

The Kids.

The most important reason for this blog was to help parents navigate through separation issues and custody issues. The main ingredient in both of those issues are the kids.

Over the years after my separation, my kids have been my main focus. They have also been my main worry. From the day they arrive in this world, we naturally know that they come first. No matter what. So during the most uphill battle of my life, my main constant has been just that. Keep them #1.

Somehow I’ve had to learn how to keep my feelings towards their mother to myself, and at the same time, put on a happy face and be the best dad I can. Going into this separation, I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to do that. Her family was making it very hard for me to even pretend they were good people.

One of the things that really helped me put on a happy face, and ignore the crap that was going on around me, was to really focus on the kids. Not just be a dad.. but be a very involved dad. I know I’ve harped before on how important it was to me to be involved, but I also learned that being involved kept me away from the negative crap.

See, I learned that focusing on my kids, and what was going on in their lives, was far more constructive than anything else. Making sure I called every couple nights, make sure we facetimed… making sure I asked about school.

At first it was difficult. My kids couldn’t carry on conversation if their life depended on it. They were too young. My daughter was a very quiet girl so trying to talk to her on the phone was as challenging as you could imagine. I didnt care. They seen that dad cared, and that dad was around.

Its not hard to be around. I didn’t want to be a stranger that came to visit every once in a while. I wanted to be dad.

Being a dad is a huge honor. Being a dad isn’t just donating sperm, and being some figure in your kids lives. Being a dad is being the next thing to being god in your childrens lives.

Once I finally learned to wrap my head around what being a dad was, it was simple. I showed up, I called, I never lied. If I told my kids that I would call… I called. If I told them I would be there, I went.

…. THATS IT.

My kids and I grew very close even though I was 4 hours away. They knew they could trust me. They knew they could talk to me whenever they wanted. And they knew that every second night, Dad was calling. Not some guy.. not a stranger. .. Dad.

As the kids got older and started to see what their mom was up to.. and started to realize they weren’t getting to see me as much, they started pushing back on their mom. My son started acting up, and my daughter would follow suit.

Even know this was music to my ears, and finally the kids knew that what Trudy was doing wasnt right, it was also my duty as a father to help Trudy. To help raise the kids, and coach them as to not be acting up because of decisions made.

Trudy was parenting in a way that I didn’t agree with, but because the kids spent the majority with her, there wasn’t much I could do. I could talk to her about it, and suggest some things, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t do anything. My son was acting up and Trudy would plead her case to me why she did something the way she did, and even if I didn’t agree with her, I would at least explain to my son why she was doing that.

Always remember… you don’t have to agree with the choices your ex makes, but if what he/she is doing, isn’t hurting your kids, at least take the time to see it from her view, and explain it to your kids. They are too young to understand why mom or dad does things the way they do…. so help them understand.

In my case, explaining to my son why his mom was taking away his Ipad, or why his mom grounded him for talking back, really helped the way he treated her going forward. He didn’t always agree with her, but he knew how to behave in a way, that wouldn’t get him in trouble, and wouldn’t get him grounded. He learned to adapt. He learned that he had to listen to his dad as well.. and that dad was looking out for him.

Even though I wasn’t physically in his life every single day, I parented him. I helped him through a situation that ultimately helped him going forward.

Whats my point?? My point is that you can be a dad from 12 minutes away, or 12 hours away. Just because your ex makes things difficult, don’t back away. Don’t fall into that dead beat status… be present. Even though your ex may think he/she has it under control, your kids still need their dad… or mom.

A lot of people think taking the easy way out, and not being a dad, or mom is the way to go. Its not.. Two people brought your child into this world, it doesn’t end there. It takes two people to raise, and shape your kids into who they are going to be in the future.


Dont run…. be present. Your kids need you.

thebarkingdad@gmail.com

Her Fiance.

After a separation, you always dread the ex finding someone new. Well mine did.. and she did very quickly. In fact. The weekend after she left me, she was with a guy. It made me quickly realize if that was maybe the reason she had left, maybe there WAS another guy.

Over the years since our separation, different guys have come and gone. Some obviously just in it for sex, some with good intentions… but none could tame the beast. Until a couple of years ago.

Trudy has changed a lot over the years. She is not the girl that I fell madly in love with. I don’t know if its because having the kids has put a strain on her… or because the kids are growing up, and making her life a bit more difficult… I don’t know. What I do know is that she is an unpleasant person that walks around with her nose in the air.. rarely smiling.

It was late 2017 that my kids had told me that Trudy was seeing someone. I was a tad shocked. Very surprised that someone would put up with her bitchiness and well quite frankly… her ice cold demeanor.

The kids talked about him often… they didn’t like him. Even to this day I wonder if maybe he was a good guy, but they didn’t like him because he wasn’t me. My kids and I have a very strong, close knit relationship/bond. Its so close that i’ve always said that i’ll feel sorry for the dude Trudy ends up with, because my kids will never give him a chance.

This was happening now.

He was a strange fellow at first. When I would show up at Trudys house to get the kids, he would make a point of “going to the bathroom” or would leave before I got there. It got to the point that the kids thought he was scared of me. I’m not a scary dude, no need to run away. At the same time, if you are going to be around my kids, I wanna meet you.

This went on for sometime. Finally I started seeing him at my sons hockey games. He was out of hiding.

He wouldn’t come near me, wouldn’t introduce himself, as soon as I would walk over to him, he would walk away. Kinda weird right?

The kids started asking Trudy why her boyfriend would avoid me. She would tell them that he “doesn’t want to get into the middle of it”….. middle of what?! Trudy and I are getting along, the kids are happy… whats there to get into the middle of? She knew she couldn’t dodge this question forever, so finally at a hockey game last winter, her and her boyfriend walk over to me, and she introduces him to me. His name is Clive. “Well, nice to finally meet you Clive” Trudy continues that its time we finally meet, and we shake hands, and they sit down beside me. We watch my son play hockey, chatting back and fourth and for once.. getting along.

Could this be the guy?

Shes never introduced me to a boyfriend before. Maybe this is the guy that has finally scaled Mount Trudy.. Maybe this is the dude that has conquered Everest. If so, good on him.

With Winter gone, and Clive still around, I’m left wondering how long this is gonna last. Surely her true colors are going to shine through and hes gonna run for the hills….. right?

Nope.

Summer of 2018 comes and they buy a house together. A few weeks later, they are heading to Pennsylvania again to visit Trudys family. Something has me feeling like hes gonna propose while they are there.

2 nights in my son calls me. Sure enough. His mom is getting married. He proposed on the beach. I asked how his sister felt about it. ” Shes really mad dad… she stormed out of the room, and wont talk to anyone”

I think my daughter really felt deep down that something would bring her mom and I together again. Which for a time, I wont lie.. early on, I wanted that to, until she changed and put me through hell.

Knowing that Trudy was getting married didn’t bother me like I thought it would. Sure it had been 7 years since her and I were together, but I often wondered how I would feel deep down. I knew one thing… I was glad I dodged that bullet… and god speed to Clive.

The next few months, I could really see what Trudys motives were. She was happy with Clive, Clive was somehow happy with her, Clive had 2 kids of his own, and Trudy wanted this super happy family. She tried so hard to push me out so she could live happily ever after with her new perfect family….. but it hasn’t worked.

Im still here, and Im not going anywhere.

Things between Trudy and I have been a lot better the last few months. I honestly feel that Clive is the calming voice in her life that she desperately needs. Its was even getting to the point where I would waive to Clive when I saw him in the drive way, or would say hi at hockey games. We would smile, and acknowledge each other. Which I mean… why not? My kids are safe when they are with him, and most importantly, they know I am dad.

That’s whats most important.

ADVICE BLURB: NO MATTER WHO YOUR EX BRINGS INTO HIS/HER LIFE, GIVE THEM A CHANCE. THEY DIDN’T ASK TO GET BROUGHT INTO YOUR DRAMA. THEY FELL IN LOVE WITH YOUR EX.. NOT MUCH YOU CAN DO. SURE THEY ARE GOING TO BE BIASED AND STAND BESIDE YOUR EX THROUGH THICK AND THIN, BUT SHOW THEM YOUR EX IS FULL OF IT. BE YOURSELF. ITS NOT A COMPETITION WITH YOUR EXES NEW LOVE INTEREST. ALL THAT MATTERS IS YOUR KIDS. KEEP THAT RELATIONSHIP AND BOND WITH THEM AND EVERYTHING WILL SORT ITSELF OUT.

So now that Trudy is happy with Clive, and has told me that there is nothing she can do about me going for 50/50, the time is now right?

Stay tunes.

thebarkingdad@gmail.com

A radical development.

With the new chapter in my life in full swing, my main goal was and has always been to see my kids more. When letting Trudy know that I would be moving to the same city as the kids, I asked her if she would be open to letting me see the kids more. I suggested changing it to every second weekend, and a couple of over nights during the week.

She informed me that she MIGHT be ok with every second weekend, but that she wouldnt agree to over nights during the week. She didnt really have a reason as to why, she just wasnt agreeing.

Over the next few weeks there was a ton of hostility towards her. Not only was she keeping me from the kids, she was keeping them from me. They Kept asking why they couldnt see me more.. that it didnt make sense that I was in the same city as them and they werent allowed to see me.

Trying to explain to an 11 year old and a 9 year old why I cant see them more is one of the most daunting tasks a father can encounter.

You want to be respectful to your ex and not verbally bash the woman, but at the same time, you want the kids to know that you are doing everything in your power to see them.

I would explain that their mother and I have an agreement from a judge that states when im allowed to see them. And that if I want to change it, then I need to go before a court again. I explained that it costs alot of money to go to court, but that I would make it happen.

My kids are very grown up for their age… they know whats going on now, and they know that their mom isnt being fair. They understand the concept of money, and even though I would absolutely love to spew some verbal diarrhea and tell them exactly what I think of their mom, they still love her, and it wouldnt be fair of me to do that. Soooo I just go on biting my tongue while trying to figure out my next steps.

During the next few winter months, I seen my kids every third weekend. Waiting patiently for summer to come because I would have them for 3 weeks. Not 3 weeks consecutively, but 3 weeks in the summer none the less. this summer was going to be the best summer ever with them. I couldnt wait.

Over the winter months, my kids were growing impatient with their mom. Constantly asking HER why they couldnt see me any more.

She replied to them “Your dad can change it if he wants”

I figured, well then.. ok now is as good of time as any.. so I asked her if I could see them more during the week. Again, she informed me that if I wanted to change it, to have my lawyer contact her lawyer.

Well I wasnt going to get a lawyer this time. I hated the system. I hated having to pay thousands to see my own kids.
Any one who knows me, knows that I have a problem with authority. For her to bark at me the way she did, made want to prove a point.

That I could beat her without a lawyer.

Lots of people self-represent. Why cant I? I spent the next few months researching how to change a final order. How to represent myself.

There was next to NO info out there on how to do so. So I set my plans aside for a bit. Summer was here and it was time to enjoy it with my kids.

This was going to be theeeeee greatest summer ever. I had tickets to a basketball game that I was going to travel to Minneapolis to see with my son, I had tickets to a concert (also in Minneapolis) that I was going to take my daughter to. We were going to go camping, fishing and just spending gooood quality time together.

Myself and my new girly girl (we will call her Lexi) had decided that we should take the kids and drive to the Yukon. Lexi has a friend that lives up there, and what a trip that would be. First things first.. we need to coordinate with Trudy.

I assumed that because I dont have my kids as much as Trudy, that I should have first dibs on the weeks I have my kids.

Wrong.

Literally the ONLY week that it worked for us to head to the Yukon, Trudy was taking the kids to her family’s place in Pennsylvania.

She wouldnt budge.

Yukon… Cancelled….

The rest of the summer went off without a hitch. Minneapolis twice, camping, boating, and even a little fishing.

Summer was coming to an end, and the kids were getting ready to go back to school. One common question that the kids kept asking… when are we going to see you more.

I had put it off long enough, it was time to really dive into it.. learn how to do this.

November came and so did the kids sports and activities.

Then something magical happened. Something that even right now makes me smile…

*Remember when we drew up our agreement, and because I was driving 4 hours each way to get my kids, I didnt have to pay half of extra expenses??

Well thats something that has never been changed since I moved to the same city… if she wants to change that, she can go through the courts and file an order to vary…. but she hasnt..

So..

The magical words come from her…. ” Would you help me pay for the kids activities, this was $600, that was $400, this was $350…

Wait right there.

You wont change custody when I ask, and make me pay thousands to get a lawyer, but you expect me to change when you ask?

Nah… Doesn’t work that way…

But… I WILL take the time to ask her about switching custody to 50/50, and that I have no problem paying half of the activities, but we need to have it in the agreement. I told her that I was going to file the papers for it, but that I didnt want to blind side her with it, and wanted to know what she thought about it.

She says “Go for it”

I say.. “what does that even mean”… was she being snarky? Was she daring me?

She replied “well I dont think that changing the kids schedules is in their best interest, and that you living across the city isnt ideal, but if you ask the court for it, your probably going to get it, so there isnt much i can do”


Umm… what now?? Did I just hear that right?!?!?

Game on.

thebarkingdad@gmail.com

For my dad.

I know that today is normally question day, but I wanted to post about something that has been on my mind since I’ve started this blog.

I write about my experiences with my kids, and being a single dad, all while completely ignoring my past with my father.

This man is my “real” dad.

This man Died on May 9, 2011.

I never knew him. I was 1 years old when my mom left him. From the stories I’ve been told, he wasn’t the nicest man when I was a child. Some things went on, and my mother decided that she would be better off with out him.

That was her choice. And even to this day I completely respect her decision.

I went a large part of my life not knowing who my father was. I knew a name… but that was it. We didn’t have facebook, or myspace, or the internet for that matter when I was a child.

I grew up in a middle class family that loved me. My mom married a man that I always knew wasn’t my “real dad.” But he was still dad. He stepped up and became that father figure that I needed in my life. He eventually adopted me, and I even took his last name.

Growing up with a step dad wasn’t always the easiest. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but who does with their parents. After my brother and sister were born, I always felt they were favored over me. Looking back, maybe at times, but for the most part, we were raised the same, and we all became very good people.

Not seeing eye to eye, and feeling favoritism caused me to act up. I got into my teens, and turned into a little shit. My mom acted as the middle person between me and my step dad, which looking back was completely unfair to her, and mom if your reading this.. I love you and I’m sorry.

During the years that I started rebelling, I knew that I had a dad out there somewhere. Fights with myself and my step dad would lead to me telling him that he wasn’t my father, things thrown, wrestling matches, and all out hatred.

I remember telling my mom that I didn’t want my step dad in my life, and that I would run away…. ( because that was the answer to everything)

I told her I wanted to find my real dad, and I was moving out.

I got home from school one day, and I was in my typical angry teenager mood. In fact. I was grounded because I was talking back to my step dad, and not listening to my mom.
I went straight to my room, and about 20 minutes after being in there my mom yelled down at me. ” Jay!! Phone!!”

I yelled back “I thought I was grounded” She replied “just come answer the phone”

So I made my way up stairs and said “hello”

The person on the other end of that phone was about to change my life.

It was my “real dad”

We chatted for about 20 minutes, his brother (my uncle) was with him, and I chatted with both. He told me what city he lived in, and that if i’m ever in the city to let him know. He gave me his phone number, and we hung up.

After getting off the phone with my dad, I turned to my mom. She was listening intently. She didn’t want me to get hurt, but she knew I needed this.

To me.. finally.. He was real. He wasn’t just a name.

I asked my mom how he got our number, and she had told me that she was reached out to his mom, and got him to call us.

I’m not sure what happened that day… the only way I can describe it was that I felt … Verified.

Going forward after that day, my life had meaning. I was finally someone with a real dad. I was ecstatic. It changed me.

I was 15 years old at the time. I couldn’t wait for summer to come. I was going to the city, and I was going to call my dad and I was finally going to have a relationship with this man.

Summer came, and I had made arrangements to stay with family in the city for the summer. They knew very well that I was doing this to meet my dad.

When I finally got to the city, I remember sitting with my cousin in her bedroom, and she suggested that we just rib off the band aid and call this guy. She would even come with me to meet him for the first time.

I hadn’t talked to my dad since he called a few months back, but I had the phone number. We called. He answered after a couple of rings. I said it was Jay calling. He didn’t sound super happy like I thought he would, but he said hello and we had struck up a conversation. I told him that I would like to get together and that I could come see him any time. He told me that ” he was just heading out of town to see my grandparents, but that I could come with him if I wanted”

I was pumped.. of course I would go. He told me he would pick me up in 30 minutes and we would head out. I told him that I was excited to see him and that I’d see him soon.

I hung up the phone and ran to the shower. I was so fricking excited. .. but that quickly came to an end. I had a thought…….. How did he know where I was? How was he going to pick me up if he didn’t know where I was staying?

I got out of the shower and shared my concerns with my cousin. We called him back.. Answering machine.

I called at least a dozen times. .. No answer.

He never came.

After that I lost all respect for this man. I did however go to his place of residence a few times, but he never answered.

That was his chance and he blew it. That changed the way I acted at home.

When I moved back home at the end of summer, I realized something. The one person that has been there for me all my life… the one guy that has been a constant in my life since I was 3 years old was my step dad.

There was a new found respect for this guy. And although there were still rocky times, I learned to love him as though he was my “real dad.”

I finished high school, moved out, started to try and figure out who I was going to be, what I was going to do with my life. Always in the back of my mind that I had a dad out there somewhere.

I didn’t put much thought into him after that. It wasn’t until Trudy and I had our first child that I really started to think about my real dad once again. Having a child really opens up your eyes, and all I could think about was that I wanted to be the father that my real dad wasn’t.

I also wanted to know who he was.

2011… Facebook had been out for a few years, and I tried to hold of being part of the world for as long as I could. Finally I caved, and I got facebook.

One of the first thing I did on facebook, was try and look up my real dad. Maybe I had brothers and sisters… maybe not. Maybe he wasn’t even on there.
After searching obits with the same last name, I had learned my grandfather had passed. In the obit, my father and his family were listed. Immediately I started looking up the children on facebook. I finally found a girl named Jennifer. I made a fake facebook account and messaged Jennifer. I told her that I was actually a friend of a guy that is looking for is bio dad, and that he doesn’t know anything about computers, so I was helping him out.

She confirmed what I already knew. She was my dads daughter… step daughter. She lined it up , and had my bio dad message me.

Knowing that the facebook message from my bio dad was coming, I waited by the computer for hours. Finally it came.

He talked about how sorry he was that he wasn’t in my life. He regretted not being there for me. He made up a story about the weekend that he was going to come and get me, and said he was actually winning some award and couldn’t bring me. (turned out to be a lie which he eventually admitted to)

We chatted on facebook for at least a month. He would call and talk to Trudy, but I wouldn’t talk. I couldn’t. There was just to much hurt.

He finally called me out on it one day. Asked why I wouldn’t talk on the phone with him. That I was the one that found him.

I told him that I’m sorry I cant just open up and be completely fine with everything that has happened in the past. That there was a lot of years I needed him, and he was never there. That even a phone call every once in a while would have been nice.

He replied with “that’s all you needed to say, I understand and will leave you alone. Just know that I am proud of you, and who you have became. You have done an amazing job with your kids and again i’m sorry.”

I didnt reply to that.

May 6th, 2011- I got a message from my dad and he said that he has liver cancer, and that he was happy that he got to know me, and see pictures of my kids. He didn’t want anything from me, but just wanted me to know.

May 8th- I replied “omg.. are you ok? Is there anything I can do? I can come and maybe they can do a transplant or something ( I had no idea.. I just wanted to help)

May 9th- He told me that there was nothing I could do, again, that he was happy he got to talk to me, and get to know me and my family.

That same day I replied ” Lets forget the past. I forgive you for everything that has happened, just get better so I can bring my kids to see you this summer”

No reply.

May 11th- I was scrolling through Facebook, and seen my step sister Jennifer had posted a message. “RIP to the sweetest man I have ever known, I love you daddy”

Instantly I message her. She informed me he passed away this morning.

I instantly break down and cry. I didn’t know this man.. but I loved him. Trudy was at work when I told her, she came home and comforted me.

I kept thinking… did he ever see my email forgiving him?

Its been 8 years since my dad died. Its been 8 years of trying to figure out who I am, and who my family is. 8 years of wondering if he got my message that day.

As I sit here thinking about him.. I need to close that chapter in my life, I need to forget about the past, and remember him.

This letter is to my dad.

Dad,

Even though you have never known it, you were larger than life to me. You have and will always be a rock for me to lean on. For alot of years I knew you were out there, and I knew that even though you never reached out, you thought of me. I had a lot of help in becoming the man I am today. My step dad did an amazing job raising me, and showing me work ethic, and how to be a good person. Sometimes I wonder if you not being in my life also helped me become the dad I am today. I didn’t want to be like you… but I still loved you for who you were.
There’s been many many days that I have fought with who I am. Growing up as a child not knowing his dad, and getting bullied because of it. Or because I looked different. Many nights I leaned on you. I would lay in my bed face down talking to you. Begging for your guidance.
I forgive you for not being in my life. In a way with you not being around, I seen you as this entity that could help me in any way…. I just needed to ask.

I spent the better part of my life without you in it. I am so unbelievably grateful that even for a month, we got to message each other. There’s a reason we found each other before you left us. It was supposed to happen.

I promise you that I will live my life to the fullest. I promise you that I will never ever forget you. My kids will know who you were, and the impact that you had on my life.

One day when I get called home, I hope and I pray that you will be there waiting for me.
I love you.

Jay.

thebarkingdad@gmail.com