The day started off innocently enough. I had over-slept….again. I had discovered after taking my too long shower last night that the front door had been completely unlocked. Not anything to be very concerned about since my door opens up to a hallway and, at 10:00 at night is fairly quiet and we don’t tend to get unwanted visitors at that hour. Its a pretty benign neighborhood and I hadn’t heard from the infamous apartment stalker in a long time. Still, when I discovered that before going to bed I had every slasher movie death scene flashing through my mind. You know, the scenes were the innocent victim is alone in the house and the deranged serial killer is hiding in her closet waiting for her to fall asleep so he can kill her? I checked my closets….and behind every door….yup, I was alone but I still had anxiety dreams and didn’t sleep real well.
That is not why I am here today, though maybe my being so tired explains why I maybe over-reacted a little. I had received a random text message from my baby’s daddy asking me and whomever else was on the list that if he should, for some reason, become homeless would he be able to spend some weekend nights crashing in our various homes/apartments when he had the boys. He didn’t ask about Tuesday nights because those are his Rachel nights….and if he is homeless he is staying here that night.
I am not going into his family drama. That is his business and I don’t need to be airing it out on the internet, even if my one reader already knows the situation. The point is that I later got a text saying that his brother and his mother were fighting again. It was (according to him) set off by the fact that Rachel, my 18 month old baby, dropped a 2 inch piece of banana on the ground and his brother went off a started yelling at their mom about Rachel’s daddy letting his kids throw food around and then their mom started yelling and it turned into a big verbal fight.
I have been there for very minor, minor arguments and they have made me very uncomfortable. From the way the texts came over, I had images of his mom and his brother screaming at each other, slamming doors, and just being scary angry in general. Let me be clear about one fact right now: I NEVER thought Rachel was in any physical danger. Not for one moment. I DID, however, think that their home was NOT the best place for Rachel to be at that moment. I told her daddy to leave. In fact, my exact text was, “get out of there. get Rachel out of there. bring Rachel home and give them Chance to calm down.”
I waited 5 minutes and there was no response, so I made a decision. I told Jeanne (my boss) that I needed to go pick up my daughter from her daddy’s. She said ok, and I left. I was already in my car and on my way to Rachel’s daddy’s when he responded to my text that everything was fine and that there is no emergency, but I was driving and when I am on the freeway I am not on my phone. I checked it when I got off the freeway and was stopped at a red light, but by that time I was basically already to his place.
I knocked on the door, and though things seemed a bit tense, the worst had obviously passed, for now. I was still a little put off by the air in the house so when I saw Rachel’s daddy I asked him to put his car seat in my car (mine had been taken out so Rachel’s straps could be adjusted) so I can take her home. He got his keys and we went outside. He was not happy, and he took his frustration out on me. This makes me laugh because him taking his frustration out on me, or being angry at me, was so incredibly mild that if I hadn’t been taken by surprise by his one very mild outburst I would never have known anything was wrong! It was the most emotion I had ever seen from him since I met him in January of 2008, and it lasted for one short sentence!
I told him that if it happened again to get Rachel, leave, and bring her home. This is where he kind of had his little one-sentence outburst and I think it was because he thought I was telling him to bring her home and drop her off and that was his time with her; he wouldn’t get his overnight visit. I forget that people can’t read my mind. In my mind, I was telling him to either go there until he felt it was ok to return home OR if he needed to stay there that night that would be fine too. Maybe I was taken aback by his reaction before I could expand on the thought and get it out, but it was at this point he told me that he had gotten Rachel and left last night because the fighting last night was just that bad.
I really wasn’t happy about hearing this, and I told him that if that happens again he needs to bring Rachel home, because in that situation she needs to be somewhere safe and secure. He didn’t seem to happy about this and since Rachel was starting to get fussy because it was her nap time he suggested we talk about this later, so he strapped her in and I left with Rachel. I felt better, knowing she was out of that house. Do I have any reservations about her going back there? Nope, whatever is going on over there will be resolved on way or another, but today I was glad I got her out of there. I also hope that my going and removing my daughter from that house might make them realize that if I don’t feel comfortable with her there, she won’t be there. They can rip and roar at each 6 days out of the week when she ISN’T there for all I care, but she does NOT need to be exposed to that kind of behaviour!
I’m wondering though, if maybe I over-reacted. Like I said, Rachel wasn’t in any physical danger so there was really no reason for me to go get her. If I had shown up a couple of hours later, when I was done with my work day, she would have been in the exact same condition as she was in when I picked her up at 1:30: perfect condition. Not a scratch on her. Happy baby, except it was time for a nap and instead of laying down she was being strapped into a car seat.
Also, I told her daddy what to do. I believe that in the case of divorced parents, when the non-primary parent is having their visitation, the other parent cannot dictate what they do and where they go. That is their time together and none of the other parent’s business. Normally, I’m fine with that and I don’t question where they go, what they do, or with whom they keep their company on the nights he has her. I just want her to feel safe. I believe that if the fighting gets so bad that they have to leave like they did last night, then he needs to bring her to my place, to her home. If he feels comfortable enough going back, that’s perfectly fine, but if they get there and its still going on, he brings her here again.
I doubt he will. I’m sure in his head it shouldn’t matter where they hang out as long as they are out of the environment and in a safe place, but what if something happens? What if his mom calls me freaking out about where he is and I, having no idea whats going on, will start freaking out about where my daughter is. Rachel’s daddy doesn’t really answer the phone when I call, and I usually have to call 10xs before he even thinks about answering the phone. If he doesn’t think I know anything about the situation, he will see no reason to pick up.
I can’t say I won’t call the police when that happens. If I can’t get a hold of Rachel’s daddy to make sure my baby is ok, I will call the cops. If he doesn’t feel like really dealing with me, he can return a text, listen to my voice mail and respond by text, send me an email. There are numerous ways to communicate these days and there should be no reason why I shouldn’t be able to get a hold of him in the case of an emergency.
Today has given me a lot to think about. Mainly, do I get a lawyer and just file for full custody? Rachel’s daddy didn’t give me any problems today about picking her up, other than make some passive aggressive comments that let me know he didn’t want me to leave with her. For the most part we have a pretty amicable relationship, and though we may not like each other, we do work well together (or make a point of working well together) when Rachel is involved. True, I see him more as a glorified baby sitter, but except for not being able to watch her full time when I returned to work from maternity leave, he’s been willing to be there if I need him to be, to help out on days he normally wouldn’t. He even came over and picked Rachel up Monday when I was down with a migraine and couldn’t really take care of her. He’s a good daddy, and a good man, and I know he wouldn’t do anything that would endanger her, or take her anywhere she wouldn’t be safe.
What it comes down to, I guess, is that if a situation arises and her daddy feels the need to leave an area due to a situation, that they should come to my place. He should text me, because Tuesday nights I am having coffee night with one of my besties so I’m not home, and all he needs to say is “We are going to be at your place for a bit. We may or may not be there when you get home. I’ll text you if we leave” Yes, of course I would ask why and what’s wrong, but he doesn’t need to answer. I don’t need to know details, I just need to know that they are safe and ok.