Unable to have children of our own, my then-husband and I had the opportunity to have a foster-to-adopt situation with a precious little girl.
Just before her adoption, we were asked to also foster her little sister, who was about to be born.
I was hesitant. I didn’t want to take on a child who had a high chance of returning to her birth parents. But I couldn’t let my little girl’s sister go to strangers, so we said yes.
As time passed, the birth parents weren’t doing their part, and I felt more and more like she was my baby, and I would have her forever.
I should have been happy. I had everything I’d ever wanted!
The money the state paid us to take care of foster children made it possible for me to be home with those two pretty little girls all day. I had always wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. And now I had not one, but two children to take care of! The girls were happy, and the best sound in the world was their laughter as they played together.
I wish I could say my husband felt the same way.
He was resentful of that baby as soon as she entered our home.
He hated all the time I was spending with her, instead of him.
He was jealous.
Of an infant.
This one particular night breaks my heart. I wish I could go back and change things, but he had trained me for years not to question him. Fear of his anger kept me frozen.
The baby had learned to stand. She was so proud of herself! There was no stopping her now!
From the time she was a newborn, she had always hated going to sleep, and getting her to settle down for bed was a long, drawn-out process. But with her newly developed skill of standing, it became much worse. I would lay her down, she would stand up. I would put her down again, she would stand right back up.
One night, he had enough. “I”ll make her learn she has to lay down when it’s bedtime,” he said.
He came into the girls’ bedroom with me when I put her to bed.
I laid her down in her crib, telling her goodnight, same as I always did. She stood up, and he sprayed her right in the face with the water bottle we used on the cats when they were doing something wrong. I was horrified!
But what was I supposed to do? He was my husband, and I was afraid to question him.
The battle of wills between a man in his 40’s and a less-than-year-old baby went on for a while. I would lay her down, she would stand up, he would spray her in the face.
Finally, he pushed me too far. She was soaking wet, dripping on her sheets. I knew even if she did go to sleep, she would end up getting sick from trying to sleep in her wet clothes and bed. I took a chance and said, “That’s enough!”
Amazingly, he walked out the door without saying a word.
I took her out of her bed, pulled her wet clothes off of her, dried her with her little hooded towel, then put clean, dry pajamas on her. Then I changed the bedding in her crib and started the bedtime process again.
When I walked out of the bedroom, she was back to standing in the crib. I walked out to the living room where he was watching TV. I looked him dead in the eye and said, “Your way didn’t work, and you’re never doing that again.”
He didn’t argue, and he never tried that stunt again.
I think he figured out that there was only so far he could push me when it came to the children.
He could belittle me and mistreat me all he wanted, but don’t mess with the Mama Grizzly Bear.
So here I am, not yet 35, and wading into the nastiness of my second marriage falling apart.
I guess I could say that I got married the second time because it seemed worth betting that the first time was due to *him…” so a different guy could fix that, right?
But the problem – if you want to call it a problem – is almost certainly me.
My mom said it brilliantly in her recent email to me:
I guess it’s truth out time, and I’m about to be a bad mom.
Truth – Dad wanted to hogtie you and send you to Tijuana before you married Steve*, but I talked him out of it. He was really upset, but I thought he had Steve pegged wrong.
Truth – after living with Steve for two months, I agreed with your father. I wanted to bitch-slap Steve so hard his head would fall off.
Truth – he lied to you about stuff (mostly little things), but I never said a word because I felt it wasn’t my place. But one of those lies cost you 5,000 dollars. You have no idea how furious I was or how much I kicked myself.
This really isn’t the time to be landing this stuff on you, but Dad and I both are feeling very responsible for our little girl getting hurt (again) when maybe if we had just opened our mouths, we could have prevented all this. Of course, to be realistic, it may not have made any difference, but these thoughts cross your mind when you’re a parent.
We both agreed when you were little that whoever married you would have to be one hell of a special kind of guy. (In Dad’s words, “God help him”). But I always pictured you either a) single, and blazing through the world in a cloud of glory or, b) married to a guy who was your equal – smart, confident, strong-willed, motivated and out to make his mark on the universe, but at home would have to know just when to push and when not. NOT easy to find!
However this turns out, we’ll always be here – doors and arms open. Remember that. And don’t worry, next time, we’ll speak our piece – welcome or not – and hogtie if necessary!
By the way, your brother wants to kick Steve’s butt for hurting his sister. That’s his way of saying he’s there for you, too. And if you want me there, just call. I can grab a flight and work be hanged! I love you very much – we all do.
The beautiful part is that they said almost the same thing after my first divorce, although she left out the part about how she always pictured me single.
That would have given me a lot of strength, I think.
I spent my whole life thinking that I was a failure if I wasn’t married – or conversely, that being able to “get guys” to want to commit to me was some kind of major success. I think having a best friend for most of my life who was openly jealous of my relationships probably didn’t help.
But, hey Mom – THIS time I was obviously very hesitant about getting married, and I ASKED you all to tell me if you had any hesitations!
And good grief, Dad, why couldn’t you grow a pair? You knew Steve best, and if you’d said it was a bad idea, wild horses couldn’t have gotten me down that aisle.
Something tells me, though, that I’m not the only person here who bought into this assumption that women simply “should” get married; that getting married is always a victory, even if your (first) husband is half-jokingly gloating that “someone needs to get [you] under control”.
(He did, and so I compensated for that the next time by marrying someone who wanted ME to be responsible for everything. And I was, but it cost me everything I wanted to do for myself!)
I feel like I’m waking up.
Men attacked me when I was a child, so I spent all of my teens obsessed with them, but avoiding any actual contact with them; then I got married as soon as I could; then, divorced and terrified of single motherhood, I got married again as soon as I could; and now here I am fighting my way free again.
It’s been a day and a half since he moved out (temporarily, because things turned violent, though that wasn’t the pattern or anything – but can I add that having the ability to leave immediately if someone breaks that rule with me is something it turns out I REALLY value?), and I’m not in any way looking forward to the next steps, but I do feel like I can see a clear path for the first time in a long while.
You may have been a little (lot) late, but that helped a lot!
(And you can bet your hiney that when MY little girl wants to get married, I’m making her a laundry list of every reason in the world I can think of not to – if she still does, great, I’ll support her; but she deserves to know what I really think. I guess sometimes the hardest lessons you teach your kids are the ones where you show them how not to do things!)
Every Friday, we at Band Back Together run questions from our readers hoping that you can help them answer. All are welcome.
Please, join us and help this gentleman with his child’s school bullying.
The new school year has recently started and already, my six year old son has had some kid at his school bully him.
My wife had to coax it out of my son – he didn’t want to share She immediately messaged his teacher and let her know what was going on.
I feel so sad for him because I myself was bulled as a kid at school I became a teenager andI don’t want him to have to go through what I went through.
His teacher was proactive – she moved his seat to a different group and talked to both the boy and his mother. While I hope it never happens again, I don’t know quite how to manage his feelings and my feelings.
Any advice, The Band?
This is their story:
I want to tell you about the monster that tries to eat me.
Each day there’s a new challenge to overcome.
Living and breathing are a luxury.
I live with her.
I’ve known her.
Nobody knows her the way I do.
Nobody has met the monster inside of her, the one they call Bipolar Disorder.
Abusers either target everyone around them or one person in particular. I am the person she targets.
Maybe it’s because I am the only child or maybe it is because I resemble my father, whom she despises.
The monster has two faces; one is sweet and caring in front of everyone who is watching, and one violently screams and tries to break me to the point of no return.
People often see her as a victim, a victim of a spontaneously rebellious child.
I’m called spoiled, a rebel, bad, violent. For years, I’ve felt guilty for these things.
But I realized I’m not an angry person – I’m just pissed off at everything that has happened.
I’ve also realized I am not guilty or responsible for her demons.
I have my ways to beat the monster, to tame it. But ignoring is not one of them; neither is feeding it.
Quick wit can get you far, as will patience, but you can’t be tolerant because with tolerance comes more abuse. You have to show it that you won’t be broken down, that you won’t stay passive to everything it does.
Giving into the victimizing is as big a deal not as engaging in a screaming fit.
How can you deal with it?
The formula is simple: you don’t give it what it wants. It confuses the monster, and it puts it down.
This is a survival game; every day you’re on defense.
Every day, you need to examine the opponent, and every moment you have to be ready.
It can drag you down or make you stronger, whichever you choose.
Bear it until you are able to really escape.
Dear The Band,
My husband and I got into a very heated fight (to say the least). We were in each other’s face and things got physical and turned into domestic abuse.
Alcohol was involved.
I ended up going to the ER and was diagnosed with a head injury and a bruised rib. The police came to the hospital to ask me what happened – if I’d been the victim of domestic abuse – and I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want both of us to to to jail.
I was charged with a domestic abuse charge. He would have been too, if I’d said anything.
Anyway, there’s a no contact order between him and I, but he has my children: my 2 1/2 son and my 9 year old daughter. I am only allowed to communicate through my attorney or at the family resource center.
Right now? He won’t answer the phone to either number.
It has been nine excruciating days since I’ve seen my children.
I learned that he’d filed a restraining order on me. He then shut my phone off and took all the money I had out of my bank account.
I’m staying with family now.
I want to see my children but he will not let me see them and I’m devastated.
We have a hearing for the restraining order on the 11th. I don’t know what to do to prepare for it. I have the hospital records of my injuries. I don’t want him in trouble because he is my husband and I still love him very much – we both need help and things got out of hand.
Without my kids, it’s hard to get up in the morning.
Has anyone else been in this situation?
*UPDATE* I finally got in touch with my attorney and let him know all the details. He told me to bring the hospital records to the hearing. As much as I wish this never had happened, I’m not going to be a doormat and let him scare me.
I’m tired of acquiring but never keeping nice things; possessions I work arduously for that are torn up, soiled or otherwise destroyed.
I’m tired of endless piles of laundry, clothes strewn across the floor, indistinguishable as clean or dirty, but washed again nonetheless.
I’m tired of chaos, of the arguing, of the drama and constant conflict that ages my soul.
I’m tired of being shown how for granted I’m being taken.
I’m tired of never knowing if I’m coming or going.
I’m tired of feeling responsible for the complete care of everyone else and sacrificing my own care of self.
I’m tired of feeling chronically exhausted.
I’m tired of my complaints and concerns being pushed aside, minimalized and marginalized.
I’m tiring of knowing “things could always be worse” as a means to not being able to be entitled to my emotional journey.
I’m tired of listening to others during their times of deepest sorrow, frustration or fear and being a pillar of strength for them but rarely being given my own time to grieve.
I’m tired of being told I’m hormonal.
I’m tired of having my emotions rationalized for me.
I’m tired of being expected to “deal with it” and accept that “it’s just part of being a parent” or “being an adult”.
I’m tired of feeling like I cannot still express my inner child, have big dreams and be encouraged to chase them.
I’m tired of adults bullying other adults.
I’m tired of divisiveness and actions that only perpetuate further trauma and abuse.
I’m tired of being an angry white female.
I’m tired of feeling threatened by PRIVILEGED WHITE MEN
I’m tired of fearing for my own safety, bodily autonomy and well-being EVERY DAY.
I’m tired of, when expressing my concerns and frustrations, being called names like snowflake, FEMINAZI, bitch and CUNT.
I’m tired of working myself until I’m literally ill and yet still feeling immense guilt for purchasing that $19 shirt at Target.
I’m tired of the pressure to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect daughter/sister/nurse.
I’m tired of attachment titles.
I’m tired of being expected to take a side when my beliefs lie somewhere in the middle.
I’m tired of women having no safe place to candidly talk and share without fear of persecution, name calling or mean-spiritedness.
I’m tired of male violence against women.
I’m tired of watching so many of my fellow brothers and sisters continue to live lives full of anger, resentment and self-entitlement, oblivious to their own inner demons.
I’m tired of Dr. Google. I will always side with evidence backed scientific studies.
I’m tired of watching parents put their children at risk for a lifetime of illness because of a handful of conspiracy theorists.
I’m tired of trying to explain facts to those same people and them finding a means to justify EVERY SINGLE TIME.
So, I’m tired of selective ignorance where there is a literal WORLD of information at mere fingertips.
I’m tired of reckless, self-serving decisions of others that may adversely affect countless people.
I’m tired of online battles, egocentric conversations and people’s inability to say “I’m sorry” or “I was mistaken”.
I’m tired of being oppressed because of my gender.
I’m tired of being objectified because of my outward appearance.
I’m tired of consistently having to maintain a stern exterior to protect my children and myself from pervasive predators.
I’m tired of mean, bitter people.
I’m tired of always being strong.
I’m tired of being responsible for everyone’s emotions, blatantly disregarding my own.
I’m tired of letting things roll off my back all the while knowing they will puncture me on the way down.
I’m tired of pretending I’m always unbreakable.
I’m tired of violence, both via the media and in the world.
I’m tired of endless wars, of which neither party will ultimately win.
I’m tired of our elected officials, having taken oaths to serve citizens and country, acting like nothing more than selfish, insecure middle school children.
I’m tired of relentless mind games, fear mongering and empty threats.
I’m tired of being tired.
I’m tired of taking on all of this weight.
I’m tired of being accused of attacking others when I can no longer keep it all in and finally break down and speak my mind.
I’m tired of the fragile male ego and the need of constant reassurance.
I’m tired of watching women lessen themselves to help a man feel significant.
I’m tired of toxic masculinity.
I’m tired of men trying to justify their bad behavior as “urges” or “needs” or the old adage “boys will be boys”.
I’m tired of watching the world in its current state; its destroyers in utter denial.
I’m tired of ALL THE GREED- It has caused abuse, war, human mutilation and countless children’s deaths.
I’m tired of society’s RIDICULOUS expectations of the ideal female form.
I’m tired of fake tits, tight asses and flat tummies.
I’m tired of men expecting “perfection” in a woman while they fill their ever expanding waistlines with chicken wings and beer.
I’m tired of the ass-patters, the at-a-boy-ers.
I’m tired of seeing blame shifting, scapegoating and flat out lying all in pathetic attempts to save face and avoid accountability.
I’m tired of feeling stretched far too thin, always dancing on the edge, but never actually jumping.
I’m tired of cooking countless dinners, only to have them picked at by children.
I’m tired of washing dishes with tears of frustration in my weary eyes because the dinner I made and threw out was the last of the food budget.
I’m tired of pretending to be OKAY.
I’m tired of never being allowed to own my feelings.
I’m tired of sharing and being condemned for doing so.
I’m tired of hard swallows and “I’m fines” through gritted teeth and clenched fists; anxiety attacks in the bathroom between motherly duties.
I’m tired of pushing through my own emotions inappropriately in order to quickly address the needs of others.
I’m tired of finger pointing; defensive, argumentative conversations.
I’m tired of waiting for inevitable civil war, feeling riddled with anxious anticipation EVERY DAY.
I’m tired of the pandemic that is disrespect, both for others and self.
I’m tired of trying to fix everything.
I’m tired, I’m tired. I’m tired…
I think it’s time I rest.
I originally wrote this for my blog this past September and it remains one of my favorite writings to date. Thanks for reading!
#feminist #metoo #womensrights #angryfeminist #female #motherhood #powertothefeminist