More from my journal:
I’m making plans for the summer. I’ll have two months without the kids. The parenting plan allows me to go visit them in Bubba’s town two times for two days each. If I can arrange a place to stay, I might see if Bubba will allow me to visit them once for 4 days. Actually, the thought of being in the same town as Bubba for four days really freaks me out. I don’t like being in close proximity to him. When he came to town for court days, I spent the entire time on edge, just waiting for him to try something.
Just the thought of willingly putting myself in the same town as him scares me. It just does. I know I’m going to want to see the kids and they are going to need to see me. How do I overcome the fear? I won’t tell him where I’m staying. He can reach us by phone if he needs to. For my safety and the safety of the family I’d stay with, I won’t give him a location. I have to see if I can disable the GPS on Serenity’s phone. I can’t remember if we’ve already done that. I’ll have to take her phone to the store and ask how to do that.
I’m planning to visit a friend for a few days. She lives near the beach and I’ve been craving the beach for a long time now. That seems crazy to me because I’ve always hated the beach. I realized how crazy that sounded when I first started thinking about it. I’ve always hated the beach because I’ve always had to do all the work. I had to clean out the sand from every nook and cranny it found its way into. I had to clean out the cars and the house and the kids’ stuff. Bubba just went and had fun (like every vacation ever) and I did all the work. I got the beach bags packed, the snacks packed, the kids ready and sunblocked, I got them washed off after it was over, I did all the laundry, I cleaned up all the sand.
If I go to the beach alone or with my friend and her kids, I’ll just be responsible for me. I’ll help her but I’ll do it because I want to, not because it falls solely on me. And if I choose to go to the beach alone, then all I have to worry about is me. That sounds heavenly.
I’m going to fix up my house. I’ll probably only get the kids’ rooms painted before we move in. I’ll have to paint my room, the trim in the kids’ rooms, the hallway, living room, and kitchen. I want to hang pictures. I want to decorate. I’m going to turn this tiny house into a cozy and welcoming home. When the kids get home I want their mouths to fall open at the sheer awesomeness that is our home. I want to wow them.
I’m having a party a few weeks after the kids leave. So far about seven women are coming and I’m so excited. I’m going to release Fluffy and take a sledgehammer to that rock. I will have seven wonderful women to keep me grounded and make sure that Fluffy doesn’t take over completely. I think I’ll feel safe opening the cage and letting Fluffy have his day.
I am thinking of visiting the kids after my party. If I can summon the courage to put myself that close to Bubba.
Luke is planning to come visit. That will be around the midway point of the kids being gone.
After he leaves I hope to be working somewhere. When I start applying, I’m going to put my available start date after he is gone. I don’t want to take any time away from him when he visits. I think I deserve some time off. So I’m taking this summer to have some fun, recapture some of my youth, and just be irresponsible for awhile. I can’t wait!
I must explain the rock that I mentioned above. It was a very large decorative rock that my parents had bought us as a house-warming gift when we’d bought our first home. To say it was large is a gross understatement. It took two very large, buff men to carry it. When we moved here, we leaned it against the house by the front door. Since it was so heavy and we’d leaned it back enough, we thought it was secure. When I started having Maria and Arcadia over for playdates, Maria and I checked it again since we had so many small children amongst the three of us. Again, we felt confident that it was secure.
Maria’s two year old proved us wrong. It happened a few months after Bubba had been fired. Maria’s 14 year old and Serenity were outside playing with the smaller children. As we kept peeking out the windows and her oldest and Serenity were of a legal age to babysit, we weren’t worried about the children. We were talking when her 14 year old ran in with the 2 year old in his arms. The baby was screaming and then we saw his foot. He’d managed to pull that rock down onto his foot. We were all understandably upset and panicked about this poor baby’s foot.
As Maria was assessing the damage and deciding to take him to the ER, Bubba came out and demanded to know what happened to his rock. We were all stunned into silence. Here we had a screaming two year old whose foot was swelling and turning more purple by the moment and Bubba was mad that the rock was laying down and might be cracked. Under my fear for the baby, I burned in abject embarrassment. What kind of person shows more concern for a rock than a wailing child?
A few hours later, Maria texted that the baby’s foot was broken and he would be in a cast for about five weeks. I called and apologized again (as I’d been doing when it first happened). She reassured me that we’d both checked that rock and neither of us ever would’ve believed that a 2 year old could budge it, let alone pull it down on himself. She assured me that it was not my fault and that we were ok. I offered to pay whatever medical expenses they had. She said their insurance would cover it entirely and that I was to stop worrying about it.
I told all this to Bubba and his only question was, “How do you know they aren’t going to sue us?” I said, “Because they are our friends and they know this is a freak accident. I’ve assured Maria that the rock will remain laying down where it will not be a threat again.” That is when Bubba lost it. He was furious that our lives had to be changed for someone else’s child. He started grilling me about who is more important – our family or someone else’s child. I was confused. This, in no way, affected our family. He insisted that it did. My mind was completely boggled by this.
It was during the following weeks that I began to understand. 1. Bubba was really afraid that Maria and Jose were going to sue us and 2. He truly believed that rock, an inanimate object, was a part of our family. Over the next months, Bubba and I had many fights over that rock. Well, I guess “fights” wouldn’t be an accurate word. He would scream at me about how I was choosing other people over our family and I would beg him to explain how leaving a rock laying down for everyone’s safety was a bad thing.
He would also try to trick me into admitting that the rock was part of our family by asking vague, off-the-wall questions. “Hope, if you had to pick, would you save our home from burning or a stranger’s child from an on-coming car if they were happening at the same time?” I would look at him and say, “If you are trying to get me to choose between that rock and Maria’s son, I’ll choose Maria’s son every single time. I will always pick a person over an inanimate object. I would let our house burn if it meant saving a child.”
As he spiraled down in those months, this became more and more of a problem. One day Jose came along to our playdate as he had taken a vacation day. He thought spending some time with Bubba would help Bubba because I’d told Maria and Jose how he was acting more and more depressed. Bubba only came out once during the entire time they were there and he made an off-handed comment to Jose about the rock. Jose whipped out his cell phone and showed Bubba the picture of the 2 year old’s foot right before they put the cast one and said, “This is what that rock did to my baby’s foot. The rock doesn’t have one scratch on it. I don’t want to hear another word about that rock!” Internally, I was jumping for joy that someone finally stood up to Bubba and basically told him to shut up.
I paid for that for about a week. It was worth every dig and every nasty comment out of Bubba’s mouth to remember Jose telling him off like that. I actually wanted to tell Maria to bring Jose with her every time she came over because I wanted to hear Jose take Bubba down a peg or two again. Sadly, he didn’t have any time off and even if he did, he didn’t want to be near Bubba again. He’d tried to be Bubba’s friend and Bubba had rejected him at every turn for a year. Jose really wanted no part of Bubba. I just wished I could choose that too.
So at my party, I was planning to smash something that had meant so much to Bubba. When he’d taken his things, I told him to take the rock as I didn’t want it. He said he didn’t have room for it but he’d get it later. He never did and the divorce decree made it mine since what we had at the time of the divorce legally belonged to that person. The rock was mine to do with as I chose.
I chose to let Fluffy destroy it.