If you know me, you probably know a bit of my history with my ex husband. There is a lot of bad blood between us. It has gotten better over the years, as I have been able to let things go. I'm not good at forgiveness, and there are things that he did that I will never tell anyone, aside from my husband. There are things that he did that I can't even bring myself to speak aloud, even to my husband. That is why it has been so hard to defend him and cover for him for the last ten years with Ashley.
He has not seen her or spoken to her since last summer. This week, while Ashley was on spring break, she spent a few days down in Whitewater at my parent's place. My mom decided it would be a good idea for Ashley to see him. They walked to his house and knocked. No answer. The lights and tv were on. They went to the back door and knocked, no answer. In her quest for drama, my mother opened the back door and yelled inside. It was only after almost ten minutes of knocking and then mom yelling into the house that the ex's new wife came to the door. She was very obviously avoiding Ashley. She has been very open in the past about not liking Ashley and not wanting Ashley at "her" house.
Later, after the ex got home, he came to my parent's to see Ashley. She ran to him for a hug and he just stood there and made no move to hug her. He asked her if she wanted to spend the night, and she said yes. She did call me to ask, but what could I say? I have never tried to keep her from him, and have never said no the handful of times he has asked to see her. So she spent the night.
After her night with the ex, she was set to spend another night at my parent's place, but instead asked us to come get her early. We picked her up on Friday afternoon and did our usual Friday night routine. This includes me going to the used book store and Christopher and Ashley going to the Comic Book store that is right next to the book store. Then dinner out, which was Noodles this time, then a movie, Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D. (The movie was great!) This week, we ran to Barnes and Noble after the movie to get Christopher a book and Ashley ended up with a few too.
The whole night, Ashley was clingy with Christopher. There was hand holding, leaning on him and lots of hugging. This is what always happens when she sees the ex. It's like she comes home and realizes what a great daddy she has in Christopher and just doesn't know how to verbalize it. She even gave me some cuddling when we got home. :)
The next day, we met my friend Beth down at the Historical Museum to see the Odd Wisconsin exhibit. After that, we went to lunch at Ian's Pizza and then to the bookstore and sporting goods store. We also stopped at Goodman's Jewelers and had my wedding ring cut off! Ten years on a finger is a long time, and I have gained quite a bit of weight in ten years, the ring was so stuck that we were out of options. It was embarrassing, but my finger feels so much better!
Next, it was to the Overture Center for Duck Soup Cinema. Duck Soup is great, it's held in an old theatre and begins with an hour of vaudeville entertainment followed by a silent film, accompanied by live organ music. The feature was "The Freshman", a Harold Lloyd classic. Let me just say that I love having a child who would give up an afternoon with friends to go to a silent film with her parents. She loves Harold Lloyd and it is such a joy to see her laugh out loud in the theatre. Anyways...after that, Beth left to do her own thing and the three Urbans went down to the Union for burgers, beer and ice cream. Beer for Christopher and me, Ice cream for Ash. :) We stayed there for an hour or so, then went to Kohl's to get a few clothing items that were on sale and to Cub to get the fixings for Easter brunch.
During all of this running around, I got a chance to talk to Ashley about her visit with the ex. I asked her of they got to talk much and she said no, not really. I asked her if she had a chance to talk to him about the things that were bothering her (the lack of contact) and she said no, she wasn't comfortable enough to talk about that. I asked if there were any plans made or talk of the next time she would get to visit and she said no, not at all. At this point she got teary and I told her it was okay, we could talk about it all later. She said she was glad that at least he didn't say he would call and then not call. She has a point, at least he didn't get her hopes up.
I know this was a hard visit for her, and for me too, but I think it will end up being good in the long run. We allowed her to visit and spend the night with him and his new family and he showed his true colors. At the end of all of this, Christopher and I did the right thing and the ex acted selfishly, again. It hurts me to see Ashley hurting, but she is getting old enough to have to work through this. The time has come for Christopher and I to stop making excuses for the ex and let Ashley see him for who he is.
Christopher and I have been talking about how the parent child relationship is so different than any other relationship, because instead of growing closer as tighter as time passes, you have to grow apart and let your child go, little by little. We realize that we cannot protect her from everything, but it is so damn hard to watch your child learn things and get hurt on their own.