Taking the Consequences

In time my ex will describe me in many unflattering ways, but I can agree with one of his descriptions: I am naive.  His family do not know me from a bar of soap, they however have already passed judgment on me. Of course this is normal, and how could I expect otherwise?
They were most offended because of the contents of a few posts I wrote in anguish, and have since edited for relevancy. It was really stupid of me to expect that they would understand my plight, but since the posts are out I have set a process in motion that is out of my control. Maybe I am too direct for my own good, but I really did not intend to hurt anyone. This space holds my expressions of grief, anger, resentment but also my love, and I want to keep it this way. I am tired of hiding and keeping separate blogs with other pseudonyms. This is who I am; I cannot stop anyone from hating me for it. I am also not interested in being loved under false pretense, so I will take the consequences.
I don’t know how to retaliate against ugliness and bitterness, and do not want to start wars. If what I write offends people so much then they should speak up, and I will edit out the offending bits. If anyone wants I can even take out my ex-husband’s photos, his name and everything else. I don’t really care about keeping them anyway. It is one of many subtle ways the past can be slowly diluted until it fades away altogether.

At the moment I have an urge to run away and hide. Take my son and my baggage (including this blog) and disappear from sight. Even my father’s suggestion that I should go back to my birth country doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. It is one place I know that my son and I will be welcomed and embraced, even though I have been less than loyal towards my country of origin. Yes, if I needed a pat on the back, and people to tell me that my ex was a bastard anyway, I know where to go. But things are not that simple, it is not black and white. Nobody will ever know what it was like on the inside of this relationship, and nobody will be able to pass judgment based on half the truth. In fact, I can cynically say that the truth is irrevocably lost forever once two people decide that the marriage is finished. Because we all start to make up our own stories and justifications, with some bearing more truth than others. If we are lucky then we will know before our journey on this planet ends where we made the wrong turn. If we are not, we will have to pay back in another lifetime.

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What Next?

Things progressed rather quickly. My lawyer phoned today to say that he already has the final decree of divorce at his office. This is rather impressive, because usually the paperwork takes at least a week to catch up. The decree with all its finality comes with a whole batch of new bills. The lawyers need to paid and there will be more expenses for the transfer of the joint properties.
Ron has been difficult lately. While we were married he always complained about the quality of our communication. Now we simply don’t talk anymore. Maybe it is better this way, because on the few occasions I raised a pertinent issue with him, we ended up fighting.

It will take time for me to get over the divorce, because if it was up to me I would have stayed. I conditioned myself to live with the many rough and sharp edges of Ron’s character. Women (and few men as well) sometimes learn to live with and love even their abusive partners. I was truly committed to Ron especially after Robert was born. Things however did not work for him and it was his choice that we should leave. I did not see a point in keeping a marriage in name only.  The honest one told me yesterday that perhaps Ron has done me -and Robert- a favor by refusing to stay with us.
Yes, I have lived and loved the man with all his faults. Now I have to move on. In the meantime I need to process the experience and learn from it. I need to know where I went wrong, and whether there was anything I could have done that would have made it a happy marriage. Whether the failure was mine, Ron’s or ours in equal shares; time and the path each of us will take from here will eventually tell.

At this juncture in my life I find that I am not want for choices. There are many options that I can make, but I have to be extremely careful how they will affect Robert. His future is my priority and I have to be absolutely sure that I am making the correct decision on his behalf. I am no longer sure whether South Africa is the correct place to raise him, and I am considering emigration  AGAIN ! I love South Africa, and especially Cape Town. I feel it is truly my home, but I have to think that I am approaching 40, and if I was to emigrate then the time is NOW. Living in Africa taught me to love wilderness and wide spaces, therefore I am not keen on moving to Europe. On the other hand I am not crazy about the long Canadian winters, or the dry heat of Australian summers. So where to next? New Zealand? Namibia? or some of the warmer places in Canada? I am still trying to figure this one out.

I am also pondering the direction this blog will take after my divorce. I do not want to turn it into a mud-slinging contest against my ex. Yes, I do have feelings of resentment against him, and most of the time I do not think much of him at all. However, I will try to avoid getting into too much detail. People who are in the know do not need to be reminded again and again about the gory details, and those who aren’t are better off not knowing. If I ever need to dump my misery and resentment I will write elsewhere, in a private anonymous space. I will try to keep this place clean.

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The Anticlimax of Divorce

Ron wasn’t so happy a few months ago when I started blogging tidbits that did not concern Robert directly. He said that this blog is about the baby and it should not be concerned with our personal life. I see things differently, and I feel what I am going through is also part of Robert’s life. In fact I blog about these experiences to put things in perspective, and to remember how lucky I am to have him at this point in my life.

Yesterday was a tough day for me. I was working as I always do every 2nd Sunday, because these are the days when Ron showed some willingness to “babysit” for me as I try to fill my quota of working hours. A friend called me at work to tell me that she spotted Ron with his girlfriend in front of our old flat, they were fussing over Robert in his pram. It hit me like a stab in the heart. When I closely examined my misery, I clearly identified it as sorrow for myself and my situation. Ron will find it very easy to move on, and god knows this city is full of single and available women. Whereas as a single mother of a young baby, I would score very low on the eligibility meter. The fact that I might never find a mate does not bother me at all, only the inferiority -and difficulty- of my position in comparison to Ron’s. Difficulty however is a property of being a mother as he once pointed out to me, not so gently.

It’s completely irrelevant to me whether Ron’s companion yesterday was a girlfriend or just a platonic friend who was helping him choose a new car seat for Robert, as he told me later. In fact, it is nothing to me, because as of tomorrow he will be a free man. But I am only human and perhaps my pain from what I heard was what led to our argument as he gave me and Robert a lift home. The crux of the argument was money as usual, and I am sure it will come to play between us many times in the future. The first ex-wife hasn’t finished arguing with him about this subject either.

Although he shouted at me that he will not “babysit” again for me. I was grateful that he did come to pick up Robert today and give me a lift into town. Otherwise, I would have had to take Robert to divorce court with me. The hearing for the divorce was scheduled for this morning at the High Court. My lawyer phoned yesterday to say that he wasn’t going to attend with me in court, and a trainee attorney was going to do it instead; A Muslim woman by the sound of her name. My case was so simple so I did not mind, besides the woman’s name translates as “the honest one” and to me this was auspicious. When I met her I was shocked by how young and pretty she was. She was pregnant, and expecting a baby boy in September, so we had lots to talk about. When we arrived at the advocates offices I was again handed over to one of the young guard. Perhaps it was just as well, as this put me at ease. Another auspicious name I thought when the advocate introduced himself with a biblical first name and a surname reminiscent of my son’s. The advocate explained the process to me since my case was going to be heard first in the roll of divorces. All the time the attorney and the advocates fussed over me to make sure that I wasn’t nervous.

I tried to tell myself that I was not nervous, but I was in fact preoccupied. Otherwise I would have taken much more in of my visit to the High Court. Something that I am not likely to do again in this lifetime, I hope. I do not know what route we took or how we got there, because I was busy talking a mile a minute. We arrived at the court room, the honest one explained the setting. The judge arrived shortly before ten and we all rose; he looked familiar. I was sure I have seen the honorable judge on television passing judgment on a high profile criminal case. The court was in session at 10:00 and I was out of there just before 11:30 .. a single woman. I was number 24 on the roll, but first the judge dealt with all the postponement requests, then the remaining cases were heard in order. None of the arguments took more than ten minutes so my turn came quickly. Unlike legal dramas on television, legal work is mostly accomplished outside of the courtroom. The judge had obviously studied all cases carefully because he asked all the pertinent questions. Matters of insolvency, debt and property registration were dispensed with first and then the judge turned to the divorces.

I was called to the witness box. After taking the oath I was asked to verify my details, the details of my marriage, and Robert’s birth date. I was asked to identify my signature and Ron’s on the consent agreement. Then the advocate asked the judge to grant a decree of divorce. The only question the judge asked me was if I worked. I answered that I worked part time. He then asked who looked after Robert while I was at work, and I said that he had a nanny. I should have addressed the judge as my lord, but I just gave straight answers and forgot to append my respectful address. I thought that Ron might have had a scathing comment about this if he had been attending. The judge granted the divorce and I was dismissed. The whole process took less than five minutes.

I returned to my honest attorney. She gave me a sunny smile and said: Congratulations. It felt really strange to be congratulated on something I did not feel really happy about. I was numb, I did not know how to feel. I still don’t.
Today was a brilliant and beautiful autumn day, the sky was clear and the sun warm. We walked back from the High Court to the lawyer’s office, and the honest one gave me a lift back home. I cannot complain about the way life is treating me; people are very supportive and I am endlessly grateful.
Jackie bought me a chocolate cake yesterday, and today there was a piece of blueberry cheesecake waiting for me. Ron dropped Robert off without a single comment, it is the shape of things to come I guess.

Still, there is some pain. As I was pushing Robert’s pram towards the park, I felt the sudden dejection and loss. I had a long relationship with Ron, and beyond the love I felt for him, and notwithstanding his lack of appreciation for me as a person, I gave him a deep and undivided commitment. It will take me some time to recover the person who dissolved into this long and rocky marriage.

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Tomorrow is Another Day

This afternoon, one day before our imminent divorce a fierce argument erupted between me and Mr. Negativity, the direct reason -as usual- was money. I was trying to work as usual on my dreaded Sunday shift when I got a phone call from my house mate. She spotted him and his girlfriend outside our erstwhile flat. The woman she said, is blond, beautiful and dressed to kill. So much different from frugal little me in my department store clothing. She was pushing the pram and then he caught up with her and they both started fussing over the little one as if they were his parents. I was shocked, hurt and so very angry. The nerve of the guy to be moving on so quickly. I knew deep down that I should not allow myself to be sucked into this type of resentful feeling. I was just feeling sorry for myself and my situation, but still I am only human and I can only react as one.

Later when he picked me up I tried to mention the incident as casually as possible, but the talk quickly turned sour. He said that his friend was helping him choose a new car seat for baby, since he has almost outgrown the little piccolo. The car seat is meant to be his way of reimbursing me for medical costs he incurred on my medical aid plan. Now if you bear in mind that I neither possess a car nor am I likely to afford one any time soon, you will see that his generous gesture is just a circuitous way to make me pay for something that he and only he uses.

When all this divorce talk started, I wasn’t quite as resentful and hurt as I am today. I think I under-estimated the type of pressure that I will be suffering under. Still, I was raised to focus on human values, not material ones. I agreed to every proposal Mr. Negativity made for me and baby and I shrugged off many unfair calculations that he came up with. At one moment of unreasonable magnanimity I might have said that I will not demand any child support. But child support is a legal requirement for granting divorce and the law demands putting an amount down. He set it pathetically low, and I agreed. Today I believe that this little contribution, however little, is not mine to give up, but when I voiced this opinion, Mr. Negativity went ballistic and thought I was threatening him.

I am sorry if I am sometimes too honest and too generous for my own good. I am sorry if I shoot from the hip and say exactly what I feel, without trying to pretend or cater for some hidden agenda. But I do not feel that I owe the man any consideration to his feelings. His financial situation is not what he says it is, and I am not going to stand by and watch him deprive my son from a few pennies, so that he can spend them on one of his outings. No, it is little enough as it is and he has to have enough self respect to keep it aside for his son. His response ?
Well I can forget about babysitting… Doesn’t he even care that these “babysitting” sessions are actually his visiting times with his son? No he said, and then bent over the child to say: Sorry baby, this is the type of mother you have (???). To me he said: “You are on your own”, then he snatched the new car seat from me, and drove away. I think he was shamed by his “friend” into buying an expensive one anyway. He will return it for sure.

I have no regular morning babysitter during on weekdays, and I had asked him weeks ago to sit with baby while I go get myself divorced. Now I faced the prospect of carrying my baby into divorce court tomorrow. When I sent him a text message later he said he will reconsider for Robert’s benefit. Now I do not know what to expect from Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge anymore. Will he still look after Robert during in mid June when my nanny is away ? Will he still take him to visit every other Sunday? I have no idea.  But I am willing to take a bet that he will want something in return. It is always about his convenience.

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Counting the Pennies

I think I am paying too much rent, among my other many problems. When I mentioned an ad hock amount to my friend, I was still in a generous mood, and calculated on the base of an all inclusive rate. Now it comes out that I have to subsidize half of the water and electricity as well. I am already paying for my son’s babysitting and contributing my half share towards the cleaning. My generosity and tolerance are slowly reaching their limits as my limited resources dry up.
I collected my payslip from work today, and I was dismayed again at how little I get paid working part time. My deduction have skyrocketed since my company is trying to recover the salary they paid me by mistake when I was supposed to be on unpaid leave.

Now I am calculating and recalculating again my budget and wondering how the heck my son and I are supposed to manage on around R 900.00 a month for our groceries and supplies. I already suspect that we would pay much less if we were living on our own. I am not a cheapskate but I am very frugal and careful in my use of resources. I do not waste toilet paper, toothpaste, electricity or water. My house mistress on the other hand has grown up in a wealthy household and does not bother watching things like that. Now it is up to me to shoulder part of her extravagance.  Buying groceries is yet another matter. I am always intensely aware of what I buy and consume and never touch what is not mine. My house mistress in contrast is forgetful and digs in into my groceries, assuming they are hers, and forgetting that she used up whatever she bought last week. I try to avoid confusion by buying different brands than hers, but it is difficult when both of us regularly hunt for store specials. My focus at the moment is my son’s health and wellbeing. I do not skimp on his formula and cereal. As for me, I now look for the cheapest brands in the shop, I hardly ever buy meat and when I do I cook it into huge bowls of soup to make it go farther.

I am sure Mr. Negativity doesn’t have such concerns. He always was a carnivore of note, cooking a portion of meat every single day to support his monster metabolism. I am resorting to the humble potatoes, beans, and lentils. Luckily during winter time such foods are acceptable. By summertime I hope we will be in our own place.

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Back on Track

Some rough weeks are behind us. Baby and I are both recovering from the flu, and I am out of a severe depression that hit me in the past weeks.

When I moved here over a month ago, my house-mate kindly offered me the use of her computer for my daily email checking. I did a few blog posts as well using her machine but it was quickly getting on my nerves with its lagging slowness. The whole point of blogging is to write without really thinking about it, and just let the fingers fly over the keyboard, and words rush to the screen. With her machine you have to wait for the letters to show up well after the fingers have typed. Worse still if I needed to backtrack on a couple of words, holding down the backspace key often led to disastrous results, leaving me a couple of paragraphs short, when I only want to delete a sentence. On one such venture to this blog, I also noticed that my header went out the window and I had no way of replacing it, since I was working on a strange machine.

I thought I will forget everything as soon as my machine was happily set up in its new corner, but I was in for another unpleasant surprise. The crash of my trusty computer was the last straw, and it really hit me hard. At stake were almost three years’ worth of work data, painstakingly downloaded and collected software, e-books, craft patterns, emails, and most painfully my beloved boy’s pictures from birth until the day before I moved out. I was inconsolable at this terrible loss on top of everything else.

I wasn’t doing well either on other fronts. Baby was sickly and irritable because of teething. I succumbed to moral pressure and bought a music CD; a present I couldn’t afford for my house-mate. Soon afterwards I discovered that my choice was a terrible, and the CD not exchangeable. My cellphone charger decided to quit on me, only a month after switching to pre-paid.  I was ready to crawl into the nearest cave, and just hibernate for the rest of the year.

In the midst of my desperation, a friend took pity on me and invited me to spend an evening with her family. Baby and I went and had a great time. For me, it was a great privilege to spend time with normal people, because I was getting sick of hanging around with misfits like me. It is a great comfort to know and see that there are people out there who make their relationships work, and not everyone is recovering from a broken relationship or looking for a new one.

The dose of love, caring and normalcy I got from my dear friend gave me the courage to seek help for my damaged computer. Another friend came to the rescue and my valuable history was saved. Now I am sifting through my electronic files to restore the software I worked with and put back all the knickknacks I am partial to using. It will take some time before everything is back to its old order, but at least I am halfway there.

Baby has two little teeth, they were his first Mother’s Day present for me. I fixed my problem with my cell phone charger. My experience with my unsuitable present taught me a lesson, and for my other friends I will either give a handmade present or a voucher.  For my own birthday I want NOTHING. Life is too short to keep collecting and passing on unwanted gifts.

Settling into a Routine

Today my computer arrived safely. Jackie helped carry it to and back from rehab at my favorite computer technician at the moment. I haven’t lost ANYTHING and to me this is a miracle. From here on my life will start to get some semblance of normalcy. I set up my computer workstation -again with Jackie’s help. It now occupies a corner of her desk, it is kind of cramped, but I cannot complain. I mean she could have easily said, she doesn’t want me using her work space, therefore I am eternally grateful. Living with Jackie is relatively easy. She does have her own set of rules, but they are nothing compared to the regimented style I was used to with my ex. The only problem we have is the limited space, and the need to find innovative ways of storing our things, while keeping them accessible at the same time. Some of my beloved book boxes ended up in the top shelf of the cupboard, where I need a step ladder to reach them, but there are plenty of books still on the ground, where I can easily get to them. My dictionaries are also close by ready for action when I finally get the elusive work I am half-heartedly looking for. I say that because I am still not all here, and reeling with the effects of my separation. It will take time until I am in a really productive frame of mind. In the meantime there are things to write about, feelings to deal with and finances to consider.
At the beginning of the month I received a date for my divorce case, and it is scheduled for Monday the 26th. This is the final nail in the coffin of my marriage, and I try not to dwell on it too much. Ron wanted me and Robert out of his hair, and I wanted to make the separation final and legal because I recognized -and he spelled it out to me- that he no longer wants to be with me. I see no point in staying married in name only, when there is absolutely no hope in reconciliation. I believe I did the right thing, and I will get used to the outcome.

Meanwhile life goes on. I try to go with Robert to the park on sunny days. The walk to the park is now much longer, but we both enjoy chilling there which makes it worth the effort. Here Robert also gets to socialize with some little friends. I like especially the little tomboy Nina, who loves playing in the dirt, and must be a handful to her patient nanny. I let Robert crawl around in the park and get down and dirty sometimes; this is vital to the learning process. Another thing that I want him to learn is interacting with animals. Jackie’s cat loves playing with him, and tolerates his rough handling – up to a point of course. He already received a swipe or two from her claw when he tugged too hard on her fur. Most of the time though they play or dance around each other, which is quite funny. Robert is starting to cruise; he walks from one side of the sofa to the other while holding on to its edge. He can also stand by himself for a few seconds. The interaction he has with me, Jackie, the cat and everyone else is much more lively and animated. Lucy enjoys being with him and he very comfortable around her. The few negatives that come to mind are a light episode of the flu, and some negative attitudes from Robert’s dad, but we will get over these in time.

Happy Mother’s Day

I would like to think that my first mother’s day present from Robert was his first pair of teeth. He will now get a little break from teething pain, and I have a rest for a while from washing poopy mattresses. I would have loved to spend the day with my little boy, but unfortunately I had to work, which meant that I had to face Robert’s dad. The experience is rarely pleasant as we tend to argue whenever we meet.

I am still troubled, but the sadness is lifting slowly and giving way to hope. Yesterday I called my computer expert and next week Jackie will help take the computer to him. I am hoping for some good news then; maybe my photos will not be lost after all.

I received many greetings for mother’s day from friends. A duty managed declared that he sympathized with me for working on my first mother’s day. The hardest thing to face however was a greeting card from my mom, where she congratulated me (us) on being a family. It made my anger against Ron erupt again. In my mind he is still responsible for this breakup and because of him I had to write a long and sad letter to my mom. In the meantime I tried to prepare my parents for the bad news.

With all this happening, I am a little bit in a reflective mood today. The blogs I read were full of Mother’s Day anecdotes, and they helped me -again- appreciate the blessings of motherhood. I liked this blog post from The Keyboard Biologist Knits. This mother’s experience resonated with me and made me smile:

This year will be my first “real” Mother’s Day. Last year, I was about 7 months pregnant and waiting for the arrival of the baby that I had worried would never be a part of my life. Although I was…View Original Article

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Craving Normal

I reached the point where I am just too sick of being a misfit and a failure. I am still devastated by the crash of my computer, and in my desolation I do not have the courage or the drive to pick up the phone and ask someone for help. Perhaps the data on my computer can still be saved but I am too tired and heartsick to investigate.

The series of failures did not stop there. The present I chose for Jackie turned out to be a total dud. What I thought a bouncy CD of dance tracks turned out to be a compilation of lackluster cover tracks. If I had paid only a little bit more I would have bought a decent new release, but I am so out of touch with Jackie’s musical taste; I do not know what is hot, because I hardly listened to the radio in the past few years. In addition to all this, I had to buy a new cell phone charger when mine broke a few days ago. By the end of this remarkable week I decided that I would have been better off without 21st century technology. Heck I would have happily traded this modern existence for the simplicity of stone age lifestyle.

I could not face Jackie’s birthday today and her elaborate party plans. She had a friend over at lunchtime and I escaped to the damp and cold park. A phone call from my friend Britt rescued the day for me, when she invited me over for dinner. It was great to sit in front of a fire, sip some wine and enjoy the warmth of a normal family. Britt and I went through the routine of bathing all three children, and then tucking them into separate cots and beds. Robert took over Demi’s cot and went quickly to sleep without a problem. Britt’s older girl Mia kept us company for a little bit over a delicious dinner of chicken curry. Soon everyone’s eyes started to get heavy, thanks to the warm fire and the wine. Britt gave us a lift home around ten. As I unpacked Robert’s bag later I found another present for Robert, in addition to the many little toys she gave us during the course of the afternoon. I am so lucky to have such a great friend.

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