I stopped blogging in January of this year. I was told by someone to “just blog about it” when it came to the well being of my babies and I was really upset about it. I let this person win because this person was so good at making me feel like I was worth every name I was called, I was worth every other woman’s entrance into my life, and I was worth things like getting spit in my face. I let them convince me with just a small statement that my blogs weren’t important and that I wasn’t worth being heard. I’ve decided to take a different turn on my blogging and invite friends, family, and people I’ve met over the years to tell their stories. The thing is, many stories are so similar to mine it’s crazy. People rarely hear about this side of being married to the military, or being in the military. The story I’m telling today is from Julie.
Julie was a young single mother of a little girl. She had no plans to become a single mother at 21 but she was alone, stationed far away from family, and the father of her daughter had nothing to do with her. She could understand if the man hated her, they had only been married for a year and didn’t really get to know each other before she got pregnant. There are a lot of hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy so it takes a real man to actually want to learn his wife and go through life with her. Julie ended up alone with her little girl and only her family to count on. She would have loved to show proof that her daughter was his little girl, or try to hunt down some family members so her daughter would know her dad’s side of the family, but certain families would rather hide behind the lies and false stories.
Julie went along her military career and successfully promoted along the way. She was great at her job and many people noticed. She also made sure her little girl knew that she was her world. Her little girl was such an amazing girl. She would come into the workplace full of smiles because she got to spend more time with her Mommy than just the couple of hours a day getting ready for daycare and getting ready for bed they usually get. Julie dated and had many friends she hung out with, but she never wanted to make the same mistake again that she made with her daughter’s father. Julie watched a man from afar at work. He was cocky and arrogant, but she liked how he knew his job. He seemed to work a lot but she didn’t care about that. She wanted a hard worker, just like her own parents.
Julie was having a little bit of a rough time with her own parents. Her mother was dealing with an addiction to drugs so Julie was keeping her distance because her mother wasn’t always nice to her. Julie discovered that she may have chosen this man at work because of his work addiction. You see, when a child is born to an addict, whether it be work addiction, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, etc. they feel that co-dependence to another human being is a good thing. They want to find that person that fits the mold of what they feel is best. Julie was trying to figure things out and so she met this man’s family during Christmas. You see, Julie had gotten pregnant by this man once they became intimate. They had been co-workers for years so intimacy came quickly. Julie’s pregnancy didn’t last and she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.
So, Julie goes and visits her wonderful soon-to-be in-laws for Christmas. She was in heaven. We will call her man Clancy. Clancy’s mother knew exactly what to say to Julie to make Julie feel like she was truly part of the family. Julie needed that in that moment because she wasn’t sure who she wanted to tell about her miscarriage. Julie spent time with Clancy’s mother and aunt…they had a wonderful time. Julie noticed that her future in-laws tended to put down people from their past to make Julie feel as if she was truly one of them, and Julie never really questioned it. Clancy deployed and when he deployed Julie made sure that his family was treated like family, and sadly she put them ahead of her own. Clancy’s adoptive father wasn’t in the picture anymore and was labeled as an abusive, power mongering, fear mongering, horrible man that no one would ever want to meet. Clancy’s mother was abused by Clancy’s birth father, his adoptive father, and by her final husband. The odd thing is, she has this co-dependency that still occurs with the final husband who supposedly was abusive and a cheater. This may be why when Clancy cheated on Julie there was no help from Clancy’s family. Clancy’s family felt she should get over it quickly. Julie was still trying to heal from giving birth and she was trying to figure out how to live life with multiple children and a husband who lies about things like money, but she was determined to make her marriage work.
Julie requested that Clancy change all of his accounts because he was using them to stay in touch with “friends”…he had a history with the females he HAD to keep in touch with, to include ex-fiances and whatnot. She wanted the perfect marriage and she would do anything she had to do to achieve it. She felt if she was fully open with the struggles their marriage faced then others would respect them and love them more, and that others would realize that the young couple needed help, not chastising. Julie had no idea that Clancy had another agenda. You see, Clancy couldn’t take fault for any of his wrong-doings. He got demoted? It was the Commander’s fault. He abused Julie? Julie pushed him to do it (he used to force her into closets and bedrooms and refused to let her out). He shoved a kid? The kid wasn’t doing his chores correctly. He got fired? The story was fake. Years and years of excuses and lies. He wasn’t above lying to his children either. You have a concert? Yeah, if I’m off from work I will go. You have a weekend off? Yeah, if I’m off from work I will go.
Many people don’t realize that research has been done on how children fare with one or two parents in the same local area. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201310/relocation-and-co-parenting Julie faced a struggle with the divorce. They had been a military family, moving every few years. Julie weighed her options…does she move where there is family? Does she move to one of the bases the kids knew as a “home” even if it was only for a few years? Does she move to where she felt it was “home?” or does she try to pursue and fix the relationship with the in-laws and continue the family’s plan of moving to live in the same town?
Julie was in a bind. She had less than three months to make up her mind. Julie applied for jobs in multiple areas and didn’t have much luck due to her break in employment to raised her children and follow her husband. Julie applied for jobs for years after the divorce. The jobs were never a perfect fit, until earlier this year. She finally found a job where she could be a Subject Matter Expert and she could raise the children with stability. She didn’t have to relocate the children again, although the best paying job was one that Clancy shot down. She finally found her work home and in the process found a man who loved her, quirks and all, brokenness and all, and was able to help her children on a daily basis. Her new husband, Michael, gets daily hugs from the kids. They love being able to see aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, etc. as often as possible. They ask when Clancy is going to move closer. They ask when their other grandparent is going to visit them where they live and go to school. They ask when they’ll come to school events. They ask when they’ll be the ones taking them for milkshakes after dentist appointments. They ask why their other friends go visit their other parent every other weekend and why they don’t see Clancy often. Julie is limited in what she can say, so she just tells them to contact Clancy and if they have any issues Julie is there to talk. Their father has not even seen the schools they attend in almost three years. The kids haven’t had their father even enter the state they live in for three years.
The hardest thing for Julie to understand is how a parent is okay with seeing their children for less than a quarter of the year, especially when children change and grow so frequently. Julie was led on to believe that Clancy wanted nothing more than to raise their children together. Julie and Chancy had talked about buying acres of land and having multiple houses, even for the in-law who now despises Julie, and making sure that the children could spend time with whichever relative they wanted, and whenever they wanted. They were going to be able to call/text each other to help get kids from school events, practices, or friend’s houses. They were going to be able to truly co-parent. The sad part is, the reality in many military families is that the parents are from different areas to begin with, so even if they go back to their home of record they’re states apart. Many times a military member is battling their PTSD so bad that the last place they felt “normal” is where they will live, and it doesn’t matter if they have to find a job with little to not pay, they just want to be where they felt they lost their normal lives & where their normal lives will come back. Some of Julie’s friends have to send their kids on airplanes to wherever the other parent is stationed, or some have to do yearlong assignments or deployments without visiting their kids. Some parents choose to live far from their kids because they still have too many emotions for the other parent and they settled with the one they chose to marry or live with. They realize that if they actually see their ex-spouse loving on their children then they’ll get sucked back into their depression again and blame themselves for losing their family.
This is what people don’t realize – the average lifespan of a human is 79 years. Children are only minors for 18 years. This only leaves you 23% of a child’s life to shape them and help them become an adult member of society. Less than a quarter of their lifespan is all you have to form your children into adults. Does this mean you shouldn’t work period? Not at all. Julie worked but she also continues to make sure her children are well taken care of. Julie has contemplated moving closer to her children’s father & stepmother just so her children can have all of those who love them in their lives as often as possible. Julie knows jobs can be found anywhere, and if you’re in a specific field that EVERY STATE has, it’s possible to just move to where the children need you. Of course you don’t stop raising your children once they’re 18.
Yeah, they’ll still come and ask you for advice or help as adults. But, they may also ask why you didn’t come to their concerts, or their appointments when they were really sick, or why mommy & daddy hate each other so much. They’ll wonder why it’s only Mommy reading their bedtime stories, or why it’s only Mommy or Stepdad driving them to & from school events. They may feel animosity towards one parent because one parent is ALWAYS there and so every single punishment lies on that parent. They may say some horrible things to the parent who isn’t there on a day to day basis because, let’s face it, sometimes it just feels good to have someone on your side. I mean…I remember those days I’d be furious with my parents and I’d vent to a grandparent or an aunt or uncle. They’d usually take my side, facts or not, just so I’d open up to them more. It’s how kids play the game! Divorced parents who don’t communicate for their children’s sake are taken advantage of. One parent wants to get the most expensive, best things, so that the kids see them as the provider….the other parent wants to create the memories and takes the kids to see plays and other things the other parent would never do. There’s always overcompensation. Children can come right up to their custodial parent and tell them “I’m going to ask [non-custodial] parent for this because I know they have the money for it.” The kids hold onto the fact that maybe one day mom & dad will end up back together, so they may talk down about any dating choices made by the other one, or put down a stepparent. One parent may think it’s fun to play games by only having the stepparent communicate with the other parent to mess with their mental mindset.
At the end of the day it’s the kids who are hurting. The kids don’t understand why Mom & Dad went from loving, hugging, and kissing, with some random bad days, to living states apart and avoiding eye contact. They don’t get why their friend’s parents can both show up to events but they’re scanning the crowd for a “maybe” only to discover the maybe was just to appease them. They may be clueless as to why it was so hard for a parent to give another parent signed paperwork for them to see a doctor, or go on a trip, or even just be there for them…but, that’s the life of a divorced kid. Staying in an unhappy marriage for years just for the children isn’t the best move, but if your children’s teachers, friends, etc. don’t even know what you look like or what your voice sounds like then you’re too far removed from your child’s life. The life of a child of divorce is not easy, and sometimes it will cause a child to have stomach issues, headaches, etc. because that’s how children handle anxiety. These children deserve more. Not just from their Mother & Father. They deserve more from EVERYONE in their lives.
Thank you Julie for sharing your story. I know there were many other parts of your story we didn’t get to, but I also feel some people may benefit from hearing this portion of your story.