Dealing with another woman in your relationship is really a testament to your ability to be patient. Patience is not a virtue that I've mastered. I lose my temper over her behavior more frequently than I'd like. Fortunately (unfortunately?), I avoid confronting her about anything. I let my boyfriend spearhead any kind of opposition because I don't think it will bode well if any criticism comes from me. In my last entry, I wrote about #3's immaturity. Here, I will cover my issue with her poor communication.
This past January, Los Angeles was the new US epicenter for Covid-19. We happened to have our 5 year old at the beginning of the year. We got a call from #3 saying that her entire family had come down with Covid. Not only did they all test positive, they were melting down with Covid, meaning multiple members were heading to the hospital or were on the brink of going to the hospital . Of course, we were happy to keep our 5 year old for longer than initially planned. For almost a year, #3 had been working a shady-ass job that dabbled in the drug trafficking industry. Amendment: It didn't just "dabble" in the drug industry, it was full on submerged in it, if you can even call it an "industry". I'm sure most of it wasn't legal, but I wasn't going to pry into this because I did not want to get involved. However, we remained concerned and I know that my boyfriend did not like what she was doing. This job also required #3 to travel for anywhere from a few days to weeks at a time. My boyfriend decided that if #3 wasn't going to be in town, then her daughter needed to be with the other parent who was. It was frustrating to be following a schedule, only to learn that #3 didn't communicate that she hadn't been in town for the past 2-3 weeks. It made me livid because we never seemed to know when she had to leave and for how long she'd be gone. Apparently her employer wouldn't tell her either, which then leads one to ask, "Why are you working this job when you have children???" It was disruptive to our lives and had to have been tumultuous for our 5 year old, who seemed to be dealing with separation anxiety. She would shadow me whenever she was with me and would anxiously ask where I was going any time I tried to leave the room. She would literally be up in my face - personal space was not a concept that existed. This was a new behavior that did not start until after her mother began traveling. It was emotionally draining, but I wanted to give my bonus daughter the support and attention she was clearly craving. It really felt like I was picking up #3's slack and I started to really resent her for this. She decided to bring a baby into the world, and now she was leaving? Was she shirking her responsibilities because other people were now conveniently there? (And yes, I feel like she is the one who ultimately is responsible for recklessly bringing a baby into this world. My boyfriend is responsible for not wearing a condom, which is why he is at the mercy of #3 when it comes to our daughter and is obligated to pay for child support. However, due to my pro-choice perspective and the red flags listed in my last post, #3 is the main person who has to be held responsible for her choice to keep her baby. It was not a choice that was mutually agreed upon by both partners.) Apparently the paychecks were very high, but one wonders if the paycheck is really worth the risk of getting arrested???
The silver lining to #3 traveling so often meant that she wasn't around when her family tested positive. She had been out of town since the day after Thanksgiving and finally came back to Los Angeles after the first week of January. Since her family were all in quarantine in their home, she stayed with a friend nearby. My boyfriend decided that this was an appropriate time to confront her about her employment choices, which lead to a lot of fighting - so being around that was fun. (Sarcasm. It was really quite stressful.) All I wanted was to be kept up to date with everyone's health and to know what the game plan was. I understood that this was an emergency circumstance, but I was agitated because #3 hadn't seen her daughter since Thanksgiving. As the days went by, I was hearing that family members were either stable or getting better, but nothing in regards to a plan or thoughts of how to move forward. Not knowing what the next steps are in an emergency is fine, but I really hate it when only one side is reaching out for communication. (To be fair, I believe that this is a monster that my boyfriend created. My boyfriend has a history of not responding at all to #3, so this may be retribution. The way they communicate is dysfunctional and I hate it!) There were days where we wouldn't reach out because we wanted to give people space, but it would be radio silence. When we'd finally call, we'd hear a nonchalant, "Oh yeah, things are okay". Okay, great, but we have the 5 year old!!! What's going on?!? My boyfriend was also trying to create an opportunity for #3 to see her daughter; we could bring our child to the park, we could hang out in Grandma's backyard (my MIL) or anywhere outside with minimal human crowds and/or contact. #3 said no to all of these options. Inside, I was screaming, "Why not? What the Hell??? Your daughter misses you and I am exhausted by her separation anxiety!!! And these are issues regarding only one of your children!!! I haven't even touched on what could possibly be going on with your son who doesn't have a secondary mother figure!!!" I was so angry.
My lack of patience with #3 about her poor communication skills came to a head one morning when she called at 7am to inform us that she was taking a Covid test. 1) Who calls anyone at 7am? I'm an insomniac and unless I have to be anywhere, I'm never up at 7am. I get really upset when people call for no reason. 2) You're getting a Covid test ... who the f*ck cares??? You got any comment about your daughter, who we still have that you haven't seen??? No? Cool. We thought it was an emergency when #3 woke us up that morning, which is why I was infuriated when I learned that this was the only information that this phone call entailed. I will note that #3 had been making regular phone and video calls to her daughter to check in. So no, she wasn't being fully neglectful. After a few mentally challenging days later, #3 calls to tell the adults that she tested negative for Covid and was now ready for a visit with her daughter. *Cue major inner scream* If this was your game plan all along, why was it so difficult to explain all of this ahead of time? Why could you not have explained this plan the minute you concocted it in your head??? I could have been so much calmer if I had known that she didn't want a visit with her daughter until she got a negative Covid test. Then the phone call (which still should not have happened at 7am) about getting a test would've made sense and I would not have been as pissed off. My boyfriend and I would not have felt as resentful and we would not have felt like she was being neglectful.
Hopefully this long-winded explanation can help explain my love/hate opinion of her, as similar incidents of non-communication continue to happen.
In the end, my bonus daughter got to spend a few hours with her mother after being separated for over a month. By the end of January, #3's family had thankfully all recovered and we were able to send our 5 year old back with her mother. In more positive news, it seems that the fighting my boyfriend did with #3 emboldened her to talk to other family members about her job. Her dad, who apparently did some drug dealing himself back in the day, obviously advised against what she was doing for the sake of her children. #3 is now no longer working the shady job and hasn't been traveling. Thank the stars! My 5 year old's separation anxiety isn't completely gone, but it has vastly improved. It's nice to have some personal space again and be able to just ... breathe. Communication is still a bit rough. I try to breathe deep when patience is demanded. This is a journey and we're trying to work on better communication with her. I still feel the impulse scream at her when she does things I don't understand.
To be brutally honest, I look forward to the day when my 5 year old is old enough to have her own phone, where we can communicate more through her, and less so with her mother. On the more optimistic side, maybe #3 and I will become friends and her behavior will start to make sense. I'm not holding my breathe, but maybe.