Parallel Parenting Part 1: Button, Button…Who’s Got the Button (Eyes)?

Every other Monday when my kids return from a week with the ex, I follow the same routine as I wait for my children to step off the bus.

I pace. I wait. I pace. I wait some more. Then I see them, squeal to myself, “Holy shitballs…here they come!” and sweep them up in my arms for a giant bear hug.

And, without skipping a beat, I check to see if their eyes have been replaced by buttons.

If you’ve seen Coraline: You SO know what I’m talkin’ about…

If you haven’t, let me explain: My guess is, Coraline author Neil Gaiman may have just a few repressed, bat-shit crazy childhood memories involving a Marilyn Manson doppelganger for a stepmother and the promise of a Utopian new life that turned über-ugly once reality set in.

Just guessing.

I mean, check out the physical similarities (and if you’re new to this blog and perhaps confused as to why this is significant, you may need some of the backstory … here):




 

 

 

 

 

(You have to admit: creepy, right?

The eyes…the lipstick…the skin color…the hair?!?!)

But apart from the ominous side-by-side comparison, this classic book-turned-Tim-Burtonesque movie reveals even more dangers lurking in the “other” household. The “other mother” lures Coraline into a perfect home filled with perfect promises and perfect toys and perfect food. Only to be promised a perfect life if she herself promises to disavow her real parents.

Oh, and replace her eyes with buttons.

But it’s just a small price to pay. I mean, come on: They’re just eyes. Who needs the windows to the soul when you can have buttons affixed by thick black yarn and a pointy needle? A little blood and eye spooge spurting and gushing all over the place never hurt anyone, I’m sure.

So you can imagine my relief when my kids returned to my house yesterday, sans buttons. Oh, but there were feathers.

Yip, you read that right: feathers. Like the kind worn by the See-and-Say animals that go “tweet tweet.”

And this is not cluckin’ funny. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

You see, friends, last I checked: My daughter did not have feathers. Eight years ago, I did NOT give birth to a baby chick, or a duck, or a pigeon, or a sage grouse — or even to Lola from the Copa or Lady Gaga, for that matter…that I recall (and granted, I may have been just a wee bit out of it due to the utter and complete lack of any medication during the aforementioned birth of my bouncing featherless bundle — not even a hospital-issued, $489 Tylenol. So I could be mistaken).

Nope. Just checked the baby pix. No feathers.

Then why does my 8-year-old daughter have feathers semi-permanently affixed to her head? Like she’s channeling Steven Tyler on American Idol?

See those purty little feathers? (Undated Handout photo)

Here’s the deal. We’ve already been down the road called “You can’t make this shit up,” along which my then-6-year-old daughter’s gorgeous long hair — without my knowledge — was hacked into a style that eerily and EXACTLY matched my ex-husband’s then-girlfriend’s chopped ’do. The woman he had left me for, just months prior, mind you…

We’ve already ridden the crazy train to cheerleading, when the ex and his then-new wife signed up my daughter without my consent — oh, and forgot to mention that Marilyn would be the cheer coach. Silly, pesky little details…

Now, my friends, we’re heading down a new road. Or rather, two roads running side by side that never converge. Which the ex and Marilyn are trying to make the next BIG idea, parenting version. It’s called “parallel parenting.”

And guess where this term came from: Mediation, God bless it.

So whilst in mediation, which was simply AWESOME , thank you for asking…Mediator Man, our fearless leader, “introduced” us to the concept of parallel parenting.

This was after he admitted that he hadn’t read a single word of this very blog, which was a critical point of contention in mediation (if you’ll recall, the ex is taking me to court in part to stop the blog).

This was also after he admitted to not having read one single word of the cases between us.

Nope, in fact absolutely no reading, no research, no preparation was undertaken in advance of either of our mediation sessions. It’s akin to a teacher walking into a first class without a lesson plan. Or an astronaut flying the Space Shuttle without spending time in the simulator.

Or me, posting a post without so much as pondering what to posit in the post.

Look! I'm just like Mediator Man. If he were a blogger. Shooting blank blogs. (And yes, that's Ariel at the top of my screen. She's my favorite Princess. Don't be a hater.)

But Mediator Man, in all of his infinite and omnipotent yet clearly generic knowledge, knew absolutely nothing just enough about our complicated case to suggest the concept of parallel parenting as a solution to our predicament.

And then, they were off: It was like the firing of the starting gun at the Kentucky Derby, because this one concept was all the ex and Marilyn needed to justify their actions of the past few years. Suddenly, all I saw before me was a landscape of horses’ asses, running at breakneck speed toward what they perceived to be the finish line.

And they definitely think they won the big prize, post-mediation, because they got a shiny new term to wear and flaunt and show off to all who care (and I’m guessing that’s not many). Seriously, self-proclaimed “writer” Marilyn has even penned her very own blog on her very own website about parallel parenting and how the term may just represent her eternal parenting salvation. It’s right next to the post with the meatball recipe she borrowed from MY DEAD GRANDMOTHER.

But guess what? They’ve got it all wrong. (Parallel parenting, that is. Not Gram’s meatballs. Those, they got right.)

Parallel parenting does not imply that parents go off and do whatever the hell they want, completely free of consequence and interaction. It does prescribe a type of parenting in high-conflict situations that minimizes communication (I’m all for that) but still necessitates an exchange of information when important. And when done the way it’s supposed to be done, there’s a chance it might work.

The way the ex and Marilyn are doing it? SO not working.

And why not, you may ask? Because of things like my daughter returning to my home…well, feathered. Yes, it may seem trivial, and it’s certainly not the most egregious affront or even close to the only affront, which I promise to detail in more detailed details in Part 2.

But here’s the bottom line: Said feathers are semi-permanent. And they definitely alter her physical appearance. And I’m her mom, dammit, and I should have been consulted before she was taken by her step-mom to have a metal clamp affixed to her beautiful hair that will remain there for the next 8-10 weeks.

Now, as I’ve already alluded: There’s much more to share. In fact, just writing all silly-stream-of-consciousness, I’m up to a whopping 6 pages in notes…so I decided to spare you all the dissertation. You’re welcome. Instead, I’m now offering a cliffhanger and seeking your feedback.

So tune in next time — same bat-shit crazy place, same bat-shit crazy channel.

And until then, a few questions to inspire conversation…because inquiring minds want to know:

  1. Would you be upset if your 8-year-old child came home from a week at your ex’s home with his/her physical appearance altered — which happened without your knowledge? Or am I just loopy?
  2. If you could offer one piece of advice to the ex or Marilyn, it would be…
  3. Your thoughts on parallel parenting? Or on eyes being replaced by buttons?
  4. Was I simply expecting too much that Mediator Man should have — oh, I don’t know — read our cases?

And now we know, by the way: Feathers are the new buttons. Remember, you heard it here first…trend-setting blog that this is…

;)

About Mikalee Byerman

How can a sometimes bitter, definitely jaded, no longer trusting blindsided ex-wife still believe in happy endings? (not that kind of happy endings...sheesh, people...) By channeling her scary internal dialogue through a controversial blog/future book, swearing like a drunken sailor and spending all her spare time focused on helping others people heal. Oh, and wine...lots of good, red wine. Join me as I embrace my next best self (and help you discover yours) with Me 2.0!
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117 Responses to Parallel Parenting Part 1: Button, Button…Who’s Got the Button (Eyes)?

  1. Great post as per usual. Now let me answer your questions. I am not a parent by birth canal, but I am a step mother to a 13yr old girl.

    1.Would you be upset if your 8-year-old child came home from a week at your ex’s home with his/her physical appearance altered — which happened without your knowledge? Or am I just loopy?

    With an 8yr old YES, I would be angry. My first thought as a Step is to ask myself “What would your mother think.” I also know that I wouldn’t want my birth child to come home from the weekend at Dads with her physical appearance altered.

    2.If you could offer one piece of advice to the ex or Marilyn, it would be…

    Have respect for the birth mother. (slapdropkick)

    3.Your thoughts on parallel parenting? Or on eyes being replaced by buttons?

    Now that I know the term for this parenting, I have come to the realization that this is what my parents did with me. They divorced when I was three months. In over 30 years I have never heard them speak bad about each other, and I remember the times when I had to call my father and tell him I was bad, my mom sitting across the table from me. I think if this can work in a family in the long run will be a success for the child.

    4.Was I simply expecting too much that Mediator Man should have — oh, I don’t know — read our cases?

    Maybe he wanted an unbiased outlook. Who knows. I would have read ‘something’ on my new case if I were Mediator Woman.

    Happy Hump Day. It’s pissing rain here!

    • Jennifer…thanks so much for the great response! Based on your comment, I have the utmost respect for your step parenting skills, because that sounds exactly like the type of behavior that is appropriate in such a situation. I can’t imagine being a step parent is easy, but I do know there are ways to do it that keep the children in focus while respecting their situation. You are clearly doing that.

      And while I can certainly understand him not reading the blog if an “unbiased opinion” was the reason (though certainly scanning it would probably be in order just to understand the ex’s reason for bringing me to court in the first place), he literally said, “I have not had time to read the cases.” Ugh.

      Again — your feedback is much appreciated, and congrats on being an above-board step mom!

  2. Hmmm … sounds like you had an eventful week (though not nearly as eventful as your daughter it seems).

    This parallel parenting just sounds like a way for a lazy, dipshit parent to do what they want without having to worry about the ramifications and effects it will have on the other. And knowing what we know about the ex, it’s to be expected. If there’s anything he likes doing more than pushing your buttons and sending you into conniptions, it hasn’t been written about yet.

    Mediator Man is a tool, plain and simple. Wasn’t it Eurythmics who said, “don’t mess with a Mediator Man?” Oh wait, that was called something else, right?

    Advice to Ms. Manson … DON’T ALTER A CHILD’S APPEARANCE ON A WHIM, NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU MIGHT THINK IT WILL HELP.

    Glad to see this one. It had been over a week and I (and no doubt the rest of the blogosphere) was getting worried.

    Soldier on!

    • Well it’s nice to be missed, Mike … thank you!

      Yeah, this whole parallel parenting thing seems very selfish and not at all in the kids’ best interests — at least the way the ex and Marilyn are tackling it. I mean, who suffers the consequences of this “style” of parenting? It’s the kids, of course. They are the ones having to live in a vacuum each week, adapting their lives to the situation instead of us bearing the consequence of our choices and being the adults who choose to be parents first.

      Thanks so much for the comment, Mike. Haha–Missionary Man … too funny. And here I was thinking of “Meteor Man,” a horrible early ’90s flick with an unmemorable cast but a fun name. I like your reference better.

      • Wasn’t THAT unmemorable … Robert Townsend was in it, as was Robert (Benson) Guillaume and Darth Vader himself James Earl Jones.

        All that star power SHOULD have made it watchable, but alas … it wasn’t.

        • I think we may be the only two people in the world who are geeky enough to remember that unmemorable flick.

          Hope you don’t mind I just called you a geek — it is a term of endearment in my book, after all! ;)

  3. thestripperdidit says:

    Sweet mother of jesus!! Where do they find these mediators (and their genius (read: -absofrickenridiculous) ideas??!!) Good to know they all graduate from the same school of DUMB. Yes, after I complained about the dance pole installed in the children’s game room at dads..(“but mom, it is on a stage and dad gave me (age 8) $5.00 and told me to dance to High School Musical”….7 year old son said he thought it was a fireman pole…bless his heart) We were court ordered to mediation. We spent the big bucks and hired a Special Master whose advice was that we just needed more family time (because we “divorced eachother not the kids”) she court ordered me to make dinner for my ex once a week so we could eat as a “family”. “let me get this straight”, I said,” you want me to cook dinner, clean up after it and then watch him leave to go f&@k his girlfriend???? Exactly how is this different than being married to him…this is why I divorced his ass!!!” She told me she didn’t care about ME and reported to the court that I was hostile…(but the stripper pole in the game room…???…that was just fine!)
    No, feathers and dance poles are not okay! Parallel parenting and co-parenting only work if the other participant can grasp the basics of PARENTING otherwise it’s just parallel and co-douche (trust me I have a co-douche…but hey, he comes with a stripper and she brings her own pole ) ….mediation is a waste of time and money and mediators are on a sick power trip…wish I wasn’t the voice of bitter this morning….but years down the road now, I can tell you that it does get better (and now I sound like a public service announcement.)

    • Please, please know that when I write my book, there will be a whole section devoted to the stripper pole. Just more proof that you just can’t make this shit up! Awesome.

      And a Mediator actually had the nerve to order you to cook dinner for your ex?!?! OK, makes my mediation experience seem not so horrible. Thanks so much for the perspective!

  4. jenn says:

    Great post. Love your blog!

    1. YES! No, you’re not loopy. You’re a good mom.

    2. Move to Bermuda.

    3. In theory it sounds fine but I imagine incompetents like your ex will fall short no matter what the method.

    4. No…how is this person supposed to mediate without having any understanding of the issues? Lame.

    And feathers are never a good idea — not even for Steven Tyler!

    http://momshoes.wordpress.com/

    • Bermuda is an attractive option. I could just cite parallel parenting: “During my time, I choose to live in Bermuda…” I like it. ;)

      And totally agreed about Steven Tyler. Of course, he gives me the heeby jeebies anyhow, so the feathers just add to the creepy vibe.

  5. Connie T says:

    Did your daughter want the feathers and does she like them?

    • Good questions, Connie: Apparently, she had shared with my ex that she wanted feathers weeks ago when a friend (who has similar feathers) was over visiting. She did not share this with me.

      And yes, she does seem to like them.

      Now, here’s the issue: I am supportive of her making choices to express her individuality to a point (no tongue piercings, makeup, tattoos, etc.), but I should have had the ability to have important conversations with her before this decision was made. If she had come to me and discussed the prospect of feathers, we would have talked about upkeep, cost, the impression it might give others, etc. I probably would have asked that we buy the clip-in version first, and if she still liked them, we’d talk about the extensions. But at least I should have had the ability to have the convo.

      That’s all I’m asking as a parent. And I don’t think that’s asking too much. Or maybe it is.

      And btw, I’ve told my daughter she’s beautiful with them. And she is, because she’s beautiful on the inside and the outside.

      She’s just now feathered. ;)

      • Connie T says:

        I just saw a picture of Jennifer Love Hewit with feathers in her hair. It must be the new thing to do. I would think they would be a pain to clean and comb her hair. Tell the ex not to do permanent stuff to her hair without getting your permission. At least they didn’t totally change her hair like make it short.

        • Yip, it’s a pretty hot trend right now — but as you noted, permission would have been an important facet.

          And they’ve already made the move of hacking her long hair to a short, chin-length Marilynesque wedge without my permission. This is their version 2.0 of that awesome move…

  6. T says:

    There are certain things that Moms should have locked up with regards to their daughters…having the “you’re growing up” talk, first mani/pedi, exploring makeup and giving the permission to begin using makeup on a daily basis, purchasing her first pair of high-heeled shoes, prom/turnabout/home-coming/graduation/wedding dress shopping, piercing her ears and arranging hair cuts, color and/or hair extensions are among these. Just this past October I surprised my 11yo daughter with visit to the salon for a pink hair extension (proceeds donated to breast cancer awareness). It is because I treasured that experience, that I can’t help but loathe the self-righteous, self-centered, vindictive, puke of a woman that stole that memory from you. Simply put, it is not her place. She stole your husband, she steals your time with your children, she needs to know that continuing to steal mother/daughter experiences from you is not o.k. I’d ask Mr. Mediator Man to talk with his wife and ask her how she’d feel about losing these experiences. If he can’t read, perhaps he can at least listen.

    • Great comment, T…and now that I’m seeing your important mother/daughter highlights, I’m realizing I need to add some extra sections to my parenting plan! LOL.

      These are milestones and important bonding moments. I can imagine your daughter probably loved the pink extensions and the humanitarian undertone — what an amazing experience!

  7. Lee says:

    1. Yes. Reminds me of things my ex has done…like chopped off daughters hair shorter than a boy. This made me in turn put in our decree that he could not change my kids appearance.
    2. I would tell Marilyn that it was very nice of her to take my daughter, but please check with me first before altering her appearance again.
    3. Gotta do some research on parallel parenting, which is the new in thing, and am going to write about and use you as a link…hope you don’t mind.
    4. Mediators suck in general and yes he should have read everything. When you saw he didn’t, you should have walked.

    Just my thoughts from someone who has been there, done that and gone to court numerous times with an asshole ex.

    • Awesome feedback, Lee — thank you for sharing.

      I was tempted to walk out of mediation, trust me. And in hindsight, I probably should have. But despite everything, I’m still somewhat of a wide-eyed optimist, and I sincerely went into the session thinking the professional leading it would have a valid reason for not being prepared. But in reality, in the second session, he simply stated, “I have not had time to read the cases.”

      Not a valid reason. :(

      You’re more than welcome to link to my blog, of course…I’d love to expand the public discourse on parallel parenting, because I truly think the concept is taken out of context more often than not!

  8. PL Holden says:

    I just want to say, hang in there. A week feels like an eternity when you’re a kid (at least it did for me). I am thankful that I am with my kids everyday, but I can just imagine if I ever split with my common law wife, it would be like meeting new kids every week I bet.

    • I can’t thank you guys enough for the support — it’s so appreciated!

      And yes, you can only imagine how much the children change during a week…especially at the ages of 8 and 11 where my kids are. It’s crazy! They come home, and after the bear hug and button check, I immediately notice the little changes like more freckles on my daughter’s nose, or how my son’s pants are a little shorter. Then I start hearing expressions that I’ve never heard them utter before.

      It all makes me a little wistful, but it also helps me to focus on the important stuff in life — like appreciating the time I do have!

  9. When my daughter was 5, I once returned from a business trip to find my daughter’s hair was now purple. I was picking her up at preschool and my first thought was that some other kid had dumped paint on her head. But the teacher told me the truth: she came to school that way, her father and his crazy girlfriend had dyed my daughter’s hair. The teacher admitted to being shocked by it too, and said she knew I’d be mad when I saw it. Mad? I was livid, I was shaking, and when I confronted my ex, he saw no problem with it. They were unfazed. It was horrible.

    • Don’t you just love that special brand of self-righteous indignation? It reminds me of my 11-year-old, who gives me the, “What? You never told me that?” look when I remind him not to point the Nerf gun at his eye and shoot while looking down the barrel.

      Problem is, these people are adults (supposedly). My 11-year-old gets to be a little clueless, because it’s my job to teach him to act like an adult. But I shouldn’t have to teach these people how to be a parent — as you shouldn’t. We shouldn’t have to include clauses in our decrees that talk about purple hair or feathers. But we do.

  10. kbaran01 says:

    stumbled upon your post after reading a freshly pressed post you commented on. I’m not a mom but found your post humorous through what must be SUCH a difficult time. I can’t imagine, but I’m happy you have found blogging as a positive way to express yourself and your frustrations!

    Keep it going!

    • Well I’m so glad you stopped by, and I hope to see you around here again!

      Parent or not, you’re human — and I think we can all relate to some of these universal struggles in life.

      And blogging about it all DEFINITELY helps! :)

  11. littlejl says:

    Enjoyed your post as always! Hmm…lets see what I can come up with…

    Would you be upset if your 8-year-old child came home from a week at your ex’s home with his/her physical appearance altered — which happened without your knowledge? Or am I just loopy?

    It is just absolutely absurd. I would be infuriated. Where is the respect for you as the mother? Really, what was this woman’s intention? Does she not have any children of her own? I do not have any children, but I can tell you that we (woman) all have that “motherly love’ inside us and know the boundaries when it comes to ‘mothers and their babies”. If a woman does not feel this, she needs to get more in-touch with her “womanly” side. It is that deep respect that we should have for each other as woman…regardless of the situation.

    If you could offer one piece of advice to the ex or Marilyn, it would be… know your boundaries.

    Your thoughts on parallel parenting? I am very confused about this parallel parenting…if it means that there is little or no communication between the parents, I say it is NO good. No communication only leads to “silent revenge” which usually involves the children being used as scapegoats. This is the time where you all need to be communicating the most; but as we know it is so hard trying to communicate effectively in a bad situation hence the mediator. Wow, what an easy job for him…he needs to be fired.

    Remember: humans hate conflict, the reason is because most people don’t know how to communicate effectively in a conflicted situation because emotions run high and people can’t think straight. Use your savvy communications skills as your tool in this situation. The more you communicate one on one with her; the more she will not want to talk to you and more than likely all this crazyness will stop because she will not want a phone call from you.

    I would calm down — and after a few days call her and politely let her know how you feel about “changing your daughters” appearance without your knowledge. I might even start off by telling her that you were thankful that she spent some nice, quality time with your daughter, (oh…yes, I would) but I do have some concerns about her hair and I was hoping that we could reach an understanding? I would then document the conversation for future purposes. If she isn’t cooperative—this will not look good in court. If she refused to talk with you, then I would definitely bring this up in court, that you need to have communication with the woman that will be watching your daughter. Yes, we know your ex husband will be there–but really…who is usually “in charge” of the kids…the woman. This is not unreasonable to ask. You surely wouldn’t send your kids to a babysitter that you couldn’t communicate with?

    Anyway…I am sure it is way more complex…Oh…I do feel for you—hang in there.

    • What an amazing response. You know, for not being a mom, you sure seem more in tune with this all than some moms I know!

      Marilyn does have her own children, but she has clear boundary issues when it comes to being a step-mom. This has been clear since the beginning (with the haircut to match her own). I completely understand that being a step-mom must come with its own challenging nuances, but come on now…who does this stuff? Only a woman focused on the wrong thing: hurting me, not helping the kids.

      The fact is, I couldn’t care less about her, but the second my children are involved/manipulated — we have a problem.

      I really like your description of “silent revenge,” and I agree that it’s the parents who need to suck it up, focus on the kids and learn a new way of communicating in the face of something messy like a divorce. Don’t put the kids in untenable positions where they feel conflicted, and torn, and confused about boundaries and rules. We need to be the grown-ups here, which implies we need to be mature enough to respectfully parent together while separate. It’s not easy, or fun…but it’s the best thing for the kids.

  12. Laura says:

    Guuuuuuuuuuuurl! I so feel ya!
    You’re family drama is quite similar to mine. Several years ago, my ex’s new tramp, errrr girlfriend, took my then 11 year old daughter to get her ears pierced. I had already explained to my daughter and my ex-husband she couldn’t get her ears pierced because her ears had rejected piercings twice before. So when she came home with 2 holes in her head I was LIVID! And it burned my ass when I saw this woman’s signature on the “Parent or Legal Guardian” line. I wanted to sue the whole mall, beat my ex-husband’s ass, and kick his female dog – in the face. To make matters worse, days later when my child’s ears began oozing pus, neither one apologized or took accountability.
    When someone alters your child’s appearance, assault & battery should be justifiable (or at least the “rule of thumb” should be re-instated) so moms can totally “go there”.

    • Oh yeah, Laura … you can totally relate!

      Your story just makes me just sick. The sad thing is, the only protection we seem to have against possible scenarios like these are to ensure we are protected through our parenting plans. But who the HELL knows enough to anticipate ear piercings, or haircuts, or FEATHERS, for that matter, as a future point of contention???

      I don’t know about you, but my life is more or less ruled by common sense. Seems others in the world may not have that same sense about them…

  13. It seems to me that with an 8 year old changing their appearance on their behalf is a bit freaky. And whilst we’re on freaky, what impact does parallel parenting have on your children? Did yonder Mediator say ? Sounds to me like at the moment you have to make the best of a situation but you have to maintain some validity and that’s a tough balance to strike. Keep going, though.

    • I agree. I think the concept of parallel parenting, while on paper appears a good solution to keep the exes from interacting, only serves to create a silent power struggle. And the kids are caught in the middle, always forced to learn and adapt and determine whose rules are in place at what given time and point and place.

      The kids are not the ones who should predominantly incur consequences to the divorce. The parents are. Not punishment, but consequences for choices. I clearly chose badly, so I’m willing to accept those consequences.

      I am not advocating putting kids in a bubble of any kind. Yes, they have to learn to adapt to their reality. But no communication between parents only sets them up to be at the receiving end of some seriously mixed messages.

  14. markp427 says:

    First off: while Ariel is definitely a hottie, I’ve always been drawn to Jasmine. She’s exotic looking and shows her belly button a lot. Ooh-la-la.

    Now, since you and I are in similar situations (minus the bat shit ex issuing cease and desist orders), I feel more than qualified to answer your questions.

    1. Yes, that would be upsetting. I feel I have to issue a “no tattoos next week, please” clause every week my kids leave the safety of my home. ‘Cause you never know.
    2. Buy high, sell low.
    3. Parallel parenting just doesn’t seem to work. There’s a reason my ex and I divorced – we have vastly different ideas about The Way Things Ought To Be. I hear about my kids’ weeks Over There and I recoil in horror sometimes. The truth is, she does things her way, I do things my way, and never the twain shall meet. And button eyes are creepy. Loved Coraline, though.
    4. Mediator Man has no business mediating, man. Not without doing his homework first.

    • Typical man. Going for the belly-baring, exotic princess. What about the smart one, like Belle? Or the strong and silent one, like Ariel? Sheesh

      Anyhow, I can relate to your experience, and I too recoil in horror…all the time. But I’ve learned to choose my battles. Do I send the ex an email the second my 8-year-old daughter tells me that instead of encouraging her to shower more often than TWICE A WEEK, my ex has bought her deodorant? Nope. Do I fire off a text message because the kids say they have no floss, no fluoride and old, crusty toothbrushes in the other home? Absolutely not.

      But do I find an egregious situation like them changing my children’s appearance, or ignoring doctor’s orders, or putting the kids in harm’s way a necessary reason for interaction. Abso-fuckin-lutely.

  15. Michele says:

    In answer to your questions

    1) I would hope I would try to understand if I was upset because of my “crap” or if my daughter was upset as well. It goes one step further – Does she tell you she didn’t want it done beacuse she knows it is what you want to hear and she wants to make you happy? Did she actually want to cheer lead or was she forced into it? If she wanted to are you only upset because her step-Mother is the coach?

    At the end of the day I don’t think feathers are such a big deal if she wanted them – if she didn’t that is a total differnt story and I would be pissed!

    2) No advise – she doesn’t want any – they have their oen agenda just as you have yours. The less said the better.

    3) I think it sucks but if it is the best the parties can manage it is better than constat fighting and court.

    4) Not sure about Mediator. We used a mediator for our divorce and I thought they were fair yet my Ex hated them. He thought they were always on my side which just wasn’t true – I was the much less sympathic character in my divorce – I just came to the table in the middle already. My gut isn that he should had some history on you but don’t think he should have read either Blog – they are too bias.

    Thanks for the post. Very funny and when it gets to be too much put the kids to bed and drink some WINE!

    • Ah, wine is always a cure for what ails me! In moderation, of course… ;)

      Anyhow, obviously I’ve got my own issues tied up in all of this — I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t, and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t recognize that in part. But I do try my best to remove them as much as humanly possible when considering the big picture. I’m not upset that the step mom took my daughter to get the feathers…I’m upset that the other household didn’t consult with me, the biological mother, before changing my daughter’s appearance. I’m not upset inherently that my ex’s new wife was the cheer coach; I was upset that I didn’t get a voice in the decision to pursue cheerleading, and there was NOT full disclosure about what that situation would “look like” for me. Keep in mind, this was mere months after the divorce. And while I would encourage my daughter to cheerlead if that’s what she WANTED, I as her mother don’t have to put myself in the position of bringing my daughter to cheer practice with the woman my ex left me for. There are PLENTY of great cheer coaches out there, if my little girl is simply passionate about the activity.

      Does that make sense? I’m certainly trying to acknowledge that my feelings play a role … but the biggest factor is the children. Secondary to that is how I can make my life as happy and uncomplicated and separate from the “others” in my life as humanly possible, while also fulfilling my role to be a responsible parent who will need to interact with them from time to time.

      Which is almost always followed by wine, if the kids aren’t in my home. ;)

  16. I wish it could get better for you but since you have to deal with bat-shit craziness I think you are going to have to document everything. Dates, times, places, etc. and bring it up to the mediator if there is another time to get together for an update of the situation. What a shit-head, stealing your family because she couldn’t be bothered to get pregnant.

    • Thank you so much for the advice and support — much appreciated!

      I’m vigilant about documentation, so I’m definitely following that advice. And with any luck, mediation #2 was the final mediation. I will never subject myself to that again, if possible.

      And if I were forced down that path again: Mediation Man would not be the mediator. Period.

  17. Harold says:

    1. YES! Time for Momma Grizzly they are your cubs not hers!

    2. Figure out parenting and communication, it’s a skill, before “trying” it.

    3. See number 2. Plus it seems the word parallel in this case would mean “same, together” which takes communication and parenting skills. Again see number 2.

    4.Definitely NOT! I think he should have at least tried setting some ground rules that EVERYONE can agree to and build on that. Read the case first dipstick! Seems like rule number 1! Seems like cause for complaint. He was a loser.

    Maybe I should be a mediator!
    Big Daddy grizzly bear hugs to you my blog friend!

    • Harold, if you have even a fraction of the amount of listening skills as you have in woodworking skill, you’d beat this guy with one ear tied behind your back! ;)

      Thanks for the comment and encouragement. Grizzly bear hug received and appreciated.

  18. Number 1, Damn Straight. Number 2, That’s a hard one. Maybe read up on Parallel Parenting and what the hell does that mean anyway? Number 3, You should file for sole custody. Number 4, I’m totally amazed that “Mediator Man” didn’t read the cases. What was the point?

    I had joint custody of my two girls, and my oldest daughter has joint custody of her two children. My experience is, it doesn’t work as far as communication goes. You can’t control these things even in the best of situations. The little darlings always think that they can get away it at the other house. Who’s idea was the feather?

    • Definitely agreed — healthy joint custody is difficult, damn near impossible at times. But my point is that the parents are the ones who need to make compromises, not the kiddos. Or at least, as much as possible, the kids should be protected from the unnecessary fallout. Parallel parenting seems to remove much of the responsibility from the parents, placing the kids in the precarious middle ground between inconsistent homes.

      Yes, communication is difficult when you’ve gone through a messy, ugly divorce. But that’s our cross to bear as the parents. We chose to have these children; now we need to do whatever’s necessary to make it the best possible experience for them…not removing the pain, but teaching them how to deal with it in a healthy, productive manner. Not covering up the issues, but working through them in the best way possible.

      Thanks so much for the great comment and feedback!

  19. jennigetsit says:

    Hey there,
    Great post. I do not have a new wife involved with my kids, but there is stripper girlfriend. Last weekend when my 8 year old daughter came home from her dad’s house she said Daddy has a new friend. I asked her a few very general questions and left it alone. Not my business, right? Wrong!
    Addie, my 8 yr old, later told me that she had a hard time falling alseep at Daddy’s house, so Allery, girlfriend-stripper climbed into bed with her and slept the night. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t it Dad’s job to comfort our daughter? What made him think that our daughter would be ok sleeping with a strange woman in a still unfamiliar house? I left him a message, because he doesn’t answer unless the spirit moves him, and said I did not care about the girlfriend, but I was disturbed by the fact that he thought it was ok for his girlfriend to sleep with Addie. He texted me back and asked, “What are you implying? You are sick!” My soon to be ex is NOT the sharpest tool in the shed!
    Thank God for Divorce. I can’t handle much more than this.
    Jenni in Philly

    • What’s up with all my readers and their ex’s stripper girlfriends? I’m seeing a definite trend here! ;)

      Jenni, I can FULLY relate to what you’re saying here, and your “implication” to your ex is anything but “sick.” I can’t wait for you to see the example I’ll bring up in my next post about a potentially scary, harmful situation my ex put my kids in. Our paths seem parallel yet again, because of course, I can relate to your concern as a parent regarding potentially inappropriate situations. Why do these people insist upon putting the kids in a precarious position? Why not just be the parent?

      Keep reading, keep sharing, and keep healing, my friend. Divorce is the best thing that ever happened to me personally, but it’s the hardest thing that has ever happened to me as a parent. And the hits just keep on coming…

  20. Joyce says:

    I’ve been a fan of your blog since the post about NY Vows. Went on to read your entire blog and promptly subscribed. I doubt that you will be at a loss for subject matter as long as you are dealing with this pathetic woman and for that I am truly sorry.

    I must admit that I found her blog today and discovered that she posted today regarding the “feathering” of your daughter’s hair. Before I go any further, when I say her picture load on my screen, I immediately heard the sounds of snorting and whinnying. Yes, she is a dead ringer for Marilyn Manson. I was incensed by her post about the “feathers’ and further irritated as I read through her website. I wish I could post a link to her drivel-filled website but out of respect for you, I will refrain. Suffice it to say that her post about what was done with your daughter’s hair sent me into a state of high pissosity. I left a reply to her post as follows: (I substituted “Marilyn” to copy my post here). She claims that any and all responses are welcome. I DO wonder if my reply will be allowed to remain or be deleted to preserve her image. Blech.

    Oh “Marilyn”, what you have neglected to plainly state in this post is that this 8 year-old child is NOT your daughter, but your step-daughter. From reading your posts I glean that you let “your” children walk unaccompanied to a public park and play unsupervised? “Your” children play in a neighborhood where drug dealers lived across the street and you have a next-door neighbor who verbally abuses “your” children with profanity for playing hide and seek on his lawn? Two of “your” four children belong to another woman and from what I read of your posts, you have little regard or respect for this woman whose husband you slept with while he was still married to her. No wonder you are having such a hard time with this child’s mother. You’re using parallel parenting as an excuse to do whatever you want to do to flaunt your disregard and disrespect for her – or maybe as a cudgel to punish her for publicly exposing you. I’m well aware of this little girl’s mother’s blog. Your life has become public fodder and you have done nothing but fuel the fire by baiting her mother through her daughter and engaging in a war of the blogs. You cheated on your husband with her husband and now you publicly refer to her children as “your” and “our” children. You bitch and moan about not being able to deal with her a “psycho-ex”, yet you continue to bait her privately and publicly. Shame on you. More than that, shame on that lame-ass husband of yours for allowing his child to be used like this. If either of you had an ounce of integrity, you’d keep your mouths shut.

    • Joyce: What can I say except…Wow. Thank you. And one more: You are my hero. :)

      Seriously, I can’t explain how it feels to have someone I don’t know personally feel so passionately about what I’ve written that she seeks out information — and then goes to bat in my defense … and in defense of all sane ex-spouses everywhere. That’s simply spectacular. This is just one more reason on a long list that I am forever grateful for my blog and the people I’ve “met” along the way. Thank you for feeling an investment in my story and for proactively taking a stand.

      A few specific responses to your comment:

      1. Consider this: the pic on her site is the pic from her best day ever. Funny that you still see a resemblance. :)
      2. I have been pondering the idea of linking to her blog, because she has definitely put herself out there, it is a public website and it would add context to many of my points — like their “take” on parallel parenting, their sense of entitlement over my children, the fact that she offers MY DEAD GRANDMOTHER’s meatball recipe as her own, etc. However, I wouldn’t want to provide any more traffic than I already have from my super-sleuthy readers like you. We all know that she probably gets more traffic from my blog than any other source, considering the “drivel,” as you noted…
      3. High pissosity: I love it and I hope you don’t mind if I borrow it someday.
      4. I’m STUNNED (in my best attempt at a sarcasm font) that she hasn’t posted your comment. I’m also amazed at how she’s taking her audacity to even deeper levels, even emulating my writing style with her conclusion and call for comments in that particular format that looks eerily familiar. Hmm…imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as they say.
      4. Once again…thank you! I am forever grateful to you and all of my amazing readers. It seems every day I get great feedback, new subscribers and/or comments that help me put it all in perspective. I’m honored to share my story with an incredible and engaged audience.

    • thestripperdidit says:

      awesome…we shall have to compare notes on responses! Following the comment I left on self expression I received an immediate excuse…oops, I mean response.

  21. dtrasler says:

    Joyce, you rock! I was going to commiserate with Mikalee and point out that Madcap Marilyn seems determined to get everything as wrong and inflammatory as possible, but you go one step further and call her out on her own blog! Go Joyce!

    • Joyce does rock. But so do you. Hell…EVERYONE HERE rocks! You guys are so supportive and engaging and amazing.

      I heart you all. In only the way that my cold, black, shriveled heart can… :)

  22. groovyrick says:

    If you’ll allow me to be serious for a moment, uncharacteristic as that may be, I sincerely feel bad for you that you have to endure this whole situation. I know how difficult it must be, and if it helps, know that I’m sending good karma your way (not the Instant Karma that Lennon sang about…this is the pure stuff).
    To address your first inquiry, I can only tell you this: if my wife had taken my daughter to have something like this done without talking about it first, I would be upset. If someone who is not related to me or my daughter took my daughter out and did this, I would be MORE than upset. I know it’s a bad way to describe it, but it almost feels like an invasion of privacy.
    What advice would I give to Marilyn? The conversation would go like this: “Look, I know that you’re trying to establish some sort of bond with my children, and you may think that being the “cool” parent may help create that bond. But lack of discipline is not going to endear them to you. Sometimes saying “no” to a child, in a strange way, also shows them you care about them. Please allow me to make the big decisions concerning my children…you’ll make just as much progress with them by allowing them to choose between McDonalds and Burger King.”
    Parallel parenting…there’s a 21st century term if I ever heard one. I laughed when I first read your headline because I thought you made it up. Can we use it in other contexts? Parallel Parroting?
    And if Stevie Wonder came up to you and said “nice outfit but the shoes don’t really go with it”, would you put much faith in that? Same deal with the mediator. Utterly ridiculous.
    Sorry to be so verbose. To quote Bill Clinton, “I did NOT have sex with that young lady.” I know it has nothing to do with the situation, but I’m tired of looking for an opportunity to use that quote.

    • Groovyrick…What a fabulous comment, and I hope you know how much it’s appreciated! It’s always helpful to have the good thoughts and karma coming my way — even if it’s of the instant variety.

      A few responses:

      1. I can definitely see that it’s almost like an invasion of privacy, but it’s more just an overstepping of bounds. I certainly don’t expect to have input on the tedious day-to-day stuff that happens while my kids are in their custody, but major things that impact my time too — yip, that’s when I as the mother should be consulted. Period.
      2. Parallel parroting is perfect. Especially considering the feathers and all…
      3. Agreed about Mediator Man. I really expected more, and I would have at minimum expected familiarity with our case. Just familiarity would have been good. To come in blind (and all “Stevie Wonder,” to extend your analogy) was totally inappropriate.
      4. You can use a Bill Clinton quote any ol’ time you’d like on my blog. Glad to provide you a place…

      Thanks again for the feedback and support!

  23. Heidi says:

    My take on your post questions…
    3. I would like to coin a new term for the parenting your children are enduring…DIVURGENT Parenting. I don’t see much that is parallel about the whole situation you are dealing with…just two continuously separating tracks with the kids falling through the middle.
    1. You are clearly a good mom, and after reading Marilyn’s blog (bad writing and all), I can see why you have a problem with her “parenting” of your children. YOUR daughter is NOT her daughter. YOUR daughter is Marilyn’s STEP-DAUGHTER, therefore, she should refer to said daughter as “my husband’s daughter,” or “my step-daughter.” Maybe it is a vocabulary issue..did Marilyn have a sub-par education or is she just plain stupid? My qualifications for the above answer include having known you for over thirty years, being the step-parent of three, and being the step-child of two. Thanks for asking.
    2. Back the fuck off Marilyn. If you really love those kids, stop being such a selfish, narcissistic, bitch.

    • Heidi says:

      BTW, DIVURGENT should read DIVERGENT. In my fired up-ed-ness I neglected to proofread. Perhaps that should be called “pulling a Marilyn.”

    • Oh Heidi, I can always count on you for an amazing comment. Thank you, as usual. You make me smile.

      Divergent parenting is exactly what it is. I was looking for a term that would explain this just the other day with Boyfriend Brett…I said, “What do you call 2 lines that are going the exact opposite directions?” That’s it. Question answered. Problem solved.

      And yes, there’s clearly a vocab issue. But it’s been there since the very beginning, when ex and Marilyn were just engaged. I know I’ve referenced this before, but their cute little “wedding website” had pictures of my kids next to the words, “Our eldest son” and “Our beautiful daughter.” I almost died. They were not “their” children and never will be. They were certainly at the time “John’s eldest son and Marilyn’s future step son” or something similar. What is wrong with these people? They’ve always acted like I died long ago. And yes, I know they wish I did, but I’m still here — alive and kickin’!

      Thanks again for the comment and support, Heidi!

  24. MIssKay says:

    OMG the audacity of some people I swear. When is it ever appropriate to cross the parental boundaries of someone else is beyond me? I will tell you when…if the other parent is 1) deceased or 2) an addict…other than that the spouses of exes should just sit their backends on the sideline and do whatever it is they do (not butting into the parenting of their current spouse of course).

    Parallel Parenting sounds like a load of bullcrap created for someone to charge $8000 an hour for lessons on how to screw up your children. Co- Parenting can work as long as it is with the PARENTS. What happens when you two have 2 completely different sets of rules at your homes, how is this offering the child stability, what life skills is this teaching your children… so many questions no real answers.

    I am soon I will have to go through this crap with my cheating ex because he is really trying to steer clear of the courts. His trollup of a fiance thinks she knows best because she graduated from school with a BS in Psychology…she completely missed the fact that not only is Psychology is an area I am quite familiar, I am also very familiar with Law (Business and Family), so messing with me about my child is definitely not in her best interest ever. Now the ex, he is all for mediation and probably trying to use it as his soapbox, unluckily for him I have saved every email, text message he has ever sent me. Anywho, I hope you guys go back for some Co-parenting or else the kids are going to get really good at playing both sides.

    • Totally agreed — I realize it’s a difficult road being a step mother, but there are boundaries one just doesn’t cross. Like you said: unless a parent is dead or certifiable, and that’s certainly not the case here. Not yet, at least… ;)

      I had to laugh that your ex’s fiance has a BS in Psych…perhaps you can brainstorm parallel parenting with her? She probably knows just enough to be dangerous. And it sounds like the mantra, “document, document, DOCUMENT” has been followed in your situation, as it was in mine. I’m so grateful for being a packrat.

      Best of luck to you — keep us posted!

      • MIssKay says:

        That childless piece of a woman has no idea whom she decided to mess with…she doesn’t understand that I was with my ex for 6 years so I KNOW HIM, his ways, his thought process, his speech patterns, and further more when an idea is being presented from his mind or being implanted by someone else. She is trying to use my child as some pawn for his affection and unfortunately for her I am not dead nor am I an absent parent under any circumstance.

        Yes I had to document everything because he is just sneaky enough to not want anyone to see him in an anything less than favorable light. Infidelity aside, because you get what you give, my life has revolved around our son since he was born and that is they way i intend to keep it. My life was put on pause when I gave birth to him and if I want to have any of this so-called fun most adults speak of then I am just going to have to wait until he goes off to college.

        For now my life consists of mommy son quality time, cartoons, art time, and school work and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  25. RK says:

    Someone above said it best — that he would even consult his wife (to whom he is still married) about such alterations to appearance. As parents, my husband and I maintain a mutual respect which dictates that decisions like this aren’t made in a vacuum. We discuss haircuts, activity choices, media access and basically everything in-between and beyond. It seems intuitive that this respect be extended to a birth parent even during a co-parenting/parallel parenting/perpendicular parenting arrangement. It seems a simple, initial phone call or e-mail to discuss the issue could have avoided this whole drama.
    I would certainly discuss this situation with the mediator. I would also report the mediator’s lack of research on your case to his supervisor or the assigning agency (the court?). He should be reprimanded for his complete lack of professionalism and obligation to his duties on this case.

    • I think the key word in your comment, RK, was “intuitive” … but that’s assuming we’ve got someone on the other side of the equation who is using logic. Sadly, there is no logic there – just self-righteousness and self-aggrandizement.

      And I love it: Perpendicular parenting! Perhaps that’s what I should recommend to Mediator Man as the next “it” idea — right before I file my grievance. ;)

  26. thestripperdidit says:

    CURSE MY NANCY DREW SKILLS :) …and apparent inability to bite my tongue. (not really). I found her “delightful” and “educational” blog…and, as invited, I left a comment: “Seriously??? As long as you are a fan of “self expression”, let me take a moment to express my disdain for women (and I use the term loosely in your case) who sleep with other women’s husbands. (The actual dictionary term for it is SLUT…correct me if I am wrong. You appear to have a knack for having ALL the answers) I have an ever greater disdain for homewreckers who brazenly flaunt their lack of character under the guise of “Happy Family Blog” (Original idea, really, stroke of genius….however did you think of this?? There just aren’t enough blogs….oh wait, yes there are…) Kudos, your blog does bring me amusement….
    I particularly enjoy “Happy Family Blogs” that leave big gaping wholes ( equivalent to the size you blew into the innocent lives of 2 children) where truth should exist. (poetic license? narcissism? amnesia?) You are not the MOTHER of this “self expressed child”. (and frankly, between you and me (because we both know you wont publish my response….but I will you are NO mother!! Well, at least not a mother of quality because I don’t know many moms who would HURT a child by destroying their safety and security for their own personal “happiness”) Stop using this poor child as a pawn in a game against her REAL mom and fodder for your self righteous pathetic excuse of a blog. (Boy you cheaters all follow the same justification script don’t you??) (I am guessing it is the same script that told you that your “love” with someone elses husband was “destined” “special” and “meant to be”…hilarious!)
    I take solace in knowing that ultimately the “prize” you think you “won” in all this is nothing more than a coward who would cheat on his wife and throw his kids under the bus for his penis. Lucky you!!”

    • thestripperdidit says:

      Snort!! I have already received a reply to my comment. ( within seconds of pressing send….hmmm, must be a slow day in blog land)
      Mikalee, you have my deepest sympathy…why didn’t you tell us you were dealing with Charlie Sheen???!!!

    • Joyce says:

      Awesome! I think you’re onto something with the narcissism. This woman has a huge sense of entitlement, obviously no remorse and can serve up a heaping helping of word salad.

    • Wow … I’m really glad to not be on the other end of this note! ;)

      Seriously, I can’t thank you all enough for being so engaged in my story that you’re taking your own independent steps toward some semblance of justice for those of us “left behind.” (Not that I feel left behind — in fact, I’m thriving post-divorce — but you get my drift.)

      When you talk about the “justification script,” it reminded me of the Carole Anne Riddell and John Partilla story. This is so much the same. These people are all perfectly entitled to live their lives and be happy together — but to brag about their situations, even putting themselves in some sort of authority position or elevating themselves as experts … it’s delusional and bizarre.

      But I do want to ask one question of you and all of my amazing readers: What are your thoughts on the idea that giving her any traffic is actually just emboldening her, based on what I think we think we know about her (self-aggrandized, sanctimonious, narcissistic, etc.)? My guess is she’s reveling in it, because she is all about the attention (even of the negative variety). I swear, because you guys are all so great and sleuthy and invested, I’m convinced she gets hits every day only because of me!

      Now, she has put herself in the public spotlight, and you are all perfectly within your right as readers, citizens and humans with free will to do whatever you’d like. Just curious about your thoughts on all of this.

      Again: thank you. Your support means the world to me… :)

      • thestripperdidit says:

        Without a doubt I spoke my unedited mind, much the same as I did in response to the New York Times piece. I have limited (read…NO) patience for the glamorization of infidelity. That being said, I fully understand that I provided her narcissistic ego a super-sized meal of validation. Judging from her picture, she most definitely can not afford a super sized meal of anything :)…so rest assured that I have no desire or need to ever visit her “happy family blog” (that covers for her miserable shallow life) ever again. She can write for her 2 followers until the cows come home. Nor will I waste the energy to validate the response she sent to my personal email…baiting me… As I am not fluent in “stupid”, I see no point in further communication.
        I will however continue to snicker at her lameness while enjoying the talents of your writing skills as you brilliantly move forward with your life!!

        • …and you have absolutely every right to speak your unedited mind — and btw, I’m totally impressed with your mad Nancy Drew skillz! I was just curious about your take on her ego and how she most likely scoffed at it all. But you and I both know that even with the scoffing and narcissism, something is getting through to her. She is seeing firsthand that everyone here is going “WTF?” when it comes to their moves.

          Of course, I’m also assuming there’s rational thought here. And I think we all know that’s absent.

          Thanks, once again, for the great feedback. I’m so glad you’re here for the journey!

  27. Now I would be on the other side of this coin….
    Which is why I won’t go there… or be an involved “stepmother -by-choice”.
    After all, the sperm stalker personally chose me to be the step-mum by choice because I was already married to her sperm donor.
    I would probably treat her son to hamburgers, chocolate candy and licorice (oh, and dietcoke / zero)… because my husband loves that stuff too. Then, I would be called out for such horrid inappropriateness and intentionally inflicting harm to her precious mis-conception. As he is only allowed to eat healthy foods, like sushi.

    Again, I would be on the receiving end of distortions, lies and gross skewed innuendos…
    Which is why we are non custodial, no-contact “alienated” parent and step parent – by choice.

    • Thankfully (for me, at least), our situations are far different. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through — I can’t even imagine, nor can I imagine how hard it must be to be a step-mom in that situation (involved or not)…

  28. Ariel has, by far, the prettiest eyes of any of the princesses. Belle is second, but has the most selfless attitude.

    As for the stuff in this post that is not nearly as important as those things, my daughter lives primarily with her mom and stepdad. I would never dream of sending her home with a new haircut,although I did have to borrow some scissors at the zoo one time to cut gum out of her hair (she was sitting on my lap, I was chewing gum with my mouth open, the wind was blowing, you do the math), and no one ever said a word about it. Unless the birth mother is a nut or uncaring or the dad is the primary hairstylist in the family, it’s the birth mother’s prerogative. Duh.

    • …Belle is also smartest, I’d say. But I really like Ariel’s fiery nature.

      And I had to laugh at your story about the gum. That is totally understandable. I don’t think the ex and Marilyn could have a similar excuse about the feathers — unless they try to go down the path of, “She got pulled into a hen house, and came out feathered…totally by accident…”

  29. Dana says:

    Have to go to bed but wanted to say I would be FURIOUS! You are a much more composed, level headed woman than I am lol.

    • Oh, but I was FURIOUS…and thankful for the medium afforded by this blog to vent! Seemed smarter than venting my frustrations to these people who would only become more emboldened by the idea of pissing me off.

      Thanks so much for the comment!

  30. Kathy says:

    Hello Mikalee…
    Long time reader, first time commenter… :)

    I’m not sure if you remember, but a few Christmases ago we were at the same party and talked about this. I was in a situation that was similar to yours, except I was on the other side. (The difference being, his wife asked for the divorce and was definitely no longer in love with him). Since then, he and I have married and had a baby of our own. Being a step parent is a very interesting and tough job. My sister and her ex have a very difficult parenting relationship so I was terrified about how bad it could be. The kids have been fantastic, better than I ever imagined. And his ex, although she revised history and I became a “homewrecker”, has been truly decent during the two years since the divorce.
    I had to laugh about the feathers, because their mom had them put in his 8 year old’s hair (didn’t ask permission, but she usually handles all the haircuts). She dyes their hair, gave her son a faux-hawk right before our wedding and had her ears pierced last year (again, without asking permission) and buys the daughter hoochie mama shoes and her winter jacket was a fitted leather jacket. . Ummm…warm…. She also informed them that our baby was more likely to have birth defects or Autism because of my age.
    My thoughts on this is that there is a Mom’s house and a Dad’s house. You and your ex probably had defined roles when you were in the same household, and these should be a blueprint for special activities now. Time at Dad’s house is meant to be spent with Dad, doing Dad things. I understand that there are lots of activites that he probably had to learn how to do, but that should enhance his relationship with the kids. My hubby is a much better dad now that his is divorced than he was before. He’s really had to step up to the plate. Sure, I cook the dinners, do the laundry and help with homework. But he puts them to bed, gets them up, takes care of the showers/baths, special activites, etc. That’s his special time with the kids and I think they are all better for it.
    So, my answers to your questions:
    1) Yes, I would be upset. Permission should be asked and granted before altering her apperance. However, if it’s not in the parenting plan, put it in there.
    2) My advice: Help your husband be a better dad. Your job in this situation is that of a supporting role.
    3) I looked it up since it was a term I had never heard before. I think she read the same article since she used similar verbage as the author. She should not be proud and embrace paralled parenting since it was basically stated that this is a system for those that cannot play well with others. Really? You’re patting yourself on the back that you just decided that it was too hard and you were just going to take your proverbial ball and go home? Uh…okay.
    I did read a few of her blog posts and I think it’s interesting that while you are embracing your hurts and the funky ways you make the speed bumps in your life into triumphs, she is really invested in being perfect and right. I can see how you calling her out is really getting under her skin. You are messing up her perfect composition…you go girl!
    I do think the notebook idea is a really good one. It makes the kid exchanges much more businesslike and less dramatic. There is no…”don’t forget…” or “you owe me” or “why did you” moments in front of the kids. It was a life saver for us for awhile.
    4) Yeah, that doesn’t seem like the most professional way to mediate.
    I don’t understand how mediation that was over a few issues ended in, just don’t think about what happens in the ‘other’ home. I would suggest having very concrete things that you want rather than bigger ideas. Don’t just ask for her to respect your role as the kids Mom, but ask for autonomy or permission over physical appearance changes, or they need to ask permission for any activity that requires you to bring them anywhere on your time, or could cause physical injury.

    I really go out of my way to respect the kids’ mom. Even to the detriment of my relationship with them sometimes. We’ve had tears over her wanting to call me Mom, because I do all the things a mom does, or that my newborn son will get to call me mom, and they won’t. We settled on a different name, but not Step-mom.
    My husband asked me to please promise him to love his kids the same as my own, and I had to tell him. I promise to love them the same as before, and I do really love them, but I can’t love them as much, because with my son, I don’t have to share. I don’t have to edit what I’m allowed to tell them, I get to plan his birthday parties (something I love to do), I can help in his classroom, impart my values and not worry about if I get too close. It’s a tough line, sometimes.
    I am going to leave this long, rambling message with one thought. The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference. The more you can take emotion out of it (and yes, I know that is almost impossible because it is your kids) and look at them as people rather than the enemy, the better advocate you can be for your kids. Don’t lose the message in the indignation. :) Just my humble opinion as a devoted fan!

    • Hey, Kathy…welcome to the fray! ;)

      I absolutely remember our conversation, and as I’ve watched your story unfold (mostly on Facebook), I have thought about it often. I have the utmost respect for you and the way you’re handling it, and I also hope most step-moms out there know that I can only imagine how difficult (and often, thankless) a job this must be. I also feel there are some ways to do it that are inherently “right,” including holding at minimum a modicum of respect for the bio mom, following established rules, not disparaging bio mom in front of the children (including comments about increased chances for birth defects. Ugh.) But there are clearly “wrong” ways — mostly the antithesis of all of the above.

      And regarding the pre-weddding faux-hawk: How the heck did you prevent yourself from acting out in that situation? Good for you…

      Really, though, based on what you’ve said, I hope you know that you are doing what is good and right for the children. That makes you a wonderful person capable of seeing past yourself and your ego. This is just a step that Marilyn has refused to take, and in fact, she’s now going the opposite direction. She has decided that Mediator Man’s simply awesome term now allows her to do anything and everything — and of course, it doesn’t.

      Thanks so much for the comment — and it wasn’t long or rambling, as we get in great discussions here as you know! And while I agree with your comment about the opposite of love being indifference, as a mom, I can’t find that place right now. I couldn’t care less about the ex and Marilyn as people, and I wish them nothing but the best as they live their new-old-new relationship. But when it comes to my kids and the potential for harm or hurt or discomfort, I will be fired up until the day I die on their behalf.

      Take care. Congrats. And hug that baby for me! :)

  31. Oh, honey.
    Let me tell you something, I am the new-ish (8 months) live-in gf of my Mr. B, and half time caretaker of his lovely little ones, and I don’t even fill out their reading logs and such because I feel like if I were her, it would annoy me to see the new gf’s handwriting on my kids’ stuff. Maybe it is because I have children of my own that I’m super conscious of these things…it certainly isn’t because of the respect she’s shown ME or because I respect her absolutely crap parenting skills (seriously…this week alone, the kids told us they ate breakfast in the car twice, that they had to wake her up in the mornings, and when I picked them up from school in 9 degree weather one had no boots and one had no gloves…I mean, REALLY?) But she is their MOTHER and as such, I owe her respect and I take my place as a helper and a friend to them. Once we both volunteered in her son’s class – albeit on Mr. B’s custodial day – and I let the teacher know that since he was going to have his Mom there, I wouldn’t be attending. BECAUSE SHE IS THE MOM.

    Would you be upset if your 8-year-old child came home from a week at your ex’s home with his/her physical appearance altered — which happened without your knowledge? Or am I just loopy?
    Been there – done that – got the t-shirt that reads “I went off on my ex like a drunk biker bitch at a wedding reception and all I got was this crummy t-shirt”

    If you could offer one piece of advice to the ex or Marilyn, it would be…
    Listen to Aretha Franklin, darlings.

    Your thoughts on parallel parenting? Or on eyes being replaced by buttons?
    I am against eyes being replaced by buttons unless they are really, really cool buttons. On the other? My mantra for us is: You do your parenting thing, we’ll do ours, and if they have to overlap then everybody paint on a freaking smile, ok?

    Was I simply expecting too much that Mediator Man should have — oh, I don’t know — read our cases?
    Depends on how you look at it. It’s much like expecting our exes to act like compassionate human beings who once thought the sun rose and set on our asses. Does it seem reasonable? Absolutely. Is it really ever true in reality? Uh, no. Do you have a right to have a reaction to this that ranges from annoyed to outraged? Oooooh, yeah.

    Oh, and on the subject of the new woman overstepping bounds? Because I am outraged for you about the meatballs? The one in my life found my ONLY photos of my oldest daughter’s DECEASED father and cut them up for a scrapbook for my daughter. I suppose she felt entitled since she’d also slept with HIM. but that’s another story altogether…

    Sorry you have to deal with all you do, but thank you for sharing it, I love reading your blogs!

    • Oh sarcastabitch, you always make me smile… :)

      Here’s the thing: You mention getting the t-shirt that reads “I went off on my ex like a drunk biker bitch at a wedding reception and all I got was this crummy t-shirt” — well where the hell’s my shirt?!?! Actually, given the pending court case and all, I’ve tried to take the communication high road. Perhaps that’s the hold-up on my shirt…it’s in the mail, due for arrival post-court.

      Thank you for being an excellent example of what a “parent figure” should be, by the way. Your understanding that there are boundaries (even though it sounds to me like you have every reason to be getting a little loopy yourself just based on the incompetence you’re dealing with) — well, it makes me believe that maybe common sense isn’t just the stuff of fairy tales after all.

      And btw, my dead grandmother’s meatballs thank you too!

  32. aunaqui says:

    I don’t LIKE your posts. I love them. I simply ADORE them.

    Listen.. this whole court-case shannanigan, is stupid. You have the right to express yourself — your opinions, hurts.. your perspective, your frustrations. I thoroughly enjoy the glimpse I’m given into your mind, through your writings. You are an excellent writer and to silence such a strong voice would be murder.

    Anyways,

    I would be EXTREMELY agitated if my child returned from a visit with “ex” and was newly feathered. I mean.. having her haircut without permission would be bothersome enough – but the fact that the do resembles that of ex’s GF, wife, whatever, is just plain disgusting.

    Parallel parenting, the way YOU described it (where communication is minimal but not entirely done away with — important information is transferred from awesome mom to jerks and vice versa), is excellent and.. essential. The way theyyy have been doing it (putting themselves into positions of absolute authority and disregarding your part in parenthood), is bloody awful.

    I’m staying tuned!

    Aun Aqui

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you … for the compliments on my writing and the support. I can’t tell you how much all the feedback means — seriously, I’ve been dealing with this crap for so long, that sometimes I begin to believe their “lines.” I begin to believe that their version of “reality” is the real reality. So, it’s nice (read: AMAZING!) to know I’m not alone — and I’m not loopy. ;)

  33. anne says:

    First I have to say the feather thing – not on your daughter, just in-and-of itself, is funny, because my 13 year old was just trying to describe those to me yesterday and I was like “Wha??!” because I thought it sounded stupid and gross….feathers? In your hair? eeyyww…

    That being said, I would be pissed if my child came home looking different in ANY way… since they aren’t her only parents, these things should be discussed. If your daughter expressed to them she wanted that, they should have talked to you then done it next time as long as it was agreed upon. To me it just sounds like Marilyn will do anything she can to piss you off (and I’m thinking she already stole your husband, so leave it alone already, right?!)

    What would I say to the ex/new wife? Hmm… watch your back? Karma sucks?

    Parallel parenting…not really sure what that is, don’t need to know, thank God. Sounds like a good idea they’ve gone wrong with?

    And yeah, how can a mediator do any good at all if he has no idea what is going on? It’d be like me trying to negotiate a football player’s salary… I don’t get that game at all.

    I hope you never have to quit blogging! Because the truth hurts…. so stick it to ‘em!

    • Yeah, I remember when I was in middle school and I had clips that had long strings of feathers. But those were clips. They were removable, and absolutely were not affixed and left in for weeks on end! If my daughter had discussed the feathers with me, or if the ex and Marilyn has consulted with me, I would have encouraged the temporary option first, then moving on to the semi-permanent if and only if we had all come to an agreement. Ugh.

      I’m absolutely sure this move was very much about pissing me off, as the feathers were affixed only 2 days after I ended our mediation. So it was their attempt to revel in parallel parenting bliss. I wish them all the best with that.

      Thank you for the comment, Anne!

  34. timkeen40 says:

    You never want to see your kid grow up, but the best day of my life was never having to look my crazy assed ex in the face again! Keep on keeping on. You’re doing great.

    http://timkeen40.wordpress.com

  35. kadja1 says:

    You are doing great…I don’t know what state you are in, but mediator or not, when most go before a judge on something like this, the judge slams the non-custodial parent–especially IF *ahem* the child is getting picked on in school as a result of said change in hairstyle, color, etc…In many states when it gets to a judge, the judge will go for the jugular and tell the step parent that he/she has no rights to do this type of thing and that the other parent has to notify and get permission prior.

    I know a lady who got told by a judge that it was NOT her place to tell a 7 year old about the birds and the bees because the bio mom got highly pissed. After that visits were limited even further until the kid was 10. NO JURY would back them up because LEGALLY a step parent has NO standing. You could always get her hair fixed after 8 weeks and take her on to “Swift Justice” for the costs with Nancy Grace. She’d rip the ex and wife to shreds on that, I’ll bet.

    All I can say is that I’m glad my sons are GROWN. I won out and got sole custody anyway b/c of the drama around the ex…At least he wasn’t as whacked as Charlie Sheen…That’s all I’ll say other than that I’m sharing this blog!

    • A few things: First, thank you for the comment! It’s much appreciated, and I’m grateful for the perspective.

      Second, thanks for sharing the blog. We’ve got such a great and supportive community here, and it’s amazing how many people are undergoing similar situations — or have in the past. The more, the merrier.

      And finally, Nancy Grace — there’s an idea! I think she’d have a field day with them. And I actually met her once — I introduced her on stage at a local event — and she complimented my hair. So I already have a foot (or hair) in the door! :)

  36. NewReader99999 says:

    I came to your blog because I saw where you mentioned that you were being sued to stop blogging.
    I was fully prepared to hate you. Why?
    Because I assumed that you were a “mommy-blogger”, and that you were over-sharing personal things about your children online.
    I read every single post. (backwards)
    Was I surprized to see that not only are you not guilty of doing what I assumed you had done, but that I am on your side. On, (almost), all of it.
    So it wasn’t enough that Marilyn stole your husband, she wants to silence your voice too? Take-away your husband, take-away your children, take-away your blog…
    Its SCARY how obsessed this woman is with you.
    The PP-(parallel parenting) in your situation, looks to me like she doesn’t want you having too much/any interaction with HER husband imo. Insecure anyone?
    If it were me in the situation, I would purposely seduce this guy and have some fun, “for old times sake’-or some other ridiculous reason, just to give her a taste of her own medicine.
    And then make sure that she “accidentally” found out about it.
    I don’t think that blog-traffic means that much to someone like that, but you may want to protect her for your children’s sake.
    Seriously, she is someone that a lot of people would want to mess-with, and its not a good idea to sic. the internets on someone like that.
    I think you should treat her with pity, because it won’t be long ’till Mr.X is dancing ’round the flagpole with someone else if he isn’t already.
    She’s a temporary problem.

    • Well then, welcome to the blog, and I’m so glad you didn’t end up hating me! ;)

      Seriously, I appreciate the feedback — and I completely see where you’re coming from. My goal is certainly not to sic the internets on her … and if that were my goal, I easily could have used real names, or linked to her blog when she started the blog for a blog, or linked to her new blog when she posted my grandmother’s meatball recipe, or when she posted the justification for the feathers. People are going to find her if they’re so inclined, because she put herself out there and is posing as an authority figure. Not my deal.

      But, yes, I would agree that she seems a little too interested in taking everything from me. Just waiting for my bunny to be boiled…

      I do pity her. She is in the worst possible position, with a man who has cheated (whether physically or emotionally or both), a life that is a sham, a new “career” (writing) that she will undoubtedly fail at … it must be hard to be Marilyn.

      Thank you so much for the perspective. I hope you keep reading!

  37. darkmoon689 says:

    You have something that a apparently most people lack common sense, from reading yours and other people stories, common sense is not that common after all.

    Come on, BOUNDARIES is word Marilyn never heard of. But it’s not a surprise, I mean sleeping with a another man while your married, the other man IS married, she step-on and cross boundaries one after another and sadly she’ll cross many more before the dust settles.

    • You know, in terms of the idea of parallel parenting from the ex and Marilyn’s perspective, consider what’s missing: boundaries!

      If you have two parallel lines that never cross, there are no boundaries. Parallel lines that are 1 million miles apart are still parallel. This, I think, is why she LOVES this concept. She perceives NO BOUNDARIES.

      But there are, as you and I both know. Can’t wait for her to find out!

  38. Sally says:

    What a horrible situation to be in. I’d be livid if my daughter came home with a new ‘adult’ haircut. That being said I wouldn’t mind if it was simply a trim or new bangs ’cause that would save me taking her myself.

    As for you ex and his current misses. Relationships that begin as affairs have a VERY high rate of being unsuccessful, so says Dr Phil, so hang in there and chances are she’ll be out of the picture eventually, although not soon enough by the sound of things.

  39. I’d never read your blog before, but got to this parallel-parenting/feathers-in-hair one from your Freshly Pressed one – congrats!

    First: I’m a certified mediator myself (as well as a lawyer, but we take off our lawyer hats when we act as mediators), I volunteer at a mediation nonprofit (www.mediationcville.org), and can assure you that not one of our 20+ mediators would ever go into mediation without reading the case materials first. Even if it were a second or third mediation with the same clients. Mediator Man’s professional ethics drooped, there.

    If you return to mediation, demand a different mediator. Can you ask for two? – we work on a co-mediation basis, there are very few cases mediated by just one person.

    As to your other questions, I have my own takes – my youngest child is 18, I’ve been single parenting for 15 years, their stepmother entered their lives just five years ago – not far off yours and the rest of your readers:

    1. I would be upset. Stepmothers need to back off when it comes to children’s appearance, unless the mother has a very weak mothering skill-set, in which case – bless you, stepmom! When it comes to hair, too, that’s an especially touchy subject for moms, and our center has mediated cases where the mom was in tears of grief over the stepmother’s lack of hair boundaries. Hair is just fraught with symbolism (see: Samson and Delilah; Rapunzel; etc.). But the *boundaries* issue is what needs to be respected here. Unfortunately, the stepmom here doesn’t have healthy boundaries. Like a burglar, she clandestinely entered your metaphorical home and helped herself to your husband, right? This woman needs a firm message to BACK OFF, and that she has no right to fuss or finagle with the children’s appearances without clearing it all with you. She also lacks the right to refer to your children as her “children” – again, drawing boundary lines.

    2. Man up. Have more respect for yourself and your children than to act selfishly. They’ll be 25 years old in an eye-blink, adults well-equipped to judge your past behavior. Make your behavior such that they’ll be proud of you.

    3. No buttons. Parallel parenting is a technique for reducing tension, but when parents/stepparents go off on their own “me me me”, that *increases* tension. If you haven’t Googled “parallel parenting”, please do so, and look at the guidelines. I found one that says: “Each parent’s household functions independently; each parent is responsible for making decisions about the child during the time that the child is in that parent’s household. Don’t tell the other parent how to parent!” Fine in theory, but taken to its extreme you could have an injured child whose parent refuses to take him to the ER because “I’m responsible for making decisions, and I decided it’s not that bad”. Your ex and his wife must act more responsibly to co-raise happy, healthy, productive children. That means working well with you. It’s all about the sandbox. People who play well don’t *need* parallel parenting.

    Your kids are in a tough place. Make sure you daily hug them and tell them how much you love them. Practice calm. Take deep breaths. Look at mountains – they’ve been there a loooong time. Meditate. This will pass. In the meantime, do the very best job of both loving and guiding your children. They’ll recognize – man, will they! – what good parenting is, and eventually they’ll thank you. Mine have.

    Lastly – please take a look at my blog … thanks!

    Patrice

    patricekyger.wordpress.com

  40. 1hpb says:

    I just came across your post. I’m sorry. Not that I found you, but that you are being stifled in so many ways.

    It sounds like you are in a tough situation.

    I bet Marilyn is a little better than you give her credit for (a conclusion based exclusively on this post and my own experiences with step mothers). Let’s blame your ex.

    I’d reach out to both individually and with limited emotion bc you do not need to give them more fuel for the fire, and just ask that they include you on such decisions. And if they have even an iota of doubt, they can text you. I’m sure your daughter probably asked Dad because she assumed he would say yes.

    Parallel parenting is tough. remind each other that you are on the same page with the same goals to raise the best kids and even if the two of you cannot get along, you can pretend and respect each other for the kids’ sakes.

    Good luck!

    HPB

    milfalert.wordpress. com

  41. hrhdaf says:

    Hey Michelob (with a long E),
    Dammit woman you owe me four hours sleep (UK time please)! Stumbled here last night via Freshly Pressed and ended up reading your entire blog, bottom to top as instructed cos I’m quite good like that. Also read pretty much all the comments.. and also ended up having a wee looky at Marilyns blog. Well I’m nosey so sue me (which is a kinda inappropriate thing to say to you thinking about it).
    I love how you write. I don’t think you’re bitter at all. I hate reading bitter blogs. What you are is angry, hurt, sad, funny, brave and dealing with things as best you can.
    It’s been over 15 years since my shite divorce, but at that point I could have given you a run for your money in the ‘shit divorce’ stakes. Funnily enough the split itself was pretty painless, it was the following court case over visitation that had me tearing my hair out. We did mediation (during which I made the mediator cry at one point… yeah I’m that girl ;)), a social workers report and various visits to court. There was also a hair cut, which sadly was carried out by ex’s grandma with what only can have been a pair of pinking scissors and had to be remedied. We were acused of abuse and ended up with the police at the door, and my ex’s mad parents even discussed abducting my daughter abroad. Living hell it was at the time, and I spent many evenings just sitting and crying and feeling like I didn’t have to strength to keep fighting, but you do cos it’s for your babies.
    Like I say this was a long time ago, so I think there are a couple of things I should share with you…
    You aren’t bitter. Thats a choice you can make in a few years time.
    I have never forgiven my ex for the way he went on, I can happily say I hate what he put my daughter through and would love it if a cartoon piano dropped on his head.
    You will learn to trust again, it just takes the right person to fix your heart and that can take years but it’s so worth it when you get there.
    You’re a great writer and the honesty of your words jumps from these pages. Marilyn is not and her spite and delusion jumps from hers. I mean really? He stayed with you all that time and never really loved you? I see someone in denial (and yes in my head that was typed in a sing songy childs voice).
    My daughter is now 20 and has repeatedly amazed me with the things she remembers. Children are really smart, I’m not gonna say resilliant, just smart. They realise much more than we think. They grow up, look back and know who did the right thing. You can trust your children will too.

    Right this comment seems to have been a bit longer than I meant it to be, but then Im leaving one comment for a whole blog so there’s alot to squish in!

    Hugs Daf

    PS I laughed my butt off at your penis crown
    PPS I also may or may not have my childrens baby teeth in an envelope in a drawer somewhere… yeah icky I knoooooow!

  42. surely your child should be returned to you in the manner in which you left her? feathers?! thats ridiculous. whats next? it seems like insanity is spreading …

  43. First of all, you should never stop blogging. You’ve got a great sense of humor, and it needs to be shared. I can’t imagine on what grounds someone could claim to take your blog away from you.

    Second, to answer your questions:

    1. Would you be upset if your 8-year-old child came home… with his/her physical appearance altered?

    Absolutely. No question. Doesn’t matter if it was a teacher, a babysitter, a grandparent — these are decisions that necessitate the mother’s approval. Your approval wasn’t sought, which makes your ex’s actions malicious.

    2. If you could offer one piece of advice to the ex…

    Grow up. Respect is a two-way street.

    3. Your thoughts on parallel parenting?

    This is the first I’ve heard of this concept, which naturally makes me curious, and a little leery. It sounds good in theory, but only if it’s done openly and with all the best intentions. Maybe if you could provide an example where it actually worked (as in, not in your ex’s case!) I’d see it as a good thing.

    4. Was I simply expecting too much that Mediator Man should have… read our cases?

    Hate to say it — but yes. I think so. And I know that’s sad. But it just seems to be the way things work. Even doctors review charts as they’re walking through the door to check you out. It’s hard to fit in time for reading, though it couldn’t be more important. And I wish things were different. Sounds like all you’ve got to go on is what you can manage to say during an actual meeting.

    Hang in there!

  44. Richard says:

    Spot-on, and still damned funny! 3-D animations are what puppets and clowns would watch, which is why I cringe a little and tend to shy away. It seems like each year, “the experts” get stupider and stupider. “Parallel Parenting”, my ass! You’re fighting the good fight and inspiring many (while making them grin). Keep it up!

    This is the “Richard” from the blog formerly know as The Richard Project. I thought I could challenge you for the medal because my own “break-up” (divorce still pending) seemed to at least match your crazy bat-shit (bat-shit crazy?) events one-for-one and them some. I’ll just say it’s got Facebook (blah), reunions, long weekends, the beach, Hollywood D-listers, face-plants and normal-to-nutso in three weeks flat — to describe just the tip of the ice-berg.

    Turns out, I just couldn’t tell the story after all. I’d like to, but while you make “jaded” funny, my writing isn’t up to the task (and neither am I — at least not in the foreseeable future). So rather than spiral down (which my posts were doing) I scrapped “The Project” and [am trying to] re-focus on some positives for myself, first. It’s a stretch, but we’ll see.

    In the meantime, I take solace, wisdom, and humor from your blog about life’s cruelest twist, and try to find the up-side for myself in a new way. Well, the red wine’s starting to do the talkin’ so . . . :-) Let me just leave with a heartfelt “Thank You.” Rock-on, Mikalee, rock-on!

  45. Salmart says:

    LMAOSHMSFOAIDMT
    (Laughed my arse off so hard my sombrero fell off and I dropped my taco) That’s what happened to me when I found Marilyn’s blogs. Is she just doing it to amuse us? What a hoot. Has she heard of ‘spell check?’. Does she really think anyone is interested in her spin on petrol prices, shoes, helicopters, sex (inappropriate sex, she might be an expert in), cooking, parenting (that’s her best thing since she sacrificed stability for her ducklings to seek selfish pleasures) and what ever else pops into her peabrain. No doubt her ONLY traffic is your followers howling with laughter!!! She begs her ‘readers’ to write in with their ideas after hearing hers. She’s written umpteen blogs lately & she’s got about a dozen replies in total for month’s of blogs. Some disagreeing & the others are replies from her. You on the other hand, who ARE AMUSING & WRITE WELL and have great posts of SUBSTANCE have got over 500 comments on your last 5 posts and over 1500 in total. (Yes I counted). Marilyn, watch my lips. You average zero comments to your tripe ramblings. Yep; zero, O, bagel, none. This web site is snowballing and will soon have hundreds of contributors to each post. (152 for one already.) So it is 0 to 152, that’s a close contest. Is it time for Marilyn to pull her head in to save her being the laughing stock of the country or will she continue to amuse us all?

    And here’s another laugh for us all on here. She wants YOU to stop blogging so LOUDLY. Yet she is writing posts about you (the psycho-ex) causing her grief (boo-hoo) and goggling her!!! LMAOSHMSFOAIDMT!!!!! She even posted a photo of YOUR daughter on one blog with the skanky feathers in, admitting she alone took her to be butchered. The photo may not show her full face but it’s very descriptive and an absolute appalling affront for her to be posting it. And SHE’S taking legal action so you will SHUT THE FUCK UP! Rich!!!!

    Marilyn. Please. Your posts are so pathetic & tragic, and so add to Mykalee’s posts validating them all and then some. Inviting comments & never getting any, that’s so classic. Thick as a ‘brick’ to still be competing, I’d say. I would have called it quits after you won the ‘loser’. That was as good as it got for you.

  46. Mikalee,

    I’m so sorry your ex and his current wife are putting you and the children through this. It is flat out appalling.

    I’ve been fortunate enough that my soon-to-be-ex and I enjoy a healthy co-parenting arrangement. To use this example, we discussed the need for haircuts, she (my stbx) made haircut appointments for earlier today (it was her weekend with the kids), and I came to take the before-and-after pics because it was the first haircut for our youngest.

    It seems to me you have an absolutely appropriate take on all of this, based upon what I’ve read elsewhere on your site: you don’t disparage the “other parents” to the kids, you remain the best mom you can be to the kids, and they will, in the fullness of time, reach a point in their lives when they will see reality for what it is. This is good for you, and good for the kids. As a general rule, parents who try to alienate their kids from the other parent end up not only harming their children’s self-image and relationship skills, but also end up alienating themselves from their children. You are doing the right thing by not being baited.

    And they are doing the wrong thing by misbehaving like this. And for that, I am so sorry.

    As for mediation… our mediator, like yours, half-assedly works on what little homework he does at the very last minute, and incompletely so. During one session, he led us down a path through a proverbial minefield and then, at the end, read our stated “big picture goals” from a previous session — only to realize that everything he had encouraged my stbx to consider not only violated all three of my top stated goals, but would, in turn, lead to violating my stbx’s stated goals, as well.

    We have only one more session with the mediator, and we want to get this over with. Otherwise, I’d have fired him then and there. As it is, I’d have fired him anyway if a calm discussion between me and the mother of my children hadn’t ironed out the bad blood he’d stirred. (How’s *that* for a mixed metaphor? Although, technically speaking, blood does have iron in it….)

    Hang in there, Mikalee. Stick to the higher road with regard to the children and alienation. And, when you find an opportunity, do try to state clearly to the other parents that their presumtion and their attempts at alienation are harming the children. Whether that’s stated through court order or polite conversation, it needs to be delivered.

    Good on you for keeping it together throughout all this.

  47. Tammy McLeod says:

    Mikalee,
    You are a gifted writer and I think writing about your bat-shit events is helpful for you and others. I’m sorry that you have to go through this and the feathers. Keep writing.

  48. Pingback: Parallel Parenting Part Pooh. Oops, I Mean, Part Two: Crossing the Line « Me 2.0

  49. Lee says:

    Mikalee, I just found her blog!
    At first I really did think you might be a little crazy, but… she REALLY looks like blonde version of marilyn manson. In the pictures she chose herself!!!!
    And it’s hilarious that she sees herself as a perfect wife/mom. Honestly, I felt a little afraid, after reading her blog. She seems really.. off?.. posting such obvious replies to you… Are you sure you can’t get a court order to get her checked for some mental illness?
    I know kids need both parents and all, but… A “vampire” like that can be very dangerous. Not just psycologically!
    My ex-husband and I struggle because he’s insanelly jealous of the kids and I’m more rigorous in terms of discipline, but we’re both mature enough not to let our current partners intervene much in our children’s education.
    By the way, pleeeeeeeease tell us the crazy pastor thing!!!

    • LOL, Lee…yip, pretty crazy stuff, huh?

      Just wait until you read my next blog post. You just can’t make this shit up!

      I’m so glad you and your ex have learned how to handle it all — in the best interest of the children. You mentioned “maturity,” and I completely agree. Congrats on finding that place.

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  51. Spence Jackson says:

    Great stuff; clearly therapeutic for both communicator and communicatee !! Looking forward to hanging out here more..Wasn’t it Sir Lancelot who coined the pen mighter than the sword. I may be thinking of the wrong movie. Thank you for the time you invest, your willingness to share…

  52. Vlady says:

    What a nut case! Is there actually a blog that she writes? Please someone do give me the site. She has to be nuts.
    One word…karma. Anything that starts of wrong will end up wrong. Give it time. It might not be today, tomoorow but it will happen. FYI. My ex is divorcing. He has been accused of cheating. Imagine that!

    • Oh, yes…there’s a blog, chock-full of insights into her psyche…

      And you’re absolutely right about karma. It does tend to get us, one way or another — right? Sounds like you might be enjoying this latest chapter in your own story — too funny! I wish you continued healing…

  53. Tigger says:

    Oh my dear dear Mikalee… the horror stories I could share. I too have been down this sticky road with an ex and wifey that are…. well, insane.

    The first incident (and yes, I said the first) came when my MD was about 7 and she showed up at my home, her beautiful curly hair in… wait for it…. corn rows. Seriously… micro braid cornrows that took me hours of pain and crying to get out of her hair. I cant tell you how many things wrong with this there is, but maybe I will share that with you in a more private setting so you can truly understand the horrors that cornrows on my children are.

    We couldnt get all the braids out that Friday night, and she had to be up early for a softball game the next day… (another bain of my existance….. exhubby and extra curriculars.) Half her head was in rows, half wasnt… they were taking pictures of the team.. this was a mess. Ex and then girlfriend were at the field and when she saw MD, she, of course whispered some rude comment to ex into his ear about her hair. Yeah, wifey is a hairdresser, so it’s OK for her to ruin MD’s hair.

    We battled of this… in court papers, and I finally had to let it go…… I could not longer go through his (and her) bull, I would take the kids hair down, she would redo it. It was a power struggle and I got sick of it.

    I have had to let a lot of things like that go for the sake of the kids. But as with you, my ex and wifey seem to think parallel parenting = do as I damn well please.

    As for mediation… yeah, nice try. The 3 times I have been in mediation before it’s been a joke. They dont know our case from adam, heck, the last mediator didnt even know our judge….. GEEZ……

    Thanks so much for writing this stuff.. because, no you cant make it up. And because it sounds so outrageous sometimes, people think you are over reacting…..

    Cant wait to read more

    • Screw the parallel parenting concept — I think we have parallel lives!

      I almost died reading about the corn rows. I don’t even know what I’d do — well, I’d probably do as you did, actually. And when you mentioned the ex and the extracurriculars: that’s SO my situation as well!

      The sad part is, these people have no idea that the person in the middle of the power struggle is totally innocent. The kids don’t want to be used as pawns in an immature game — it just makes me so sad!

      I’m glad to see there are others out there who share my philosophy: that sometimes, it’s better to give in for the sake of the kids. It’s not the easy decision, but it’s the right one.

      Congrats to you. I’m so sorry for the pain, but I’m so glad you’re here and reading!

  54. All round amazingly written blog post

  55. Pingback: Shit My Car Stereo Says « Me 2.0

  56. Pingback: It’s Love-Hate Monday. And You Might Just Love to Hate This Post… « Me 2.0

  57. a) MY favourite Disney princess is Jasmine, because she’s so proud, assertive and free-thinking, b) Parallel parenting only sounds like a good idea if it’s highly monitored, and you are certainly not asking too much that your mediator read your cases on a sensible level (though people be cock-sure stupid people) and c) I would probably only care about my hypothetical child’s altered appearance if I or the child had a problem with the way said child looked.

  58. Bipin Sekhon says:

    You are so funny!!! I’ve become obsessed with your site and I spend most of my work hours reading all your posts. And I made a blog account JUST to post comments. I wish I had found you sooner, and I wish you posted as much as you once did! You must be always busy now though because you are so famous!!

    • I’m funny? No, you’re funny — I’m definitely not “famous” (maybe one day? fingers crossed…), but I absolutely am crazy-busy with my full-time freelance writing career. Hence the lack of consistent posting…

      But I LOVE that you’re enjoying the site, and I love even more that you made a blog account to comment — thank you so much! I hope to see you around the blog again…soon… :)

  59. Kayleigh says:

    Ok, so I know this post is old… But I still feel I should comment. I agree, that your kids’ stepmom shouldn’t have taken your daughter to get feathers without asking you. At the same time, they can easily be removed with a pair of pliers without damaging the hair.

    Question: What if the story you have so elaborately described in regards to button eyes is how my husband and I feel when he picks his kids up from his ex wife’s house? Do you feel it is acceptable for a mother to cut hair/color hair/pierce ears without asking her ex husband first? That’s the situation my husband is in. His ex wife chopped their son’s (who is 10 years old, might I add) hair into a drastic mohawk and dyed it blue and black. The same week, she also colored their 12 year old daughter’s hair bright, flaming red. My husband was so mad, shocked, and upset. If you were in the dad’s shoes, what would you do?

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