Chapter 32, april

“You may not always understand why God allows certain things to happen, but you can be certain that God is not making any mistakes.”

Have you ever wanted something so bad, but deep in your heart you felt it could never happen?  That is exactly how I felt about reaching a positive co-parenting relationship between John and Loren.  It seemed the harder I tried to forge an alliance, the worse it became.  It was always one step forward and twelve steps back.

Jagger’s birthday was approaching, so I had the brilliant idea to extend the olive branch once more.  We were taking him out for a pizza dinner, per his request.  I sent Loren a text inviting her to celebrate with us that evening.  She provided no response, and the hint was received.

John’s parents were going to be visiting for the weekend to honor both John and Jagger on their special days - their birthdays are only one day apart.  John ran to the store to get a few things in preparation for their stay.  Loren sent him a text asking to FaceTime with Jagger for his birthday.  John explained that he was not at home, but she was more than welcome to try my phone. 

After four missed FaceTime calls from Loren, John called me asking if I would have the boys FaceTime her from my cell.  I gave them the phone and explained to them how to place the call.  A few moments later they came running downstairs screaming, “mom did not answer.” 

I helped them call three more times, but each ring went unanswered.  Loren later explained to John that FaceTime and phone calls would be between his number and her number; I was no longer allowed to be involved. 

As if the week could get any worse, we received a letter in the mail from John’s attorney.  Loren was requesting a Modification of Custody hearing.  It did not upset us that she wanted to modify the current order, what upset us where the things that were stated in the claim.  The justification behind her request, other than the fact that she was the children’s mother, were not all true…at least they were not in our minds.  

The letter stated that Loren had moved into the same school district as we lived in – not accurate.  Then, that John refused to communicate directly with her – that was not entirely true as both parties refused to communicate at times.  Also, that John refused to co-parent with her – we found that to be completely absurd given all the times we had begged for that very thing.  Last but certainly not least, that there had been periods of no incident – false!

The waiting game began once more.  This would be one more instance that we would wait for the next phone call, email, or letter to advise us when to arrive at the courthouse for the fate of our children to be decided by strangers.

 A few weeks passed since we received the letter from John’s attorney.  One day, out of the blue, John got a text message from Loren.  She asked if he would be willing to meet and discuss some things with her.  He asked me what I thought about it, and I could barely contain my excitement and let him finish his sentence.  Of course, we want to meet with her!  This is what we had been praying for.  Finally, she was ready to come together and join forces…or so I thought.

John responded to Loren letting her know that we would love to meet with her.  He included that we were so happy she was willing to discuss co-parenting with us because it was so important for the children to see us all get along.  

Loren shot a quick text back to John stating that there was no “us” included in this meeting.  The meeting would be between the two of them, and his barking chihuahua was not invited.  So much for a truce.  She had me mistaken; I was no barking chihuahua!  I was a scalded ape, and I was ready to pound.

I did not forbid John to meet Loren without me present.  It was a mutual decision that was fueled by a lack of trust and the disrespect of his wife.  In my mind, I was now very much a part of their children’s lives.  Any decisions that were made regarding our relationship should include myself.  I completely understood that I would not be incorporated in every aspect of their parenting, but I believed that certain decisions should involve all active parents – to include bonus parents.

 You could almost predict the weather based on our ability to get along and co-parent in a positive manner with one another.  It was tit for tat on every single thing imaginable.  If Loren upset us or did something we did not ‘approve’ of, we would retaliate.  If we did not do something that Loren felt we should, she would find a way to even the score.  I knew that I would inherit the repercussions of John refusing to meet with Loren alone.  

And I did…in the form of complete humiliation.

As I mentioned previously, John and I blended our families in the form of a new age Brady Bunch.  We had so many children, and they were involved in so many activities that things were bound to overlap.  With our full-time jobs – and a full-time nanny – schedules became very hectic around our house.  We did our best to juggle careers and kids, while trying to maintain a happy and healthy marriage.

Jackson and Tanner had soccer practice, and Jagger had baseball practice, and they fell on the same nights.  Thank God for Roy!  When he was not away on orders, he was Super Dad.  He was always the first to offer to take Tanner wherever he needed to go.  On one particular night, all the children had been divided and paired with their taxi partner – Roy took Tanner, John took Jagger, and I took Jackson.  

That day, I drew the short straw.

Loren decided to attend Jackson’s practice that evening.  I knew there would be trouble the moment I watched her strut down the sideline in my direction. She began by reminding me that I did not belong there, followed up with, “If John is unable to bring Jackson to his scheduled practices, I will be bringing him from now on because - I AM HIS MOM.”  

I simply explained that if she had a problem with me being there that she should take it up with John, - being that she chose to no longer communicate with me - and I politely asked her to get lost.  She then accused me of not allowing John to talk to her, and followed that up with - whether I liked it or not, she would be telling me what she had to say.  I told her that as long as I was John’s wife and Jackson’s stepmother, I had every right to bring him to practice.  Loren reminded me again that I was not Jackson’s mother.  

In a fit of anger, I reminded Loren that she did not have custody of Jackson, his father did.  Therefore, I would be doing what I was advised to do by his father.  It was not very often that I stood up for myself against Loren.  I had let her say and do things to me that I normally would not allow.  Just when I started to pat myself on the back because I thought I had uttered the last word, I found out that she had packed an ammo can full of bullets that day. After a brief look of shock, Loren stared right into my eyes and said, 

“Oh my goodness, what happened to your lips? They look terrible. Did John hit you?”

I am the type of woman that will be very honest with anyone about any procedure I have done to my face and body that in any way enhances my appearance.  I would prefer to answer those inquiries via private text, email, or phone call. I am not the type of woman that will stand in the middle of a soccer field full of other judgmental soccer moms and scream to the top of my lungs, “How do my lip injections look everyone?”  I was proud of my puckered pout, but as with any insecure woman, I took Loren’s harsh comments to heart.  I left that soccer field that day even more deflated and insecure than before.  

Well, partially deflated – because my lips were beautifully voluptuous!  

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was still trying to comprehend that I was becoming a woman whose daughter was having a baby.  I wanted to be excited by this gift from God, but the timing was off!  That was not the plan I had written in my mind.  Maybe that explained my sudden interest in Botox and lip fillers.  I felt the urge to prove that I really was not old enough to be the ‘G word’.  I could accept it or not, but in a few short months there would be a tiny baby calling me…something I would determine later, but it most definitely would not be GRANDMA!

 John and I met the young boy that had created life with my daughter.  He seemed just about as thrilled to become a father as I was to become whatever I was going to become.  

The biological father wanted Taylar to consider her options.  Taylar very quickly let him know that the only ‘option’ she was considering was that she would be giving birth in a few months – with or without him.  In that moment, I had never been prouder of my hardheaded, middle child.  The young fellow also let us know that his parents were highly disappointed that MY daughter had ruined HIS life.  

Here is a little biology lesson friends:  When two people love each other very much, a stork comes down from Heaven and drops a baby on your doorstep… – NOT!  Ladies and gentlemen, it takes two people to make a baby.  I realized it had been a while since I was ‘with child’, but I certainly remembered how they were conceived.  That was strike one against the other side.  

I am not sure if it was out of pure fear of me and my daughter - who was becoming more like her mother with each passing day - or if this young boy just had a change of heart.  Whatever the reason, he decided to join in on the pregnancy festivities.  The first was the surprise gender reveal.  

Jerry and I were given an envelope at the ultrasound with the secret we would hold until the special day.  We ordered smoke and confetti filled mortars that would divulge our best kept secret - the sex of our grandchild. The big announcement was videoed, followed by a photo shoot with the results – It’s A Boy!  

The excitement of an upcoming, blue bundle of joy was short-lived.  

I received a phone call from the biological father’s mother.  This call would result in strike two.  It came in the form of mom-shaming.  This woman, bless her heart, decided that it was MY fault that my daughter got pregnant.  Yes, as a matter of fact, I do recall sitting in the corner cheering them on.  

Ewww, GROSS!!!  How absurd.  

I had remained as calm as I possibly could while she discredited my daughter’s reputation and insulted my parenting abilities.  Until that day, no one had questioned my potential to raise good humans.  I thought I had done a pretty good job.  I was raising two respectable daughters: one was in college and the other on her way, and neither were on drugs nor in jail.  I would call that a win.  The magic words that set me off were when she asked what Taylar’s three dads thought of her ‘situation’. 

Alert the media!  This is front-page news!  
Yes, I have been married three times.  
No, I am not particularly proud of that.  

However, my marriages were none of this stranger’s business.  They were between me and my three husbands.  Oh, and apparently the world wide web. I quickly and not so politely put this woman right in her place.  She was urged to forget my number until she rounded up the courage to expel a very lengthy apology to me and my daughter.   Strike three would come a few months later, when she poked a momma bear, her cub, and a great big grand-momma bear!  We will get to that another day.

 All the chaos under this one roof was more than anyone could handle.  It was time for a family night out!  Everyone was loaded up and we were ready for some fun.  That evening, we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company like most normal families do.  However, it would not be ‘us’ if it did not end in a little drama.  This scene was not from John, me, Loren, or a crazy woman who refused to let their adult son take responsibility for his actions.  

Have you ever heard the old saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”?  

That had never been more meaningful to me than it was that fateful night.  John received a text from a woman asking if she could speak to John and me.  The stranger had some information she had been holding for a long time and felt we needed to hear it.  She claimed that this would be the nail in Loren’s coffin as far as a judge was concerned.  

This woman promised that the secrets she possessed were just what we needed to make sure that Loren never regained custody of her children again…

Read My Lips