Monday, Anne went behind my back and got Owen the H1N1 flu mist at the clinic at school. Not only does this breach the terms of the parenting agreement we only recently filed with the court, it was a complete breach of faith between the two of us, since I had explicitly told her I didn’t want to boys vaccinated at this time.


Poor Owen – the look on my face when he told me he’d been vaccinated must have been pretty alarming. Seth immediately went for the jugular, “Didn’t you and Mommy agree?” For the first time, I let them in on more than what I usually do when it comes to talking about me and Anne: I told them that I hadn’t known Mommy was going to do that, that we didn’t agree on Owen getting vaccinated, and that I’m really shocked that it happened. Owen kind of shrugged it off, in his Dr. Love fashion – yesterday when I sent him off to school, I said, “Honey, I want to apologize again for the mix-up with the vaccine,” and he patted me on the arm and said cheerfully, “No need!” and went skipping on his merry way. Seth, on the other hand, is obviously freaked out: if me and Anne aren’t going to get back together, we’re at least supposed to be a solid unit taking care of them.


After a night from hell Monday (on the couch, crying, up at 3am watching Season 2 of “Big Love”, filled with rage against Anne and her insanity, etc.), I got up, got the boys off to school, and called my lawyer. In his mild, don’t-be-asking-me-to-hold-your-hand-honey way, he told me that I could file for contempt but it might or might not go my way, or he could write a stern letter to Anne’s lawyer. I chose stern letter, and that was sent, and thanks to modern technology, she got it the very same day. Much later in the day, I remembered my lawyer had said, too, that it often takes about a year to get agreements like this running smoothly.


With much deep breathing and concentrating on the blessings of my family, I managed to let the rage dissipate, and me, my Beau, Seth and Owen had a gorgeous day yesterday, celebrating Thanksgiving early (they’re at Anne’s for the actual day this year), and enjoying being together. A fire, the puppy, a few rounds of Boggle after a simply amazing meal if I do say so myself, and bedtime stories. When they went to Anne’s today, I was able to let them go without tears, with joy, because they have another family, and that family is also incredibly important to them and that is ok. Gorgeous days like the one we had yesterday are like an inoculation against separation. We connect and love each other so deeply, that it’s ok to be apart for a while. Won’t be no skin off our noses.


Today, I am even calmer. I am so grateful to have this agreement in place – hey! we swore in front of the very grumpy judge that we would abide by it! – and to have recourse when Anne goes cracker jack after reading yet one more incendiary news article about how we’d better all panic to the nth degree about this flu. As unforgivable and crazy as it was for her to lie, go behind my back, undermine my credibility with the boys, and expose Owen’s precious body to god knows what in that stupid vaccine, at least this agreement has my back and I can come down on her with my lawyer’s help to give her a reality check. “Agreement” doesn’t mean whatever Anne wants. “Agreement” means we have to agree, and if one person says no, then we don’t agree and it doesn’t happen, whatever it is. And if she keeps acting like she can do whatever she wants, then she will be in contempt, and I will definitely take her back to court. There are two of us parenting here, and we are very different from each other and that is one reason why we got a divorce and that is why we hammered out this parenting agreement.


She wrote me an email yesterday saying she knows we’re having “significant vaccine issues” and she would like to “discuss what happened” with me after she talks to her lawyer again. Here’s the beauty of my post-agreement world: I don’t have to discuss shit with her. No means no.


Owen may or may not be immune to the swine flu now, but I feel pretty confident that my Beau and I are doing our job giving him and his brother the biggest and best dose of love that we possibly can, and that that will set them up for a life in which people are loose cannons, even people close to them like their other mom, and where there is a lot of disappointment, transition, loss, and confusion to navigate. There are also hugs, puppies splayed out in front of the fire, purple cauliflower and homemade gravy, raucous games of Boggle, and bedtime stories. Now that is a shot in the arm.

Published in: on November 25, 2009 at 3:30 PM  Comments (1)