There are so many tendril ripple effects to having shared children. Things you don’t even think about at the time they are born but become important later. One of those things are birthdays.
At one point, I dreaded my bonus children’s birthdays. There was so much drama surrounding it all. The custodial parent controlled the planning and activities but wanted the non-custodial parent to “help” pay for it (which was code for pay for it all) as well as be the lackey aka do all the standard “Daddy duties” (help clean up and take all the presents to the car) with a good attitude all the while he is treated as a tolerable guest at his own child’s party. It sucks seeing your husband in that position but I digress.
The birthday ripple effect I am referring to here are the birthday parties your family, friends, and acquaintances invite your bonus children to attend. Honestly, I tried to avoid them at all cost at one point by declining their attendance straight up as soon as I got the invitation. I tried to remain the buffer between our people and the circumstances surrounding when we saw our children. There were many times with one mother in particular, were we would drive to the mother’s house to get the child only to leave childless. Other times, a plan was in place to have the child for the weekend but there was a last-minute “change of plans” which resulted in us not seeing that child that weekend. We would, as I like to term it, RSVP to have our child for a particular event (birthday, special occasion, etc) and be on pins and nettles hoping that nothing went wrong. Folks would seem to sabotage our plans by being late, not being ready on time, “forgetting” times and dates, you name it. So, after experiencing all of that in our own personal hell, I did not want our family and friends to feel that sting. I did not want to show up childless to a function I RSVP to have children attend only for it to fall through at the last-minute after our folks had paid money for my child(ren) to attend.
The one mother in particular who was famous for this type of behavior has gotten better but I say that very loosely. Nowadays, both of them (in my personal, humble, but correction opinion) are calling the shots for visitation and, as expected, our desires are not high on their list of priorities. My husband mentions dates we want the child(ren) and we don’t expect much in return. We have the “if they are here, they are here and if not, they are not” attitude. Life will still go on. Do we want them? Yes. Of course. But we no longer hang our hearts on their presence. We can’t.
We are used to this ordeal but it is hard looking at an Evite of a child who wants my children to attend their party and have to give a response I know neither child nor parent understands. Our family and friends don’t live or come from this situation to the extent to understand our response which is, “I won’t know until the Friday before [the day of the event] if we will have the children or not and even then I won’t know until late that evening when they are in our possession.”
I hate to hear their disappointment and see their disheartened looks. There is nothing I can do to fix it. This is yet another sucky part to the situation. It saddens me that so many people have to be involved in the suckiness of it all.