Some backstory before I dive into my current issue: My ex-husband (as of July) told me he wanted to separate in January 2018. We are from Arizona, but were stationed in Maryland at the time. Oh, and I was 8 weeks pregnant with our second child.
He encouraged me to move back in with my parents, so I packed up what I could and moved with my two-year-old back to Arizona. I soon after found out he had been seeing Schmoopie since December.
My pregnancy was miserable and full of pick me dancing, but now I have two wonderful kids and contact with XH is strictly about the kids. XH video chats them a few times a week and visits a couple times a year (with Schmoopie and her preteen daughter of course).
My current issue is today he let me know that my kids are going to have another sibling, and he wants them to video chat this weekend for the gender reveal so they can “be a part of the big moments.”
My question to you is, HOW do I do this? I don’t talk badly about XH and Schmoopie in front of my kids, I co-parent as best I can, but I just don’t know how to talk to my kids (mainly the oldest) about this.
He will be 4 when the baby is born and he seems excited, but I just can’t feign happiness. I can’t do it. The child is innocent and I have no ill will towards the baby, but I am disgusted by this situation. I don’t have it in me to facilitate a video chat for this gender reveal.
I expected them to get married as soon as our divorce went through, but this is even worse. How do I go about this with my kids and my ex?
Chumped, Dumped, and Pregnant
I don’t think it’s your job to gin up excitement about a new sibling. That sales pitch belongs to Cheater McGee and his New Vessel.
What IS your job is to “facilitate contact” or whatever the particular wording is of your court order.
So, let’s break down the mechanics of video chat. You turn the computer on. You log into Skype. You place pre-schoolers in front of the screen. You exit the room.
Or you stand far, far away from the crazy (but within eye-shot of the kids) and let Cheater McGee hold the rapt attention of a four-year-old boy and toddler.
(Mr. CL: “It’d be like giving a PowerPoint presentation to a flock of geese.”)
I’m imagining this scenario.
Cheater McGee: “Look Tyler! It’s a UTERUS!”
Tyler: (Glazed look of boredom. Bed hair. Stares at screen.)
Vessel: “See that blob? THAT’S YOUR SISTER!”
Tyler: “I have a Thomas train Percy and Edward and Diesel. Diesel is the bad guy. And Sir Topham Hatt. I want a coal car. Daddy, can I have a coal car?”
Vessel: (Unaccustomed to the ways of pre-school boys, and their Well, Enough About You! conversational segues, soldiers on…) “A SISTER!”
Cheater McGee: “Tyler? Tyler? Where’d you go? I’m looking at spilled apple juice and the bottom half of a sofa. CHUMPED! Hey! Put Tyler on the screen!”
Tyler: (A distant voice) “I want a COAL CAR.”
(Toddler is in corner off-screen, contentedly eating paste.)
Cheater McGee: “Tyler? Dylan? Where’d you go? You’re going to have a SISTER!”
Tyler: “MOMMY! DYLAN’S EATING PASTE!”
Vessel: A sister!
Yeah. I really don’t see any reason why you have to be around for this conversation and prompt their squeals of delight. Let them be in contact, (as in, flip on the switch) and let go of the rest.
The triangulation and kibblefest is for their benefit — you don’t have to play along. When it all gets too much, just remember how faithful he was during that last pregnancy. I’m sure he’s just going to be super supportive about episiotomy scars and leaky boobs. And that baby weight. And sleepless nights. Oh yeah, just a ROCK of support.
The shiny bright will wear off. Not that they’ll broadcast it.
Meanwhile, you keep rocking that new life. Maybe have a friend over on video reveal day so you can snark and drink wine (and clean up paste) together. He’s a tool — and he lives far away. And you’ve got the kids. Ha ha. You win.