As I was going through all of this, I never knew when things would hit me emotionally. For example, the day the movers came to take as much of his stuff as would fit in the storage unit as possible, I took the kids to school, and then got in the car to come home and wait for the movers. I burst into tears and I called my sister sobbing. I guess it was because this finally felt like it was really the end. Most of his stuff would be gone and would stop haunting me, but I would have to tell the kids something because it was going to be noticeable. This was one more step in the divorce process, and one more nail in the coffin for a ‘happy family’.
Every step of this process made me emotionally stronger. Each time he hurt me, it strengthened my resolve. Each time I was scared and faced my fears, I came out a more confident and stronger person. Each time I knew I would face him at a legal juncture, it was extremely nerve-wracking, and I would think “I can’t do this”, but I did, and it was definitely worth it.
And yet he thinks he’s a great father. He even mentioned to me once after he left about how “of course you’re not afraid of me spending time with the kids”. Well of course I am. He just doesn’t get it and he never will. He pushes constantly for more time with the kids. “It’s all about the kids.” In reality - it’s still a lot about me, because he takes every kid interaction as an opportunity to chat me up. He says he wants to be ‘friends’.
Based on reports from the supervisors and a few interactions at the dinner drop-offs, I know he is very sensitive and pushes the kids to get their affection and then acts immature when he does not get it, he threatens to not let them come see him if they don’t behave, he is constantly barking orders at them (even in my house), he has argued and said bad things about me in front of them. And then there’s the stuff he did while we were together that is unforgivable.
So, I’m going to go with “no”, he’s not a good role model. I think he has the potential to get much worse, as the number of unsupervised hours increases. Up until now it’s only been two hours for weekly dinners, and a four hour period at Christmas. The longer time he has them, the larger potential for disaster. I especially don’t ever want Brad to have the kids overnight because bedtime is so stressful and I’m afraid of what might happen, but he will get them overnight starting 2012, unless he does something wrong between now and then.
Kids can be very frustrating, and I know it’s very easy to get really angry with them for seemingly small things (like the eighth time Cassie gets of out bed at night). The difference is, I have worked very hard on my patience and I know when I’m at my wits end, and I know how to walk away when I feel like I want to scream at them or spank them. I’m not a saint, I do yell occasionally, but I know what line not to cross. I don’t call them names, I don’t push or shove, I don’t say emotionally damaging things, and I don’t threaten drastic things I don’t plan to follow through on. This whole experience has made me a better parent. Brad doesn’t know any of that. He doesn’t even know what is emotionally damaging and he can’t control his anger at all. This is why, even though I hope he can also be a better parent and not hurt the kids physically or emotionally, I’m pretty sure he will hurt them at some point. It’s just a matter of time, so I am ever vigilant.