I have been doing pretty well navigating a separation and upcoming divorce from my spouse with untreated ADHD. As we co-parent and are finally on friendly terms after years of strife and dysfunction, I frequently do a balancing act of advocating for what my children and I need and being understanding of my spouse's significant issues. One thing is still pretty tough for me, though, and this week it made me so nuts I had to go drive around in my car and yell with the windows up for a while.
That thing is "I don't know." My ex's response to most questions and attempts to make plans has always been "I don't know." Are you going to be able to do this on Saturday? "I don't know." Oh, are you saying right now, as I have pulled into the driveway with them, that your back injury hurts too much to have the children stay with you? "I don't know." (Which leaves me in the position to decide if his back hurts too much to have the children stay with him. Seriously. I think he wants me to be the one to decide). Do you want to take them to the birthday party Sunday? "I don't know." Great.
Also, along with "I don't know," I also get no warning or heads up about anything. The back injury thing. I had actually packed and gotten the kids ready for the time with dad, which can be inconsistent. I walk in, and he doubles over and moans and looks to me like he won't be able to take care of them. He's been like this all day. How about a phone call? Or a text even suggesting that there may be doubts?
"I don't know" gives me no way to make concrete plans about anything. Can I meet my friends Saturday or get a haircut? Can I take the kids to my family's this year for Christmas week? I don't know doesn't help me. Pushing for an answer causes anxiety and anger and usually a fight. Waiting patiently lets the question dangle forever. In my ex's view, I am a type A, anxious organizational freak who has to plan everything months in advance (I assure you I am not--I am actually pretty right brained, but by default I am responsible for just about everything in our lives and I do, in fact, need to plan child care ahead of time if I am going to go to the doctor at 4 p.m. on Tuesday).
So, tell me you'll give me an answer Thursday. Tell me yes. Tell me no every single time, even. It's fine. Just pick yes or no and then stick with it. Just pick SOMETHING! Aargh! Anyone else out there know what I mean?