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Single +1

Sarah Fowler

We all like to think our children are perfect little angels. And for the most part, my sweet baby is. Notice I said “for the most part.” She has been back from visiting her father for exactly two weeks and my precious Prinny has turned into a vision from The Exorcist. Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme but I’m used to my child being my little cuddle bug, full of hugs and kisses and “I love you Mommy.” Lately….whew, lately that hasn’t been the case. I’ve chalked her behavior up to her simply needing an adjustment period, time for her to get used to the difference between her home here and her dad’s house. I’m starting to realize though that the adjustment period isn’t just for her. It’s for me too.

Before Prinny’s latest visit with her father, she had seen him approximately half a dozen times in five years. Never over night, never longer than a few hours at a time. Then, all of a sudden, I’m supposed to put her in a car, not with my ex-husband, but with his wife that Prinny has only met twice, and tell her good luck as she is driven twelve hours across the country to spend Christmas in a house she has never seen with people she barely knows. Just typing that…no wonder my poor baby is acting the way she is. We had less than a week to prepare for her spending the holidays in Texas and I swear, I should get an Oscar for that performance. My heart was breaking at the thought of not seeing my baby on Christmas but for her sake, I had to act like this was an exciting adventure, filled with fun and surprises. I was pulling every line I could think of from “You’ll get TWO Christmases, won’t that be fun?!” to “You’ll get to stay up late and spend time with Daddy.” The problem with that is, is that Prinny has never really known her father as “Daddy”. He doesn’t call, doesn’t write, doesn’t e-mail and now, Merry Christmas, he’s Father of the Year. I realize how bitter those words sound but as a mother, it is our job to protect our babies like a lion protects her young. You want to protect them from ever knowing hurt, shield them from the world, and if I could hold her in my arms until her wedding day, I would. So as a single parent, what are you supposed to do when your knee jerk reaction is to emotionally protect her from a man who’s supposed to be her protector as well? That’s a question I simply don’t have the answer to.

As of late, some have questioned my relationship with my ex-husband’s wife. We’ve been seemingly mortal enemies since she first came on scene and now, we’re flirting with the idea of a friendship. But honestly, can you blame me? A girlfriend made an offhanded comment about “keeping your friends close and your enemies closer” in regards to my relationship with this woman, but that’s not remotely the case. If Prinny’s father is going to have a relationship with our daughter, then it is safe to assume his wife will as well. Birthday parties, her wedding day, the day she has children of her own…this woman will be there for that. It’s easier for everyone involved if she and I can form some sort of friendship. And the thing is, I like her. God, if she reads this then she is sure to throw that in face ten years down the line but dang it, I do. She made a comment once that she felt “in another life, we could have been the best of friends.” Maybe she is as full of crap as I am but I’m starting to see her point. The woman makes Winnie the Pooh references on a daily basis and is way too cheery in the mornings but, I’ve got to hand it to her, she’s a pretty cool chick. I know that while Prinny was away from me, this woman was the one who fed her, bathed her, tucked her in at night and gave her kisses. That damn near breaks my heart thinking that another woman was doing my job but when I think about the alternative…I’m thankful for her. Granted, I still don’t trust her as far as I can throw her but I do know that she loves my daughter. And I know that if it weren’t for her, Prinny’s trip to Texas and subsequent attitude after the fact could have been a lot worse.

It took Prinny approximately one week to tell me “That’s not how I got to do it in Texas.” We were running around the house, late as usual, hurriedly trying to do her hair, tie her shoes, kiss the dog good-bye and grab her lunch when my precious baby dropped that bomb in the middle of our morning routine. I swear, I looked down at the kitchen floor to see if my heart had landed there because it certainly felt like she had just ripped it out. I know it sounds redundant but I can’t say it enough, for five years it has just been the two of us. For everything. No father around? Don’t worry, Mommy can coach soccer. Mommy can build you a bookshelf. Mommy can go hunting for frogs in the backyard. Mommy can because Mommy has always had to. Now, Daddy swoops in to save the day and Mommy is literally left holding a frog. The irony in that is just too much. I think I could deal with these mixture of emotions if I had the teeniest ounce of faith in my ex-husband. If only I believed that he was honest to goodness interested in being a full-time dad, not a fly by night parent. But Prinny has been home two weeks and her dad has called once. How do you explain that to a five year old? I think I would have a bad attitude about it too.

No one said being a single parent was easy. And before now, I’ve never really thought of myself that way. And my goodness, it just hit me but I’ve never thought of Prinny as a child with an absentee father. Goodness. For five years I’ve been operating under the mindset that the situation is what it is. We deal with it and move on. But when he appears and then disappears…I can only imagine the heartache it causes her. She is my world, the reason I live and breathe and I miss her when I’m away from her for more than a few hours. How on Earth can he handle floating in and out of her life? I wish I had a magic wand that could make everything better, that could make him the father she needs him to be but that’s a choice he’s going to have to make on his own. For the life of me though, I can’t understand it. I honestly thought that he would spend a week with her at Christmas and realize what an amazingly special little girl she is and fight me tooth and nail for custody. Looking at my baby’s face, seeing her react to her father making time for her when it’s convenient for him, I would almost welcome that. Anything is better than having to explain to my five year old that her daddy loves her even though he’s not around. God help me, but there’s not a manual for this. Until there is, I’m prepared to smother her in hugs and kisses, willing her to know that Mommy loves her no matter if she’s my perfect little angel or my scary little monster. I need her to know that no matter what her daddy does, Mommy will always be here for her. I just hope that’s enough.



  1. Bethany Houser

    Wow. Your last two articles have been very mature and interesting to read. This one sounds bitter and angry and bitchy. Maybe you are just reacting to the new behavior of your little girl.
    As a mother with an ex who is remarried, I recognize these actions. Your little princess may have been able to get away with murder in Texas but more likely….your angel has learned the powers of manipulation. Her first time over there? Likely she was asked how mom did things. When do you usually go to bed? And she learned that she could say “My bed time is 10 on weekends” and boom, she gets to stay up til 10. So when she comes home, maybe she tells little white lies when she doesn’t want to do something. “In Texas I didn’t have to wear shoes in the rain!” or more believable “In Texas I didn’t have to go to bed til 10!” Manipulated. I have a kiddo that comes home telling me all the things he is allowed to do there, but just to get away with things. He does it to me and my husband “but Moooom, Ted said I could!” You can bet your butt she is going to be doing it with Dad and Stepmom. And then there is just different parenting. Maybe she DOES get to eat breakfast on the couch watching cartoons and not at the table. Maybe she did take her bath before bed and not in the morning. Maybe she did get to wear her church dress to play afterwards. Just chill and know that she is not a baby and she has an opinion and wants and is going to object to things and try whatever it takes to get her way. Wait til she’s dating and has a curfew!
    You are in new waters, the waters of co-parenting. And even when mom and dad are married and in the same house, it is not easy. These things do happen and will always happen. From kid stuff like bathtime to teenage stuff like curfews and a phone of her own. Trust her dad (it sounds like you two have a TON of issues, trust being a HUGE one), trust her stepmom, and only MOSTLY trust Prinny.

  2. Colin

    As a man, you might want to be careful what you say about your ex and HOPE that he or his wife do not read this rubbish. It is full of slander and what I am sure are half-truths. There is two sides to every story and I am sure that this is less than half of one. If the man wanted a whole week, it stands to reason that he wants to see and have a relationship with his daughter. How weird to, out of the blue, a week before Christmas when he has a family, decide, “hey, lets have a kindergartner around. Wife, drive 3 states and pick her up!” I guarantee this is not the way it went down.
    Put the claws away, grow up, and stop publicly degrading a man who cannot defend himself. Maybe there is another reason he is not calling. You don’t sound like you would care to speak to him or have his speak to your daughter.

    • Jason

      Colin, for the most part I would agree with you … except I know the ex-husband in question. There’s two things going on here that not many people know about. The wife is a decent woman who is concerned that she’s married a man that has a daughter, and the daughter isn’t in his life the way the new wife would like her to be. Who knows why, maybe because she wants children but is scared of childbirth. Regardless, I guarantee you it wasn’t HIS idea to have Prinny around. That’s why his wife was the one to drive 3 states (most likely a 12 hour drive from where he currently lives) to go pick up his daughter. And I’ll tell you from personal experience with the man, the reason he wasn’t in the car was NOT because he had better stuff to do.

      As for your last statement, you need to go back to the beginning and re-read the column. Personally, I don’t think he deserves the right to call Prinny his daughter anymore based on the real world neglect and irresponsible behavior of this guy. Getting @#$%-faced drunk while she’s around isn’t the role model I’d wish on any child.

      • Bethany Houser

        You must not know him well, or have read any more of these columns. The ex and his new wife have a child together. And your third sentence makes little sense. But anyway. Interesting topic. Would just like to hear his side of the story.

      • Carol

        Colin- You must not have a lot of luck with women, do you darling?

        Demetria- Although I am not sure how you guys do things over at the court house, releasing info about anyone that shows up in your docket seems like a breech of confidentiality. If I’m right, you sure could get in a bunch of trouble for that. God forbid someone screen shots that post.

        • Demetria

          Public information. Anyone can call the court house any time and ask. You can also find it online. Free to anyone. Including judgements.

      • Christina

        I don’t know the ex well, but I DID go to college with the new wife and I DO know that in the 3 years that they have been married, they have been stationed not only 12 hours in Texas for the last year, but in Idaho for a year plus he deployed to Iraq for 6 months or so. On top of this there have been weeks at a time he is on a mission of one kind or another, during which the new Mrs. Fowler has come home to Mississippi to visit. Don’t be so quick to judge him for his “absence.”

    • Dan

      I agree, Colin. And if there ARE problems that Ms. Fowler has with her ex or discipline problems with the kid after her visit, she should be discussing them with him and not half of Columbus. It’s one thing to lay your life out there, but another to flay and flog a man like this. No matter what he has or has not done. I’d be raring to fight if I was him!

  3. Glennda

    I love you articles! My heart aches for you after reading this one! I feel for you and your sweet baby! Try to build a relationship with her step-mom, cause it sounds like she is the reason for the visitation and may be the only connection to her father. I know in my situation, my children’s step-mom is my only form of communication and she is the one who encourages their father to have a relationship with my children. Other than her, he only did it for spite towards me.

    As far as the other two commentors, I have to disagree with them. Apparently they did not read your article. Your sweet baby is more than likely reacting because she had to go and stay with her father for two weeks and she has never had to do this before. She is 5 years old, correct? That is a long time to be away from her momma, the only parent she has ever known, to stay in a strange place. She is more than likely confused as to “why” and “why all of a sudden did this happen” and “why has she not spoken to these people since”. She might even be thinking she might have done something wrong either to have to go or as to why her father doesn’t call her. Children tend to blame themselves for things that have nothing to do with them.

  4. Bethany Houser

    Glennda, please be sure to read the column before last, where the author tells us how much fun Prinny had on her Christmas trip. There was no indication this was a little girl scared and alone. Also, the child was only there for a week (read the article). While she might not understand why Daddy has only called once and be sad about it, apparently this is nothing new, so she does not expect the calls, her mother does.

    Although, like Colin has said, no one knows both sides of the story, we only get what is given to us in this column. So we have to take it with a grain of salt and not be so quick to judge ANYONE in the situation. Sarah, new wifey, or the exhusband.

  5. ramona

    Have you and your ex tried mediation? It sounds like there is too much animosity between the two of you to maintain a healthy relationship of any kind.

  6. Single -3

    I want you to, without surrender, be on good terms with all people. I remember the first time my daughter came to me for a visitation visit. She sat up in the bed and cried all night long. The best thing you can do for Prinny is keep the drama to a minimum and make sure she has a relationship with her father.. Be friends with the new wife, be friends with the ex-husband. He will always Prinny’s father. And, the only person you can change is yourself.. But, before you know it, Prinny will be in college and none of this will matter unless it was bitter. Did I say, “this too shall pass”?? Well, it will. And, when it does, make sure the memories are pleasant for Prinny. That’s the best you can do…and that’s really all you can do.

  7. OldLawyer

    I smell a lot of sour grapes here. You’re not a lioness lady, you’re a mother. Your attitude is typical of many domestic cases I was in where the mother used the child as a weapon against her ex. I represented both men and women and was also appointed as Guardian Ad Litem for the child on a good many cases. Lady, you need counseling.

  8. OldLawyer

    Carol, you’re an idiot. Court dockets are public records. Clerks aren’t lawyers, they owe no one “confidentiality”. So, you are not only wrong, but, as I said, an idiot.

    Didn’t they teach civics when you went to school? Or spelling? Its “breach”. A “breech” is part of a gun.

    • Tony

      Like the police blotter that shows up in the paper. The public announcement section where cases are listed in the newspaper. People are spot on to talk like they know something to scare someone when they are, in fact, ignorant. OldLawyer, I could have used someone like you back in the day. My kids are grown now and we are FINALLY repairing the damage their mother did to our relationship.

  9. OldLawyer


    Do do write here for a living? If so, please go to hair-dresser school or something. If not, please get yourself out of the media-world for your kid’s sake. Hey, you have the world you live in, adjust, make a living, let your child grow, and move on. I repeat: Get Counseling. You will benefit.

    Old Lawyer. Seen many families destroyed by petty emotional ‘tudes. Good Luck.

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