To be honest, I was dreading seeing my parents. I hadn’t told them any of what was going on with Brady (not about the lawyer or how mean he’s been or that he probably has another girlfriend). As far as they knew, we were still together and on good terms so I was hoping we could fake it for a few days.
My mom arrived a few days early because she wanted to spend some extra time with the baby and help set up. And I was relieved because I definitely needed the help.
“You’re skinny,” was the first thing she said to me. “Too skinny.”
And I almost blurted out, “Yeah because I’ve been going through hell the past several months!” but I didn’t want to get into it so I just said, “Thanks!” Plus I’ve been working my ass off on the Peloton and actually trying to eat responsibly like an adult so really, it was kind of a compliment.
I was on the fence about having a party for Winnie, but we didn’t do anything last year and she’s getting old enough to form memories now so I thought it’d be good to get everyone together and celebrate. Just something small at the house though. I invited my parents, Carly, Chris and Sloane, plus Mel, her husband and their son who is Winnie’s only friend her age. Brady’s family was more than welcome to come, but I don’t speak to them so I didn’t invite any of them. I figured if he wanted them to come, he’d invite them.
So for the 3 days leading up to the party, my mom and I ran around picking up decorations, balloons, fresh flowers, a two tier cake, a dollhouse and other toys, etc.
I’d ordered a variety of different outfit options for Winnie to wear and because she’s already super opinionated, I let her pick out what she would wear for the party. She decided on a fluffy black and gold dress so I got her dressed with matching shoes and tights, and put her hair half up with a bow. Then I got dressed in a black and gold dress by Zimmermann to match and tried to have a mini photo shoot with my mom, but Winnie could hear people talking downstairs and was more concerned with that.
Brady and my dad were downstairs enjoying the red sangria I made and as soon as Winnie saw her father, she pushed herself away from me so she could be with him. And I was thinking, “That’s completely fine. Brady’s been working so much, at least she still even knows who he is.”
A few minutes later, he came and found me while I was making another pitcher in the kitchen.
“Everything looks really nice. Can I help with anything?” he said.
I side eyed him. Really? “Everything’s already done, Brady.”
“Okay, I just wanted to make sure—”
My mom interrupted us, carrying the baby who looked like she’d been crying. “She doesn’t want to wear the dress.”
Winnie looked at me smugly.
“Okay, well she picked it out.” I looked at my brat child. “You picked it out.”
She just looked at me like she didn’t understand (she understands) and then reached out so Brady could take her.
“So you’re going to wear the dress for the party,” I explained. “And you can change into something else when it’s over.”
And then she started screaming and kicking and losing her goddamn mind. I’ve been trying to work with Winnie on her tantrums and emotional control to hopefully try to alleviate the terrible twos a little bit. So I calmly talked the little hellion off a cliff while Brady watched and we agreed that we’d take a few pictures with everyone and the cake and then maybe she could change.
So then me and my mom went back out to the party and she started sort of lecturing me and letting me know that it was just a phase that Winnie would grow out of. Maybe, but I would be the one who has to deal with it so I wanted to nip it in the bud.
I caught up with Carly and Chris, who’d arrived, and their daughter Sloane who is the most well-behaved child I’ve ever met. She mostly sat at the table quietly eating the seaweed snacks she brought while watching all of the shenanigans going on around her. And she’s so cute and sweet and adorable with her dark hair and thick, dark eyebrows — she looks exactly like Chris. I’m glad I’m not the only one with a child who looks exactly like their father.
Speaking of which, I looked up and saw Brady walking back in the room carrying Winnie, and she was wearing a different outfit than what I dressed her in. And it didn’t even matter that Winnie was now in dotted leggings and a damn tank top that did not match, I was pissed that Brady changed her after he saw what I was trying to do. She doesn’t get her way just because she threw a tantrum. Me and Brady made eye contact and I rolled my eyes at him so he knew that I knew.
I think I’ve mentioned before that Winnie just prefers Brady, but she seemed to have gotten over it since he’s home a lot less often. At the party though, she was glued to his side. It was sort of cute at first, but then she started literally running from me and screaming if I tried to touch her. And it was so fucking embarrassing having my child throw a tantrum if I tried to come near her and shooing me away when I wanted to take pictures of her. Really? Everyone probably thought I was some sort of abusive mommy dearest! My mom and Carly tried to make me feel better and explained that it was totally normal, but my dad thought it was absolutely hilarious and kept cracking jokes with Brady about it.
The final straw came when the party was winding down and we were taking pictures of Winnie sitting in a chair with her demolished cake. I went to get her down (I had visions of her falling off the chair and busting her head open) and she started screaming and kicking because she wasn’t ready to get down. And she kicked me in my chin hard and made me bite my tongue and it actually really, really fucking hurt. My eyes started watering and I felt like I was going to cry. So I sat her down and then barricaded myself in the bedroom so I could cry alone.
And so I stood there in the middle of the room getting angrier and more upset by the second. And maybe I was being slightly irrational but I was upset that I’d done so much to make the party special and perfect and she didn’t appreciate it at all. And then I thought about how stressed and miserable I’d been about the whole lawyer and custody thing and for what? She doesn’t even like me! Maybe I’m not meant to be a mother and I’m really bad at it and Winnie picked up on it and that’s why she was pulling away. Maybe I should just fuck off and let her and Brady do their own thing and send child support and stay out of their lives. Was I really feuding with a two year old? What was actually happening?
I heard the door open and I turned to hide and tried to wipe my tears.
“Are you okay?” Brady asked.
“I’m fine.” I was not about to let Brady see me losing it over the baby being mean to me. I felt Brady’s hands on my shoulders and I tensed up. Why was he touching me?
“You’re a really great mother,” he said as he rubbed my shoulders.
And maybe I just needed to hear that because I instantly relaxed and let him massage my shoulders.
“Thanks,” I said.
“And I know she’s having a great time even if she’s not showing it. I think she’s tired so that’s probably why she’s acting out. I’m going to put her down for a nap.”
“Mmm,” I mumbled.
“We’re going to meet my mom in the city later…if you want to join.”
I finally shrugged him off. “No, it’s fine. She couldn’t make the party?”
“Uh, no,” Brady said, looking all evasive as usual.
What the fuck ever, I thought. I guess this is how it would be from now on — having separate parties and holidays and having to split the baby’s time between both families. So I wasn’t even sure why this made me mad. I walked out.
After everyone left, we all cleaned up together and my mom made this really awkward comment about me and Brady having another baby.
“Mom!” I exclaimed, shocked, horrified and embarrassed.
Brady laughed. “I think one is enough for right now,” and then he turned and gave me a sarcastic smile.
Later on, the baby woke up and Brady got her dressed and came back to the kitchen where me and my parents were.
“You’re sure you don’t want to come with us to see my mom?” he asked all sweetly.
And while I appreciated him going along with the whole charade, I still couldn’t help rolling my eyes at him. “Totally sure.”
When they were gone, my mom started talking shit like, “Oh, is our party not good enough for her? Typical. After everything we’ve done, blah blah blah.”
It would have been a great time to tell them both what was going on — about Brady and the lawyer and maybe even Brendan. But…yeah. I wasn’t ready to drop that bomb. I didn’t even really know how to explain it — they’d think we were both absolutely insane and then my mom would butt her head in and it would be a whole mess.
We went to dinner and when we got back, Brady and Winnie were back at the house. And she walked right up to me and wrapped her arms around me like she missed me. Oh, now we were fucking friends? She’s such a two-faced monster! But I was so happy and relieved that our feud was over and I squeezed my sassy little gremlin and smothered her with love because I missed her too.
After we put the baby to sleep, we polished off a few bottles of wine and then my parents went back to their hotel. At this point, I was exhausted so I put on pajamas and got in bed without even taking my makeup off. Brady came in and sat on the edge of the bed and started telling me about some learning tablet his mom got Winnie and how she’d given some “school” recommendations (we’ve talked about sending her to daycare during the day part time) and in general just talking my ear off. I just kept nodding.
And then Brady said, “You looked really beautiful today.”
Seriously? “Yeah, I wanted to look nice for pictures but we didn’t even get any good ones because our child is spoiled.”
He turned and smiled at me. “Really? I think she just knows what she wants. She’s a lot like you.”
“I think she’s like you. One minute she’s mean and hateful and then the next minute she wants to chat like nothing happened,” I said.
“Mmhm,” Brady said playfully. “And you don’t ever do that?”
“Not nearly as bad as you.” Okay, I’m definitely guilty of losing my shit and then pretending it didn’t happen. “Maybe she’s like both of us.”
My dad left the following day, but my mom was staying through New Years. We all got up and had breakfast and spent the day cleaning and organizing things around the house. Brady continued being sweet and nice especially in front of my mom. Meanwhile I was texting with Brendan who was with his family at one of their vacation houses in the mountains somewhere. So I felt kind of weird and bad.
And maybe all the pretending got Brady confused because later that night he came and found me in the closet and sort of boxed me in so I couldn’t leave.
“You can’t just suddenly act like you like me again,” I said.
“What? I’ve always liked you,” Brady said unconvincingly.
“Then why did you tell your lawyer that our relationship was over? You said I make you miserable and you go out of your way to belittle me and make me feel stupid. At this point, you’ve all but made my daughter hate me and I’m sure you and your mom spend the entire time talking shit about me when you’re together.”
He flinched like I’d just slapped him in the face. “What? No. If she hates you it’s because of you, not me.”
And in his defense, it really wasn’t fair for me to blame my entire relationship with Winnie on him, but when he undermines my authority and gives her whatever she wants after I’ve already said no, he becomes easy to blame.
“She doesn’t hate me, don’t say that!” I said.
“You said it!”
I elbowed him out of the way to leave the closet and he tried to grab me.
I said, “Fuck off.”
And then this motherfucker sort of laughed and said, “See, you’re the one who’s mean to me, not the other way around.”
“No, you don’t get to pin this all on me just because you changed your personality for this weekend like a sociopath. You’ve been an asshole for months and I’m sick of it.”
Brady continued smiling like the fucking joker or something. “You’ve been an asshole too.”
“Only because you have!” I exclaimed. “You can go back to ignoring me if you want. I don’t mind, trust.”
“Whatever you say, princess,” he said sarcastically and walked out.
What the fuck ever.
So things went back to “normal” where Brady was cordial and had nothing to say to me unless it was about Winnie. He and my mom spoke a lot though and I was just waiting for her to confront me about something he told her. She even went out and got him a birthday cake for his birthday (personally I never wanted to see a cake again) and we spent Christmas Eve together eating and watching Cocomelon and Paw Patrol (we had to turn off the Grinch because it was too scary). And I started to feel really bad because clearly we are the only people Brady has. He was spending his birthday and Christmas with us despite the fact that he was barely even speaking to me. Where was his mom and the rest of his family? Or his girlfriend?
So I felt bad, but not bad enough to apologize and still if I looked at him for long enough I started feeling rage again and felt like strangling him. He didn’t seem to care about a fucking thing.
Our office was open during the week before Christmas and New Years, but most people had taken the week off. Brendan was out of town until Thursday and asked to meet up for lunch when he got back. 100% yes.
Ugh. I just love Brendan. It was refreshing to see him after the last few days. He said he had a gift for me and I freaked out for a second thinking it might be something super expensive and extravagant and I’d feel bad, but we both got each other something small and sweet and it was fine.
So we told each other about Christmas and stuff (I left out the details about how bipolar Brady had been) and he told me stories about his dad and stepmom and sister and bourbon and their cabin. He even mentioned that he got to see the dog he and his ex-wife got together during the time when they were trying to work things out. This piqued my interest because did that mean he’d been with her (the ex)? Did they spend Christmas together? Should I feel weird about that because I kind of did? But of course, I wasn’t about to ask for details, not when I’d deliberately not told him anything about Brady.
And then he confirmed with me that I’m available the first weekend in January (this weekend coming up) because he’d previously said he wanted to do something with me that weekend. I confirmed (my mom is not leaving until next week) and so he told me what he has planned: a weekend getaway to a tropical place I’ve never been to. A little mini vacation together. And my first thought was all the pictures he and his ex-wife used to post of them traveling around the world and frolicking on beaches looking like they belonged in travel magazine. Surely Brendan has more tact than to take me somewhere he’s taken her.
So here’s what I think. This will be the first time Brendan and I will be doing a lot of things together, like taking a trip, waking up together (I never sleep over, we just have sex all night and then I leave), eating all three meals together. It’ll be the most time we’ve ever spent together. So it’s kind of make it or break it. If all goes well, I will make a move after this trip. I’ll get my life together. I’ll tell my parents what’s going on, I’ll tell my mom the truth about Brendan (she asked about him the other night), I’ll figure out my living situation, I’ll work out an agreement with Brady. Obviously I need to do this regardless of Brendan, but one thing at a time. I want to at least be able to enjoy this trip without so much drama at home.
Anyway, Merry New Year everyone. This is the year we finally get our shit together!