Blended fam, co-parent fail

Allow me to offer some expository information for you to better understand the events that led us to where we are now.  I’ll keep this as concise as possible.

Many moons ago in October 2007 Will Reed and I got married.  26 March 2008 our son, Adam, was born.  We separated shortly thereafter and lived different lives in different states.  A brief reconciliation resulted in my unplanned pregnancy with our daughter.  Flooded with hormones and a desire preserve my family, I moved with Will and Adam to California to ‘repair our marriage.’  Our relationship came to a screeching halt in an ugly manner shortly after we arrived and both law enforcement and family court became involved.  We lost custody of our son– a long and convoluted story I’m not going to discuss here because it is even to this day still excruciatingly painful.  The last time Adam and I physically saw him was during the winter of 2011.

Tatum’s birth on 21 February 2012 flooded an otherwise dark and chaotic world with light.  Will was incarcerated  so he was not present for the birth, which took place in Memphis, and I left her with my parents to return to California.  Eventually in March 2013 Adam and I finally returned to Tennessee to be reunited with my Mom, Dad, and Tatum….where my children met each other for the first time….but only after Will and I had our parental rights terminated, something else I can barely talk about even now.  Thankfully my parents adopted Adam.  Meanwhile, Will got into trouble with the law again in California and went to prison for four years.

We are not divorced although I am in the process of obtaining the paperwork as I type this.  There’s a multitude of reasons why I never filed:  the whole ‘out of sight out of mind’ thing, not wanting to subject him to the revolving door of jail for inability to pay child support, lack of funds, the seemingly astronomical effort of going before attorneys and judges [mind you I was not at my best during this time], and mostly the fact that I never planned to marry again so I wasn’t in any particular rush to invalidate a piece of paper that really didn’t mean anything to me at this point in my life.  What I wasn’t doing was hoping for any sort of reconciliation.  That ship had sailed and we’d both moved on with our lives years ago.

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One of the last photos taken of my son and his father  [2011]

Believe it or not I was one of the captains of the Will Reed cheer squads post-prison.  Nobody wanted him to do well more than me [except for some of his family] because I wanted my children to have their father.  Truth me told my expectations were not particularly high but he continued to prove me wrong.  I was so proud!  He stayed in regular contact with the kiddos via phone, found housing and a job almost immediately, and was remaining clean and sober.  Visions of successful co-parenting danced through my head.

Things changed when he became romantically involved with a woman.  [[ DISCLAIMER:  I have nothing against this young woman.  I have heard wonderful things about her from sources that I trust and from what I hear she is a good influence on him.  I will never say anything unkind about her. ]]  Gradually the conversations tapered off and we heard from him less.  I figured it was a phase.  Who hasn’t gotten giddy with a new relationship and let it consume you?  I know I have.  When he told me things were serious and he was thinking marriage I was ecstatic….

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Team Reed/Wilke/Williams for the win!  …or not.

What a naive idiot I was.  Visions of blended, modern families swirled through my brain.  Maybe we could all go on vacation together!  His future fiancee and I could get our nails done and have girl talk.  Perhaps the guys could catch a game or go play pool.  The kids would have regular Skype dates and we’d send Christmas cards and birthday gifts.  Allen is the one for me.  This lady apparently is the one for Will.  I want what’s best for Will.  So of course I want what’s best for her.  We’re all adults, aren’t we?  And besides, we’re not important.  Our children are the center of our universe.  At least they are mine.  I can honestly say I was prepared to love her children as my own– and any children they may have together– because that is what mature, modern families do.  My dreams were quickly dashed as Will refused to even introduce me to his significant other and showed zero interest in talking to mine.

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Let’s take a moment here to acknowledge my 3,230,492,342,300,925 shortcomings.  Prior to getting clean and sober, I said some horrible things to Will via text.  I threw his past in his face.  I demanded to know why we never received any child support when he clearly had income and insulted him, insinuated he would never change.  Multiple times I called him a horrible father and person.  I know from the years we spent together the things to say to really cut to the core– and I went for the jugular.  Even after cleaning up my act I was not immune to acting out of hurt feelings or anger.  And for that, Will, I owe you a sincere apology from the bottom of my heart.  I am ashamed of my behavior. I hope you can forgive me.

Yet please don’t act as though I am the only one who has struggled with alcoholism and addiction.  That’s inaccurate and unfair.  We both went through it.  And I think it’s about damn time we each take ownership of it instead of using it as ammunition towards one another.  I don’t constantly bring up humiliations from your past [or share them with the masses] so I think it’s time you start doing the same.  Whatever happened to “if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all?”

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How could anyone not want these two in their daily life ad infinitum?

“So Mom, do I sorta have brothers?” Adam asked me one day, apropos of nothing.  I could not believe my ears.  “I’m assuming you’re referring to the children of your dad’s girlfriend.  Unfortunately I don’t know very much about them.  But if your Dad marries his girlfriend and she has kids then yes, they will be a type of brother to you.  I know that sounds pretty exciting.”  He nonchalantly played with his video game a few more minutes and I wondered aloud what made him think of that.  “That could be cool.  Dad said that he and my stepmom might come visit me this summer so I was just wondering.”

Back.  The.  Eff.  Up.

I knew Will was seeing somebody and it was serious.  Because Adam saw a photo of them on Facebook I explained that Daddy had a girlfriend.  Yet all of the sudden a woman whom Will have never mentioned except in passing to my son is his STEPMOTHER?!  Talk about dropping a major bombshell on a ten year old.  When Adam met Allen, their first meeting was casual.  He met my ‘friend,’ Allen.  Then we became a couple.  Gradually we increased the amount of time the three of us spent together and now Adam and Allen are so close they have their own relationship outside of me.   And that’s exactly how it should be– gradual, allowing the child to dictate the pace, and making sure the little one is not uncomfortable.  Furthermore, I told Will as a courtesy when Allen and I started to get serious.  Not because I thought he cared but because it was a development that affected his son.  I expected the same courtesy.

As for that visit?  Just like I wish he’d help support his son financially, maintain a regular relationship with him, and show respect for Adam’s maternal family– that would be fantastic.  But don’t you dare tell Adam you are coming to visit without running it by me [and my parents] first.  And if you break one more promise to that poor child…don’t.  Just please don’t.  You rip his heart out of his chest every single time you fail to do what you say, whether it’s not calling at a certain time or not showing up for a visit.  DO NOT BREAK MY CHILDREN’S HEARTS ANYMORE.  Have they not had enough?

I’m just thankful that Tatum has largely missed this heartache because she does not know you and hasn’t had the chance to be let down or hurt.  What she is; however, is showered in love– and extremely confused.  Everyone from Bapa [my dad] to Gary [Theresa’s husband] to Allen to my ex she has called ‘Daddy’ and asked “Is that my Dad?” I’ve always wondered Will…is there a reason you rarely mention Tatum during the times you did call?  She’s your daughter too.

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Little Man and I have an unbreakable bond….I will go to the ends of this earth for my son.

Will accidentally sent me a text meant for his girlfriend.  In it he referred to me by multiple expletives– and we weren’t even arguing.  That really gave me pause.  Is this how he refers to the mother of his children to his significant other?  Wow.  I could understand if we were in the middle of some heated fight and he said something to his partner out of anger, but this was just an every day message.  Is that the amount of ‘respect’ I get from him?  Of course he can speak to her about me in any way he chooses but that hurt.  I never talk of him that way to Allen, or anyone for that matter.  That doesn’t change even if I’m angry or upset.  I know it’s none of my business what other people think of me but I couldn’t help but wonder if this woman knows everything my family and I did for Will over the years. Does she know that I spent a hefty sum of my own money to print out photos of the children and write updates to send him frequently while he was in jail and encouraged him to have a relationship with them?  Doubtful.  I’ve had two boyfriends in the past that had children.  The way these men treated the mother of their children– with respect and gratitude even if they weren’t necessarily friends– was of the utmost importance to me.

This text confirmed what I already knew.  My son told me that his father called me a not so nice name and said that I was being a not so nice person.  Excuse me?!  Adam immediately ran to me, upset that somebody was insulting his mother.  He told me he didn’t even want to talk to his father anymore after that.  Seriously, Will?  Do you think it’s okay to talk poorly about me to our son?  Newsflash:  It’s not.  Even when I’m having to explain very difficult subjects to him…like why you were in jail for so long  [I told him it was a ‘DUI’]…or why you so involved with somebody else’s kids but seem to have forgotten about us [I explained because of your legal status you couldn’t leave the state of California but you give other kids attention because he misses y’all so much].  He doesn’t have to like me.  But I demand to be treated with respect– at least around my children.  Do you know what Adam did after Will said these things?  He blocked him.  I didn’t tell him to do that.  Adam chose to because he is fiercely protective of his mother.

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Will, I’m done with you.  I wish you the best but you are toxic for me and I want no communication from you unless it is absolutely imperative.  Never will I tell my children how to behave towards you– and they will always hear from me that their father loves them very much.  I will be nothing but supportive if they decide they want to speak to you or pursue a relationship with you– but I’m over it.  You constantly make me feel like a terrible person, you’re unnecessarily unkind and hurtful, and are uncooperative when it comes to my attempts to co-parent.  I deserve better.  And if the kids ask why we don’t talk?  I’ll simply tell them it’s better for Mommy and Daddy to not be friends…but we both love you very much.  And at least on my end they’ll never hear me speak poorly of you.  Goodbye, William.

With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,

Sloane

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Posted in Adam, Addiction, Adoption, California, CWS/Family Court, Family, Kids, Legal, Memphis, Motherhood, My Parents, Parenting, Pregnancy, Recovery, Tatum, Will Reed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Halloween for Thanksgiving

“Time to come back with a vengeance.”  ~ Sloane Wilke

Barely over a month ago I made that bold declaration.  Words and ideas churn constantly from the deepest corners of my mind– overdrive times a million– just not in this forum!  Would you believe me if I told you I’ve gotten my feet wet with my memoirs?  Essays?  Short story collections?  I kid you not.  Rest assured that I’m writing more than ever.  And I solemnly swear to up the ante with Cocktails With Hemingway to the best of my ability.

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Tatum was the cutest scarecrow ever whereas Adam donned a Scream mask.

My kiddos eagerly embrace the opportunity to select a costume and drive adults crazy with their sugar induced hyperactivity add to their insanely large arsenal of candy come 31 October.  We choose to Trick or Treat in Theresa’s neighborhood because of the close proximity of the homes and the various subdivisions.  It’s safe, fun, and easy to hit a lot of houses in a relatively short period of time.  Winning!

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2018 official-ish Halloween shot

I think it’s safe to say that Theresa has become the de facto Halloween hostess.  Some years we go big [think potluck dinner, fire pit, and a grand tour of locally recognized pirate ship/haunted house] whereas other times we relax and play it by ear.  A little rain certainly didn’t damper any spirits though.  However, I felt the absence of my Soul Sister….Halloween simply isn’t the same without Maris.  Despite missing my best friend in the worst of ways, I am eternally grateful that our extended clan makes it a priority to get together whenever possible to celebrate holidays, birthdays, and other special events.  These memories will remain with me for a lifetime.

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Little Miss just lights up whenever she’s around her big brother.

Halloween has come and gone….Happy Thanksgiving!  If this is a holiday you celebrate I hope you have a wonderful day surrounded by loved ones.  Give thanks and be grateful.  Be mindful of the fact that holidays are not always festive occasions for some people.  Extra love to those individuals.  And yes, I am [partially] one of them.  Allen and Donna, his mother, went above and beyond to prepare a delectable feast and make me feel welcome.  I cannot thank them enough.  As opposed to dwelling on those I did not get to see– my family– I will focus on my gratitude.

COMING SOONThe cat’s preparing to come out of the bag.  No longer will I stay silent about what has happened with my family, my current living situation, and how much my heart is breaking. 

With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,

Sloane

Posted in Adam, Al Jizzy, Da Real Homiez, Holidays, Kids, Maris- my soul sister, Mother Theresa, Parenting, Tatum | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fall

Countless entries commence with my [insert negative words here] over how infrequently I blog. How much has transpired and how impossible it would be to bring you fully up to speed. I’m reluctant to promise entries on a regular basis because I’ve done that before and….mission not accomplished. Now there’s just too much on my mind about what’s happening both in my life and the world at large. I can no longer afford to stay quiet, procrastinate, or let this lapse into near extinction. Time to come back with a vengeance.

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Friday night football…go Dragons! 🏈🐉

Few brings make me as delighted as a family-oriented night with my children and significant other. Aside from some mild dental issues [and easily correctible ones at that], Adam and Tatum are as healthy as can be. They both continue to enjoy their respective schools. Adam eagerly anticipate his weekly science club meeting and I am so proud he took the initiative to join. We’re still figuring out Tatum’s niche– according to my crystal ball I see gymnastics or dance in her future. Whatever activities they choose I support them wholeheartedly.

Allen never ceases to amaze me with the way he has stepped up for my little family. Truth be told, I consider it OUR little family at this point. Never again will I take for granted simple rituals, such as getting my children ready for bed. I love it when Tatum showings open my door and excitedly jumps on my bed squealing to get me up….no matter how tired I am who could resist that kind of wake up call?! Even Brother is a little less grouchy when she’s the one rousing him! Most of the our little foursome relaxes at home with Bapa, Gigi, and Freya but it’s always fun to hit the town. Family is everything.

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Nothing adds sparkle to a selfie like the reflection of your boyfriend’s toilet in the background. 🚽

Clean & sober looks good on me, eh?  Forgive my coquette-ish expression and bedroom eyes– heaven forbid all my selfies show me making the exact same face. Quelle horreur!  Yet I was feeling myself here and that doesn’t happen too often these days.  Between the 25lb+ weight gain [nobody likes it when they can’t fit into their clothes and parts start jiggling], general feelings of lethargy and depression, and fears about the future…I’m just glad I was able to capture something decent with the help of nice lighting and working my angles!

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Darren and Sarah showcase their megawatt smiles while I stand awkwardly tight lipped. 😳Imagine my surprise when I ran into an old friend, Sarah, a few weeks ago.  Turns out we’ve gone through a very similar journey

Imagine my surprise running into an old friend, Sarah, a few weeks ago.  We lost touch for quite a few years but much of our journey during that time was remarkably similar.  Now she has become one of my closet friends and I’m so lucky to have her back in my life.  It was my honor to bring her to Neshoba with me these past two Sundays.

My spiritual home and chosen family from it gives me a loving, progressive community unlike any other.  No matter how long I have been away it’s like no time has passed.  I cannot wait to immerse myself fully into this sacred place and volunteer as much as I am able.  Whether it’s RE, Room In The Inn, supervising dances, or anything in between– it would be an honor to give back to this place that has given me so much.

Speaking of R.I.T.I., that is where I had the privilege of meeting Darren.  Not only was he kind enough to be my quasi-therapist but I felt instantly at ease talking with him and we bonded quickly.  Now he is my walking buddy and one of my favorite people.  I am so glad the two of them got to cross paths!

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Meeting this brilliant, beautiful, and badass woman changed my life. 🤟🏻👣

Every once in a blue moon the cosmos align and you meet a witty, intelligent, open minded, and hilarious lady and your encounter prompts the angels to blow their trumpets and the stars to shine brighter than usual. Leslie is that person for me.  We’re embarking on a journey together and I’m so ready to be the co-pilot.  Much love.

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I must admit I felt sassy rocking that red lip. 💄

Allen, has it really been over a year since we made our relationship ‘official?!’  These 14 months haven’t exactly been continuous [there were a few minor breakups, blowup fights, and a brief stint where I dated somebody else (that we will never mention again)] but I love you more with every passing day.  I promised I wouldn’t gush on here but there is no one I’d rather go on this journey with and I can’t wait to be your wife….when the time is right and our sobriety is solid.  I love you with every ounce of my being.

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Baberz loses his tattoo virginity. 🏴💜

My significant other finally took the plunge and acquired the tattoo he’s been wanting: the Black Flag logo. Punk’s not for everyone but it’s shaped our lives for decades. He’s already planning his next couple of pieces– just as I said he would– and I was proud of how well he handles it. Sorry babe, I had to. 😂

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“There goes my hero….” 🎵💫🌸

It was only fitting that my 20th [no more teens – am I growing up now?!] tattoo was one for you. I stole the lyrics from your favorite Foo Fighters song, “My Hero.” Because Shay, you see my hero. You may be gone but you will never be forgotten. Always be loved. We will never stop fighting for the justice you deserve. Always you’ll be missed. Thank you for being one of the best friends and most influential teachers I’ve ever had. #j4shay #ghmafia

“Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is.” ~ Mae West

With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,

Sloane

Posted in Al Jizzy, Unitarian Universalists, Words of Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birfday

33 years ago something truly epic transpired…

I am so humbled by the outpouring of love and support on my special day.  Thank you to everyone who messaged/commented/texted– each and every word was read and appreciated.  How grateful I am to have some truly awesome people in my corner.  So many folks are rooting for me and truly want me to succeed.  Talk about a special feeling.  This birthday girl feels like a human being of worth and value, surrounded by positive vibes.  Thanks for bringing a smile to my face and joy in my heart.

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It wouldn’t be a legit birthday without a selfie by the fishels. 🐟🤳🏻

How does one spend their first day of their 33rd year?  After an early morning chat with my case manager at Alliance [we’ll call her Special K], I signed autographs downtown at everyone’s favorite legal destination on Poplar Avenue.  Case dismissed!  No special occasion is complete without tacos so I lunched at Babalu East.  Stop what you’re doing and go now.  I can’t believe I’ve missed out on such a glorious establishment five minutes from my home.  All that deliciousness left me exhausted so I indulged myself with a nap.  Four and a half hours of napping to be precise.  I’ll plan some belated birthday celebrations in the near future– perhaps a daytime family friendly event and an evening dinner for the grown folks– so stay tuned.

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Allen’s special gift took my breath away. 💫🌟✨

My love gave me the most meaningful present:  my own star!  I cannot wait to view the Sloagan Star through a telescope.  This has been my dream gift for years.  I jumped for joy and squealed with happiness when I learned it was a reality.  I love you with every ounce of my being, Allen.  You’re the best.

Equally valuable are the contributions made to my birthday fundraiser on Facebook honoring Grace House, a place near and dear to my heart.  $170 have been raised thus far and there are still a few days left.  How incredible is that?!  

With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,

Sloane

 

 

Posted in Al Jizzy, Da Real Homiez, Food, Legal, Love, Memphis, Restaurants, Sloane | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shay

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I had every intention of writing my eulogy with this post….but I just can’t.  Not yet.  All I can say is that I love you, Shay.

With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,

Sloane

Posted in * R. i. P. *, GH Mafia, Tennessee | Tagged , | Leave a comment

10 years of Adam

 ⭐️ Adam Harrison Reed ⭐️

….turned ten years old today!  My animated, awesomest Aries [because I did the alliteration with Tatum’s birthday post I had to follow suit with brother] finally reached  the double digit milestone.  This mama simply cannot comprehend that her firstborn child has graced us with his presence for a decade.  What?!  Have I really been a parent for that long?  Despite the fact that time often flies by at lightening speed, it still seems like forever ago since my giddy yet terrified 22 year old self gave birth at Baptist Women’s Hospital.  

Let’s take a moment to get real before I bestow heaps of praise upon him.  Adam tests boundaries and pushes buttons like no other.  I’m shocked that our smoke alarm doesn’t go off more often with all the steam rising from my ears.  There have been many a threat from the mouths of a peeved adult– Santa skipping the house indefinitely, grounded until legal adulthood, being exiled to Siberia just to name a few.  Yet there has never been a boy as caring and compassionate as my son.  He has a heart of gold that constantly manifests itself and cannot stand to see people hurting.  He is wise beyond his years and intuitive in a way most children his age aren’t.  He’s clever with a delightful sense of humor [even if much of it involves bodily functions and bizarre YouTube antics] and makes me laugh until my sides hurt.  It’s impossible to stay mad at him for long because of his charm and charisma.  I consider him my little man of the house.  When I’m giving myself grief about my shortcomings, he’s the first to leap to my defense and brighten my spirits.  His frequent affirmation that I am a “great mom who does the best she can with what she has” reassures me that I am blessed beyond measure to have this brilliant boy as my son.  Watching him love, protect, and interact with his little sister touches me to the core.  There is not a better big brother than Adam, who treats the role with reverence and respect.

Staying true to our 2018 modus operandi for the Wilke/Reed household the celebration for his actual day of birth was low key.  Considering it fell on a Monday, his major present was delayed in the mail, and we’re holding off on a joint soiree with sister….we kept it casual.  Armed with Chik Fil A and cupcakes [are we noticing a theme yet with the cuisines preferred by my children?], Dad and I hit the third grade lunch at Riverdale.

So glad I made the group photo the second the kids plopped down instead of fighting against four rambunctious boys hyped up on sugar.  🍭

Don’t write us off as world’s most dysfunctional clan because this combined birthday bash I’ve been speaking of for 4594324 years hasn’t happened.  Without going into too much detail, our family’s collective and individual plates don’t just have a lot on them– they are overflowing.  Hopefully Mr. Technology’s new iPhone [he’s not spoiled] distracts him to the point that he forgets he even has birthdays.  Maybe we’ll see him after his second decade.  😉📱

I look at this collage I made of Adam’s first five birthdays and my heart swells with pride.  That smiling, youthful toddler blossomed into a young man who makes all who love him proud.  His maturity, resiliency, and inner strength inspires me daily.  Ours may be a slightly unconventional parent/child relationship– we speak candidly with each other and I treat him as an equal [albeit at an age appropriate level– and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I want him to know that he will always have his mother as his fiercest advocate and biggest fan.  Adam, my spunky soldier, I love you.  💕

With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,

Sloane

Posted in Adam, Family, Germantown, Kids, Motherhood, My Parents, Parenting, Riverdale, School, Tatum, Will Reed, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 years of Tatum

⭐️ Tatum Maris Reed ⭐️

…turned six years old on 21 February!  My precious Pisces princess [alliteration, anyone?] celebrates another year of making our world a better place.  Time truly flies.  Within a matter of days her brother blows out his candles.  When did this happen?!
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I cannot wrap my head around the fact that it was a little over six years ago that life was a living hell as I struggled to stay afloat in California.  Dwelling on the negativity accomplishes nothing at this point and I don’t wish to detract from the lighthearted birthday post for my daughter.  Yet I will always associate my pregnancy– and her birth– with that time on the central coast.  Suffice it to say that I never take a moment for granted when it comes to my children being in the same place.

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The official birthday shot.

Because her birthday fell on a Wednesday we postponed party plans*** and kept things low key.  Allen was kind enough to spend a portion of his day off shuttling me to Collierville so we could eat lunch with her.  Dad scooped up some Chik Fil A and met us there.  The look on her face when she walked into the room and saw the three of us– priceless!

*** euphemism for life happened so we’re considering our options for the festivities

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Our seating arrangement brings a ginormous grin to her face. 😂

Tatum, I love you.  The moment you were born you lit up the darkest days of my life–and your light continues to shine at megawatt strength.  Don’t ever let anyone diminish your spark. 🕯

With infinite love, gratitude, and solitude,

Sloane

Posted in Al Jizzy, California, Family, Mother Theresa, Motherhood, My Parents, Parenting, School, Tara Oaks, Tatum, Tennessee | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment