Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Actual Letter to the Ex

What follows is the letter I sent to my Ex (the father of my two oldest kids) in response to a conversation I had with him yesterday. I had innocently asked if he could help us out with the expense of camps for the kids this summer. I was VERY proud of myself for not actually lunging for his throat during said conversation and scratching his eyeballs out. The names have been changed (and replaced in parenthesis like this) to protect the terminally stupid as well as the innocent. Enjoy.

Hello (Moron):

I hope you and (#1 Son) are enjoying each other. He's definitely a trip! I have thought a lot about our conversation of yesterday evening concerning financial issues and your comment that you pay $800 a month and that certainly includes "extras." I do not in ANY WAY wish to start an argument, however I did want to respond, as your comment kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

I am not sure how far you think $800 goes toward raising two teenagers, but in reality it just scratches the surface, and certainly does not cover any "extras." Here is some food for thought:

Food - As you will certainly see by Sunday, teenage boys eat. A lot. Often. Tween girls eat a lot also. I cook dinner almost every night - good healthy food is not cheap. When they take their own lunches (because the cafeteria food is quite frankly crap and there is never enough to fill them up), my grocery bill goes up exponentially. Add to that breakfast food, snacks, healthy drinks, etc. and it adds up. My grocery bill is $200 PER WEEK. That is currently. It will increase quite a bit in the summer.

Clothes - One shopping trip to buy some new outfits at the beginning of the school year is great, but it doesn't cover the clothing bill. I am the first one to vote for school uniforms every year when the subject comes up, but let's face it - uniforms aren't happening. We do not buy designer clothes for these kids (we can't afford to), but we don't dress them in rags either. Also add shoes to that expense. Both kids are in adult size shoes. Those aren't cheap. And, of course, there is the special equipment for their sports. Women's size cleats run about $90 on the average (and (the Princess) averages one pair per season - last season it was 2 pair). (#1 son) goes through running shoes to the tune of about 1 pair a season (he really should have two a season, as they run through all types of weather, they get wet and he wears them out quick, but he makes do). There's also the Under Armour and other cold weather gear, jackets, practice clothes, etc. I have their clothing budgeted at $100 a month, but honestly it can run much more, or less, depending on the circumstances.

Utilities - 20-30 minute showers add up. (#1 Son) takes much shorter showers now, but often he takes 2 a day. I certainly don't begrudge him that, especially when he works hard doing work around the house and in the yard. (The Princess) averages that or more, as she shaves her legs, conditions her hair, etc. Luckily she doesn't do that everyday, yet. Our laundry load per week is double as well. Then of course there are the peripherals like electricity - it takes some to run their electronics, televisions and stereos, mostly at the same time. Sure, I would have a lot of these expenses anyway, but having older children causes the bills to go up. I'm sure you notice a difference now that (Step-daughter 1) and (Step-daughter 2) don't live there anymore.

Gas - First, the truck has nothing to do with this one. The fact is, though, that we attend almost every soccer practice, technical training, meeting, activity and more (except for the one day a week when (The Princess) carpools with (a teammate) and the one practice you drove her to this season). We pick (#1 Son) up from crew practice EVERY day as well (and give some of his friends rides home). Add to that the fact that we NEVER miss a game or regatta, either home or away. Sometimes that means that (C. my Hubby) has to drive (The Princess) one direction out of town and I drive (#1 Son) in the opposite direction so that at least one of us is there. That means a lot to the kids and we choose to attend - in fact we wouldn't miss any of it. But it does cost money. Additionally, add in the incidental expenses like hotel rooms, food on the road, regatta food cost (each rower is required to provide an assigned food item in addition to the actual time that I volunteer at each race), Gatorade, etc., ad infinitum.

We also are trying to rework our budget to factor in future expenses. (#1 Son) just got his study material to get his learner's permit this week. I have been afraid to ask our insurance agent how much that is going to cost us (not to mention an added car). We're also anticipating college (hopefully you have some $$ set aside for that as well) expenses which are fast approaching. Then there's (The Princess's) braces. The financial fun never seems to end.

There are other expenses, but I think you get the picture. MOST IMPORTANTLY, I am IN NO WAY complaining, because (C.) and I have made conscious choices to raise these kids the way we do. We have chosen to give them opportunities (such as soccer and crew) because we think those activities are important to (and for) the kids and quite frankly, (#1 Son) and (The Princess) are VERY GOOD kids. They deserve everything they get and more (do not tell them I said that, though, lest they expect more! :) and they are very grateful for what they have. They show and tell us that quite often. And again, (C.) and I have made these choices, always after careful consideration and financial planning. We choose to do without some things. The truck is our first "New to Us" vehicle in 7 years. We don't have new toys or expensive clothes, nice furniture, etc. And we're OK with that. We pay our bills and life goes on - I hasten to add on a combined salary of much less than you make a year. So you can see where I was a bit offended when it seemed like you were inferring that $800 is more than enough to include "extras," as you put it. I understand that you have problems with (His new wife's ex Hubby who has custody of her kids), etc. but (C.) and I are not taking the kids' money and flying off to Vegas or taking cruises.

I DO appreciate that you have volunteered to help out with the sports fees. Travel soccer isn't cheap, and neither is crew. We'd certainly appreciate it even more if you would help us help the kids to meet their fundraising obligations for each team. That's another thing (C.) and I spend a lot of time (and money) doing.

Again, I am not wanting to argue over this at all. I just wanted to put these thoughts out to you.



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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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