I RESPECTFULLY DECLINE

at the pool saffi

'I respectfully decline your request to be asked about every small detail pertaining to the children. If you wanted to dictate every daily detail, you should have stayed married to Stefan.' Such was the email I received today from the girlfriend of my children's father. Though they are planning to marry later this year, this in no way gives her the power over children who are not her own.

'You do not get to decline anything...' was the start of my reply, followed by a repetition of the fact that she is not nor will ever be the mother of my children. My boyfriend and I decided it was about time he came into the discussions as he is on the same level as the girlfriend with regards to the role of a future step parent.

My boyfriend has been sitting on the sidelines this entire time bewildered at the way I have been treated. I tried keeping the peace and playing nice but as most people know, nice guys most often end up finishing last. Such is the unfortunate truth for most. If you do not stand up for yourself, you have only yourself to blame.

The first email I received by the girlfriend addressed the clothes my girls were wearing and the ear piercing. 'I’m sorry you didn’t like Seena’s running skirt' she started and then continued by letting me know it was made by Lululemon, '...a popular athletics designer' as if I that has any bearing whatsoever on anything. My reply was that I wished 'to raise them with values which do not include superficial focus on outward appearance. The 'Barbie' look is not something I wish for my girls.'

Her second email started with 'These issues about clothing and the late ear piercing are all trivial' and she then continued with stating 'There is no reason to refer to me as a 'barbie' or my attire to a 'slutty teenager'.' It makes it a bit difficult not referring to her as Barbie seeing how her Facebook avatar is of a Barbie doll. Trivializing matters related to clothing and ear piercing only reflects her inexperience with parenting and emphasizes her disrespect for all involved in this complex relationship.

The transition from not having seen my three children for five weeks to having them stay with me for the past two days was just as if I had seen them a week prior. The arguments between them are the same as before but I cannot help thinking how this living arrangement is affecting them.

Despite the fact that Cinnamon did not know of her friend's birthday pool party, I decided to not punish the children for the sins of their father. I had asked him to make sure to get a present for the party since I wanted my daughter to have a say in what she wanted to get for her friend. There was no gift so we set out today to purchase one.

Cinnamon selected a bracelet with a 'happy birthday' charm at the Gap. We returned home and had a little bite to eat before leaving to the pool for the party. The sky was clear and blue and the temperature was 38 degrees Celsius with the sun shining brightly. All three children played in the pool and had a great time for the next two and a half hours.

The unnecessary arguments between the adults in our families are also a source of stress for all involved and I am certain this affects the well-being of the children. My wish is to be able to move forward with my life with minimal interaction with both the children's father and his girlfriend. As it concerns my children, we the parents have the power to decide what is best for them. No, Barbie, you do not get to decline anything, respectfully or otherwise.