When we arrived home, I noticed that the kids' tracks went all around the house, to all the doors. Because I was concerned that we had left a door unlocked, and because the kids snow clothes were still piled right by the back door where they were when we left, I asked B what door they went in and why they didn't take the snow clothes. "The back door," B answered.
A narrowed her eyes suspicously. "Did Daddy go inside?" she asked, since she wasn't with the other two kids at the time.
"Yes," B responded. "He wanted other clothes so he said, 'I'm coming in this house!' and went up to get the long underwear and my sweatpants and some other stuff."
I was shocked and upset by this. It felt so invasive to have someone that I'm not on particularly friendly terms with walking around in my house -- all the way upstairs, to the kids' rooms -- when I wasn't home and without my (or Kathy's) permission. We then found out that he took a car key that the nanny had left at our house, which was in another room. The long underwear was in a bin in front of the attic door, the sweatpants were in the girls' room, and the key was near the front door and under a pile of our mail. It seems like he essentially ransacked our house for anything he felt entitled to take. Not only that, but he didn't even take the snow clothes -- which were conveniently right by the door, and were supposedly the reason he went in our house in the first place. I was outraged.
Frankly, I don't know why I was so surprised. If this was a first-time occurrence, it would be one thing. However, this happens every time we go out of town. EVERY TIME. When we went away for a week last summer, and Kathy's mom stayed at our house with A, the ex-husband pushed right past Kathy's mom, went up to the girls' room to look at their hamster, sorted through our mail to see if anything was for him (although why would it be?), and looked through our kitchen drawers, ostensibly for a pen. Each and every time we are out of town, he invents a reason to come into our home and look through our things. It doesn't matter what we say or do.
I don't know what the right thing to do is, though. On the one hand, I want to change the locks and give a key only to our trusted neighbor, and lock the house up tight each time I leave, so I know it won't happen again. But on the other hand, I want the kids to feel like our house is their home. The reason they were allowed in for their clothes is because it is their home. You shouldn't be locked out of your home. But how do I navigate setting a boundary around my own personal privacy, while still creating a home for the kids that they feel is theirs? How do we let the kids in when we aren't home, but keep their father out?