D..... My background on my response comes from sitting on both sides of the fence - both as someone who watched a husband trying to see his children from his first marriage and from the other side of the fence where you sit now. That being said, you may not like my response, but it comes from my experience.
My advice – COMMUNICATE! COMMUNICATE! COMMUNICATE! You need to find a way to communicate with your ex-husband on these matters so there are no surprises like this in the future. If you don't communicate with each other, you're only setting yourself up to have more of these types of incidents occur. Believe me, this type of turmoil benefits no one – not you, not your ex-husband and most importantly, a drama-fest over visitation does NOT benefit your children.
Since he did not take the lead in communicating with you, I would take the lead in communicating with him. You may think that it’s not your responsibility to take the lead and I won’t debate that point with you at all. But, consider for just a moment that as a man, he may be terribly embarrassed and even angry to have to ask you for permission to see his own children. How would you feel if the situation were reversed? He may also be embarrassed to have to admit to you, his ex-wife, that he doesn’t have the funds to pay daycare on top of child support. For a man, admitting to you that he can’t pay the additional funds for daycare is psychologically equivalent to admitting failure as a man - not something you want to do with a woman whom you’ve already failed as a husband. Regardless of whose responsibility it is, you need find a way to have good communication with your ex-husband on all matters pertaining to your children.
Secondly, my advise if FLEXIBILITY AND COMPROMISE. I’m not talking about “giving in” compromise. I’m talking about compromise that benefits the children. I would just encourage you and tell you that your children need both of you. In order to be healthy, well-rounded adults, they need a relationship with not only you but their father as well. It will be a terrible loss to them if they grow up without having that relationship with their father. Sometimes, both of you are going to have to bend the letter of the law and be flexible and compromise in order to make this happen. I’ve watched my daughter-in-law for years refuse to bend. My daughter-in-law’s ex-husband is a soldier. He was deployed overseas in Iraq and managed to get home on leave. She refused to allow him to see the children while he was on leave because it was not his court ordered visitation time. Personally, I think her actions were unconscionable court order or not. Her actions did not benefit her children. This was a time when flexibility and compromise for the good of the children should have been exercised.
Personally, I would not have made plans without first picking up the phone and giving the ex a call to find out what the scoop was and why he didn't show up. BUT, I've danced at this rodeo before and experience has taught me the importance of communication. This is your first dance.
Since neither of you communicated with each other regarding visitation this month, I strongly encourage you to do so now and find a compromise that both of you are comfortable with. More importantly, find a solution that benefits the children.