I’ve been thinking about what on earth to write today. I continue to be in a strange mood, grappling with hormones as well as basic self-esteem issues. Typical garbage, you know.
ETA: I should warn you, I hadn’t intended it to be this way, but this post ends up a bit raw so if you’re not up for that kind of thing right now, you might want to go read something funny instead.
This weekend was very unusual. It was the kids’ weekend with their father but Eldest’s dojo had a field trip to a water park so I asked Ex if he could stay with me so I could take him and he said sure. So he had the two little ones and I had the big one.
It is seriously, a completely different world when it’s one adult and one child aged 7 to 8. I spoiled Eldest rotten this weekend. It was just me and him. Neither of us could remember the last time the stars had aligned to allow for that sort of thing.
See? There are major perks to divorce, too. Let’s not write the whole thing off as a disaster, ok?
Daughter has a best friend whose birthday party was Sunday. As soon as I received the E-vite, I checked with her father, told him it was a spa type of party and he insisted to RSVP yes. Either a female family member would take her or he’d go. After all, he knew Daughter adored this girl and she adored her right back. He told me knew how important it would be to her to attend.
She didn’t go.
I felt devastated. I felt really bad for Daughter missing this. It was a huge deal, at a little girls’ spa, and she was really looking forward to it. Not to mention she is yet to grasp things like time and dates so it was hard for her to really understand when it was—and that she’d missed it.
I was so angry. But there was more than a simple missed party that had me so wound up.
The way I saw it was this: this is such a small, simple thing your daughter would have absolutely loved. I mean, she would have had a smile from ear to ear and would’ve been thrilled you’d taken her. But you didn’t do something so simple for her.
For the cherry on top, I found out Baby and Daughter were taken to a birthday party the day before for some child I don’t know—either a friend of the family or the girlfriend. So, a stranger’s party was a yes because he’d have lots of help but his daughter’s best friend was a no because he’d have to endure it by himself?
I thought more about what the heck I was feeling and realized something else. I still desperately seek signs that, to me, demonstrate Ex is a loving father and that perhaps I wasn’t a complete and total freaking idiot being with him, bringing his children into the world, etc.
He fails to prove me right again and again. As a matter of fact, when I vented this idea to my mother she said, “No, no, no. You were ‘a total freaking idiot’. The only good thing you did as far as he’s concerned was have those amazing kids.”
Friday night, Ex didn’t have the kids call me as they usually do when with him. Friday night, he was at a strip club. Don’t ask me how I know, just accept the fact I do and there is indisputable evidence.
What Ex continues to prove right is my decision to leave him. And he makes me worry.
One of the things I was determined to do was take advantage of the fact Ex cares about how people view him and so I wrote up a parenting plan that involved frequent visits with the children—every Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning and every other Friday afternoon to Monday morning.
I knew there’d be no way in hell he’d turn that down because it’d be enough time to show people what an “awesome” dad he was but it was also more than enough time to live the single life he coveted so deeply.
Now, I worry if maybe the kids have too much time with him.
If this is the kind of guy that can’t be bothered to take his daughter to her best friend’s birthday party, who always manages to have a pack of people around him watching his children for him, who can’t go a week without overdrafting his bank account– is this really the best thing for the kids?
Do I have a choice?
We so want to protect our children from hurt and pain and heartbreak. But, we can’t.
Then again, maybe, I’m over-thinking things. Maybe, Ex is good enough a father to the kids that they are satisfied with him. Perhaps, whatever things he is missing are fulfilled with contact through my family and friends.
It is, after all, with my brother MutantWino that Eldest has an amazingly close relationship. And it is with my Friend that is a Boy the kids get insanely rowdy and physical with. My father provides them with a social worker’s ear backed by major grandfatherly love, concern, and affection.
When I took the court-mandated divorce class, it stressed children never need to know the complete and whole truth about a divorce.
This annoys the hell out of my mother. It makes sense to me but I know it’s going to be a potentially bitter pill to swallow.
I know because of women like Co-Worker. She was with a man who enjoyed spending nights out, drinking, womanizing, etc. He had affairs and she eventually left him. The man never takes their children even on the days he’s been scheduled to do so. He hardly sees them, hasn’t paid child support ever, and yet…
When he does drop in to see them, they are ecstatic, overjoyed, and worship him. They will tell you what a great dad he is and how he’s totally awesome. They’re teenagers. Co-Worker has done an excellent job of keeping her lips sealed and as a result the girls have only seen their father in the most wonderful, golden light.
They never saw through the bullcrap. They never questioned things. They swallowed the honey whole.
The standards for him are low and easy to fill. They are satisfied. The standards for her are much higher and more difficult to fill. They are satisfied but prone to anger, jealousy, and frustration she must deal with.
My mother is convinced Daughter will “avenge” me so to speak. MutantMom just knows Daughter will not be fooled nor is she so mild to simply swallow the lies whole. She will question. She will call him out. She will know. She will reduce her father to dust.
I’m not so assured. I don’t really want that either. Why? What good does it do me to have a Daughter who is angry with her father- unsatisfied and empty?
The class also shared a bit of information I wasn’t aware of: A child takes an ill word about their parent as badly as if the ill word were about them.
That’s why when they protest the prospect of going home with him, I fight the bile in my throat and assure my children their father loves them so very much and wants them to be happy and enjoy their time with him.
I assure my children their father has their best interests at heart.
And maybe he does, but if he does, it’s obviously expressed in ways that I just can’t wrap my head around.
It’s precisely the problem I had with him directly. I never felt completely and truly loved by that man. I never felt my feelings, desires, wishes were every truly considered and weighed. If he loved me, he wasn’t showing it in ways I could pick up on.
Maybe my children can pick up on it, though, and I’m worrying about a pain that doesn’t exist, a potential for hurt that is unlikely to happen. As strange as that would be, it would be the best thing, no?
I hate that I doubt myself so much. I hate that I second-guess everything I do with respect to the children. I hate that I seek assurances from other people– including their father. After all, isn’t that what was behind my real anger and frustration? Disappointment with myself as I was faced with more evidence that holy crap did I choose a bad man to father my children.
Forget trusting others, I don’t trust myself.
I remember when I was struggling with my decision to divorce or not, I was so conflicted.
In the end, it wasn’t the belief I was doing the absolute best thing for my family. It wasn’t the belief I was doing the absolute best thing for myself. It was simply this: I would never, ever, want Daughter to live the life I was living and if it wasn’t good enough for her– it wasn’t good enough for me.
I had to remove myself from the picture to see clearly.
Once I did that, I was able to understand more deeply, embrace my decision completely, and move on. But it didn’t come from inside me right away. I had to pull it from somewhere else.
Sometimes, that bothers me. Sometimes, that encourages me.
I wish there was an endless, internal supply of strength, confidence, and self-assuredeness to draw upon. I wish I had all of the fuel I needed to keep myself going forward clearly, determinedly, passionately.
I’m not sure if that sort of thing is possible. I want it to be, not just for me but for my children also and for everyone I know that’s gone to the well for another boost and found it dry.
I want it so that there aren’t days where I’m looking in the mirror and I know, on some level, that I look quite pretty today but I can’t accept it because no one’s really said anything to me. And by the time someone does, it rings empty and false in my ears because I’ve convinved myself that no, I look quite ordinary today and that’s all and that’s good enough, I guess.
I want it so when my children tell me of the latest thing their father did or didn’t do, I can laugh at how silly and off this planet he is and yet I can know in the deepest core of me that it doesn’t really matter because my children are just fine, better than fine, because they’ve got me looking out for them.
I want it so I can sleep well at night, even if I’m all alone.
I want it so I don’t feel I have something to prove all of the time.
I want it so I can be calm inside and steady on the outside– reliable, steadfast.
I want it so when I hear the line on a really cheesy song that says, “God looks after children and fools and you’re not, so who’s going to look after you?” I can answer, “Me” without missing a beat.