Someone wrote about the very strong boundaries she has with her ex-husband. She went so far as to say that she hoped in the upcoming years she could say, “He cheated on me and I never saw or spoke to him again.” I can appreciate that.
As you may expect while many people were cheering her on one person had to ask, “How do you think that’s going to affect your children?” Naturally it must be so difficult for the children to have a mom who won’t suck up to their lying, cheating dad. Throw in a phrase or two about the poor lambs being uncomfortable when the parents aren’t together and how they’ll be forced to choose sides, right along with the requisite story about feuding parents that won’t attend major milestones because of their “bitterness” and “rage”.
Her response could have been my response. Why does it fall to us to once again suck it up? It’s not enough that many times we’re thrust back into the workforce, lose time with our children, work 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet, are responsible for everything child related because the fuckwit is off living his (or her) best life, have to handle the divorce, are being dragged through the mud by the lying cheater, and we’re emotionally exhausted and feeling unloved and unworthy. No, on top of all of those other things we’ve been charged with doing we are also under an obligation to make nice with the very person that put us in that situation.
Think of the children? I’m pretty sure that’s what I did when I worked two retail jobs at Christmas. It’s what I did when I got up and went into work at 2 in the morning because we got 2 trucks during the Christmas season. It’s what I did when I was working 14 and 16 hour days to provide my kids with a Christmas because their dad, the one I’m supposed to “work with” and be cordial to, wasn’t sending a single nickel their way. It’s what I did when I continued to work two jobs even after I got hired on full-time because I knew that I didn’t make enough money at the one full-time job. It’s what I did every time I cried on my way to work, wiping my tears before walking in, whether that was into Target at some ungodly hour or a bank branch in those early days. It’s what I did when I went to the plasma center after work twice a week from August through January, just to ensure I wasn’t dependent on the spousal and child support Jerry Lee sent when he felt like it, modifying it to suit his whims (gotta have money for the whore and her kids). That’s what I did every time I had to break the bad news to my kids, every time I held one of them while they cried. It’s what I’ve done while trying to get Picasso the help he needs and Rock Star the help she needs. It’s what I’ve done the entire seven years since I found out about him and Harley. I’ve shown up. I’ve been there. I’ve done the hard jobs. When he walked away I stuck around. And now you want me to smile and play nice with that motherfucker? Because that’s what’s best for the children?
What if what’s best for my kids is seeing their mom establishing healthy boundaries instead of being a doormat? What if what is best for my kids is me telling them that they don’t have to tolerate people treating them badly? That it’s fine to terminate a relationship that is bad for them. What if teaching my kids that I’m a human being and not some robot is what is best for my kids?
These people have already taken so much from us. Why is it our duty to enable them even further?
As I asked, would you be telling someone to smile and be cordial to their ex if that person had pulled a gun on them? Or beat them unconscious? Or abused their children? If not, why not? Must we get to the point where someone is physically attacked before we can legitimately detach from them?
I’m not one of those people who think that children are irreparably damaged because their divorced parents aren’t buddy buddy. I have no problem with someone telling their child: Your relationship with your father is between the two of you. You need to learn to navigate that on your own. But you also need to realize that the relationship I have with your father is mine to navigate. We don’t have similar experiences so we’re not going to view him through the same lens.
And what’s with this pearl clutching at the idea of Mom and Dad not standing side by side at an awards banquet, or graduation, or even a wedding? I don’t know about you but I didn’t talk to everyone at Rock Star’s graduation. When my kids were in elementary school I didn’t talk to everyone at the awards assemblies. When they played sports I didn’t talk to everyone at the sporting event.
I’ve written about Rock Star’s graduation. I gave Jerry Lee the ticket. I was even the person who offered him a ticket via text message, fully expecting he would come back with some venomous reply. My thought process was, “Oh well. His loss. I tried. I did what I thought was right.” Instead, he shocked me and was actually very thankful. He came to my place of employment. I gave him the ticket. There was no big fanfare. We didn’t reminisce. He took the ticket and left. We didn’t sit together at the ceremony, not that she would have known if we did seeing as how she was down with the graduating class and we were up in the stands. Picasso wouldn’t have known either as he was playing down in the orchestra. My mom saw him and was infuriated by the fact he wore a suit. I saw him. Didn’t give a shit about the suit. I sat with a group of 7 others; he sat alone. I took pictures of her and with her and then headed to the restaurant. He came out of the shadows, cried his crocodile tears and made everything about himself. She joined us at the restaurant. He wasn’t invited.
I could be completely wrong although I don’t think I am but none of this seemed to bother my daughter. No scene was made. I doubt anyone in my vicinity was thinking, “Wow- the anger radiating from her is intense!” or, “Golly gee that woman sure is bitter!” And Rock Star wasn’t sobbing hysterically, “Why can’t I have a picture with my mommy AND my daddy? I just want you two to be best friends for one night. Can’t I have that, please?”
You know what did happen though? Aside from his crocodile tears and making it all about himself, of course. He cut child support in half and prorated his support for her down to the half hour when she graduated. When I dared to question him about this and told him this wasn’t correct he told me to read my divorce decree and then called me a cunt because he was forced to recognize that I was right and he was wrong.
Yet there will always be those Pollyanna’s who urge you to put aside all sense of self-preservation in order to take another beating from the person who has already abused you.
No thanks. If ignoring that motherfucker so hard it makes him doubt his own existence is the worst I do to him then he got off easy.