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Of Two Minds

The sad state of affairs is that many (not all, thank God) single parents have to be both Mom and Dad to their children. I’m no exception, and I think I need more practice.

At times, I want to be the softer, indulgent Mom who says, “Oh, they’re so sweet, it will be ok. Come give me a hug.” But then I remember that I’m trying to raise them to be good men, so I have to become a hardass with them again.

I watched my mom and my YY with them over Thanksgiving and was simultaneously jealous and a little frustrated at how indulgent they could both be. I forget though that for me the antics and craziness of the boys is common and therefore annoying…but for family who don’t get to see them, it’s cute and playful, and “Aren’t they adorable?” No, actually, they aren’t. I’ve told them 10 times NOT to say “butt” at every opportunity. It ceased being cute about six weeks ago.

I’m not out trying to get re-married anytime soon…and the way my personal life has gone in the past few days, the odds of it happening are even slimmer than a week ago…but, there are some things that I hope I don’t have to do and that by the time we get to these milestones, I’ll have found them a father…and in some cases, any ole father will do – even their own…

Puberty – please don’t make me explain why there’s hair down there…please. And God help us all if I have to explain what happened to a boy in the middle of the night and why the sheets have to be changed.

Sex – my idea of dealing with this is to make sure they have a supply of condoms, because I refuse to raise grandchildren while my own children are still in high school. But at some point, a conversation is going to have to occur with regards to Tab A and Slot B. I really don’t want to be in the room for that one.

Driving – I didn’t get my license until I was 19…because I was just that bad. And I’m a cautious driver who, when nervous, drives like an old woman.

The proper way to treat girls/women – Ideally, they would see this done the right way, but my life doesn’t seem to want to cooperate right now, so someone’s going to have to explain it to them. I could do this, but don’t these lessons sink in more from a guy who can tell you what happens when you don’t?

While I’m not on the prowl or anything, I hope that a miracle occurs, and I’m not doing the single mom thing until they’re in their 20s – at which time, I shouldn’t be doing anymore raising of anyone.

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A Letter To Their Father

I’ve done this before…it’s cathartic…and I know I could never get him to listen to this, so why bother trying?  But my head has been in a fog and if I don’t get it out, I may explode…

To Their Father:

I use that term loosely, I hope you realize that.  You haven’t been a real father to the boys in more than a year and a half…and looking back on your idea of what it meant to be a stay-at-home father, I’m not sure you were so hot at it before we split…

You only come around when I give you a reason…you don’t support them…you don’t even know what their day-to-day lives are like…because you don’t ask…because you don’t engage…because you have faded to a distant background…

And now you’ve moved away…six hours away…and you didn’t tell your children…you didn’t say good-bye to them…what kind of father does that?!  The moving part is understandable…I get that…but to not explain to the boys that it would be a while before they saw you again…to not ease it for them?  Why?  Because it was too hard for you?  Well, fuck, a lot of this is hard…you’ve got it easy…you get to hide behind your pain and check out…and now you took the easy way out of the hardest thing you’ve done yet…didn’t you?

I was reminded recently that maybe it’s better that you aren’t around the boys…I don’t want them to end up like you…I want them to understand the value of hard work…the value of keeping their commitments…I want better for them than we have provided so far…

I held out hope in our marriage for a better life…and I continued holding on to hope through the past year and a half…hope that you would step up…hope that you would contribute…hope that you wouldn’t let your relationship with the boys suffer…it took me 12 years to give up hope on you and me…and it took me a year and half to give up hope when it comes to you as a father – the only thing I ever wanted from you in the divorce: be a good father…and you couldn’t do it, could you?

Well, your absence from their lives is your loss…remember that…

They are going to be fine…because I will make sure they’re fine…I will do what I’ve always done – I’ll continue to make sure you don’t look like an ass to your children…I will continue to make sure they never believe you just left them…you will always be “at work,” “at home,” or whatever else I can conjure up…

But don’t be surprised if there comes a day when someone else has taken your place…a place you walked away from…a place you gave up…

And by the way, stop asking me why I sound tired all the damn time…it’s because I am tired…playing the part of two parents takes it out of a person…maybe if you’d step up as a father, I’d be a little less “tired.”

Sincerely,
One Pissed Off Mama

Rougher Than Most

Father’s Day hasn’t been my favorite day for 10 years…10 years without my dad.  The first one was the hardest…the first one after my mom met The Step wasn’t easy for me…but after I had the boys, it became less painful because I focused on The Ex instead.  Last year, I thought more about my own dad than I did anything else – probably because The Ex was still around for Aidan and Sean (sort of)…

This year has been rougher than most…

Aidan made a Father’s Day card for The Ex that said: “You’re the best dad ever.”  And I wanted to cry – for multiple reasons.  First because this beautiful little boy still thinks his dad is the best one ever…and second because he doesn’t know it’s supposed to be better than this…he doesn’t know that dads are supposed to see their children more than once every couple of weeks…he doesn’t know that dads are supposed to make an effort to be a part of their children’s lives…he doesn’t know what he’s missing…

I’m not such a cold-hearted bitch that I would ever tell Aidan he’s wrong about his dad.  I purposefully don’t say a single negative thing about The Ex to either of the boys…and they adore their absentee father.  Good for them…I suppose.  He’s a lucky man, and he has no fucking clue.  He has the love of the two most beautiful boys on the planet…they don’t care that he’s broke…they don’t care that his living conditions are unusual – Aidan is dying to see where his dad lives…all they care about is him and being able to spend time with him.

Today, because it was the right thing to do (and only for that reason), I took the boys to see their dad…it was only an hour and a half – and yes, I would give him more time if he wanted it…but they were ecstatic…time with their dad is a precious thing…

I’m not a fool – I took that moment to do something without the boys…I went to the grocery store…it was the best $50 I’ve spent in a long time because I was able to focus on the task at hand…it was wonderfully luxurious…and I was fine…until I got to the car and realized it was time to go get the boys…and I started thinking…

I thought about my own dad and how much I miss him…especially when life is hard…I know if he were alive, he’d give me rough, no-nonsense advice that would sound (to the untrained ear) more like yelling…but I would pay attention and consider what he said…I don’t begrudge my mother one moment of happiness with The Step – but it doesn’t make me stop wishing Daddy was still alive…knowing what I know now, I’d rather be the child of a divorce and have both my parents than this

I thought about The Ex and how much of an idiot he is…I know that he loves the boys…and I think he shies away to keep from hurting…it must hurt to be away and be under the strain he’s experiencing…I get that…but to me, his are the actions of a coward…everybody hurts…everybody gets scared and stressed…we all know I’ve gone through those emotions a million times…but I haven’t walked away from my responsibilities…I haven’t walked away from the people I love because it’s somehow “easier!”

I thought about the boys and how I want so much better for them…I now understand what it is to look at a man and assess him – not on his looks, his clothes, his car…but on his ability as a partner, as a parent, as a provider…it’s a strange thing…it makes the whole process a lot more clinical that’s for sure…thankfully, I still have a little mojo in me, so it’s not completely sterile and clinical…ha!  It also makes me very picky…so far, in my limited experience, I’ve only come across one man who fits the bill…and we’re in a holding pattern…and I’m learning patience…

Overall, the only thing that matters is that the boys had a good time today…all they know is that they saw their dad and they had fun…and in the end, that’s probably all that really matters on a day like today…

To all the real men in this world who love, nurture, and provide for your children in whatever way you can, I say, Happy Father’s Day.

Dealing With Dear Old Dad

I thought I knew how today was going to go…I thought there would be sadness…I thought there would be awkwardness…I thought it would suck…

Like everything in life, I should have checked my expectations at the door…

After 10 years, my mom and I were finally prepared to do something with my dad – his ashes, his urn, his remains…and we could think of no better place than with my great-grandmother who he adored…

We pulled up to the cemetery (I hate cemeteries, by the way)…my aunt and uncle seemed to know exactly where to go…and my stomach immediately began to knot…this was happening…this was really happening…oh my fucking God…

Being the people we are, we immediately began tidying up…we cleaned off my great-grandparents’ headstone…we cleaned off another family headstone…we freaked out about the hole that either belonged to a snake or a mole…I apologized to all the dead people I was stepping on…and then the moment came…we were supposed to pop the cork, so to speak…and we all just looked at one another…and shuddered…

What if we were standing in the wrong direction and got sprayed with remains? What if we couldn’t pry the lid off?? What if there was something other than dust in there? OK, so that last one was just me…

So we buried his urn…yep, that’s what we did…go ahead, be horrified…call us chicken…whatever…we’ve never been the type of people to act normal in any situation…

I really thought I would be weepier…and for a second I did tear up…but I did what I usually do – I sucked it up…

I don’t need my dad in a can next to me to be able to feel him with me, to be able to talk to him…everytime I hear “Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay” or “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” I know he’s with me…everytime I’m too blunt and straightforward, he’s with me…everytime I work and function through hard shit or pain, there he is…I don’t need his ashes for him to be with me…

I felt something shift in me as we covered his urn with dirt and tamped it down…it reminded me of the shift I felt when he died…that day, I immediately felt the need to take care of my mom while she grieved, the way he would have – and I was no longer willing to take anyone’s crap (unfortunately, that didn’t last forever)…

Today it was more of a feeling of strength…a desire to be less nervous about life…an urgency to make changes, to be different, to be better, to be more alive

Thanks Daddy…I love you…and in my own twisted way, I will always be a Daddy’s girl…

Laughter…LOTS of Laughter

My stomach hurts…from laughing until I’ve cried…from laughing until I’ve nearly peed in my pants…

I didn’t anticipate today being this way…

10 years ago today, my dad died…he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)…once he caught pneumonia, he never recovered – which is typical with people who have ALS…my mom and I made the decision to take him off life support, which he would have wanted….we knew he wanted to be cremated, so we picked out the urn together…together we got the house ready for his Irish wake style party to celebrate his life…

I was 22 and about to graduate college…always thinking of my education, he died at the start of my spring break and I barely missed school…the post about all that is coming…because tomorrow, we are finally scattering his ashes…in the only place that made sense…

Today surprised me…my mom and I speeding down the road, heading closer to something we both dread…that should have been a recipe for disaster…but we talked, we laughed, we pranked YY who was simultaneously heading up from south Florida…

We don’t do well when either of us is stressed…we had our moments where she was tense or when I rambled a little too much…but then we’d jokingly text message YY something, watch her fall for it, and start laughing again…

We laughed as we walked into the hotel…we laughed as we tried to get in our room (unsuccessfully)…we laughed when we back downstairs to talk to the crazy lady at the desk to get our key fixed…we laughed through dinner…we laughed through Target…we laughed while we visited with YY…my stomach hurts…

I dread what’s coming tomorrow, no matter how necessary…and since we’re a family that believes in finding something to laugh about in every situation, I know tomorrow won’t be all bad…but I am glad I had today to laugh with abandon…I’m going to need the memory of today tomorrow…

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