My younger sister, Maria, is a much better person than I am. She always has been. She's got our grandfather's patient gentleness. So when she chided me for not calling John to wish him a happy Father's Day, I wasn't altogether surprised.
However, I WAS surprised by the other folks who went out of their way to remind me that Father's Day was coming and I should make every effort to let John know how appreciated and valued he is as the father of my children.
Funny - where were ANY of these people as Mother's Day approached? 'Cause this was the pathetic excuse for a message I got- by text- after dinner... an afterthought so he could say he messaged me should someone ask what he did.
After long debate with who, exactly? And how was there even a debate? I guess he considers "better judgement" to be not acknowledging me in any way (which is likely given that's his typical MO anyway - Mother's Day or otherwise).
And the half-assed apology at the end is nothing more than his attempt to alleviate responsibility for not having said something sooner. The entire message is a train-wreck from start to finish. A simple "Happy Mother's Day" would've saved everyone an awful lot of eye-twitching. But apparently even acknowledging that I'm a good mother is not something he's capable of doing without insult.
So when these folks kept bringing up Father's Day and cautioning me to coddle him despite his complete and utter selfish, destructive and thoughtless actions over the last year (not just regarding me, but the boys as well), it was all I could do not to scream.
I didn't need them telling me I should do something to acknowledge him as their father. Ya know why? Because I'm not a terrible person. I recognize that it's not actually "better judgement" to ignore, or worse, insult him on a day meant to celebrate him.
So I did the same thing I did last year - RIGHT AFTER the whole divorce thing blew up. No one was telling me to remember John then because no one really knew about the divorce. I didn't need anyone telling me how NOT to be a self-centered, arrogant jerk. I didn't need anyone saying what they all seem to think they need to say now (yet suspiciously NOT to John).
Just like last year, I got some craft stuff together and helped Vincent make something for his father. Last year it was a coloring book filled with prompts like "I love Daddy because..." where Vince would fill in the sentence and draw a corresponding picture. That thing took a full MONTH to complete. This year, I dressed both boys up and got pictures. With the pictures, I had Vincent paint and glue together a plaque for him (and you can imagine the thoroughly entertaining mess the paint made).
Just like in years past, I helped Vincent (and now Nathan) put together something for their father (and Pop). I took an active role in TEACHING my sons that their father is someone worthy of respect and appreciation. I taught them (and will continue to teach them) that it's important to set aside time for the people they love by making thoughtful gifts.
And while it might not seem like a big project, it probably took us about 6 hours over the course of two days to finish painting these suckers. Vince was especially proud of his Minecraft Creeper face. Can't say I blame him. It came out mighty fine. Ha ha.
Anyway, the point is, I didn't need any of those people reminding me to be a decent person. I'm more than capable of that, myself. And on top off this gift, I also allowed him to take both boys overnight so he'd have them all day Sunday. I drove all the way down to Ocean City (and back) so he and his family could enjoy them for Father's Day.
So did I send him a pathetic, passive-aggressive message on Father's Day via text message like he sent to me for Mother's Day? No. Because I never was, nor will I ever be, that sort of person. My children need to learn what "Honor Thy Father" means, and it's my job to teach them.
And so I do, and so I shall. Reminders from the peanut gallery are unnecessary.
Because I am resolved to give what is necessary... not what is deserved.
I was talking to a friend of mine last night. He's happily married (going on 6 years) and has two children with his wonderful wife (both friends of mine from college).
Anyhow, he was asking about Nate, my 7 month old. Poor kid has been feverish the last few days and things had taken a nasty turn yesterday morning. He asked if John was sticking around to help out with Nathan because of how bad his fever was.
I was actually confused by the question. Why would John stick around? I could handle Nathan well enough on my own.
He explained, "No, I'm not implying you can't take care of Nate. I'm saying that if he were my son, I'd stick around to help out because I'd want to do what I could to make things better."
I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Meh. He probably doesn't think there's anything left for him to do and he did bring the Motrin I asked for."
He then said, "Is he at least coming early tomorrow?"
I actually laughed out loud and said, "No. There is absolutely zero chance he'll be here early."
Again, I was confused by the question. Why would John come early when I could take care of Nate?
However, at 3AM it hit me why my friend had been so appalled that John shirked his responsibilities in such a manner. Somewhere in between Nate puking all over the bed, floor, me, the cat (sorry Lucy) and waking up Vince with his inconsolable sobbing, I could've used a hand (or 10). Having not slept and struggling to properly care for this poor, sweet baby who couldn't get comfortable was just not working out well for anyone, Vincent included.
Had John actually recognized that his place was with his family, he would have been able to put Vincent back to bed, help clean the mess, possibly soothe the baby while I cleaned the mess, or any number of things. But John doesn't view family as a priority unless it's his "turn" to do so.
Problem is, parenting is not babysitting, but that's precisely how John has always treated it. It's infuriating, because you cannot cut up parenting like that. It's not always a 50/50 thing, but he nickels and dimes and will hold grudges until the field is made equal in his mind.
And stupid me, it never occurred to me just how incredibly asnine this has been. So many times in the past I've simply made excuses for him as to why it was okay to treat things in this manner. "Oh, he just wants to take Vince to play basketball and it'll be good bonding for them." "Oh, John has a dodgeball game to attend, I'll watch Vince, no problem." And when I'd suggest doing things together as a family, I'd always go out of my way to understand why he just couldn't do them. "Oh, he must be tired from working all week" (COMPLETELY ignoring the fact that I'd been doing the same), or "Oh, he hates being outside in the heat, so it's okay that he skips out on the Children's Garden this time..."
My God, it's like I had Stockholm Syndrome. I made excuses and extended sympathy instead of calling him out for his selfish, juvenile behavior. Worse, I WAS STILL DOING IT!
So when he came over the other morning, I ripped into him. He was taken aback and angry with me for blowing up the way I did (and in truth, I probably could've come up with a more diplomatic way of addressing the situation). That being said, I frankly didn't care.
Because ya know what his response was to me? Complaints. About how tired HE is and how hard it is from HIM to travel back and forth. About how hard juggling work and parenting responsibilities is for HIM.
Oh shut your face.
He's seriously so far out of touch with reality that I'm amazed he's made it this far in life.
Guess even Stockholm Syndrome has its limits once you realize what's actually going on.
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