My husband had this terrifying maniac of a friend years ago. Lloyd. Lloyd accidentally got married one day, when the girl he was sleeping with turned his post-coital hyperbole into a short lived and deranged reality. Their marriage was brief and unhappy. When Lloyd was mad at his wife, he’d get up in the night and ejaculate into her hair. Lloyd.
They had one son, possibly delivered after their divorce. My husband was actually sympathetic with Lloyd when he would declare sorrow that he would never see the boy. His ex-wife flat out wouldn’t let him, apparently. And what’s more, he knew the child would grow up hating him, poisoned by his mother’s version of history. I wanted to know why Lloyd was sitting around whining. Why wasn’t he in court, fighting for his son? What kind of father says goodbye to his only blood (which was the case for Lloyd) that easily?
Well, Lloyd is a terrible example of anything except how to stockpile firearms in your trailer. But there are millions of other people in this world who don’t fight very hard to keep children they love in their lives. And shame on them, I thought.
Recently I got a message detailing in what manner my daughter would be allowed to visit with children that we both love. The children’s parent wants me removed from his life, but doesn’t extend that demand to my daughter. He also allows me to see his children, whom I love, on very specific and difficult-to-fulfill terms.
So, the visit could take place, though I would need to drive for a few hours and check into a motel to be in the town they live in. I’ve tried doing it all in one day before and 7 hours in the car with small kids, ug. From there, my daughter would be picked up by a neutral party and taken to the visit. I was specifically told that I am not allowed to be near the place of the visit or “show up unexpected.” I was not told the locale of the visit. Possibly the next day I could see the other children, the ones who I so dearly miss, but no promises.
This might be the only time these children get to see each other this year, because these negotiations are so hard. And they seem a bit one sided, mainly consisting of my asking, cajoling, wheedling, reminding, conceding, and a dozen other things it doesn’t feel good to do. How many split parents must feel like this?
The message chewed me up good, tho. The first thing I thought toward that parent (and I will specify it is only one of the parents…the other remains pleasant and as neutral as possible considering the apparent depth of her partner’s hatred toward me) was no.
“No, I’m not debasing myself like this. I’m not taking orders about where I’m allowed to go. I’m not participating in your hatred of me. If you’re going to treat me like this, I’m ducking out.”
Pride. Anger. They don’t do me any good, do they?
All those parents who hate each other. But they have to be tied together for the rest of their lives, sharing money and milestones. They have to agree to demands, and compromise in ways that feel nothing like a compromise, only a humiliating supplication. The brave ones swallow their pride, and show up for the kids with a courteous smile for the ex.
My situation is different, but I’m going to have to do that, too.
Before my daughter left for school, while the message was fresh and gnawing in my blood, I asked her, “Do you miss X? And’s X’s mom and dad?”
“You love all of them, huh?”
It may not be worth much in the end…maybe the other kids won’t remember me, won’t realize that I tried. Maybe it does not make my daughter a happier, emotionally richer child to be around those others. Maybe the visits don’t matter as much as I think.
Oh god It hurts and it offends and it’s sometimes unbearably sad. But I’m going to make those motel reservations. Because I love them, and I have to know – and have to show – that I tried.