Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not a “hate my ex” letter

January 7, 2010

I don’t hate ate my ex-husband. He’s done the best he’s able to do with the tools he’s been given in life. His kids adore him and he says he loves them every chance he gets. What could be better?
But (you knew there’d be a but!) why would a dad who only sees his kids one night a week and every other weekend want to REDUCE that amount of time? I mean, I can’t imagine not being with these guys on a daily basis — we’re a family for godsakes! My educated guess: It’s a long, 45-minute drive to Cambria from Paso Robles. But that’s what the man’s chosen to do — despite our “parenting agreement.” Tonight would’ve been his night with them. My one responsibility-free night has turned into just another meal I have to prepare after a long workday. Damn him! 
So I prayed. Asked God to take the anger and turn it into something meaningful. Next thing I know I’m at Cookie Crock market buying pork chops and applesauce (a favorite) for tonight’s meal.Home at 5:30 from an uninspiring day at work — last thing I want to do is cook — but I throw it all together. We break into the routine: Melissa, set the table. (We ARE eating at the dinner table). Cliffie, pour the milk and put on some dinner music. Plates on the table. Prayer. Plus a little one to myself: “just let me listen.” 

Melissa first. She’s frustrated with certain teachers at school — so am I. Hang in there, I say. If I were to go back in time, the last place I’d want to visit is junior high as an 8th grader. But she’s handling it all with such grace, style, and levelheadedness — secure with who she is and kind to everyone — with a maturity beyond her years. Miles ahead of her mom at that age. Funny thing is, she’s very much like her (gulp) father — in a good way!

We get to talking about Cliffie’s Mock Trial. And deadlne for SATs is tomorrow — better sign up. I’ve been encouraging him to sign up for a college tour that many of the students from his class will be attending. One of the schools is UC Davis, the one he’s most excited about. “Why aren’t you more interested in this tour?” I ask. He says, “the kids that are going will just want to party.” “Like, drink?” I say. “Probably,” he says. How on God’s earth was I lucky enough to end up with a kid who’s anti-party? I’m thinking this as I begin planning our own personal college tour in my head.

I stopped listening for a while to tell him that, even though we’re in “financial need,” not to rule out beginning at a four-year college. Any college would be lucky to have you, I say — not the other way around. You'll receive scholarships. We’ll get loans. We’ll make it work. He seemed to be listening.

Well, that was certainly a quality evening. And to think we would have missed out on all of it had their dad trekked into town. But I was the lucky one tonight. You get what you pray for —and then some. 

1 comment:

  1. Kirsten, I will not pretend to know what life is like to be a single parent. What I do know is that you are doing a very hard thing much better than I could have ever dreamed that I could do it.

    Also, I can't imagine what it is like to be a dad whom only has visitation rights once every week or so. I have friends who are in, or were in that situation. I can tell you that it broke their hearts every time they had to drop off their kids at their ex's house, knowing they would not see them for another two weeks. One friend confided in me that he would cry the entire 30 minute drive home. These friends that I speak of are pretty healthy people. Unfortunately, that cannot be said for all of us.

    Sometimes I think that if I were in such a situation "How would I respond"? It might be easier to not care, or to act like it. It might not hurt as much. I'm just not sure exactly what I would do to cope with such a hard thing.

    It really sounds like you have great kids. I know they have a great mom. And yes, tell Cliffie that the money will come. He should go to college where he wants to. The money will be there.