Sometimes we get so far away from something that we forget how awful it felt to be there. Sometimes we remember, but the emotions just no longer linger. Thankfully.
I’m trying. I really am. I’m trying to politely and pleasantly co-parent with a man who viciously beat me and my children for nearly two decades before abandoning us without provision and then fighting me for custody of those wounded children for close to two years. He left me destitute. The feelings aren’t kind, but my attitude must be. It’s hard. This is a man who wanted me dead. A man whom I know does not care about his children, about anything but himself in every moment. But, I have to pretend that he’s a normal, loving visiting dad.
It was meant to be a courtesy call to let him know that the children were exposed to whooping cough. I simply wanted to share the necessary care precautions and to let him know that they were on antibiotics as a precautionary measure, so they don’t end up sick right as our oldest daughter’s baby is born. I’d shared with him two weeks earlier that our youngest son was tested for TAG. I’m just trying to keep him in the parental loop.
He panicked though and belabored that he could not take them. He didn’t dare risk exposing his mother to sick kids. I reiterated that they aren’t sick. They’re just on antibiotics, so they need lots of water; they may have diarrhea (which, again, does NOT indicate illness, just a side effect of their medication); and they can’t have dairy (it inhibits the effectiveness of the antibiotics).
He called at noon on Thursday and left a message that he couldn’t have the kids since they are sick.
I returned the call within an hour to explain to him that the kids aren’t sick. He waited until evening to return the call. One hour before bedtime, and I still didn’t know if he was wiling to take the kids or not. If he didn’t, I had no child care coverage during my work hours on Friday.
When he did finally call, it was a painfully long conversation wherein he repeated himself and seemed to be caught in a conversational loop. I tried and tried to reassure him that the children would like to visit him, I just wanted to make him aware. I suggested he keep the kids outside, away from his mom, and that they not spend the night. I offered to send the kids with sack lunches, a portable DVD player, and outdoor games. I said that I was willing to do whatever to make the visit happen since he was coming into town anyway. He finally agreed that he would take them at 9 in the morning. However, he wanted me to get them as soon as I got off work at 1. It was amiable, and it ended with him saying that he was going to vibrate his way down the freeway (poor fella drives an old car).
I’ve never considered myself a salesperson, but that was quite the sales job talking him into visiting his children on our son’s birthday weekend!
I had an appointment at 1:30, so I knew it would be a rush to get off work, load my supplies, pick the kids up, and drive to the north end of town in thirty minutes. But, at least J would get to see him for his birthday. And, at least I didn’t have to scrounge for a last minute babysitter.
While I was working on Friday, E texted me that the little two wanted to stay longer. So, now, in that precious thirty minutes, I had to find out if I was even picking them up or not before my appointment. I called E when I was finished working, and he said that their dad was fine with them staying. But, I needed to get them by 2:30. There was a family crisis, and he and his mom needed to go to his brother’s house.
That meant there’d be no evening visit during my sales party. Fine. I could leave the kids home with my older teenager, and we were done dealing with him for another month.
Not so fast.
R called while I was trying to shower, reapply make up, do my hair, unload cleaning supplies, and load up sales kits. They changed their minds. Again. Now, the kids could come over. But, only if they spent the night! His mom had whooping cough as a child, so she is immune he claimed. Um, that’s not how it works. But, try explaining disease processes to a man who says things like, “I seen you,” and “I thought you was coming before then.”
Another lengthy conversation, and he agreed to take them until 8:30, no later.
My successful party ended at almost nine. Gee, sorry, I couldn’t just tell people that I was no longer taking orders because a 53 year old man has a bedtime of 8:30.
I raced across town and picked the kids up at just minutes after nine. I asked them if I was supposed to bring them back in the morning and, if so, what time? They didn’t know. Their dad didn’t say anything. Since he’d previously given me the impression that he was not taking them Saturday, but had also said he wasn’t taking them at all and then did and then said he wasn’t taking them again in the evening but then did, I told E he’d better give his dad a quick call and find out.
I was driving away from R’s mom’s house, and it was literally moments after we’d left. He didn’t answer his phone. E left a message, but R didn’t return the call. Until 7:40 a.m. when the buzzing phone awakened E and J.
R apologized and told E to call him when he woke up. He called his dad back in about half an hour and, laughing, told him that it wouldn’t be 9 when we got there since the kids were all just waking up. R stated that was fine and chatted for a few minutes about how bad the drive was and how he really needed to take that dresser (the one that had been MINE) with him because he had to move from the place he’s staying and needs something to put his clothes in.
At 10, as we were driving there, about two minutes from his mom’s house, he called, wanting to know how much longer it would be. He needed to go to his brother’s house and wanted to know how much time he had. Supposedly. I took it as a ‘hurry up’ call.
I had wanted to spend a slow Saturday morning reading my Bible on my porch with a cup of coffee. Since I had to run the kids to him again and couldn’t do that, I decided on a back up plan that was just as satisfactory. I’d take my Bible, my tablet, and my free coffee card with me. I’d run a couple of errands and then spend some time–ALONE, HELLO–drinking a mocha and working on my book down at the river. I would go with the flow and find a way to salvage and enjoy my weekend. He’d told E he would be leaving at 1, so I had three hours to get those errands done and enjoy my quiet time.
I’d just walked into the first store when I got a text from E that his dad now wanted me to pick them up at noon. He needed to run errands for his mom before he left town.
Okee dokee. There went my coffee/writing time at the river.
I ran my errands and arrived at his mom’s at noon. He was just walking up the driveway with the kids and motioned to me that he was going to take them in to get a drink of water. I turned off my engine and waited.
Every. Time. He comes to town it’s like this. Back and forth. Back and forth. Times change. There’s no real communication or decisions made, just lots of prater about how bad the drive sucks, the evasive and mysterious bad news within his family, how impoverished and pathetic his life is……it’s intolerable. Not his life. Talking to him!
It’s only once a month now. I am grateful for that. How in the world did I ever live in submission to him and his whims and listening to his complaining, forgetting the abuse, and not lose my frickin mind?
So lovely that I have an entire month off to live my life before I return to running at his beck and call. And, such a relief that it only lasts 27 hours each time.