In all seriousness, though, despite the fact that I am really, truly becoming less and less "I'M DIVORCED" every day, there are still times I'd like to get inside my ex-husband's head. There are still times I'd like to know the who, what, where when and why about stuff. Ok, maybe not the who and when (ick) but for sure, the why.
It's not like I obsess about it, not like I used to, but it still comes up. The kids are getting older, and are finally seeing things for what they are. I knew this day would come, but it's still a little bit heartbreaking to see them figure things out on their own...it still hurts when your kid asks you, "Would we be this poor if dad hadn't left?".
William was the one who said that, and I'll be honest with you...it stung. I tried to convince him that we're just fine, we have it so much better than so many people on this planet...but he wasn't buying it. "Mom." he said (he always starts his statements with that single word. I love it.). "Do you realize that I'm the only one of my group of friends who has never been on an airplane?". I exclaimed, "Bull! I bet there are kids in your grade who haven't flown." He went down the list of his homies, and then down the list of non-homies. All of whom had been on airplanes.
What do you say in a case like this? I did what I seem to always do when it comes to these kinds of talks. I apologized. I tried my best to explain that this is how it is for us, and that we have to be grateful for what we do have and not focus on what we don't have. Which is so freaking hard for kids.
That's when he asked the question about his dad. He's brought it up before, as have the other kids, at different times in the past. They aren't dumb. They can see the sometimes dramatic difference between our lives, and the lives of their friends. Just as I can see the differences between my life and some of my hen's lives. As an adult, though, I have the advantage of a couple things my kids don't have yet: perspective, and patience. I could tell William exactly how much it would cost for the five of us to fly somewhere, even someplace close like Chicago or Ohio, and then tell him what I have budgeted for travel (ha...). But that doesn't work for kids. Someday, he'll look back and see things for what they were. Someday, he'll know I tried my hardest to give them a childhood as close to "normal" as I could muster.
Until then, I get to think. I think about their questions, and sometimes I do wonder what life would have been like if Big Daddy and I had ironed out the wrinkles in our marriage, if he hadn't dragged someone else into the fray. Certainly it would be different. But good-different, or bad-different? We'll never know.
But what I do know is that there are a few things I'd still like to ask/tell that man, if ever I had the chance. Like, for instance, if we were trapped in a bank vestibule during a blackout. /cue the Wayne's World fantasy hand motions, with "Dream Weaver" playing in the background/
1. Do you know what a beautiful young woman your daughter is? Do you know how smart and how incredibly funny she is? And more importantly, do you know what a GOOD person she is? Do you know that the parents of her friends actually want her around their kids because she's such a decent person? There aren't enough words in the English language for me to describe how much I admire and respect and love that girl. It makes me sad that she doesn't have the dad she deserves. And it terrifies me to think of what kind of daddy issues she may develop. Chew on that one for a while, Slick.
2. When your new child asks you and the Missus about how and when you two lovebirds met, what are you going to tell him? Are you going to clean it up, make it into something that sounds as hapless and romantic as a Meg Ryan movie? Or will you put on your After School Special face and say, "Well, Junior (yes, he's a junior..have I told you that before? The bathroom is down the hall if you need to vomit.)...you see, mommy and daddy were both married to other people, but we weren't getting what we needed from those marriages, so we...." ok I'll stop now. Sorry. Of course they'll give him the Disney version.
3. Are you prepared for the day one of your children asks you why you opted to plunk down thousands of dollars for an attorney rather than pay child support? How you justified paying an attorney rather than help pay for the support of your own flesh and blood? I haven't told them about this most recent development in our never-ending legal ballet, about yet another outsider you've chosen to invite to the party. And I won't, because it's not my business to tell them. But you and I will both know this, until we take our last breaths. We'll both know this as we watch each one of them graduate, grow up, get married and have families of their own. I can handle knowing this for the rest of my life. Can you?
4. I am teaching Charlie how to drive. He's 18. He should have his drivers license by now. He should have his first car by now. But we aren't going that route. As I was driving around the elementary school parking lot with him yesterday, stomping on my imaginary brake pedal, trying to be encouraging while praying that the car didn't roll over during a too-fast turn, I got a little angry. This kind of stuff, the driving, the picking out razors for that first shave, the "man" stuff...this was your job. I'm going to do it, and I'm going to do the hell out of it, but I'm going to do it with some resentment. And later, if you happen to do these sort of things with your New and Improved Kid? Prepare to deal with some resentment from your first group of offspring.
5. Speaking of Charlie: I'm finally having his graduation party (just when you thought they were all over for the season). And I'm struggling to make it as nice as I'm able, with my limited resources. I'm inviting your family, and per Charlie's request, you'll be invited but your spouse won't be. It's going to be a simple affair, in our backyard and on our deck. I'm Googling "Inexpensive Graduation Party Ideas" pretty much 24 hours a day now. Molly is helping me put together picture boards, and I've come to the conclusion that people do these picture boards so they remember a time when their child didn't drive them insane. We're including pictures of you on these boards, because that's the right thing to do. But believe you me...your absence has made an impact on this kid's life. I can see how that boy changed through the years, literally see his eyes lose a little bit of their gleam. I hope, if you come, that you spend some time looking at these pictures of your son throughout the years. I hope you see what I see. And p.s: It would be awesome if you could bring some pop in a cooler.
6. Was there ever a time when you loved both me and Secretary at the same time? I mean, was there ever a time you truly felt torn? Or had you sufficiently smothered your feelings for me before you bent her over your desk? Just wondering.
7. The other day, one of the kids asked me, "How were you and dad ever married? I just can't see it." I could have taken that question, and I could have had a freaking field day with it. But I didn't. You know what I told them? "Your dad was the funniest guy I had ever met. He made me laugh so hard...I still laugh about some of our inside jokes to this day." The child I was with just shook their head. "I can't believe that's my dad you're talking about." You should try and laugh more with your kids, Big Daddy.
8. I noticed that the alimony checks I get are still being written out of Secretary's account. She signs them, and then you fill in the rest. What does it feel like when she hands these over to you? Do you feel like a little boy waiting for his lunch money? How does it feel to be a man in your forties having your lady hand you a check to give to your first lady? I bet it feels a little emasculating. Whatever happened to your checking account, anyway? The one with the fancy baseball checks? Things that make you go hmmmm....
9. The other day, one of my kids called me a Fat Bitch. It made me cry, a hard, wrenching long cry in the bathroom. I wondered why he chose those particular words to say to me in a fit of anger. Why that specific insult would come so easily to his lips. And then I remembered, your lovely wife called me a Fat Bitch a few years ago. Aha! And then I remembered you called me a Fat Bitch within earshot of the kids just a couple years ago. Congratulations. You've made an impression on your children.
10. This last question isn't really for you, Big Guy. It's a funny one, and those who know all about the ATM vestibule will get it. All of my "Friends" who know what I'm talking about. If me and Big Daddy were trapped in a bank vestibule together during a blackout, the last question I'd ask him would be:
"Would you like some gum?"
Because gum would be perfection.
Sorry for the ranty post today, people. I'll be back with more mirth and merriment soon. In the meantime, please enjoy what I think is my most favorite scene from a t.v. show: