Monday, July 23, 2012


These days, I feel pretty powerful.

I am juggling housework, employment, finances, a series of broken objects such as a car repair, the dog, friendships, etc.  And I'm being a pretty awesome single mom, too.  On my next-to-nothing budget, I'm finding fun things to do with my beautiful daughter, treating her to things like a henna tattoo at the festival we went to, smiling and saying "No, you go ahead" and not letting on that I'd like one too, but it's not in the budget.  Sleepovers at our house with home made chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes on the weekend.  Helping her to make her dad an awesome birthday present, with the requisite shopping trips and time and such to make it happen.  Snuggle time, time with friends.  I make sure her teeth are brushed, her chores are done (so much easier to do them myself but I want to teach her), etc.

And I never, never, never belittle her dad.

I feel pretty good about myself.  I've got some swagger back - the kind that makes men hold open doors for me, the kind that makes little old ladies smile at me.

Powerful.  It feels good to be powerful.

But there is one area in my life in which I am completely powerless, and that one area tries to diminish all the others.

I can not be a father to my daughter.  I can not meet her need for him.

And today it has had me in tears.

This weekend, Katherine got a bit angry with me, and said, "It's not fair.  I spend time with you, but hardly any with Daddy, and it should be half and half.  IT'S NOT FAIR!"  I can see clearly that in her mind, this is something I've created, and she wanted me to fix it.  Quietly, I tried to say something about how I've always been the one to help with homework and before school routines....but she pointed out that it was summer.  I finally told her that I wanted her to have a good relationship with her dad, and I would support that, and that she needed to tell him that she wanted more time with him.

I did not say, "Your dad refuses additional time with you.  He shows up late, drops you off early, and asks for "help" on his weekends because he has other plans."  I said, "Honey, I want to support you and your daddy; I know how much you love each other.  Why don't you talk to him?"

But today when she was elsewhere, I talked to him.  I told him about our conversation, and he sighed heavily and told me how sad that made him.  I told him about a childcare bind I'm in for this week, where I've asked girlfriends to help out with Katherine's care, but said he could take those days.  Out of two full work days, he said, "Well, I could take her for a couple of hours...." and I thought I'd fall off my chair.  I said, "She is homesick and tired of being away, and wants to come home early from the grandparents, but I have to be at work.  She was crying when she went to my parents last night.  I have to work, and since you're not working, would you be able to take her?" and he said "I guess I'll think about it."  I said, "I am trying to figure out the Rubik's cube of my life between work and childcare," and he laughed, "Well, I'm trying to figure out my own Rubik's cube!" and then mentioned a hobby project he is working on.

Our daughter is begging for him, and he is holding her at arm's length.

I hung up the phone, on my lunch break, and sobbed.

I am certain that he is punishing me, thinking only that creating convenience for me outweighs his daughter's need for him.

I will figure out the money.  I will figure out the time.  I will figure out the fatigue.  I will create fun between the hard work.  I will care for our home, for our lives.  I will stroke her hair when she's sad, and I will dance with her when she's happy.

But I can't be her dad, and watching her hurt is far more painful than chemo ever was.


  1. I've seen this and lived with it. My ex would never go out of his way to have his children. I started picking them up and dropping them off because he and his ex would fight in front of the kids. It went on for years. He was off on Fridays and I would get home with the kids and for whatever reason, he'd be in a mood. I asked what I could help with and he told me to "make fucking dinner". You see, he was off all day and couldn't possibly feed himself, let alone have a dinner plan while I worked all day and picked up the kids. Then he would ignore them most of the weekend. Let your daughter figure it our for herself while being supportive of their relationship. He will make his own bed. It's VERY sad, but they learn. Be the better person and you will be rewarded. Warning - it will take time and hurts and tears. But they will love you more for it. Brenda

  2. I hear you on this one, the "I can't be a dad, too" refrain. But your daughter is lucky. It sounds like she has a father who will be there for her - even if not in the same house.

    That's not so bad, but the guilt is understandable. The ache for our children who couldn't ever have imagined that their parents wouldn't be together - well - we live with it. But we focus on easing their ache, and also, trying to help them through those tough periods that are and will be awkward, because they're inevitably going to occur.

    But you're doing so well. And I'm guessing she's doing as well as can be expected.

    Again, not so bad...

  3. Let me try this again. (I re-read my response and it didn't come out right.)

    You're still early in this saga (believe it or not). Even if your ex appears to be holding her at arm's length at the moment, given that he only recently moved out and has his own various stages to go through, and given that he seems to be working with you (not against you) in general - that is why I'm saying not so bad...

    Sadly, I've known much much much worse behavior than this. We don't always process our many mixed emotions at the end of a marriage in ways that seem logical to others. But your earlier posts indicate that he's not an unreasonable man, no?

    I hope he will come around soon. I hope he'll be there in the ways your daughter needs him to be. I hope this won't be his pattern - as it is, too often.

    I hope that for both of you.

  4. Brenda already said it: "Let your daughter figure it our for herself while being supportive of their relationship"

    & my hat's off to you in avoiding The Bad Language... I have tried really really hard to take the higher road w/MY ex, but after 12 yrs this shit gets wearisome.