It’s been a long time since Katherine and I were together. We divorced over six years ago…stopped living together over 6 1/2 years ago. We have two children together, and for that—we will be forever in debt to each other.
See, for me at least, being a parent is one of the greatest honors a person can have. You have a real opportunity as a parent to learn from your mistakes—hopefully anyway—and pass on gained knowledge to these wonderful sponges of information called your kids.
I’ve been a dad for a long time now, and of course I’m still learning the role that I believe I’m supposed to play in raising my kids. I believe a big part of being a parent is a simple one—just being there. Simple, right? BE there for your kids—and they will (eventually) be grateful for that. I hope. When parents separate, divorce, or were just never a “couple” to start with even—well, that simple “just be there”—isn’t so easy anymore.
I have a very different relationship with each one of my children. All Taralynn can remember is Mommy and Daddy living separately. Her parents separated when she was two months old and were divorced when she was eight months old. Her life has revolved around two very selfish people (at first), struggling to gain as much time with them as possible. Her mother has won almost every round so far. So to her—MAYBE mom cares more about her (in HER mind).
Ashleigh was almost three years old when Katherine and I parted ways. She vaguely remembers a time when Mommy and Daddy were living together. She was old enough to talk, old enough to listen, yet too young to understand fully what was happening with her family. She’s been MY personal rock before there was ever a Brandey in my life. She has been such a good big sister to Taralynn and now to Ella.
When Brandey and I met over three and a half years ago—I had doubts that “we” would work. Mainly because I was essentially asking someone with no children of her own—to play Mommy to these little girls. Brandey had no obligation to these children, yet with some gentle prodding—she has grown on them just as much as they have on her.
Brandey and I suffered through a miscarriage at the end of 2007. It was very hard on all of us. I learned a hard lesson about “when” exactly is a good time to tell young children that they’re going to be older siblings. Brandey and I kind of disconnected—emotionally—and regrouped. We’ve not always traveled the path of least resistance—nonetheless, we’ve traveled it together. Because of this journey, we were able to bring Ella into our lives last March.
Once again, I have the opportunity to actually influence another human being—and this time it’s “full-time.” I would like to believe that I have the same opportunity to influence my older two children “full-time,” as well. Truth be told, however—I have joint/shared custody.
Hence, my problem.
I already feel Taralynn’s ummmm, “separation anxiety??” for her mother. It’s always come in small doses—but recently, I’m really feeling the heat. I’m perplexed about what position I should take. She will be seven years old in May, so I know she’s gradually understanding more about life—and that may be contributing to the problem.
I get to see Ashleigh and Taralynn Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday mornings. That’s the deal. We have a divorce agreement that stipulates all the technical details, however…”this” particular schedule is what works for us. Would I like to see them more? Of course. I would love to see them every day, however, I’m a realist. I understand they have another parent. It used to kill me inside to do the “switcheroo” with their mother. It’s all relative now. They have two houses, two sets of “parents,” two Christmases, two birthdays. It’s whatever. To me.
To them, not so much.
I wish I could sit the kids down one day and just look at them in the eyes long enough (and vice versa) that they could just “feel” the amount of love that radiates out of my mind, body, and soul for them. I LOVE my children. No amount of pain can exceed the love I feel for them.
So, it really hurts me—when they don’t “get it.” Katherine’s job was recently eliminated. Her silver lining (besides the severance package) was uhhh, herself. She was confident enough in herself, her skills, and her qualifications—that she never let it be an issue. She went on a mission to find herself another killer job—and congratulations Katherine—-she already has. However, this recent time off has obviously led herself to think that she needs more time with the girls.
Hence, another problem.
See, at her old job, she traveled out of the state most Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Therefore, our schedule was pretty much set in stone. Oh, but someone got a breath of fresh air, a fat check, and a lot of free time, and now my kids are wearing the coolest clothes from “Justice” along with their new kicks. All of a sudden, Mom is becoming the “cool” one? Weird. I thought “I” had that on lock-down.
So today I pick the kids up from school—and all they want to do is go down the street to a friend’s house. They just found out she lives near us—-and that is alllllll they talked about on the ride home (you know, their mom said it’s ok, and she really wants us to go over there, and blah, blah blah)…So, I let them go. Little do they realize that it’s kind of cutting into “our” time. Just like last week when their mom asked to keep them the last day and half so she could take them to the T-Rex restaurant. And kind of like the week before that when she wanted to keep them that extra day so she could take them roller skating. Sigh…
Anyways, they begged me for Pizza Street when they got home. I, just wanting to spend quality time with them, obliged. We didn’t even get halfway home before Taralynn started crying. For her mom. A bunch. She said she didn’t want to sleep at my house, because it wasn’t her bed. But it IS her bed!
When we got home, I had a private conversation with Taralynn to see what was really going on in her head. I calmly explained my thoughts about what she said, and then gave her the floor to explain to me her’s, as well. I told her it hurt my feelings when I hadn’t seen her in six days, and all she wanted to do was go to someone else’s house, out to eat with me, and then wanted me to take her back home (to her uhhh, “real” home). And it DOES hurt my feelings—if that’s what she really thinks!!! I don’t want her to think that at all! I tried my hardest to explain that this is home too. This is your room. This is your bed, your toys, your FAMILY. It’s like she doesn’t care. She said she knows that I love them, butttttttt….Get this: She asked me if I loved Brandey more!! I told her I love allll my girls equal and you should have seen the smirk on her face. It was like a dagger ripped right through the part of my heart that radiates happiness.
It saddens me to think that a kid of mine, doesn’t feel like they’re “home” when they’re with me. She told me a couple of weeks ago that she loves Mommy more—but she still loves me too. Mommy’s just there more, is what she said. I’m saddened by this revelation of a six year old girl, and what she believes her Daddy is bringing to the table (nothing much, apparantly). I’m scared because she’s about to have yet another little sister in just two and a half short months. I don’t want her feeling left out anymore than what she already does. It’s hard to have a serious conversation with a six year old—they’re so honest!
I’m afraid to talk to Ashleigh about it, because, well—basically because I don’t want to hear the same echo of resentment that rolled off of Taralynn’s tongue recently. Ashleigh can piece together her words a little toooo clearly for a third grader sometimes—I just may not like what I hear.
I’d like a little direction on what else I could (should be) doing a little better. I know nobody is perfect and I know for a fact that I am a damn good Daddy to every one of my daughters. I realize it’s going to get tougher before it starts to get easier, but still…I don’t want to have too many more nights of crying for Mommy when you’re only with Daddy for two out of the seven nights. Sheeeesh!!!