Being a mother doesn’t make me a super goddess flower. It doesn’t make me this special chosen being, who has ascended to a level past all childless women. It doesn’t even make me good. Sure, I think I try to be a pretty good mother; only because I try to be a pretty good person. I often joke with my children that they drew the short straw in the moms category.
I make a conscious decision to not discuss beef with their father here because aside from the fact that someday, they will come to this blog and see the things I have said, he’s trying. I can say that the dude is really trying. With my acknowledgment of that, I see that it encourages him to continue to try. There are days when I am resentful of this. “So now I have to coddle you just to get you to ___.” The fact is, if that’s what it takes for him to be there for The Chocolate Wonders, I’ll take it.
Effective parenting, though, is practice makes perfect at it’s finest. Factually, he’s short on practice, but long on pride. He wants to show himself, his kids – and in some part, me – that he can do it. I commend that. But with that pride still comes the lack of communication that can frustrate transitions that could have gone smoothly otherwise. And that’s where we are today. We’re on the way to hashing it out, but it was only because I was insistent on speaking to him, rather than allowing him to poke his head in the sand.
There are times when my method of dealing with adversity and unfavorable situations leave much to be desired. Though I have grown leaps and bounds in that department, it is still a part of my reputation. It’s what my sisters know of me, it’s what my kid knows of me. As one of the most painful parts of what seems like another life, he knows it probably better than any other. When I calmly respond to whatever the latest craziness is, he is as apprehensive as I am when he exhibits reliability. It’s a trade off. I’m doing my best to not fly off the handle, because when I unleash the dragon that is my tongue, it’s vicious.
I was angry, and had every right to be so on behalf of my kids. So I would flame him on my blog, and on the phone, and on his voice mail if need be. I was right. He wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain. And his inaction was causing the kids to separate themselves from him. They were ambivalent about whether or not he would call. The knew that I would tense up when I talked to him. Though civil, I despised him. Though I lied and said that I didn’t think about him one way or the other, it was a lie. I could not stand him. They were beginning to see him for what he was. Irresponsible. He was accepting the fact that he was being edged out. I was “winning.” Except…
They didn’t choose their father. I did. I was, dare I say, culpable. If I just let him vanish into the ether, in what way could that possibly benefit them? So I did everything I could to get them to rebuild contact. I harassed him (nicely) when time would elapse and he hadn’t called. I would drive to New Orleans to get them there. I would drive them to Atlanta. I made sure he knew about important events. I made him a part of whatever was going on, despite the distance. I felt like I was wasting my time. I felt like I was doing everything. I WAS doing everything. I STILL do everything. A good friend pointed out that I do everything, because that’s the way it is. Simple as that.
And it’s worth it, because that’s their father. They love him as freely and unconditionally as they love me. I’ll do everything it takes to ensure that they continue to do so. He and I will NEVER be friends. But it’s not about my friendship, or even my preference. If we don’t work together, nobody wins. I’ll take a little stress and some headaches to help them win. I’m so grateful that he is stepping up and doing the same.