Nora Ephram famously once said, “Everything is copy.” Bearing that in mind, I write this blog using experiences and incidences that occur in my daily life. After all, isn’t that what blogs are for?
Today is one of those days where my unfiltered self must burst through, if for no other reason I really need to vent.
Being divorced can suck, especially when kids are involved. Even as adults, there always seems to be a tug of war between parents and child with absolutely no winners.
Case in point: my son has leave from the Navy. He was supposed to spend a week with his father, then a week with me. Son is presently with Father, enjoying his break in a Architectural Digest-worthy apartment in one of America’s largest cities. Father earns quite a large salary (he pays more in taxes than I earn), and yes, he does work for it. However, It seems Son cancelled his plans to come on Thursday morning. He’s catching a flight with his father and Friday night, and Father will drive him to my house. Son also decided to cut his visit short and leave early. When pressed for an answer why this change of plan, Son answered, “Father decided today.”
This wouldn’t upset me so much if anyone had bothered to mention this change of plan to me first. I had arranged a couple of days off from work to pick Son up from the airport and have a couple of day with him. But now, I can’t. Those two days off I can’t rearrange; I barely could take this time off because of deadlines at work. Even though I just saw him, it was only for two days and I was looking forward to having a good, solid week. I planned to make his favorite dinner on the night he arrived. We have a family reunion this coming weekend. There’s things he’d like to do with his friends and of course he should.
But after Son and I had made plans, Father decided his were more important. Without so much as a discussion or explanation. Son rearranged his visit to accommodate his father, without even mentioning it to me. And I’m not foolish enough to think that I’d have any say in what Son does and Father decides, but a nice “Say, do you mind if I…?” would’ve been nice.
Instead, Son sends me a cryptic text this morning: “I’m not flying to no” then, “NJ” then “Father is going to drive me” then, “On Friday.” I had no idea what this meant, since Father lives over 1000 miles away. I ask what Son means.
“So Father is giving me a ride the New York on Friday.”
Is Father going on a road trip? Since when does New York sport a ‘the’? I reply,” I don’t know when you plan to arrive.”
Son texted back, “Father’s getting in the shower.”
I ask for him to text me when he knows what’s going on. Son texts, “To pas. Early in the morning.”
I have absolutely no idea what he means by this. ‘To pas?’ What the hell is that? And why does that occur early in the morning? Is it some ritual? Some secret father-son code? When I answer back, Son replies, “Well I’m going to get in the shower. I will talk to you later.”
Son texted me in the morning and said he’d let me know what the plans were soon after he got out of the shower. Hours pass. I try to be patient, but know Son has buried himself in Grand Theft Auto. Time has no meaning when this occurs, nor does his ability to remember anything past who’s stolen what car and how fast that character can screech it out of a decrepit warehouse, knock off a fellow virtual player and charge right past the cops on the highway.
I’m getting ready to make dinner. Before I do, I know he won’t answer if I call, but there’s a fighting chance he might see a text. “So what’s the update on the arrival?” I ask.
Twenty minutes later (and confirming my son’s inattention to my text) he answers. “7pm-8pm”
“On Friday?” I reply
“I guess I won’t see very much of you on this leave.”
“Yes you will.”
I’m starting to roil, realizing that Son’s participation in GTA rates more attention than me. I write back, “I took off on Thursday and Friday but can’t take off next week, so I’ll just have Saturday and Sunday since you’re leaving on Wednesday. Shame, but what can you do? You’ll have to figure out exactly when you are leaving so I can make arrangements to get you to the airport.”
Son replies. “Ok”
Now I’m really getting upset. Son can’t seem to sense that, so I tell him. “I’m a little upset, quite frankly. I know I just saw you so its just as important to spend time with Father. I wish you had let me know sooner so I could’ve made arrangement on my end.”
To which Son replies, “He decided today.”
Now here’s where I lost it. My insides knotted and I let out a scream. Son and I had made plans two weeks ago for me to pick him up at the airport on Thursday morning. Though we’re really busy at work and up against deadlines, I somehow managed to get a couple of days off so I could get him and enjoy his company for a little bit. In comes Father and somehow he doesn’t care enough to explain why he’s chosen to upend the plans Son and I made. It also really hurt that Son completely disregarded what we had arranged and just accepted what his father had said.
I write back, “Son, you made a plan with me. I know this seems convenient, but you also may have to take into consideration my end and how this throws my plans off. I don’t mean to drag you into something, but it seems like what you and I arranged doesn’t matter.”
Son answers, “It does matter.” But he doesn’t explain why.
So I say, “It would’ve been nice to have free days with you. Now we only have 4 days and I’m working two of them, plus we have a family reunion, so there’s only one.”
“Yep.” That’s all Son writes.
Clearly, he can’t gauge emotion, even when I spell it out for him. “I’m going to end this now because I’m just getting angry.”
No reply follows.
Part of me says I shouldn’t be so upset. The kid only has so much leave and he wants to be fair about it. I did just see him a couple of weeks ago and by spending a couple of more days with his father than with me really isn’t a big deal. However, as a mother, I really looked forward to spending as much time as I could with my son. It was two years since I’d seen him and will probably be another couple of years before I see him again. It seems he’s going to be deployed in the Pacific, and at this present time, finances won’t allow for such a trip to visit him, even if that’s possible.
But the other part knows he loves both of us and I really don’t want to challenge him on that. Asking a child who he prefers as a parent just isn’t fair.
Still, would it kill him to just put aside his goddamned video game for a handful of minutes and call me? Or am I being ridiculous?
There’s no point in arguing with Father when he drops off Son. Father isn’t exactly a stranger and surely realizes I won’t be happy. Instead, I’m getting it off of my chest by writing this blog and telling readers about it. By Friday evening I’ll be cooler-headed, and will be nice to Father. I’ll invite him in, offer him a cup of tea and chat for a few. Father, being British, will certainly accept my offer because that’s what British people do. Father will expect a few snide words from me, but I’ll not give into that. For it’s better to be gracious and kind, even if every internal instinct wants me to jump out and rip the man to shreds.
For if there’s one thing I learned, it’s kindness is the best sort of revenge there is. Because at least for me, it demonstrates the strength I’ve gained over the years I’ve spent rebuilding my life. I might not earn a huge salary, live in an interior-designed high-rise habitat or drive an expensive car. But I can move on, and look forward to what life has yet to offer me.
And one more thing: it’s time to stop thinking about what others think of me. I’m not getting any younger, and the world isn’t stopping just because I got upset. Pandemic be damned! It’s high time I let go of all this foolish nonsense and stop looking back. Son, live your life and don’t worry about me. Father, you can go fu## yourself. Time for this middle-aged woman to start roaring her engines, quit whining and grab the planet by the horns.
There! I feel soooooo much better now!
Thanks for listening. I appreciate it!