“Mommy, do you have a Dad?”
“Yes, Roo. Pop is my Dad.”
She was quiet, thinking.
“But Grandma Seattle un-married him.”
“They did get un-married,” I said, using her language, “but he’s still my Dad and she’s still my mom and they still love me the same as when they were married.”
She was quiet again.
“What did it feel like when they got unmarried,” she asked.
“What did it feel like to me? I was sad, I guess.”
“How was it sad?”
“Well, things weren’t the same.”
“Well, like Christmas. We used to all have Christmas together, but after they decided not to be married, I had to choose where to spend Christmas – with Grandma Seattle or with Pop.”
“Who did you choose?” she asked.
“I took turns for awhile,” I said, “and now we all have Christmas with Grandma New York so I don’t have it with either of them.
“What did it feel like when you got a new Dad and a new Mom?” she asked.
“What do you mean by new mom and new dad, Roo?”
“What did it feel like when Grandma Seattle and Pop decided to marry other people?”
“You mean when Grandma Seattle married Mark and when Pop married Nana?”
How did it make me feel? I wondered what to say.
My mom’s (now-ex) second husband was both physically and emotionally abused as a child.
The bruises of his early years seemed to remain forever purpled beneath any cocksure hide he ever tried to wear.
I think my awareness of this made me more tolerant of him - especially at times when I otherwise I might have found myself impatient with the way he repeated things he’d already told me or came across as the foremost authority on whatever was being discussed.
What does it feel like, she asked...
My father’s wife talks a lot -- more when she’s nervous or anxious.
She’s often both nervous and anxious.
She’s kittens and rainbows to my sushi and gourmet coffee. We’re both clichés, but not necessarily complimentary ones.
My Dad’s wife has ideas about the way our ideal relationship should look.
I think she wishes I would let her to provide me with comfort and closeness like a second mom or at least a treasured confidant, but it’s not something I need or want from her.
I don’t feel that kind of connection and I don’t pursue it.
I think she routinely feels rejected and hurt by me though it is not my intention to make her feel that way.
I am grateful for the companionship and care she provides my father.
“What did it feel like when they decided to marry someone else?” Roo wanted to know.
A long time passed as I struggled with how to respond.
“They were strangers to you,” she said, somehow finding the right words on her own.
It did feel like that, strangers suddenly part of my family.
“I don’t want that to happen,” she said in earnest.
“I don’t either,” I assured her.
My mind drifted to the impending separation of our close friends.
Soon they plan to tell their children, friends of our children, about their decision to separate.
We will have to talk about it with our kids too.
I will have to find the right words because while I support anyone's decision to end a marriage and trust that the choice has been made for good reason, I lament the way it causes the little ones to fret.
Monday, August 02, 2010
“Mommy, do you have a Dad?”