Readers, I woke early to a breezy morning, an inspiring sunrise, and a vast cloudless Midwestern sky. This is my last day in waiting. Tomorrow morning, my eldest son returns to me and the boys and I will return to our home in the East. We’ll ride off into the sunrise, leaving the summer’s father-traumas behind, fading like a scar on the face of a child.
On Monday evening I sent an email to Ex that my youngest son would not be returning to his care and encouraging him to come to see the boy. There was no reply.
On Tuesday, the child’s stitches were removed and I sent Ex another email and then a text message that I hadn’t heard from him and the boy would like him to visit. Ex responded that I had made it impossible for him to visit at my I-wish-they-were-my-parent’s home and he didn’t want to see the child with me lurking in the shadows. (I don’t think I’ve ever been to a home sunnier than this one. I don’t think there are shadows here, even at night.)
I replied that this was about the child, his safety, needs and wishes. No answer.
Next day (yesterday), I tried again. “Are you planning to visit today?”
Ex replied that he was planning to take the elder boy bowling later and “why don’t you bring him here and he can spend the night.”
Why don’t I? It’s because I am a responsible parent. I told him if he wanted to bowl, we could meet him. He advised me briskly that the invitation did not extend to me.
“Ex,” I wrote in a text message, “If you think that I would, for a single heartbeat, entertain leaving my son with you in a place that serves alcohol and where you would again be swinging heavy objects, you are a greater fool than I thought. Please put your bruised ego aside and arrange to see the child.” No reply.
I tried to explain all this to the child, who, like his brother, desperately wants a real dad, a stand-up one, one like their friends have. Also, Ex is a fun guy, even a fun drunk right up until the very second when he’s not. The boy can’t possibly understand anyone thinking my I-wish-they-were-my-parents hostile. Likely they are the kindest people he knows. The child now understands too well why I don’t feel comfortable leaving him in Ex’s care. He feels relieved to be here and safe, though painfully disappointed. The child cannot understand why Ex can’t put aside his beef with me to be there for him. He can’t understand Ex’s my-way-or-the-highway mentality. He said tearfully, “If that is the way he is, I don’t want to see him anyway.”
I tried again today, our last day and sent Ex a text message, “Planning to visit today?” As of yet—no answer.