Détente?

These last several weeks I have been rather quiet about Ex.  He’s been rather quiet, too, which is both comforting in that no news means he isn’t bearing bad news, and also disconcerting in that he is probably in trouble.

Since the court ruled that it would be a substantial injustice to the children to reduce their support to $40 a month, the figure Ex believed was his fair share, Ex has returned to making his regular payments of $25 every two months which is the exact amount required in order for him to keep his driver’s license.

He has taken to missing calls again which probably means he isn’t functioning very well. Maybe he is in jail or his phone has been turned off because he didn’t pay the bill. We have no way of knowing.

In some ways his absence is easier for the children. When he comes around he brings anxiety for everyone. The kids wonder which guy will show up—the one who seems nice and loving, or the angry, nasty one. My son did not want to invite his father to his Coming of Age festivities. He might have come and spoiled it. In two years my daughter will have to make the same decision about her high school graduation.

“He’ll never stop drinking,” Little Man said recently.

“He might,” I said. “It happens.” I told him the story of my friend’s father who had his epiphany when he was in his fifties.

Little Man shrugged, “I don’t think he wants to quit drinking.”

That is the saddest part, really. Somehow it’s worse to know he could turn it around but he won’t. It’s easier to believe he is just sick and that he has no control. I think both are true at the same time.

Several divorced friends and one blogger I am fond of have recently said heartbreaking goodbyes to their kids as they have packed them off for their summer visits. This is normally a time of great anxiousness for our family, too.

Last summer pretty much settled the question of whether or not I am just alarmist. I’m not.

Lots of single parents worry about what damage will be done by their respective exes during these summer visits—the heartless and insensitive things that might be said, the animosity that could be sown, the garbage they may be fed, and the things that might sour them. I have worried about these things, too. Worse, I have worried that my kids might DIE. My ex is that reckless.

We were lucky last summer. We are lucky this summer, too.

Ex missed the May deadline to contact me about dates. Two months ago he had a conversation with Little Man about the prospect of going fishing this summer. Reckless fail-dad was seriously proposing to take two boys, the eldest of whom has ADD and Asperger’s Syndrome, and neither of whom has ever really fished nor has any real interest in fishing, to go whip around sticks with sharp hooks strung to the ends of them while he empties the cooler of beer.

“I don’t think I want to do that,” Little Man said when his sister put it that way.  He was undoubtedly thinking about how much a hook embedded in one’s flesh might hurt.

Since that conversation, Ex hasn’t mentioned summer visitation. Not a single word has been said, which is probably a good thing because all three children are steadfastly refusing to go to the Midwest at all this summer. I have no idea what sort of scene would unfold if Ex tried to compel them, but I am quite sure it wouldn’t be pleasant for anyone.

Today was my youngest son’s last day of school and the children are excitedly embarking on a long relaxing summer of fun with me.

Life is good.

3 comments to Détente?

  • Phannam

    I didn’t have a divorced father to deal with, but I had a drunken father (who also did not want to quit drinking). When it’s peaceful, however bad things might be going on the other end, just live in peace and hope for the best. He may finally be recognizing his inability to handle this. Fishing? No way! The clock is ticking all the while.

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  • I completely understand when you talk about how much better it is when he is not around. It really does create stress, anxiety and confusion when he comes around so infrequently and in different states of being. My Ex has absolutely nothing to do with my kids. At all. Nada. Zip. And I am quite fine with that since we have different perceptions of what happened between us. He tells them one thing, I say another, they know he lies but they get sucked into it. So I’m happy he is a coward and not around. It makes for considerably more stable girls. One good parent is better than one good and one liar.

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  • I am so sorry you and the kids have to put up with somebody who is drinking. It is not just unpleasant; it is crazy. Someday he may come around, then again there’s a chance he won’t. In the meantime the less crazy in your lives the better.

    I add my own two cents worth here: Alcoholism: I’ll drink to that!

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