“Wow, I was, like, a super-bitch to you as a kid.” I said to my mother on the phone yesterday.
“Nah. Not really. You were a kid. You didn’t know any better.”
“No, I mean, I wouldn’t let you cry. I’d get angry if you cried. You had to be my mom and nothing else. You couldn’t be human. I’d get so angry at you the times you showed any emotion over Dad leaving. I’m sorry, Mom.”
This conversation occurred at the exact moment my father sent me an email out of the blue explaining to me “why he is the way he is.”
This sounds like the beginnings of a “heavy” post, but it’s not. These are interactions I have with my parents on a semi-regular basis due in part to me becoming more objective over my parents divorce as I grow older, me apologizing more and more to my mother for not letting her mourn the divorce, and me occasionally snapping at my father for always being the good-time fun guy I used to idolize. I still look up to my dad, but in different ways than I used to and the matters I used to chastise my mother for now make her my hero.
I have a family of three- my mother, my father, and my grandmother (Mom’s mom) and I grew up in a divorced family. I not only love my family, but I like them too. I talk to at least one of them every day and they are the first people I call when something wonderful or terrible happens. They’re my buds and I can’t imagine a world without them. My parents did a pretty good job of making sure their divorce did not heavily effect my childhood, such a good job that it wasn’t until my 20’s that I really stepped back and thought about my parent’s divorce.
My Dad left when I was six for good. Or seven. I can’t remember. He kind of left intermittently after I was born. It wasn’t because he didn’t love me. As he explained in his email yesterday, he’s a free spirit, a wanderer, someone who always wanted to go against the grain and live by his own standards. As a semi free-spirited adult, I can relate and respect, but as a semi-grounded adult as well, I question if a person of such mentality should marry and have a child by 30. In his instance, I’m glad that he did.
My parents tried to make it work. My Dad relocated to Annapolis, Maryland and my mother and I would go to visit. Annapolis has always held a romantic place in my heart because it was the last time my family was one. We became two shortly thereafter and it was a rocky time full of tears, anger, and frustration- though I saw very little of this.
Being a free spirit meant that financially it was often difficult for my father to be a “normal” father. Once he left, he would collect cans just to have gas money for the drive from Maryland to New York. I would wait for hours by the window for him to arrive and when I’d see his car pull up, the world stopped.
Our routine was to rent a movie and purchase a couple of cans of Chef Boyardee and vegetables while sitting amongst the tiny hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles in my dad’s friend’s warehouse. There was nothing I looked forward to more than this time with my father. My mother, my caretaker, would be cast aside and if she called with a reality check I would pout and resent her for spoiling my time with my dad. Little did I know the frustrations my mom was going through with having to be the responsible parent.
“You don’t know any better when you’re a kid. The world revolves around you.” she said to me yesterday.
It’s true. As a kid, it’s all about you and seeing your parents waver or falter is not an option. Reality is not wanted.
My 20’s have been an interesting time of awakening. A lot of apologizing done by me to my mother and my father to both of us. A lot of tearful conversations of talking about the past. A lot of phone calls and emails like the ones last night. But mostly my 20’s has been about realizing something I already knew- I’m lucky to have two of the greatest parents in the world and though the journey may have been atypical, we made it work.