Parent Survival Guide Parent Survival Guide Issue 02 (Spring) - Page 23

SP

spring 2017 PSG 23

Valentine’s present to me: the biography of Hillary Clinton, a keenly personal gift from a child of mere twelve. Weeping in disbelief that the ex felt insecure enough to pull all that, to essentially tell me that I am a nobody. Weeping in worry over our kid, who is OCD enough to be destabilized by missing the things that were still at our house. Weeping in rage at myself for not knowing how to face with dignity and strength, her or her mommy, should they come to our glass door for those darn things. But above all, weeping in grief for our girls, who were sent a message that I was unsafe for them. Unsafe to the extent that surpassed any other measures of protection: the ‘ex’ had known of our plans for weeks and could have insisted on other arrangements. Except… she couldn’t have built a rational case against me so she ‘raised it’ with an erratic kidnapping of a child; spared, by her delirium, of the burden for the collateral damage she caused.

What happened months ago was now bubbling out of my poor kid like a shaken soda.

At that time, I had no idea what it would be like the next time our daughter came home, but she walked straight to me and asked that we do everything we had planned for that weekend.

While out climbing, she teasingly asked about the previous weekend, “Were you sad?”

“Yes…” I answered, slowly shaping every sound, not sure what she knew about the incident.

“Did you cry?” Her voice still half-teasing, half-detective.
While wanting to be truthful, I wished to avoid casting an emotional burden.

“Yes…” I answer, hoping that the safety knot I was weaving for her next course could offer some buffer. “I cried quite a bit, actually. I missed you, and worried whether you were ok.”

“I cried, too, when Mommy picked me up. I wanted to call you, to tell you, but Mommy said you’d be ok. And then she took me to the park, and my friend was already waiting there -- a surprise!”

I went on belaying her, all the while failing to see how the events of the past weekend were anything less than a meticulous plan to undermine my legitimacy in the children’s lives.

That was months ago and yet right here, bubbling out of my poor kid like a shaken soda; the past overtaking the present.

“I am so, so sorry that it happened to you,” my partner said. In an attempt to normalize their lives, to shield the alienating parent, we had never spoken like this, or knew the power of these words to burst a damn over our child’s face.

“I can only imagine… but I am truly, truly sorry.”

“Is sis ok?” Her sister asked later. My partner explained, and the moment that child realized it had to do with that weekend, she exclaimed, “That was SO wrong!”

We all went to the game.

The following day, just as it was time to pile in the car for the ‘exchange’, Kid A snapped at me the way we cannot allow. I sent her to her room, and followed a few moments later. Before I knew it, I was sitting on her bed, holding her face, witnessing those galaxy-sized tears. She said she valued hearing that we knew it wasn’t all easy for them; that the other kids think they have it all, two households, two Christmases, four parents, but it isn’t always what it seems.

What wouldn’t I give to know that I am not the weight that sinks an over-laden ship, but, rather, one that grounds these kids to the earth.

“I love you, very much,” I replied, “and I wish me being in your life only made it better. Not that I am going anywhere...”

Those alarmed eyebrows focused her stare on me.

“I am not going anywhere!” I swiftly assured in a voice I trusted to instill confidence. “I just wish,” I continued, timidly following the lead of brand new words forming themselves on my tongue. “I just wish, with all my heart, that you didn’t have it any harder because of me.”

“If I can ever make it easier, please tell me."

I hope you tell me, I thought to myself. Or at least stash away, somewhere deep and out of alienation’s way, this knowing that I would do almost anything to make your life easier.

She stared into my eyes through unruly tears.

What wouldn’t I give to know that I am not the weight that sinks an over-laden ship, but, rather, one that grounds these kids to the earth.