Playing Pretend — When Is It Really OK?

This is officially my first venting post and no, I’m not sharing this shit on Facebook lol. I have my rough times and this evening was one of them. When people ask me how my children are taking this divorce I tell them the truth — the 9 year old saw it coming and the 5 year old doesn’t completely get it, Maxwell lets it out in different ways.

So this evening was my children’s spring concert at school. According to the secretary, my soon to be ex made it clear at the beginning of the new year he was to be informed of all activities separately since he missed the Christmas concert in December. For the school secretary to mention it to me, I could tell she was slightly annoyed and I get it — on both sides. For one, I’m sure the stbx was disappointed he wasn’t informed and he found out at a most inconvenient way when he suddenly dropped by the house last minute as we were preparing for the concert (which wasn’t really cool but that’s another story). And having volunteered at the school I know that they are understaffed and do their best to communicate with parents and caregivers of 250 students. Not only do they distribute flyers to both of my kids but it’s on the school calendar, on the website, dated on several pieces of communication that it’s impossible to miss unless you aren’t looking for it.

Knowing it’s not really my job to babysit my ex anymore, I still told my 9 year old to ask his dad if he was coming to the program. I figured it was harmless and a non invasive way of including him. Well, the ex came and didn’t tell me which is fine, but he also didn’t tell my 5 year old and both my children saw him.

Now, all of this is great except for one thing — after the concert my stbx goes to say hello to my oldest and then leaves. My youngest runs out to see his father only to be shocked that daddy wasn’t around. I have Maxwell FaceTime him twice, the ex doesn’t pick up. Maxwell calls him, the ex picks up (duh…why the hell would I want to FaceTime him) and they finally talk. Done. Except as soon as we get home Maxwell bursts into tears and then cries about daddy moving far away.

Really?? How is it that this man says hello to one of his kids, doesn’t even wait for one minute to say hello to his other child, doesn’t offer an explanation, and doesn’t even pick up a FaceTime call to see his son who was super happy and surprised to see him in the audience? Furthermore, why do I have to be the one to encourage my son to talk to his father because it’s the right thing to do and then have to sit there and pretend everything is OK while I’m consoling a crying 5 year old?

“Don’t worry, I’m sure your daddy had to leave because he has work in the morning.” “He probably can’t pick up the FaceTime because he’s driving.” “Your daddy is moving away because he needs to take care of our house.” “It’s going to be OK sweetheart, you will see your daddy every other weekend and you’ll be with him for a month in the summer!”

This is so not OK! How is it that he gets to be half a dad and that I have to conjure up this make believe world that everything is cool because most of the time, it’s not. My kids will get over it but it’s heart breaking to hear them ask some of the simplest questions. That’s why I think that sometimes we complicate things more in our minds than what our situation truly is.

Oh well, moving along. I don’t want to put too much effort into communication that no longer falls on my shoulders in terms of responbilities. I am not responsible to inform him of our children’s school activities, he has not only made it clear that he should receive separate communication documents but there are also several resources in which he can look for information on his own. Having seen 8 years of smart phone and computer addiction, I’m sure he can leave a virtual footprint on the school calendar.

If he wants to be half a dad that’s his karma. I will still muster up the strength to be positive and encouraging about their dad but if he messes up and they catch it, I’m certainly not shouldering the fall. The best I can do is just hope that every mistake turns into a learning lesson no matter how heartbreaking and embarrassing it is.

What I refuse to “pretend” to do is pretend to not care because clearly I do. It is not so much that I care about my ex and his feelings, what I do care about is our broken family and the fragile state we are all in. I care that my children have love in their heart for the right reasons.

I suppose my ex is trying but my positive outlook wears thin in situations like these because the divorce is too fresh and failed communication was the starring role in our turmoil.

At this hour I’m definitely not pretending. I’m exhausted, it’s almost midnight and both children are asleep. There’s nothing I’d love more than to drink an entire bottle of wine and invite some random man over to tell me that I’m pretty and to finally have sex after a long drought. But I’m not going to pretend that will solve anything, so I won’t do it. Just as I won’t allow myself to wallow in this disppointing night. In the end the kids were the star of the show. They were loved, surrounded by music and friends — happy to see people who mean the world to them; and I don’t have to pretend that my world is perfect when I remember the smiles on their faces.

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