After hitting fifty…well, more like 40…or even 35, I have had more and more difficulty remembering things. Some things. Definitely not all things. There are certain things that I couldn’t forget, even if I tried…and believe me, I’ve tried. It would be nice if we had a schematic of our brains so we could figure out how to selectively turn off the bad stuff and keep the good stuff. I guess what I’d really like is to be able to have that for my kids.
They’ve had to go through some pretty crappy times. Some of it was my fault. Some of it was their mother’s fault. I suppose all of it was both our faults. People have always told me not to worry because kids are resilient. Resilient. Kids should not have to be resilient. Well, be that as it may, but kids remember. I remember most of the craziness when my parents split. Hell, I remember vowing to myself that I’d never get married because I didn’t want to put my own kids through that.
Obviously, my thoughts on that changed at some point- well at a point that I know well, and will maybe share at another time. I never really cared what our custody agreement said. I was going to be with my kids as much as possibly and after the split with my ex, I had my kids with me a lot more than I was “supposed” to. Pretty much every single weekend and some weekdays. Soon after that, it was every Saturday to Wednesday. I’ll never forget the third year, I believe, when Mother’s Day rolled around. I heard through the pathetically dismal chain of communication from my ex, that she had plans for Mother’s Day and wouldn’t be taking the kids. I was floored. The kids- especially my daughter- love celebrating any holiday. I could see if maybe you were with your kids 24/7 and desperately needed a break. Then, yeah, Mother’s Day might call for a nice relaxing day, without the kids, but when your kids are not living with you for the majority of the time, it’s not even an option to pass them off. I gladly took them and we celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom. There have been other years when I’ve picked up and/or dropped off the kids for short visits. I guess it’s safe to say that I’ve never understood that woman and I’m quite certain I never will.
Anybody who knows my daughter knows that she is the most loving little ball of spit and fire and emotion and stubbornness in existence. She absolutely loves holidays and loves any excuse for a party. She called me yesterday, as she always does every Saturday. “Daddy, what time are you picking me up?”
“Um…tomorrow’s Mother’s Day, honey. Aren’t you spending it with your mom?”
“Oh! Hold on!”
She asks her mom if she’s staying home with her because it’s Mother’s Day…then I hear the response.
“Mommy’s busy tomorrow. I have an appointment.”
“Please mom- it’s Mother’s Day.”
The conversation on the other end continued, but finally I interrupted and told her I’d be there at 4:30 to pick her up and we’d go out for dinner. I was crushed over what might be going through her head. Fortunately, she is not very analytical and due to her condition, her brain doesn’t function in such a way that would allow her to figure things like that out….which, I guess is sometimes a good thing.
I almost forgot the best part- when I picked her up, she climbed into the car and immediately started giggling. The giggling turned into a belly laugh- which Maria is a pro at I kept asking what was so funny, but she couldn’t speak. She finally composed herself and said, “that looks like you!” Pointing to a box I had put in the back seat days ago. It was from a box of ‘Mr. Clean’ and had the big bald Guy’s mug plastered on the side. “Very funny,” I said.
She spent part of the day with my mom, visiting my stepsister’s family and all of her baby cousins who she absolutely adores. Then we played a little and made dinner on the grill. After that we took the dogs out for a short hike and stopped by Cold Stone for some of the most outrageously overpriced delicious ice cream in the universe.
Now, I’m not putting this out there to make my ex look bad- contrary to what she believes, I don’t need to say a word. I’m pretty sure everybody who observes her daily actions, came to their own conclusions. I’m also not looking for accolades. I’m not a great dad. I have tons of shortcomings and I haven’t done the best job possible, but I’m still working on it. I just want people to know that despite being ‘resilient,’ kids are kids. They’re super impressionable un-molded little blobs of feelings and emotions and they are not all created equal. Hopefully, one day, mine will look back and remember the more of the good than the bad.
God knows, if there was a poster child for resilient, it would be Maria. At the end of the night she said (as she says nearly every single day of her life), “Daddy- today was the best day of my life!”
This Sunday, May 15, Maria and I will be walking in the March of Dimes March for Babies. Please help us reach our goal. She LOVES babies and wants to help. Thank you!