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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Being a Parent

Feeling the need to vent and talk about parenting.

As you know if you have read my posts before,  my ex husband and father of all my three children, is not a very devoted father, to say the least.  Unfortunately parenting can be a risk taking venture as many of us do not know what kind of a parent we will be until we are one. Sometimes we do not have much in the way of a parental instinct when it comes to children and then we hope,  as if by magic, when we become a parent we will go through a "change" and our wonderful parenting instincts will be "switched" on. Other times we have analysed our own upbringing so much and vow not to make the same mistakes and be more like the parents we wished we had, yet sometimes all those good intentions are some how lost when we are parents and we unconsciously keep repeating the bad parenting patterns we had to suffer as children.  Sometimes we assume that becoming a parent will help a relationship or bring us much happiness in our otherwise unhappy lives. We may even think that we want children more than anything and when it becomes a reality, we find out that somehow we were wrong and we just do not have the "knack" for being parents. Others accept their responsibilities of being a parent, receive their children's unconditional love with an open heart and tap into their primitive instincts that we now have a young child who needs our protection and caring more than anything else, and try our damnedest to be the best parent we can be.

Though I have been trying very hard to "let go" of the negative feelings that I still have towards my ex husband, I have somehow, inadvertently, fed my children (especially my our) false hope about their father. I still mention to my son that he has a father as well and he should ask him for help at times too. Not intentionally realising until now that all I have been doing is setting him up for disappointment. The last time I mentioned such an idea to my son, I heard his reply with clarity and knew I needed to stop. When I said, "....he is your parent too" my son replied, "Well, yes and no. He is because he is genetically my father, but he is not a parent." End of discussion and those words  cut through my illusions that someday being a father will "change" this man and he will in fact start having fatherly feelings and following through on them. The next few reminders of that have just highlighted it more to me.

I have been trying to help my son by taking him grocery shopping as regularly as I can, not a full big shop, but enough to know he is eating. I have been doing this while his benefit money from the government stopped and he was waiting for a new claim and I knew he had no money. I would also try to get him a bite to eat whenever I could, even if it was just from the local chip shop. So one afternoon while on the phone to my son, he asked if I can call him back because his father was there putting together a small dresser for him, I was pleased and impressed by this sudden change. The next time I was with my son and we were in the store buying him some bits and pieces, I reverted back to my old tactics and made the comment that I am very low on money and have other kids too to take care of and maybe his father could help him out sometimes. I then asked him about the other day, asking if after they put together the drawers if his dad took him out for a bite to eat. Nope. Oh, well did he get you some shopping? Nope. I was doing it again and I did not want to! Then my son says, "Oh yeah, he did bring me some stuff". Oh ok, I asked what kind of stuff. Now brace yourselves for the answer! "Oh Dad brought me some out of date food he said he found". WHAT? Found? Found where? In the street? "No, he said he found them in the back of his cupboards". Well I was shocked but had to keep asking! What kind of food, I wanted to know and how out of date and did my son actually eat them? OK, so this next remark made me feel so sad and so disgusted at this man who obviously is little more than his genetic father...."It's ok, it didn't all taste bad". I then held my tongue and said no more!


Next time we spoke my son said he also got some old spices that his father was clearing out! I asked myself, what is this guy up to? Is he moving house or something and getting rid off his junk by giving them to his son? Even our son thought it a bit odd because he does not see his father as the type to merely be doing a spring cleaning. More to the point though is that regardless why he is clearing out old stuff, do not give that to your child! Go to the supermarket and buy him some inexpensive, but fresh food!

I heard my son's words echoing in my head, "He is and he isn't....his is not a parent".


The next time I was reminded of the truth of my son's statement was after his sisters saw their father a few days ago, not having seen them since January! It was the usual set up, movie and a quick lunch, a 3 hour visit more or less as always. The girls would walk down to the corner and there they would meet their dad and come home the same way. When they returned they had a bag of stuff with them. They were not sure what was inside. We all sat down on the floor and tipped out the bag. Two small Easter eggs, OK, yes it is Easter soon. The rest, well we were all dumbfounded about. A little money bag full of used hair clips, an old die, a couple of school whistles, a couple of white board pens thrown in, an old bubbles with half missing, some dried out paint.....Ok...well most of it when to the garbage. What was that about?

The icing on my slice of reality was when I asked my older daughter if she spoke to her father about her upcoming exchange visit. I asked because, one I had sent him a txt and two because I ask her to! My txt was simple, reminding him of her upcoming exchange and if there is anything he can do to support her in her exchange. Now you need to realise that we will be housing a German girl for 10 days in our home, feeding her 3 meals a day, making sure she has a comfortable room to sleep in, entertaining her over a 3 day day weekend, as well as paying for her travel to and from school while here. Then in May our children will go to Germany and stay in their partner's home with the same care given. The cost of the trip is over £300, but of course that does not cover the additional cost of extra outgoings to feed and entertain them. Also before our children go, especially true for my daughter, she will need some new clothes as here she wears a school uniform and does not have that much in the way of casual clothes which she will need there. I think it would be fair to say then that the entire cost is more like £600. The school expects 3 payments to cover the cost of travel, however I was unable to do that financially but really wanted my daughter to go. I spoke to the school and we agreed to monthly payments over a 6 month period, which I am now one month behind.

I was bemused when my daughter told me that her father did give her a contribution to help with her exchange, he gave her £20! I had no choice but to laugh! WOW, £20! Nice one, that may buy them a fast food lunch on the weekend! I never know when to leave bad enough alone, so I asked, "Well then, did your father at least offer to take you guys out somewhere on one of the days over the long weekend?". Stupid question! Stop hoping and waiting for this man to somehow turn into a parent!

So, I know that all these kids have is me. I need to be strong and clever and somehow manage it all. Actually, I guess I have been doing that for a long time already,  so I just have to keep it up!

I hope that my son will learn to get rid of his sorrows by being let down by his dad and then he can start to tackle the problem of how his addiction stemmed from trying to fill a void and ease the sadness. I hope for all my children to be able to one day live full and meaningful lives with love and friendship and that the lack of their father's support will not be a painful part of who they have become. Do not let that make them who they are, let them find so much goodness in life that it is not an issue, and I must learn to do the same. In the meantime I am trying to be the best parent and person that I can be.