Friday, 28 November 2014

Grimacing on my son's birthday

I love Tween. I would do anything for him. Including, for one night a year, meeting up with his Dad, and pretending to have a good time.

It was Tween's birthday on Monday. He is twelve. I was encouraging him to have a party with his friends, but no - he wanted to go out for a meal and then to the cinema. Tween, Teen, Dad and me.

The happy fractured family.

To say this depressed me somewhat is an understatement. My last meeting with Tween's father involved him telling me that he wasn't going to let me see my kids over Christmas, for spite's sake. He underpays his child maintenance. He refuses to get involved in any school-related activity.

His girlfriend ate the birthday cake that I made last month for Teen.

So you can appreciate perhaps that spending an evening with this guy would not be top of my list.

But of course, you can't say no. And it is just one night. So, with a fixed smile - more of a grimace - I said I would like nothing better in the world.

I arrived at Tween's chosen eaterie to be greeted by a sulky Teen, a snotty ex husband and a Tween who looked like he was on acid. His eyes were shining and like dinner plates, and he had a huge smile on his face, bigger than I had seen for a long time.

He was just so happy that we were sitting together - just sitting, as a group, and talking - that it was hard not to let some of his positivity rub off. And so I was polite to my ex, as he was to me, and even Teen stopped sulking when he saw his huge hot chocolate advancing towards him. We talked about school and about The Hunger Games and Christmas (leaving aside my ex's previous ridiculous words) and even jokes.

During the short walk to the cinema, Tween bounced around between us, excited and moony. And in the cinema, with the ex and I book-ending the boys, he looked content. It was a look that I hadn't seen for a long time, bearing in mind the hard time he's had slotting into Secondary school.

It made me feel sad, and guilty. I had wrecked the structure of this family. Despite my efforts, I cannot fulfil the role of a man, and similarly my ex cannot be me. I saw for the first time how my children miss us being a united front.

It has made me think. But there is nothing I can do to mend it.

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5 comments:

  1. Sending you a huge hug. You must not feel guilty. I have close friends from divorced families who acknowledge how happy and relieved they are that their parents who were making themselves and everyone else miserable parted when they did. Other friends, whose parents stuck around supposedly 'for their kids' did more damage in the end. You are brave and mature attending this meal together putting your children before yourself in such a difficult situation and should feel proud. Maybe explaining down the line that sometimes it can be difficult to all meet up together, your kids can enjoy separate celebratory occasions that feel more natural for all. Thanks so much for sharing this and linking up to #brilliantblogposts

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    1. What a lovely thing to say - thank you so much. I feel much more positive now I've had a few days to calm down. Splitting up was for the best and inevitable - and these meetings only happen once a year. Thanks so much for commenting and also for creating the #brilliantblogposts linky. xx

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  2. Oh Lottie...you're just lucky to be on civil enough terms to be able to do that. My ex couldn't help himself - as much as I think he'd like to think he could handle it, he just can't. It would be awkward at the least and likely potentially explosive. Hugs sweetie. Be proud of yourself.

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    1. Oh Liv, that's awful! Poor you - I hope time makes it easier for him. And thanks so much for your lovely comment. xx

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  3. I totally agree with Vicki, you did a wonderful thing. Unfortunately eeing the joy it brung to your son left you feeling confused but reading your comment replies above it sounds like you've reconciled your feelings now. Staying together just for the sake of the kids never works out, being brave enough to go it alone is really admirable. Hugs xx

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