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Sunday, May 31, 2015

What's really important?

Disclaimer: I've had a couple of glasses of wine. Forgive me if I turn the filter off for this one.


Lately, I've witnessed a lot of people bitching about a lot of really stupid stuff. 


~ I've gained too much weight.
~ Someone cut me off on the way to work this morning.
~ My girlfriend broke up with me.
~ OMG look at what she's wearing.
~ He's a deadbeat.
~ I overslept and I didn't get to go to the gym.
~ I really want to buy this new bike, but I can't afford it right now.

And on and on and on it goes. I'm guilty of it just as much as the next person. I spent the day outside playing in the dirt and mud just trying to wrap my head around some recent events that hit entirely too close to home.

Our society has become one of total instant gratification, entitlement, and pettiness. 

We focus on the little stuff, and allow it to rule our lives. 

We judge. We criticize. We tease and bully and bitch and moan and whine and complain.

You know what we don't do? 

We don't pay attention. We don't focus. We don't listen.

We are so busy judging others that we forget to really see what is important. We are so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget that sometimes other people have problems that are bigger than our own. We forget that there is a whole world out there full of people who are struggling.

Hell, there are even people out there who are smarter than we are and who can actually help us - if we'd just stop focusing on ourselves and ask.

If there's anything that I've learned in my life, it's that someone always has it worse than I do. And no matter how awful I feel at the moment, I can always reach out and help someone - even if it's just a simple "hey man, I'm thinking of you" because I don't have anything else to offer. 

Why are we so self-centered? How did this happen? Why is it that in this day and age, we forget about everyone else out there and focus just on ourselves? When did we decide that it was ok to just forget about everyone else in the world?

Helping others has never been easier than it is right now. We can text someone with encouraging words and they'll get the message within seconds no matter where they are. We can send an email. We can make a phone call. 

We can go to the store and buy a greeting card and send it through the mail so that someone can get something cheerful instead of yet another bill in the mailbox. We can visit. And if we think that things might be getting really rough but we can't get there ourselves, we can get someone else to knock on the door and make sure that everything is ok.

So why in the hell are we not doing anything? Why are we allowing people who need help to go without? Why do we turn a blind eye to someone who needs help, and then act shocked when that person does something as horrible as taking others' lives along with his own?

We need to wake up. We need to focus. We need to reach out. 

We need each other.

We need each other now, more than we ever have.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Separating the anger

A few months ago, I wrote a piece about how 15 miles was too far for my son's father to travel to spend time with him. At that point, it had been a year with no contact.

Today would have been 15 months and 5 days, except that I woke up to a text from him.

"I have made mistakes and I no I am wrong. I miss alex like crazy and it is killing me not seeing him. Can I please set up a time to see him. I will pick him up and bring him back and do what ever it takes so that I can see him again on a regular basis." 

I knew for a fact that I was dreaming so I rolled back over and went back to sleep for another 30 minutes or so. When I woke up again, I looked at my phone a second time. And then a third. I put it back down on the nightstand and stared at the ceiling for a while. Looked at it again. Got up and went to the bathroom to make sure that I was really awake and then looked at it again.

Then the anger started to build. It simmered for a while and I considered sending back an extremely nasty text including everything that I was really honestly feeling at that particular moment, but I held back. I knew I had to calm down. A lot. I texted The Dude and clued him in, and he was as angry as I was.

Finally, I responded a few hours later.

"I woke up to this and I've been trying to figure out how to respond ever since. I told you the last time you walked out of his life and then suddenly reappeared that it would never happen again - and that time was only 4 months. Now, it's been 15 months and 5 days.  There is no excuse. There is no way to make up for that. Being a parent is a 24/7 job to ALL of your kids, not just the ones who are convenient to you. Coming into town for softball games and to go to the pool and not contacting him is beyond despicable. Not calling him, or sending a text, or being at any of his school or sports events is unforgivable. Lying to your family and blaming all of this on me? Grow up. And you're not going to just waltz back in and pick up where you chose to leave off over a year ago."

(Yeah, I tend to get a little long-winded when I'm angry.)

Discussion (via text) ensued and lasted most of the day. I tried hard to contain my anger and sarcasm (except where I pointed out that even if one is working "out of town", there's a nifty invention called a 'phone' that can be used to maintain contact)  as much as I could, but it was hard.

Finally this evening, The Dude came over to take Daniel to baseball practice. The older 3 kids are still on vacation with Ex1, so Alex and I sat down to talk. I told him that I had gotten a text from his father this morning, and gave him the basic rundown of the discussion.

I did not say anything nasty about his father. I did not say anything hateful or mean or even snarky. I gave him the facts. We talked. We discussed. I listened.

And then I told him this:

"How I feel about your father is totally separate from how you feel about him. I'm upset with him for a lot of grown up stuff that has more to do with responsibility and obligations. But that's my problem with him, not yours. You can feel however you want to feel, and that's ok - if you want to see him, I will make it happen. And if you don't, you don't have to."

You know, I think this is the hardest part of this single parenting thing. And I don't think that I truly got it until today. And I think that there are a lot of parents out there who don't get it.

It doesn't matter how we feel about the other parent. It really doesn't. It's not about us.

It's about the kids.

Should Alex choose to see his father again (and he probably will), I have to completely put my anger and resentment aside and make it happen. His father is not a bad person in the grand scheme of things. Irresponsible, yes. Not good at setting priorities? You betcha'. Bad person? Not so much.

Alex is still at that age where no matter what, his father walks on water. He knows that his father hasn't been around, but he's still young enough that he just wants to see him. I know that as he gets older, he'll understand more about what's happened - but for now, he has his eye on the prize and as much as I hate it, I have to allow him to make the choice. My only consolation is that no matter what happens, I know for a fact that I'll never walk away from this kid. Ever.

After our talk, we got ice cream and went for a walk by the river.
Believe it or not, there's a dam under all of that water.
Stupid rain.