Friday, September 27, 2013

The Most Thankless Job

As life is wont to do, this post is in direct contrast to a previous recent post.

I always knew motherhood was a thankless job, and that was ok. The hugs, smiles, kisses were enough. And even when Billy hurls obscenities at me and says he hates me, I've learned to overlook it and know that it's coming from the disabilities that plague him and that his actions show otherwise.

But, lately my kids have been throwing new barbs at my heart. The kind that stick and make you look at them differently and wonder why you bother doing all the vast and taxing things you do for them. I'm sure I'm not the only one to feel this way.

The divorce from their dad was the catalyst. When they were young, the hurt came from their gushing about dad's girlfriend, the very one he left me for. Arrena was the only one that could see through my carefully neutral fa├žade and refused to mention her in my presence, at the tender age of eight.

I take with a grain of salt the angry, "I'll just go live at dad's!" Because I know they're only trying to get a reaction, that it's the difference between the loving discipline designed to grow them into godly young people here and the "Disneyland" at dad's, and even if they were serious, the court prevents it at this time.

There's the little jabs when they gush about how much fun they had at dad's, conveniently forgetting that he went months without picking them up or that he forgot to call on their birthday or that he's gone six months without paying child support and we've been struggling just to put food on their plates.

There's the cruel twist of my heart when they speak glowingly of their step-mom, who was also instrumental in the break-up of the marriage. The fury of knowing they confided rule-breaking to her and she kept her mouth shut so that I'm the last to know.

And, yes, I admit that there's the jealousy of my kids having this whole other step-family that they love and talk about that I don't even know.

Kimberly talks about how she and her step-mom have this plan to move to Florida and open a wildlife park. I know it will probably never happen but the idea that she'd prefer to spend her life with her step-mom over me (she can't wait to go to college out of state and live far away) breaks my heart in two.

The cruelest torture was this week when their dad told me all the things they complain about to him, things that have just enough grain of truth in them to make me believe he didn't make it up, but enough falsehood to make me sound like the wicked witch. How did I turn into the evil step-mother in the fairy tale?

That same night, I listened to both girls talking about how they'd name their first sons after their dad. A dad who tried to kill their mother in front of them, the dad who doesn't show up or call, the dad who didn't participate in parenting even before we were divorced, the dad who followed through on his threat to purposefully get fired so he wouldn't have to pay high child support, the dad who called and left a suicidal message telling them goodbye, the dad who not only threatened to run away with them but actually took me to court to try to take custody and lied in court, and all the other award-winning dad material that makes him worthy of being made a grandchild namesake.  The guy you wouldn't even remotely think was a good man, let alone a good father. Yet, I get nothing. Things they see me do for them, the things they take for granted that I'll always be there, and the things they never saw--things they'll probably never know because I won't tell them. The things they blame me for without knowing the whole story or the motivation behind it. I don't even necessarily want any grandchildren named after me. It just hurts when he seems to win parent of the year over me over and over again.

No, I'm not like many parents that would sit there and point out all of these things to them, in an effort to make myself look better and him look worse.  In fact, sometimes I find myself trying to explain why he is the way he is, almost (almost) defending him, not for his sake, but for theirs.  I've even said that they are smart enough to one day figure it out on their own.

And, yes, I'm sure "one day" they'll see things clearly and that I did the best for them that I possibly could and that he didn't. One day, especially when they have children of their own, I might hear a "thank you, mom" or an "I'm sorry, mom." But in the meanwhile, while I'm embroiled in a fight against the school and the bus company on their behalf, I wonder why am I wearing myself thin, stressing myself out, exhausting myself when dad's the hero. And then I remember that regardless of whether they recognize the sacrifice, I love them and will still do anything for them no matter their reaction. And I bet God feels the same way when His children forget Him. He just keeps on loving us anyway.

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