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Chasing The American Dream

March 24, 2006


After eight consecutive perfect weather days, it finally rained. Not only did it rain, it absolutely poured for three straight hours. Andy and I got soaked but still had fun at the Miami Seaquarium. I thought the worst was over, but at night a real storm hit.

It’s been a great vacation thus far. I mean, what’s not to love? Spending time bonding with your son playing sports, going to sporting events, museums, attractions, etc. How could I possibly screw that up? Well, perhaps I have. If you ask his mother, I definitely have, as usual.

I don’t get much time with my boy. Two weeks twice a year. She reminds me it was my choice to move so far away and that, “most people can’t fathom that.” Ouch. I’m learning it’s hard to build a confident relationship with Andy four weeks out of the year. Sure I talk to him almost daily on the phone but it’s not the same. These days I spend with him, I look forward to being a father most. I look forward to teaching him things and being able to talk about anything. We talked about this during the last vacation. I, more than anything, wish that he will be able to talk to me about anything that’s on his mind without repercussions from me. Small progress has been made but the last time I saw him was eight months ago.

And so tonight, I found out a lot of what was on his mind. But unfortunately, I found out from his mother. And then came a litany of criticisms. I’ve made a choice not to get into it with her or point out or criticize things I think she does wrong. I tried to point this out to her in a responding email which was then met with even more criticism. I remember a conversation we had when we were trying to work things out. I gave her credit for being a great mother to him, but faulted her for not being a good wife. She faulted me for not being a good husband and not being a good father. I give her the husband part but the father line will always hurt me. Her criticisms hurt me. I suppose some are valid perhaps but to me, they are her opinions. I suppose she’s the expert because she lives with him and I certainly can’t refute that. But I think even if I were at home, our ideas of parenting are different and I’m not even sure we’d agree on things if I were home with him.

I’m definitely not perfect and I’m not going to say everything correctly as she would want me to. Say it this way, say it that way. Whatever. I say things the way I see them. I’m honest and I guess that’s not so good for kids his age. I mention that I can’t be with him on family vacations because her family really doesn’t want me around. I’ve not heard from any of them since October 2003. I told Andy that people make choices. I had a brother-in-law who was like my real brother. I loved that guy. Yet I haven’t heard a word from him since. I’ve wronged his sister, and I suppose that’s difficult for him to accept. That hurts but it’s his choice not to call. Sure it was my choice to leave and ultimately my fault, I suppose. I tried to explain to Andy that this situation is not likely to change. His mother and I are not getting back together and I’m not going to be joining him on family vacations. That’s a tough concept for a nearly 10-year-old boy to grasp. I should know, I lived through the very same thing. I never mentioned the word “hate” but I guess that’s his takeaway as she communicated back to me. I know her family is most important to him, but I just felt the need to explain that. My family hasn’t seen him since the divorce believe it or not. I wish I could change and arrange everything for everybody but I can’t.

I’m just tired of getting read the riot act. I’m tired of the nagging. I’m tired of accusations. I think the divorce decree speaks for itself in the fact that her accusations were frivolous and quite frankly, ridiculous. I wish things were different. I had hoped that things would improve between us. I had hoped I’d gain a little respect and confidence but tonight’s episode has left me with little hope and that’s sad. I mean, I dread when I get an email from her or I see the phone ring because I know it’s something wrong that I did or money she needs for something. It’s nights like these that make me glad I’m on medication.

I’m going to continue to strive and hope that Andy and I will some day be able to talk to each other freely. That’s my biggest wish. I suppose that’ll come about with age. Until then, I’ll hope for baby steps. A story here or there where he tells me he did something wrong or he asks me for advice. And I’m sure I’ll make more mistakes along the way. I also wish that some day, I gain some respect and confidence from his mother that I’m a capable father. Again, baby steps. Sure this post will be a setback because she reads the blog. Why? I don’t really know.

Tomorrow’s another day. I hope it’s sunny out. I’m waterlogged and need to dry out from all this literal and figurative rain. He’s sleeping comfortably now. I just checked on him. So peaceful. I’ll do my best to make sure these last two days are peaceful and relaxing. We’ll laugh, we’ll eat, we’ll play, and hopefully and most importantly, we’ll talk.


  • "I should know, I lived through the very same thing."

    So why not break the cycle now, before it takes root? (Mixed metaphors?) Keeping in front of mind that this is about your son, not your ex-wife and her family, why not move back to wherever Andy is (or the general area) and get back into his life? Just think of all the live music you could hear together!

    By Anonymous Barbara, at 9:04 AM, March 24, 2006  

  • Building a trusting relationship with a child is something that happens in the minutiea of everyday living. You will have a good relationship with your son with the current arrangment, but I wouldn't expect him to think of you as a confidante. No offense intended at all, Todd.

    Your ex is your ex. You parent as you wish to parent. It is not her position to judge you for that, just as you don't judge her. Be the best parent you know how. You no longer need a relationship with his mother other than for his needs and his sake.

    Why is she reading your blog? I don't understand that. And family vacations with your ex wife's family? People don't usually do that after a divorce anyway. No one should hold you accountable for that. Andy will learn to accept that you are a part of his family but you don't have to do things WITH the other parts to make it okay.

    My son is 10. I've been divorced for 6 years. His dad has a significant other. We live close to each other, but that was our way of handling it. We each do the best we can. Just focus on the best for Andy and you'll always be on track.

    Enjoy the rest of the vacation!!

    By Blogger Amy, at 10:34 AM, March 24, 2006  

  • My parents never divorced. But I still never confided in my father (or my mother for that matter). I didn't need a parent as a confidante. I had friends for that. But even with them I wasn't totally open. Certain things I just never confided to anyone. I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Maybe you're setting your expectations too high. Enjoy the time you have together and continue being the best father you can be. You two will probably turn out fine.

    By Blogger ropedncr, at 11:00 AM, March 24, 2006  

  • Hey Florida - just had to comment on this one:) DO NOT let anyone guilt you into feeling like you are not a good father. Decisions have been made and you are doing the best you can with all that you have. Do not question your ability to be a good father - even from a distance - you know what is in your heart, and how much you have to offer your son. Live a respectable and honorable life and he will learn with maturity all that you have to offer him (regardless of the negativity presented against you).

    Some fathers live just down the street or even under the same roof as their kids and are still not good role models or confidants to their children. Even from a distance you can be there for Andy - you know that, you had that in the end with your own father. Your son will always know that too - that his daddy loved him more than life itself and will always, always be there for him.

    Be strong, hold your head up, and carry on.

    Take care T ~

    P.S. AWESOME picture of you two - we need to see some more!

    By Anonymous Meggie, at 12:37 PM, March 24, 2006  

  • Dude:

    Sometimes we have to make decisions which are tough. I dont think this lady is right in the head. Just make sure that her comments do not fill your sons head. Who knows, maybe some time soon you find a job in Phoenix and get to be near him every day. Time flies by. Hang on and good luck with the ex....

    Take care


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:23 AM, March 28, 2006  

  • My dad left when I was six. My mom banned all communication. He wasn't even allowed in our state. She poisoned our minds with her venomous
    hatred of him. I've spent 37 years regretting that I never had a relationship with my father. I'm the mom of three now. Sometimes I want to run away from it all- the marriage, the kids, but I don't. I want them to know that I'll always
    BE THERE for them.
    Your heart and the MOST important thing in your life is in Phoenix. You should be with your son.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:39 PM, May 04, 2006  

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