Please bear with me because this will be long. I really need to get some things off my chest. Very few people in my family know that I write this blog, so I’m not really worried about any of them seeing this rant. On the other hand, maybe it would be good if they actually knew how I feel. I want to talk about my parents. This is, after all, a parenting blog.
My parents got divorced when I was in 3rd grade. My mom got custody of my brother and me. Between my 3rd grade and 8th grade years, we were subjected to a host of loser, drug-addict boyfriends, crappy babysitters, and a mom whose time was spent working, partying, or with boyfriends. We moved schools several times and I was never able to make any good friends. My dad or grandma would drive 7 hours to pick us up almost every other weekend. Sometimes my dad would have a six pack of Coors in the backseat floorboard in an Igloo cooler. I remember watching him reach around for another beer while we drove on the highway. He always did his best to see us, though, no matter what obstacles my mom put in his path. This one simple fact is pretty much the only positive feeling I have toward my dad, especially now. We’ll get to the rest in a moment.
When I was in 5th grade, my mom married a horrible man. This was her third marriage. She was married once before my dad, but has no kids from any other marriage. This horrible man treated my brother and I terribly, but my brother got the worst of it. I remember an incident when the man was angry with my brother and held him upside down, by one foot, over a stair case opening. It was terrifying. I remember screaming for him to let my brother down. Thank goodness he did. I think we were lucky. She tried to leave this man several times, each time pulling us out of school and packing our toys and clothes in garbage bags. She kept going back to him. I’m pretty sure he was abusing her, and I know my mom mentioned later on that he’d pulled a gun on her. He never laid a hand on me. I think he knew I’d tell my dad. Finally, about a month into my 8th grade year, my mom decided to leave him for good. She sent my brother and I to Tulsa to live with my dad. She said she needed to get her life together. It was about three years before we saw her again, and she only came to town because my brother developed epilepsy.
So in 8th grade, with my dad and his new wife, life became more stable. This was when the Christian indoctrination truly started. We’d gone to church a lot as kids, especially with my grandparents, but junior high was really the turing point for me. I felt abandoned by mom mom. We were very poor and living in a crappy house in a crappy neighborhood. My dad’s heart belonged to his race car, and he immersed himself in it. He spent every moment he wasn’t at work tinkering with his car. We were dragged to the races, so I tried to make the best of it. Many weekends we were out later than 1 a.m. Looking back, with all the noise, dirt, drinking, and fighting that went on, it wasn’t really a place for kids. I poured my heart and soul into church service, singing, and “witnessing” to others. I believe I did this to escape. I needed to feel loved and I needed to belong. Being so poor and having no friends, church offered a safe place with people who praised me for my talent and gave me friendship when I needed it most.
I began to resent the race car because my dad spent so much time and money on it. His wife felt the same, and things got rocky for them. I applied for Oral Robert’s University’s opera music program, and decided my “calling” was to make a living as a singer. But the idea of losing my (much older) boyfriend kept me from going, and my parents didn’t try to tell me otherwise. I ended up working shit jobs for a long time, until I was offered a professional job that required lots of travel around the year 2001.
Fast forward to about 2006. My dad was divorced. My mom, on her 5th marriage. I had a roommate who was only a few years older than me. My dad came to do a repair at our house and they met. They began to date. It wasn’t bad at first, but it turned into a nightmare.
I ended up with a surprise pregnancy and decided I wanted to raise the child. I met my husband shortly after and life became absolutely grand. My husband showed me the value of education. He showed me that I’m smart and capable of doing great things. This was when my life really changed, and through education and personal research I came to the conclusion that I’m an atheist. I love my husband and we have a wonderful relationship, but in all truth, he saved me. He teases that I would might never have risen up from the redneckery and drama I was in, and he’s probably right.
Fast forward to today. My dad, now in his early 50′s, recently had his mobile home repossessed. This was cosigned by my grandparents, so their credit is now crap. He’s been living with my grandparents, who are in their late 70′s/early 80′s, with his girlfriend (my former roommate) and her two teenage kids. The problems this situation has caused are far too complex to go into here, but I’ll just say that there are a lot of hard feelings. I refuse to speak to his girlfriend because of several incidents involving her children treating my dad poorly. The oldest one hit my dad in the face with a skillet. Yeah. I won’t let her kids near my family.
My dad never sees my children, unless it’s a family event, like a birthday party for my brother’s kids. I can’t text him because his girlfriend reads his texts. She treats me like I’m an ex-girlfriend of his. It’s very bizarre. I call, but he doesn’t answer and rarely calls back. He says he loves me, but I doubt it. Maybe he does, but it sure does hurt when he doesn’t call. When I graduated college, I barely got even a congratulations from him. He didn’t seem proud at all. I’ve tried and tried to connect with him, but to no avail. I know he’s unhappy with this woman, and I know this for reasons I can’t say. But he stays with her, and it makes no sense to me.
My mom lives 7 hours away, and she’s in the middle of her 5th divorce. She calls every now and then, and she answers when I call, so we do get to talk. But she treats my brother like my dad treats me. She hasn’t seen my kids in months. She keeps saying she’s going to move to Tulsa, but I’ll believe it when it happens.
I don’t understand why my parents are ok with missing out on their grandchildren’s lives. I don’t understand why my dad will spend time with my brother, but not with me. I don’t understand why they aren’t proud of me and the things I’ve accomplished, and why they refuse to acknowledge the great things I’ve done with my life.
I try to ignore this part of my life. My in-laws are amazing and wonderful people who love me and their grandchildren. They spend time with us, we love being around them, and they always support and encourage us when we need it. They are the parents I never had. Please don’t think my life is hard or bad, because it’s not. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.
I’m sure my parents love me. It would be silly to think they don’t, but it seems to me that they really didn’t want to be parents. I just needed to write all this out because it’s been weighing heavily on my mind lately. I’m amazed my brother and I have turned out so normal, coming from what we did. We were lucky. Other kids aren’t so lucky.