Remember to Forget Birthdays

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Up until last Christmas, Evie had been kissed good night by no other than me except for the night her sister Tilly was born, when she was a few months short of turning 4,  and the night her baby sister Mia was born, when she had just turned 6. She is 7 years old.

Up until last Christmas, Tilly had been away from me only for a handful of hours and had never been put to bed by anyone but me. When her baby sister Kai was born she demanded Tom change her nappy and get her bottle of milk ready; she then read herself her favourite Christmas book, despite it being only the end of August, and put herself to bed. She is a few months short of turning 4.

To this day, baby Mia, almost 18 months old, has never been away from me for longer than an hour (a couple of times a week I allow myself the luxury of an hour at the gym).

Tom loves the girls. Always has. There is no denying his feelings towards them. But… he has never had any interest in taking care of them and certainly doesn’t try to see the world with their eyes. His relationship with them is about him: about what he needs, what he feels they should do, what he needs them to do, what his parents tell him he should do, what his work colleagues advise him to do.

Evie and Tilly will happily play the Wii or grab hold of one of his many electronic devices (iPad, iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPhone 3GS, Blackberry) when he’s around. Mia is heading in that direction too. I am not that nice: my phone is off limits (unless it’s a situation that requires it, like a hygienist visit: hand iPad to Mia and phone to Tilly in order to get the job done) and I limit their time in front of the tv or playing with any of that stuff.

They are also crazy about climbing all over him when he is lying on the sofa…

I made the huge mistake of only letting him do what he felt comfortable doing, from the day Evie was born. He was disgusted by nappies? He only got to change them in an emergency. He didn’t have the patience to spoon feed them? He wasn’t even invited at the kids dinner table. He needed to sleep so he could work the next day? He was never asked to do any sort of night shift. He got bored at the playground? I always tagged along so he could sit on a bench and get lost in his phone instead.

I always thought that one day he would realise, he would see that he wasn’t doing much with them or for them. That meant I had to do it all. And it made me angry to feel like I was invading his personal space, not caring about his personal need to wind down on the rare occasions when I needed an extra pair of hands. I learned to do it all, with the girls and with no help.

The only thing I didn’t do was bring home a pay check. That’s the “only” thing he did for us: he supported us, financially. Emotional and physical support are now being defined as always seeing the glass half empty. I had no right to complain about him not being there, because he worked for us. I had no right to complain about¬†mention missing a hug (not a hug that lead to sex), not feeling any human touch or emotional connection: he was doing everything that was expected from him. I was simply “unsatisfiable”.

At Christmas he asked to have Evie and Tilly on his own with his mother (because the girls are sort of comfortable around her) for a few days so that they could go to Turin, where he works and “lives”. HE had the need for them to start having an image of him as a dad. HE had the need to prove that they would be fine all on their own, with him, without the overpowering controlling mother. He didn’t care that maybe for the first time 5 days were a little too much. He didn’t realise it all went ok because I prepared them. He wasn’t with us on the night we all got back to Nanna’s house and all they wanted to do was wear their fairy nighties and tell me all about their trip behind locked doors: they refused to leave our bedroom and wouldn’t allow Nanna or Pops to join us. He never heard Evie say: “it was ok, but I am not sure I wan’t to do this every year, I missed you and i hated them trying to comb my hair every day”. He never heard Tilly say that she is never going back unless I go too.

Little do they know…

Today I got a text in which Tom informs me that he would like to take the girls back to Italy from the 12th to the 19th of April. Mia is too small and in any case he would just hand her over to his mother. He expected an immediate approval so he could book tickets and sort out his holiday requests. I was fuming: the Easter holidays are almost 3 weeks long and he chose the week of Tilly’s 4th birthday. He knows birthdays are a big big deal for me: I don’t believe in not celebrating a birthday, no matter what the reason (too old, not in the mood, don’t care about them….). I texted back, demanding an explanation and making it clear that next year her birthday is with me, regardless of where Easter falls: her birthday will always be in the middle of the holidays.

He said we should talk, that there is no point in texting and that he doesn’t want to argue about everything.

Because… he didn’t plan it that way on purpose, he FORGOT all about Tilly’s birthday being on the 15th of April.

My phone’s battery died around 3pm today, I didn’t recharge it.

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