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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Evie 2 Mummy | 22 November 2013

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Evie writes me letters and notes. She started after the summer, normally when I am cleaning up the kitchen after the girls dinner while they play a little before we all head upstairs to brush tiny teeth, read books and go to bed. I’ve been crying a lot since we got back from Sabaudia, and I haven’t always been able to hide it. Evie’s words are her way of cheering me up, letting me know she knows something is not the way it should be.

Tom doesn’t want to say anything to her. He doesn’t want me to say anything to her either. His  view is not to let the girls know that we are breaking up at ll. He wants to keep up the appearances with them, taking advantage of the fact that he only comes home every two weeks or so anyway.  I am not sure how long he wants to keep this act going for, nor do I understand what sense it makes in the long run. He has told shouted at me more than once that I am “ruining” my child, because she should be kept away from our problems. I let him read one of her letters, hoping that maybe he would start to understand why I am still trying to see if there is a way we can work on our marriage, even though I was the one to file for divorce once I found out about his double life and lost it because he kept lying to my face. Another mistake. Now I am to blame for letting my children know that our family is going through a difficult phase.

I agree that she and her sisters need to be shielded. I also refuse to lie to my children. As much as I try I can’t keep it all inside, all the time. I am hardly ever alone, without them. And all that’s been happening has been too overwhelming and full of drama for me to simply hide it all day, every day until Evie, Tilly and Mia are all in bed, fast asleep.

Somehow as the evening approaches I just can’t keep it together. I’ll be cooking dinner adding tears instead of salt to their meals, while they relax watching tv upstairs (I never used to let them sit upstairs alone, I prefer having them in the kitchen with me, so we can chat) and I know Evie notices I am just very very sad.

My heart breaks as I read her words. And the tears keep on flowing.

I am so proud of her trying to “make it all ok”; at the same time I hate knowing that part of her innocence is being stolen way too early.

Dear mummy

LETTER

when can you write me the letter?

XMAS | XMAS | XMAS

If you can do it Now. Please!

I know you tried really hard to have Xmas in London but it’s always nice to try new things. Right? And we are trying to.

DADDY

I know Daddy wants to be the boss of EVERYTHING. But he can’t. You can make him feel upset if you try hard.

Don’t worry about EVERYTHING.

You don’t have to worry. You never have to worry. Everything is going to be ok.

Love from Evie

We cannot make decisions for those we love

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Beautiful words in reply to the message I sent C yesterday .

K, I don’t remember what I wrote to you, but it was probably unfiltered, raw, and as honest as I could have been at the time, just knowing me. It is nice that words can have impact a decade along, once we’ve lived more.

I don’t know what you are specifically going through but whatever it is specifically, it’s likely not the specifics that are the issue anyway–the evidence so to speak. I too am now a father. I’m a coach. I’m a husband. If there is anything I’ve learned since our lives brushed and we very clearly loved each other for who each was; what I’ve learned is that we can make decisions for ourselves and we can make decisions for the good of those we love, but we cannot make decisions for those we love. All we can do is hope that love prevails–that love conquers all that is poor, dark, and gray in the imperfection that is being human. When someone is sad that they hurt loved ones, there is always hope. But when that is out asunder, I truly don’t know what to make of that. I am thankful that I have never experienced it. But I can see how selfishness is all around, as our personal time gets eaten at the service of those we love–those who make a family what a family is and should be.

I don’t have answers to how to work around deceit. All I can say is love your children. Love them so that no matter what, they grow knowing what truth and love are.

I wish you love and courage.

Sincerely,

C

@Matteroft1me – before it all comes crashing down

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As soon as we got home after swimming Evie and Tilly headed upstairs to watch 15 minutes of Peppa Pig while I was going to cook some dinner. Mia was roaming the hallway as usual, searching for my iPhone which I had just taken away from her, when she tried to pull herself up holding onto the radiator cover. Which crashed down on her with all the bits and bobs we keep in the baskets on top of it: coins, business cards, mail, bubbles, chalk, nails, golf tees, sunglasses… I caught the wooden cover just before it landed on Mia’s head so there was no real damage, except for a fright. And a bout of rage on my behalf: the cupboard hadn’t been screwed back into the wall since May!!! (when the plumber had to drain the heaters because of a major boiler/cylinder problem which left us with no hot water for almost a month because Tom wasn’t interested in getting it fixed… you see he was getting his hot showers in his apartment in Turin so it wasn’t his problem).

I try hard not to express my rage towards Tom in front of the girls, but realising that Mia could’ve been badly hurt made me lose it: “your stupid daddy, he couldn’t just fix it in the last 6 months could he???!!!! He is so stupid and selfish. Stupid stupid stupid!”.

I then proceeded to go and find the filler cartridge, and the cartridge gun and filled up the holes so that tomorrow I can screw the thing back into place. And won’t have to think about Tom and what he “should” do every time I walk up and down the hallway and the little radiator shelf wobbles.

And then his words sprung to my mind: “I am not a 60 year old retired man. I don’t have time and I am not interested in doing any house maintenance”.

My questions are:

  • why did you buy a house?
  • who do you expect to fix stuff around any house you live in?
  • how can you not even realise that maybe this particular diy job should have been done solely in the interest of your daughters, because it was only a matter of time before the thing was bound to topple over. His favourite words, and the password that allowed me to discover the truth, not the one I was supposed to believe:

    @Matteroft1me.

Pathetic.

Daddy won’t be coming home this week end

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Me: “Evie, daddy is not coming home this week end”.

Evie: “I don’t care.  Err no, it’s not that I don’t care, but it doesn’t matter. Because daddy doesn’t like going out, he doesn’t like walking and I don’t like spending half of my day in the car when it’s easier to travel by train, like today, when we went all the way to London Bridge and then up to the top of the Shard”.

Me: “Evie, next week end nanna is coming. Daddy will not be here next week end either”.

Evie: “That’s ok. Because we can go to Legoland. There is loads to walk in Legoland, daddy can’t drive a Lego car around Legoland. And Nanna can hold baby Mia when you come with Tilly and me on some of the big girls’ rides. Because I am sure Nanna gets dizzy”.

She’s got it all figured out. And it’s so sad it breaks my heart. When she talks like that I have to stop what I am doing and look at her in the face. Because what comes out of her mouth at times sounds so harsh it scares me. And only when I look in her eyes I realise she is still innocent. She is just speaking her mind, based on her view of the world. Unfiltered.