What’s a Loser?

My posts are a bit personal lately, but it’s these thoughts that disrupt my daily routine and slow my progress. It’s hard to work when your mind is busy. The past week I’ve used the word loser 3 times in front of my children and each time I was referring to myself. There may always be moments when as a parent you doubt your ability to get the job done, but I never want my kids to see it. They should never think of a woman as a loser, never see themselves as one and should never allow someone to think of themselves that way and I realized the disservice I was doing to their little hearts by openly saying that out loud. It’s hard not to feel that way sometimes when you’re working so hard and seemingly failing at doing it all.

The first moment came to me when I heard my son, my sweet 4 year old boy tell his teacher and classmates that he didn’t have a dad. He was so adamant, so sure, he didn’t falter he didn’t doubt it he believed he didn’t have a dad. In my last post I explained why I still honor the covenant of marriage and I take that same attitude with my kids. They have pictures of their dad and we talk about all the great things he used to do, why he’s a hero and can’t be with us, we pray for him, etc. I’ve done everything within my power to keep him a part of their lives and yet I couldn’t protect them from the reality. How do you convince them someone cares when he can go up to 9 months without ever talking to them? At this moment it has been over 8 weeks since our son has talked to his father. He’s called, but he’s refused to talk to him, sometimes because he’s too mad at me or sometimes because he’s too busy, but always an excuse. Though now I couldn’t make our little boy get on the phone with him. He refuses and I don’t have the heart to force him to hold on to a man I myself should have given up on long ago.

How do you convince your kids they mean the world to someone, when that person spends their money on trips, dogs, guns, jewelry, flowers, dinners out, new clothes, a car, at least two iphones, complete furnishings for a new apartment, and the list goes on. His budget easily allows for enumerable items that bring him joy, yet today he is $9761.49 in arrears in child support and owes over $600 for his half of our son’s therapy expenses. He hasn’t paid the full amount he owes in over a year. Then cites that arrears as the reason he can’t have a relationship with his kids. Not that he refused to follow the court ordered Skype sessions, not that he doesn’t call for holidays. Not that he’s taken 3 trips out of his state of residence, but hasn’t used his allotted visitation. Not that he was 6 hours away from us this week and still couldn’t be bothered to stop and see his children. Because there’s always an excuse, and the excuse is that everyone in his life ranks higher on his list of priorities than a couple little boys. This is made worse by the fact that the kids have to witness how hard their mother works to make up for it and all the things she’s had to sacrifice and sell and give up to provide for them when their dad refuses to meet his responsibility to them.

Maybe the problem lays in the effort a 3 year old makes in coloring birthday pictures for his dad; (or the christmas ornaments we made last year, or the father’s day packages we’ve sent, or the DVDs with pictures every month)

only to have them returned like most of the mail he sends that his dad says he never gets because it gets screened by his girlfriend and his girlfriends’ mom before it gets to him.

Blurred to protect addresses

Sure he wishes I’d move on a find a new guy “who’ll be good to you and the boys”. And maybe that would make him happy and release him from the guilt he feels. Or maybe it’s because he’s just repeating history. Maybe because in his whole life he never really felt loved, never really learned what it means to stay, maybe b/c there is one person in the world who believe in him unconditionally and knows he’s capable of great things, yet he can’t become that person again. He doesn’t see he used to be the guy who put his family first and treated his kids’ mom like a queen. He doesn’t remember being the man who refused to kiss her goodbye because her kids were watching, or that he asked her boys if he could marry her long before he ever proposed. He doesn’t remember being a guy who would give his shirt off his back to someone in need and put himself on the bottom of the list. Instead he’s angry, he can’t see that he’s become everything he hates in his own father and he refuses to make the changes in his life to save his relationship with his children.

This is what I’m trying to avoid having my own boys turn into. I don’t want them to carry the burden of this much hate. I don’t want them to be incapable of forgiveness. I don’t want them to perpetuate the cycle and go on to be the third generation to abandon their sons and leave them to find their own way. I want them to be men worthy of honor and respect. I want them to see the good and to stand for what’s right. I want them to give of themselves because it’s best for someone else. I want them to not wait for a stranger to fill the shoes they should be standing in. I get tired of hearing how much the man I married loves and misses his kids when he refuses to show it to the people who need to see it the most and then I’m left feeling like a loser b/c no matter how I try I can’t make my boys feel the love of the second parent they don’t have. I couldn’t explain away why daddy never showed up to see them, but then they had to sit in the window and watch as he played with the kids across the street, his new family. Or why they would wake up and find daddy home in the morning making breakfast and holding mommy in front of the stove, but then have to explain that he wasn’t home to stay. I couldn’t rationalize all the things that confused even me, so I moved thousands of miles away in the hopes that it would offer them the stability they needed and it works for chunks of time. Then we get pulled back in. But this mama knows enough not to tell them daddy will call b/c she knows he’ll forget. I don’t tell them he’s going to come visit because I know his plans will always change. I act as a buffer, so they only feel partial hurts and parts of me weather away in the storm, so that they can rest safer on the shore. I carry as much of their aches as I can so that maybe just maybe they’ll have the chance to love a man who forgot to love them. I stand on the vows of marriage, so that I don’t fill their hearts with a man who isn’t their dad. When he asks to earn their love, when he finally tries to be their dad, when he stands up and says I have a job to do and it’s a mission only I can accomplish, my boys won’t have to say “you aren’t my father I have a father and he was more a man than you.” Instead I hope they can say “I love you and I forgive you because mommy showed us everyday to never give up on you and she sacrificed of herself and her own happiness, so that you would shine.”

I am a lot of things; I’m cute, I’m witty, I have a great sense of humor, I like to cook and clean and run a home, I like to put on my sexy jeans and go dancing or sing karaoke, I like to sleep under the stars, I can kill and clean a deer, I like the feel of earth in my hands and the way they wash your hair at a salon, my moral compass points to God, but I’m not afraid to admit when I’ve made a mistake, I love too hard and I forgive too easily, I can eat a whole pecan pie and run a 6 minute mile, what I offer the world may not be much, but I’ve realized the actions of someone else do not make me a loser.

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