"So, the kids are out of school this week, right?" I've been asked this question several times and its only Monday.
"Yep," is my reply... knowing what the next question is.
"They're with their dad then?"
No. They are not with their dad. Their dad has asked for "time to himself". He will take them Thursday - Sunday, one day earlier than normal because of my New Year's/birthday party.
This is the only time of year that he will take time off of work. He has always been this way. He works and flies around the country and travels every week, all year long. I get it. Being home and having downtime is a must for him. Traveling all the time is exhausting. I did it for 4 years.
But these are his children.
Its not like I'm asking someone, "Hey can you babysit for me tonight?"
No, these little people are his responsibility too.
Ok, yes, I am fortunate that he pays his child support and takes them one night a week and every other weekend and will take them longer if I am going out of town or something. He also shows up for recitals and birthdays and all the stuff that a dad's supposed to do.
I am SOO grateful.... I truly am.
But these are his children. Isn't he *supposed* to do that?
Why does my asking, "Hey, don't you want to spend more time with them while they're out of school?" or "You'll take them a month during the summer, right? You know like it says in our divorce paperwork?" feel as if I'm asking for a favor?
My girlfriend says, "Of course he's not going to volunteer to keep them any longer than he has to. Men aren't made that way. We can't expect that from them. And its our job, as the mothers, to make them spend more quality time with their children. It isn't in their inherent nature."
And I have to call BULLSHIT on that.
I've seen plenty of men that love to spend time with their children. Like this guy and this guy and this guy not to mention all the hotness here.
"Well maybe you need to take him back to court to enforce what it says he's supposed to do in the divorce decree," my girlfriend continues to suggest.
Then the mom guilt kicks in. I feel selfish thinking that I'm supposed to FORCE the father of my children to spend time with his children when he doesn't want to? I'm supposed to not feel bad that, though I will "have time to myself", my kids will be with someone who is grouchy and ignores them and puts them in front of the TV because he's so checked out that he doesn't want to deal with them.
He rarely engaged with me when we were married those last few years. The TV went on as soon as he walked in the door, before I was greeted with a 'hello'. If he wasn't watching TV, he was in the kitchen cooking... or some other domestic chore that didn't include spending quality time with me or our children. I should not be surprised.
And who knows. My kids certainly don't complain about sitting in front of the TV. Maybe 'quality time' isn't their love language like it is mine. Maybe he's lowered their expectations enough that they don't even realize it could be better. Maybe they don't care whether or not he's focused on them.
Maybe I'm projecting my own failed childhood relationship with my own father onto this situation.
I guess I keep hoping that he will want to take them to the museum himself instead of them going with teachers on their childcare field trip...
It makes my heart break.
So, instead I quietly vent to my friends and get upset, just like I did last year and the year before that. Always during the holidays when I'm working and sending them to childcare while their dad is at home having "time to himself".
Maybe at some point, I will see the pattern and have a come-to-Jesus talk with him. Because seriously, as long as I allow him to, he will do as little as possible.