Stupid Calliou.

    It’s a Monday morning. Baby girl likes to stuff her plushy kitten into the doll’s highchair so she can feed him ‘cheeee!!’ In Baby Girl speak, that’s cheese. Of course, I’m sitting and helping her with the logistics, and giving her praise for kitty’s newfound happiness. Most days, I believe my job as mommy should come equipped with a kazoo and a handbook entitled ‘Chasing: how many laps around the couch are enough?’ I’m like the personal assistant of silliness. I love my job. I’m good at it.
   But some days, my job represents something monumentally overwhelming. And when I think about it for even just a moment too long, I have to swallow hard to stop the tidal wave I know is coming. But today, I don’t want to think about that. I just want to help this cat eat some cheese, and get lost in the delight that I see in Baby Girl’s eyes over the simplest of things.

   Stupid Calliou. It never fails. It comes on in the background behind me for the 412th time, and the crippling pain strikes out of nowhere as I hear the narrator  say ‘Calliou wanted to go to the park, so he asked his daddy to take him. But he couldn’t find his skates!’ And then Calliou’s crudely animated mommy and daddy sit down together to talk to him about responsibility, about putting his things back where they go…and suddenly, I’m in the familiar position of feeling like I need to stifle a scream with the back of my hand.
   A mere glimpse of this simple family interaction during my child’s show, and I’m undone. I feel the full force of the unending emotional implications that have been handed to us, all at once. Brutally. Thoughtlessly. ENDLESSLY.
   He took our family away. It is incomplete now. It is forever. And the cruelty of it reverberates in my heart as strongly today as it did the day that he left. I look to our future, and I see the unknown. I don’t see family dinners together. I don’t see days where Honey runs out to the store, and takes Little Man for an ice cream secretly before coming back home. I don’t see Baby Girl running to him, arms outstretched, exclaiming ‘Daddy!!’ as if it’s the best word she’s ever uttered. I don’t see Christmas morning, leaning into Honey holding my coffee as we watch them squeal with delight.
   What I do see now is the unknown, commingled with one singular, constant truth. Suffering. I see it stretching far off into the distance, like a piano wire running through every day of every calendar I’ll ever own. Suffering will now always be a part of our lives.
   Our little threesome is a cracked vase that I’ve been painstakingly trying to fix. My fingers bleed as I use every shard to try to put it back together, but no matter how great a job I do, we are always going to be a cracked vase. Little Man and Baby Girl are always going to feel and know and suffer from the fact that their family is broken. I will do my best to stifle my horror at this. I will put on the smiles. I will take up the slack in every conceivable, exhausting way I can. But it’s never going to resolve within their hearts what they did wrong to not deserve a family. What they did wrong that they don’t get to have their daddy living with them. Because that’s what kids do. They blame themselves. And I am going to do everything in my power to make sure they know it wasn’t their fault. It’s yet another thing I have to feel disgust and resentment towards Honey for. Divorce: the gift that keeps on giving.
   If Honey were reading this, he would likely claim that I’m being overly dramatic. I would love for that to be true. But it isn’t. And for the sake of his own conscience, I’m sure he will choose to see it that way. Of the handful of times he’s responded to my pleas or anger or dismay at what he’s done, he won’t comment on 95% of what I say. He’s beyond non-confrontational. He’s…robotic. He’s said ‘Your opinion is just that; your opinion’ when I’ve blasted him for not keeping in contact more with the babies. I guess that may be non-confrontationalese for ‘I don’t care what you think’. I wish, just one time, that this man who CANNOT FIGHT would get in an argument with me. I would have much preferred a nice, raised voice argument over adultery and abandonment. I can’t even have a fight in my divorce! But, no matter what I say, I can’t get him to crack that veneer. He’s broken, and there’s no amount of glue that can ever fix him, either. I think he’s incapable of escaping what plagues him.
   And I’d almost feel sorry for him, feel sorry for his brokenness if I had an ounce of selflessness left in my body. I’m mommy, daddy, breakfast/lunch/dinner maker, employee, taxi driver, spider killer, and future planner for a 1 and a 3 year old. You’ll have to get in line, Honey.
 …You know what else kills me? Birthday shout-outs on the Sprout channel. ‘To Taylor of Madison, Wisconsin…happy third birthday! We are so proud of the great helper you are, you are such a blessing to us, we love you! Love, mommy, daddy, and your sister Kayla!’ And yet again, I’m choking back tears and white hot fury all in the same nano-second, wondering how this animal sleeps at night…

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4 replies »

  1. I know this post is old so I’m hoping my words aren’t needed. I want you to know that despite what you might think your family is not broken. It is simply different from what you always imagined it would be. You and Baby Girl and Little Man ARE a family. Chump Lady is always telling people that kids only need one sane parent. You are that parent. You are doing a magnificent job. Your kids know you love them and you’re always there for them.

    When my two kids and I have dinner, sitting around our kitchen island, we are having a family dinner. When we spend the holidays with my side of the family we are having a family holiday. We rang in the New Year together as a family- my two kids and me along with my mom, niece, and her friend. When we go on vacation it will be a family vacation. We’ve taken plenty without him even when we were married. When we go to church we go as a family. I had always wanted to get family pictures but CF was never accommodating. Two and half months after D Day my kids and I went and got family pictures taken. Screw him! We are a family and we will do just fine without him. And you will, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my gosh, I just saw this comment. For some reason I didn’t get a notification back in February. Thank you SO MUCH. You are absolutely right. Back when I wrote this, the anguish was so acute I often felt like a lobotomy sounded like a pretty awesome idea. I desperately wanted to reassure them we were still a family, but I couldn’t get the words out because I didn’t believe it, and they would have seen right through me.

      But I do now. I tell them ALL THE TIME that we are a family, that we are a team. When Little Man has said heartbreaking things about Honey, I’ve countered with ‘Hey, listen. We are a family, no matter what. No matter if that fourth chair at the table is empty. And we are so lucky to have each other! I thank God every day for this family. Families are all shapes and sizes, and that’s ok.’ Then we put our hands in the center and chant ‘Gooooooo team ****!’ Yes, a bit formulaic, but it works for us. They need that affirmation. Come to think of it, so do I.

      So if you are a reader who finds themselves in the ‘pining for a lobotomy’ mode, take heart. I HATED (and I mean deeply loathed & despised) when people told me it would ‘get better’. Not only did I not believe it, it felt like a dismissal of the intense pain I was having at the time. It was somehow INSULTING. And yet, here I am down the road a bit, and as much as I strain to type this, IT GETS BETTER. 🙂


  2. I recently found your site through reference on Chump Lady and I must say both are truly excellent and tremendously helpful. You should know that. You should know that while cathartic for you it is also likely to be so helpful for others. There is so much to point to of value and insights and affirmation of what so many have to face that it would take a much longer response to cover it all, so I’ll just say this: perhaps THE single most important aspect of each of these sites is their stance on it simply being right to be angry, right to call out evil as what it is, right to reject the concept of pitying the disordered or “understanding” them or shared blame or any of the other nonsense that is so conventionally spewed out, from what CL calls the “Smug Unknowing”. If society as a whole were more inclined to take on these predators when they showed their traits we’d all be better off for it. As it is there is soo much niaevete about the existence and nature of these “people”. It’s why we were so fooled. One would hardly believe it possible for such predatory empty actors to exist, but they do.

    Anyway, my real point in responding to this particular post is to suggest that in age appropriate ways you in fact should begin to de-normalize what Honey has done. Give your children something closer to the real truth of why he is gone so that they don’t internalize self blame as you fear they will. This is not simply my opinion, it is one I myself have revived from a very well respected psychologist I work with for the same reason (protection of my children). I too (I think you are…sorry if not) was adamant things needed to be handled in such a way as to protect the “image” of their other parent. In no way was this for that parent but rather for the sake of not taking from the kids too early, if at all, what they believe is their “mother”. I have come to see that kids can handle truth, in age appropriate ways and doses, far better than a “protective” deception. Every lie has unintended consequences. You never know how they will rework things that don’t quite make sense and you can’t count on it simply being better than a distressing truth. In fact such distress when it places them firmly on the ground of truth and reality is far more stablizing and reassuring for them than a foggy false ambiguous happier image. It doesn’t “put them in the middle”, they are there already. It simply gives them truth to deal more easily and healthily with being in that confusing place. If the current image is of daddy as some good normal guy who has simply decided to live elsewhere, its a nightmare minefield for them to deal with. It simply makes no sense so they are forced to contort their little minds and normalize abnormality to make it make sense. I know this post is years old, perhaps you already had or are now moving toward something closer to the truth about Honey, or plan to. Again, age appropriate…daddy promised and he broke his promise, that is very bad because it hurts people’s feelings, it hurts their lives, but mommy will never do that…or something like that. It isn’t manipulative, hiding the truth as Honey would have it is manipulative; this is helpfully informative and healthy and true. It isn’t “your” truth either, it is objectively true. And it is an understatement of truth if Honey takes issue with it. They cannot internalize that this is all somehow or on any level “okay” for a man to do. Your daughter and son each have different reasons for knowing and benefitting from knowing at a very young age that they have been made to experience something flat out wrong. They are wiring in on a very foundational and emotional level right now what a “father” is and does, and what “relationship” is, even what a “mother” is. Honey has dealt a diabolical blow to those definitions and they can’t get wired in uncontested or normalized to any degree. The truth they are given now can gradually be added to and built upon over time so that they ultimately come away with a long-standing, long ago accepted, firm conclusion of what relationship means, and what fatherhood requires, and so on. In this way at least some of what Honey has taken may be like a broken bone that heals stronger at the break than it otherwise would ever have been. Your children can come away with a clearer more worldly wise and more mature understanding of the meaning in family, the requirements in relationship and fatherhood (you are modeling perfectly what motherhood is for them), what honor and commitment mean, an empathetic understanding of loss and betrayal pain, and so on..all of which is undermined when Honey’s wishes for looking like a good daddy while he sleeps with a stripper are respected.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Irish…thank you so much for your kind words and for your unbelievably wise words about the children, their perceptions, and my decision to tell it to them like it is. Your words have sat with me since I read them. Now it’s my turn to let YOU know that what you wrote mattered and helped. I’m so sorry we can relate to each other on this subject, but also so thankful that these outlets exist to connect with others mid-mindeff so they can know they’re neither crazy or alone. Thank you…


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