I dropped the S-bomb the other night after a particularly long and frustrating day that ended with Doodicus raging and screaming and crying in his room and his dad thundering and threatening and punishing. I’m not talking the Shit-bomb, either, but Separation.

When Doodicus was born, the love I felt for Sparring Partner was intensified to the point I thought it must be what fairy tale love must feel like. I realized that I not only loved the man as my husband, but when I saw him be a father to my son, I would nearly swoon with emotion. He would come home from working all day and find me a raging, hormonal, unshowered and a frazzled mess who would nearly lob Doodicus off to him in a lateral pass before the garage door could come down just so I could have ME time. He never once gave any indication it wasn’t exactly what he had been looking forward to all day. When Doodicus got older, SP would let him sit on his shoulders and go for walks around the block, just the two of them and I could hear the laughter the entire time as I sat on the deck chair. One of my favorite sets of photos is of the two of them lazing on the bed and Dood is trying desperately to put his fingers up daddy’s nose and the only thing missing from the photos is the sound of the his peeling, little giggles.

Remembering these moments makes me nearly swoon again. It’s been a long time since then when I’ve last heard my son laugh uninhibited.

After this latest row, I gritted through my teeth to SP, "Why do you hate him so much?" and I meant it. When SP tried to defend himself, I went off. I told him how he’s already had 11 years to try to build a relationship that wouldn’t result in bitterness and dislike and that he’s not doing such a wonderful job because in less than 10 years, Dood will be gone and if he never comes back, I will be unforgiving. I dug deeper and ripped harder: SP and his dad didn’t have a good relationship when SP was a teenager and I said that now that he’s dying from cancer, he thinks he can fix in a year what had been damaged for the past 40 by sitting around and watching TV every night in a nursing home. And while he’s trying to mend that relationship to assuage his guilt, the one he has waiting for him at home continues to unravel. That’s when I said IT.

Not only did I say that I’m not happy with where we are now in our marriage, I turned my back and walked into another room to sit in front of the TV and fold clothes as if I had just announced we were out of milk. The constant bickering and battling of wills has left me numb, but I’ve realized that if I had to make a choice on whose side I’m taking, it will be my son’s.

I also know damn well and good that there shouldn’t even BE sides. It’s not suppose to be the parents vs. child, but right now that’s what it is in our house. Even thought it’s been almost a year of regular counseling with the child psychologist, neither of us seem to be much better at parenting a child with ADHD. A week after an appointment, we forget the advice and exercises and that the rules for parenting a child like Aitch are contradictory to parenting a child like Dood in most of the fundamentals situations, i.e. "Thank you, Dood, for putting on your shoes before leaving the house! You’ve earned 15 minutes on the iPad!"

The next morning, I quietly woke SP who decided to sleep on the couch, and apologized profoundly. I don’t want a separation of any kind (and there’s no intent so don’t write us off ), but I told him it pains me deeply to see and hear the two men in my life fight so bitterly that I imagine terrible things happening when Dood gets older. I again brought up that in 10 years Dood will be 21, and while that makes him a full-fledged adult, it also makes SP on the edge of 60 and ANYTHING the two of them might have in common now will have long ago disappeared. Dood won’t see his dad as Dad but instead will see an old man who did nothing but demand conformity from him while under his roof. I concluded with this thought: when SP is on HIS deathbed, it’s not reasonable to expect Dood to leave HIS own family behind to spend every night at Sparring Partner’s side trying to make up for decades of family division. SP knows that no matter how much time and effort he puts into these final days, he will always feel he didn’t do enough or try harder to get along while his dad was alive. That’s not a legacy that we should knowingly pass on to our children. We need to make it right. Right now.

9 thoughts on “Separation”

  1. I didn’t get a chance to comment last week, but I’ve been thinking/worrying about ya! The “man v kid” dynamic almost wrecked my second marriage, and it’s not bcz I decided to put my marriage first (sorry Trace). I think P did a lot of maturation – I’d like to think I did too 😉

  2. D, I know you and I don’t see eye to eye on many things. I also know our families have a lot of the same struggles when it comes to coping with ADD/ADHD, and children with emotional struggles. I could write a small novel here…but the most important factor in Dood AND Aitch’s successful growth to adulthood is YOUR MARRIAGE. ADHD and emotional problems are such a stressful thing – and to a divided house, they are the blow that will tear the whole thing down. No amount of therapy, medication, or educational strategy will fix the pain caused if that key stone of their lives fails. There are a million things in your life for you to deal with every day – a million ways to fail or be disappointed in each other…but if you and SP focus on your marriage first (yes, even ahead of Dood), the other things WILL fall into place. You and SP are a team – and the only ones who know exactly what each other is going through. I know you love him. He’s still that guy who loves his kids in a way that made you swoon. But most of all – he’s still that guy you fell in love with before kids ever even entered the picture.

  3. Wow. I will be sending you vibes for the best possible outcome. It can be so hard to accept a kid with ADHD. I don’t mean love or like, I mean really accept that this is where they are, how they are and it is not anyone’s fault. Under stress, we often repeat the parenting patterns of our parents. I struggle every day with my DS with ADHD to treat each moment as a new one and face it with calmness and acceptance.

    My father-in-law’s death was very hard for my DH. It rocked his world for a long time. He looked at himself and was measuring what sort of man and father he is. I hope that you can find a peaceful path.

  4. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I don’t have kids yet (just dogs & I know that’s not the same) but I know I would feel the same way you do. If my husband overreacts or hurts our dog’s feelings, I ask him to be extra kind to her to make up for it (yes, im one of THOSE crazy animal lovers :). I cannot imagine how I would feel it it was my child. I hope things get better. It reminds me of my dad & brother’s relationship a bit. It’s all very cat’s in the cradle…my dad is very to himself (vietnam vet) and my brother his whole life (36 yrs) has tried to bond with him. Took the same job, bought the same house a few blocks away, even married a girl he’d dumped bc of my dad’s reaction to my brother calling the wedding off. he even made my dad best man. it’s all very sad to watch. My dad didn’t have a good relationship with his dad either. It’s a heartbreaking cycle. I hope your husband can break it. Your soon is so young. I’m sure he will be able to. I admire you for writing about all this. 🙂

  5. I think about the long-term consequences of how we parent now, too, all the time. It does feel like the clock is ticking to do it right, and then I worry that thinking like that is morbid and in fact selfish (wanting a good relationship with the children when they’re older for my own sake.)

    I’m glad you told your husband how you are feeling and I hope you see changes you like in the situation.

  6. I can definitely identify with some of your feelings – just different parenting styles can make you wonder if the other adult thinks of the long term consequences to their relationship with their child. And I’m not just saying that about my husband, but about myself too. I do think it’s a little harder for men because they claim to have the idea that they have a fight, then it’s over, and everything is back to normal. But it doesn’t always work that way, and it especially doesn’t work with kids.

    I know no relationship is all sunshine and roses, but it’s good to discuss the rough parts. Maybe you should post the parenting rules, so you don’t forget them. Much luck – I know SP will take your words to heart, but I hope he can do something constructive with them.

  7. I’m sorry to hear you are in a bad place right now. I am hoping for strength for you and your husband … and kids too. You’re all in this together.

You can say it here.

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