My parents divorced before I was a year old. Dad was a drug addict and alcoholic. Mom didn’t have the heart or the patience to get him treatment. Their lack of communication was annoying. I grew up in their version of the Cold War. Nothing was said to mine and my sister’s faces, but behind closed doors, it was fire against fire.
I remember being in my room once, my door barely cracked, and I could hear my father screaming at my mother over the phone. I also remember being pissed at my mom. My dad was such a calm, understanding person. Surely it was mom’s fault. She had to have done something to make him angry. I had that mindset for years. It was all her fault. My dad was perfect.
Now, years later, I understand.
I left my husband in November of 2015. We shared custody until March when I moved from Georgia back to Tennessee. Since then, they’ve seen each other a handful of times. I’ve been playing mom and dad, good cop and bad cop, punisher and comforter. I make his favorite meals, give him nightly baths, play cars and Ninja Turtles. I taught him to ride his bike, introduced him to drums, and we jam in the car everyday on our way home. We cuddle and watch cartoons before bed. I wake up to wet kisses and sweet grins. Jack is my best friend, and I’m his.
But sometimes, mom isn’t good enough.
I get hit with the, “I don’t like you, mommy, I want my daddy.” “Daddy is nicer than you.” “Daddy is so funny.” “I want to go to Daddy’s house in Georgia.” “Daddy is the best daddy ever.” And when his dad is in town, mom isn’t the one Jack wants. Mom doesn’t get hugs or kisses or I love you’s.
When daddy leaves, and I’m all that’s left, Jack cries for hours. And I flash back to the times when I was younger, watching my dad drive away to Florida, not knowing if I’m going to see him in a month, 6 months, or a year. I would see my mom and hate her. Because she didn’t do the fun things dad did. She hid away in her bedroom, with her booze and cigarettes, and I was left alone.
But I don’t leave Jack alone. I hold him while he cries, I feed him cookies, and tickle him until his tears dry. For days after his dad’s departure, I deal with the attitude and screaming fits. I listen to my grandma bitch about Jack’s whining and crying. I do everything I can to make up for his hurting. I’ve locked myself in the bathroom crying to myself because I didn’t know what else to do to help him.
Because sometimes, mom just isn’t good enough. And there’s nothing I can do about it.
This is one of the hardest parts of divorce with children. The child goes from having both of their parents all the time, to only having one parent all the time, and seeing the other every once in a while. It’s not always the case, but unfortunately, it happens a lot. Divorces are messy and emotionally draining, and kids feel it all. And with everything else in life, blame has to be placed somewhere.
I blamed my mom, Jack blames me. But not intentionally. Jack is so young, he has no idea what’s going on or why he feels the way he does. All he knows is, I took him from his dad, for whatever reason. So, now he’s stuck with me. And though he loves me and knows I would do anything for him, he needs his dad, too. He wants his dad, too.
He needs that father figure to help him in areas of his life that mom can’t step up for. As hard as I try to be that for him, there are some things I will never understand or be able to help him with. It’s not my fault, as much as I try to blame myself.
Sometimes, I’m just not enough. And that’s okay.