I give myself an F.

This song is from a son to/about his parent but it’s very fitting for me. I feel I’ve let my parents down and at the same time I’ve let my children down. My son turned 18 today. It should have been a great day, it should have been fun, it should have been something to remember. It will be something to remember because it was shit. I hope instead he remembers me laying on his bed with him, goofing off and the two of us laughing together over nothing. I hope he remembers that I cried with him and I understood his pains. I hope he remembers that I tried and failed time and time again, but I kept trying for him.

I should have fought harder for my kids to be able to do things. I shouldn’t have let fear rule me. I should have left their dad years ago. I knew even before my son was born, and more so shortly there after I should have left. I remember very clearly the day I went to pick up my daughter from school with my infant son in the back seat. We were parked on the side of the road, it was pouring rain and I called my mom. I remember crying to her and I remember I didn’t want to go home. But I did. I didn’t know how I would survive without his income. How could I support myself and my children?

I couldn’t even go to the grocery store… but I did drive across town and go to costco every month and I did go across town in the other direction to Target. Why couldn’t I see that I didn’t have to be afraid?

When we moved here, my son was only two but the neighbors had two boys, 1yr and 2 yrs old. Perfect friend material… but my husband was against it. “Then they’ll want to come over all the time.” “They’ll expect us to be friendly.” “You know how hard it is for you to have people in your space.” “They are mormons and they’ll preach to us.” Years and years went by, finally I said enough and let my son play with the neighbor boy but only when his dad wasn’t around. I even taught their son how to ride a bike, because his mom was pregnant. They were different than us, but they were never preachy. They were very open minded people. He missed out on so much friendship and time. They could have literally done the tin cans and string… I should have fought for him.

My son feels like he lost out on his childhood. He feels like his dad never let him do anything. My son wanted a skateboard his dad said no way. At Easter, I found an Easter basket with a mini skateboard in it. I showed it to my husband and ask if it was ok if I bought it. He agreed, then when I brought it home and gave it to my son my husband threw a fit. Ranted and raved, ruined Easter because how dare I buy this thing that would cause my son to break an arm or leg… he relented in the end and my son was allowed to ride it on the carpet in the house only. At that point my son didn’t even want it. He never learned to skateboard…

We had a secret rule in our house if you got hurt you shut that shit down. We hid it because it would make my husband mad. He would say he was mad that he had allowed whomever to be hurt but you only ever felt like he was mad at you for being hurt. So the kids and I hid every injury. When the dog bit my son, we made him wear long sleeved shirts during the summer until it healed, when I cut my leg open and was gushing blood we all ran to the bathroom to make it stop… my son was upset saying I needed stitches and I kept telling him to be quiet so dad wouldn’t hear.

My husband had lots of rules, no running in the house, so we ran when he wasn’t home. No talking while the tv was on, so we used to yell when he wasn’t home. No visiting friends, so I let my son go to the neighbors when my husband wasn’t home. No riding your bike other than in the cul de sac, so I let my son ride down the hill when my husband wasn’t home. Lots of stupid little rules…

He would call on his way home or before he came home from work and I could gauge what kind of mood he was in. If he was in a bad mood I would warn the kids to be quiet and good, no fighting and leave dad alone. Depending on his mood, the kids might even shut themselves and the dogs in another room to avoid upsetting their dad.

He was never the kind of dad or husband that was happy to see us. Happy to be home to spend time with us. He just wanted to be left alone, or for me to watch tv with him. Ok, guys, dad is in a bad mood. After dinner I am going to watch tv with him, so you guys be good and try not to interrupt us. If you need me be really quiet and get my attention. I’ll come out and check on you from time to time… Just hang out on your computers, or watch tv and enjoy your time quietly in the playroom.

God, I was a horrible mother.