Grumble. Grumble. I listened to my son complain
about his dad. It was an extremely trite complaint that any 13-year-old might
utter, but the tone he used caused me to pause the conversation and have a serious
talk with him.
My son, in all of his 13 years of wisdom, is actually judging
his father for not being cool and not understanding what it’s like to be a
teenager. He even called his dad a "nerd." While I definitely appreciate
that my son feels open enough to talk to me about his true feelings about so
many intimate topics, that "nerd" comment hit a nerve. His dad is a nerd, but that’s not for him to
say. I’m the only one who can call him a nerd, because he gets on my last nerve.
As I cautioned my son, who lives with his dad while I live
on the other side of the country, to watch his tone and his judgment — because
that “nerd” is the one who has placed a roof over his head and has been there
with him for everything — I felt a pang of guilt about defending his dad.
I can’t pretend that I am a victim because I chose to be
with his dad way back when. We were so young and so dumb; I didn’t
understand the signs of an abusive man even when my mentor told me that she
thought I was in an abusive relationship. I shrugged it off, deciding that if I wasn’t
so sensitive, his words wouldn’t hurt me, and if I were smarter, he wouldn’t have
so many complaints, and maybe if I were skinnier, he’d stop telling me that my
body wasn’t good enough. I blamed myself over and over again as I had
conditioned myself to do as a result of being raised by my stepfather, who
basically treated me the same way, except he used his fists too.
I have to put my feelings for his dad aside and constantly remind my teenager that his dad makes the decisions he does because he loves him.
Now that I am not in a relationship with anyone and never
plan to be again, I can say from the safety of the bed I sleep in alone that I
am confused every time I have to correct my son when he is angry with his dad.
On the one hand, I want a partner in my pain, but on the other hand I do not think it
is right for a child to speak ill of his parents, especially since his dad is
the one who is there with him every single day.
I have to put my feelings for his dad aside and constantly
remind my teenager that his dad makes the decisions he does because he loves
him. I do agree with the majority of the
lessons my son’s dad teaches him. In fact, I think he’s a great dad.
How he treats me has no effect on how he cares for his sons,
or does it? But sometimes I wonder when someone will stand up for me. I wonder if
my feelings ever matter at all. I feel weak and stupid writing about this
because maybe I should ignore my feelings and focus on the fact that my sons are well taken care
So that is what I do. I paint this picture of this amazing man whenever I talk to my sons
about their dad. I brag about his past. I highlight his current
accomplishments. I remind them of how lucky they are to have a father who is
there for them and how they are better cared for than their father or I could
I build him up and he tears me down, every chance that he
gets, with every text message, every phone call and every email he can send. He
threatens to have me thrown in jail when I lose my income and come up short on
the child support payments. He tells me
that my children don’t love me or need me. Should I cry? Should I care? Should
I sit in silence when my son tries to judge his father even when he’s being a
No. I can’t. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m stupid. If their dad is doing a
great job being a great dad, there is no way that my emotions and pain have
anything to do with that. So I speak
with confidence while I’m defending their daddy.