Friday, June 25, 2010

Mamma Drama ....The final cut.


This 4 part post was written for a series @ http://coparenting101.org/

I do not profess to be an expect on women's emotions. I am not a psychologist. looking back over my life, I've often wondered why the two women in my life didn't treat me differently upon finding out my secret. At that time, neither of them shut the door on me or called me dirty names. I continued to live a life with two families.

A day came when I had to make a choice. Obviously at that time I had not matured and I was trying to take the easy way out by having either Rita or Debbie make the choice for me. But neither ran off and I had to grow up. I honored my commitment with Debbie and we eventually got married. We were together for nearly 35 years. She has passed away after a battle with cancer. Looking back, I've come to appreciate how strong these women were and how they played a vital role in the development of our children.

Rita took an early discharge from the military and vanished with my son. At that time the emotional journey was too much for her to handle. My wife was sympathetic to her pain and that of mine. I had "lost" a son and she insisted that I find them. I was able to track them down through military channels. They were living in a state far from mine. The following years were a learning process.

When a person decides to entertain the overtures of another, they are attracted to that person and not necessarily the children that come along with them. Frequently the issues of co-parenting involves the new wife or the new girlfriend.
On the ex-husbands side, it involves the new husband or the new boyfriend. Divorce rates are up and families are not staying together as long as they did in days gone by. Men can be possessive and so can women. The new lovers are often intimidated by a good relationship between the ex's. Frequently, depending on the reasons behind the breakup, the old spouse has been known to oppose visit, or limits visits to the house of the ex-husband or wife while "she's" there.

Debbie told me later in our marriage that she always thought Rita was more attractive than her. She also said that since Rita had my first born son (had another son with Debbie later) that my sense of responsibility to that boy would drive me away. I learned these things later in our marriage. I also learned that was one of the reasons she agreed to let my son come and live with us for periods longer than summer vacations {less visits to her house}. I never really knew women as much as I thought I did. Some of my son's high school years were spent with us; summers with his mother. He played on a state championship football team.

I never faced the drama of the "other" women making demands. I think it was partly because the women were mature adults and had compassion and respect for each others dilemma. More so, I now believe it had something to do with the father's in their own lives. Each had a different story. Debbie's father left the home when she was a child. There were issues in Rita's childhood as well. Hence, they knew the importance of having a father in a child's life even though co-parenting puts a strain on those dynamics.
I've come to believe it's just as important that a good man be in the life of a young girl. I've met women who have said they've never been around good men, including their fathers, and therefore, thought all men were the same - bad. Debbie and Rita were never in each others company although they had to talk to each other on the phone.

Of course children try to throw parents into the middle of their compliants, mine were no different. Once my son called Rita to tell her that Debbie had "spanked" him. Well, Rita told him that if he ever calls her again in regards to Debbie spanking him, that she was going to tell her to spank him again - for her. Another time my son called his mother and told her that I made him walk to school. I never got a ride to school and thought the distance wasn't too far. She called me and asked about his situation. I told her I might have been living in the past "boy, I walked 10 miles to school" and decided to change my view. It was a pretty long distance. So I decided to buy him a bicycle. He said he would never be caught dead riding a bike to school; that was for nerds. The bike was relagated to short runs to the store and he walked to school ....he didn't die.

As I mentioned, I look back and have regrets that I didn't voice my appreciation more than I did. I was never around other co-parents, yet these days I hear the same arguments from the ex-husband or ex-wife. "The new wife is not fit to have their child around her son". It's weird because even if the children love being around the new mate, for some strange reason the ex's are not having it. Although I am not a doctor, I have my opinion why this may happen. Rita called me one day and said, "so, you have a big house, is it bigger than mine?" . In the early years of our co-parenting, I guess my son made the crucial mistake of saying something nice about my home and Debbie. Heck, I had to purchace a larger home when the children started eating more and getting bigger. Before the new purchase it was no big deal for boys and girls to sleep in the same room. But when my daughter started to develope, we knew it was time to make a change.

I don't know how this goes in other co-parenting households, but it was a sticky issue in mine. I don't know if women are more comfortable thinking the other women is a poor mother that doesn't clean her home? But it's been my experience that women don't want to hear anything good about the other women.

The problems of co-parenting are not solely related to the relationship of the parents. We thrust children together that have different parents or at least one different parent and expect them to get along just fine. More times than not, this is not the case. Children can be cruel. My son once told me that Debbie's children told him that his mother tried to steal "their" father from their mother.

Also, my children by Debbie once told me that I let Rita's son get away with murder. I wonder if we do that? I wonder if we overly protect the child that is away from his other parent? I do know that Debbie went out of her way to show love to my son. She would ask him what dinner he would like for her to cook and I will never forget, it was tuna casserole. Every time it was tuna casserole. I never liked tuna casserole.

Today I am a grandfather. Looking back, I probably would change some things. But I wonder what I would change and if that would be a good thing. I was watching the movie "Benjamin Button" and there was a scene that stuck in my mind. It was a scene in which one of the characters was hit by a moving car. In the movie, the viewer had a chance to see all the different factors involved in reaching one defining moment in life. For instance, what would have happened if the driver of the car hadn't stop to pick up a package? Also, the women that was hit by the car was detained in her apartment. What would have happened if she hadn't misplaced her keys?

Maybe most events happen for a reason. Maybe my purpose in life is to tell my story. I've made a lot of mistakes and maybe others can learn from them. I love being a father and there's nothing I would change about that.

It's hard telling a story in which others are involved and try to keep their anonymity. Sometime we want to share the good parts of our lives. I wanted to share a little something but I don't want people going up to a man and telling him that he knows this and that about his mother or his father. So, one of the sons by one of the women in this story is presently playing quarterback in the NFL. I wouldn't change a whole lot about my life, including co-parenting.

I miss my father. If he was alive today I'd look forward to calling him and telling him thank you for being a good dad.

Thanks for reading along.

A Free Spirit Butterfly said...
I was trying to sneak in a comment at work and accidentally posted a Father's Day greeting on the wrong post. I think it went to Mz. Jackson...Anyhoo, Love ya and wishing you a very HAPPY FATHER's DAY!Free Spirit!

Keith said...
Man this was an incredible story..I held off commenting until the entire story wa told.. A lot of times when I read you,I feel like except for a few details, I'm reading my own story...I too know about Air Force life and women and the problems that come along with both...This was very insightful and I hope it ispired at least one young reader out there..It was certainly a story that needed to be told. Big Up's to you man..for being more man than a lot of these cats out here! You were blessed to have two wonderful women in your life..That's more than a lot of guys ever get (or deserve)Happy Father's Day to you, (From one Grandfather to another :)


Opinionated Diva said...
Totally agree with Keith...incredible story. I literally said, "wow" out loud at the end.Takes strong people to co-parent and maintain their sanity...your wife was an amazing woman.


Blu Jewel said...
Having been decieved by my mother as a child into me thinking my stepfather was my biological father, I have a lot of respect for Debbie who encouraged you to find your son and have a relationship with him. I was 5 when I finally met my biological father and even though he and I grew pretty close, there was a lot he did to fail me over the years she shared. I later found out that I not just the two children I grew up with at his house, but 5 other siblings; whom I didn't meet until late in my life; save for the eldest whom I met when I was about 13.I think it's important; regardless of how the child was conceived that he/she be afforded a relationship with their parent. I think it's cruel and unfair to use adult drama as a tool and a means to manipulate or hurt the other parent. I'm happy that your situation worked in your favor in the end and that you were able to have and maintain a relationship with all your children.Love to live; live to love!


blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...
Hi there!Thanks for sharing this!Wow...I commend you for finding your son and for maintaining a relationship with your children.You said:"I've come to believe it's just as important that a good man be in the life of a young girl. I've met women who have said they've never been around good men, including their fathers and therefore thought all men were the same - bad."I encounter so many black women who have had negative experiences with men - beginning in their childhoods. Many of them to feel a bit of resentment that I don't share that history. My parents got married BEFORE having children, and were degreed professionals BEFORE having children. My father wanted his children. He loved being a dad. There was no "oooops I'm pregnant!" aspect of the way he encountered fatherhood. His encounter with fatherhood was COMPLETELY intentional.I think that is a huge factor with most black men... how they encountered fatherhood and if they actually SOUGHT parenthood.As for the situation with the women... I think that men need to be EXTREMELY careful not to become involved with a woman who will not treat his children as HER OWN. Sooo often, a brotha will be enamored with a sista who is devoted and affectionate and committed but she really doesn't have those same feelings for his children. She politely tolerates them because they are part of the package...and this always surfaces later on in the relationship.Happy belated Father's Day.Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!


Maxine said...
This is a beautiful post, Carey. It is honest, and real, and confronts issues all of us are dealing, or will probably deal with, in our lives. It's rare that men speak honestly about these things, particularly in an open forum. And while the preacher in me wants to chastise your infidelity, the reality is that monogamy is often an unrealistic aspiration, and who knows if it was even meant to be...

7 comments:

A Free Spirit Butterfly said...

I was trying to sneak in a comment at work and accidentally posted a Father's Day greeting on the wrong post. I think it went to Mz. Jackson...

Anyhoo, Love ya and wishing you a very HAPPY FATHER's DAY!

Free Spirit!

Keith said...

Man this was an incredible story..I held off commenting until the entire story wa told.. A lot of times when I read you,I feel like except for a few details, I'm reading my own story...I too know about Air Force life and women and the problems that come along with both...This was very insightful and I hope it ispired at least one young reader out there..It was certainly a story that needed to be told. Big Up's to you man..for being more man than a lot of these cats out here! You were blessed to have two wonderful women in your life..That's more than a lot of guys ever get (or deserve)

Happy Father's Day to you, (From one Grandfather to another :)

Opinionated Diva said...

Totally agree with Keith...incredible story. I literally said, "wow" out loud at the end.

Takes strong people to co-parent and maintain their sanity...your wife was an amazing woman.

Blu Jewel said...

Having been decieved by my mother as a child into me thinking my stepfather was my biological father, I have a lot of respect for Debbie who encouraged you to find your son and have a relationship with him. I was 5 when I finally met my biological father and even though he and I grew pretty close, there was a lot he did to fail me over the years she shared. I later found out that I not just the two children I grew up with at his house, but 5 other siblings; whom I didn't meet until late in my life; save for the eldest whom I met when I was about 13.

I think it's important; regardless of how the child was conceived that he/she be afforded a relationship with their parent. I think it's cruel and unfair to use adult drama as a tool and a means to manipulate or hurt the other parent.

I'm happy that your situation worked in your favor in the end and that you were able to have and maintain a relationship with all your children.

Love to live; live to love!

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hi there!

Thanks for sharing this!

Wow...

I commend you for finding your son and for maintaining a relationship with your children.

You said:
"I've come to believe it's just as important that a good man be in the life of a young girl. I've met women who have said they've never been around good men, including their fathers and therefore thought all men were the same - bad."

I encounter so many black women who have had negative experiences with men - beginning in their childhoods. Many of them to feel a bit of resentment that I don't share that history.

My parents got married BEFORE having children, and were degreed professionals BEFORE having children.

My father wanted his children. He loved being a dad. There was no "oooops I'm pregnant!" aspect of the way he encountered fatherhood. His encounter with fatherhood was COMPLETELY intentional.

I think that is a huge factor with most black men... how they encountered fatherhood and if they actually SOUGHT parenthood.

As for the situation with the women... I think that men need to be EXTREMELY careful not to become involved with a woman who will not treat his children as HER OWN. Sooo often, a brotha will be enamored with a sista who is devoted and affectionate and committed but she really doesn't have those same feelings for his children. She politely tolerates them because they are part of the package...and this always surfaces later on in the relationship.

Happy belated Father's Day.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

CareyCarey said...

Wow ...great comments.

For me, that's one of the joys of blogging. When I see people replying with passion and heartfelt comments, I know I've done my job.

If I tried to comment on everyones remarks I'd have to write a book. I can run my mouth and all of you have taken me somewhere. As I mentioned, I was asked to do this series for a site listed at the top and botom of some parts of this series. Stop by if you have children and maybe add a comment or two.

Some of these comments hit me.

Keith said: "You were blessed to have two wonderful women in your life" Amen Keith,

Opinionated Diva said "Takes strong people to co-parent and maintain their sanity" Well, Ms. Diva, I think I still have "parts" of my sanity. And the kicker is, the beat goes on. I just spoke with my son today. He's having problems with his girl and his child ...woe is me :-).


Blu Jewel said: "I think it's important; regardless of how the child was conceived that he/she be afforded a relationship with their parent" ....that is so true. To often I see parents using their children as bargaining chips. Thanks blu jewel for sharing parts of your story.

Where do I start with the women with the loud trumpet? Well, how about here, she said: >>.."I think that is a huge factor with most black men... how they encountered fatherhood and if they actually SOUGHT parenthood.

That statement is so true. I've often told others that the only thing I really wanted tobe was a good father. Basically because I had a good father and I wanted to be just like him and give my kids the same joys he gave me.

Trumpet also wrote: "I encounter so many black women who have had negative experiences with men - beginning in their childhoods. Many of them to feel a bit of resentment that I don't share that history"

Although my story is different, I've encountered this same sentiment (you haven't been where I've been) but I am quick to tell them that although my blues may not be just like theirs, we can talk about pain and how to overcome it.


Thanks to everyone for stopping by and sharing your stories. I really mena that.

You too Miss Butterfly :-). I know you have a story to tell on this subject (fathers & daughters). Maybe next time you'll drop a little on us.

Maxine said...

This is a beautiful post, Carey. It is honest, and real, and confronts issues all of us are dealing, or will probably deal with, in our lives. It's rare that men speak honestly about these things, particularly in an open forum. And while the preacher in me wants to chastise your infidelity, the reality is that monogamy is often an unrealistic aspiration, and who knows if it was even meant to be...