“Too much love never spoils children. Children become spoiled when we substitute presents with presence.” Anthony Witham
To pick up from before, so back in Florida, we all tried to play nice. Be a well oiled ‘broken’ family and pick up wherever it was that felt ok without anyone infringing on anyone else’s space.
The kid and I have always been thick as thieves. And closer than Lucy and Ethel. As a baby she never had the horrible 2s or 3s. We’ll skip over her colicky period because that wasn’t good for me at all but as a kid she was a pleaser. Anything to make me smile. I always wondered if everything I had gone through when I was pregnant with her had made her into who she was during these years. A mediator. A planner. A helper. A pleaser and a do-gooder.
When she was 6 and we were back in Florida her dad was busy with his new wife and new child. The wife turned out to be a nightmare. She was always jealous of my daughter. Her dad was not allowed to spend any time alone with my kid unless the new baby came along or unless he included everyone in the family. The dynamic changed quickly for my kid and she didn’t like what was happening. There was never any time for one on one. And per the stories my kid told me, when she went to his house she was just supposed to play computer games and tend to herself.
I tried to intervene but I was met with accusations that I was spoiling my kid, that she should know how to share etc. But my only request was that they at least spend one or two hours doing something with each other. Alone. To this day, I can tell you with 100% certainty that has never happened. I dont know why. We only lived three miles away but they only saw each other maybe every other month or more. And each time it could never be one on one time. Either a girlfriend tagged along, another child, or another ex. I never understood it but I did see my young kid, develop into a young angry teen when it came to matters of her dad. Our story is a whole other thing but the discontent with her dad started to rear its head here and there. What breaks my heart the most but makes me proud is the fact that she was always forgiving. And it didn’t help I always made excuses for him so that she wouldn’t get angry or disappointed or heart broken. But despite my efforts she still went through all these emotions just the same.
She learned quickly what I had known for a while. Her dad choses to fix things by throwing money at them. Sad and upset? here’s some money go buy a pony. I hurt your feelings? Here let’s go get you a new Playstation. That was their pattern and I knew it because it was the one I shared with him as well. In the end he was more of a fun uncle, or Santa Claus than a father and neither one of these personas could bring the happiness to my daughter’s heart that she needed the most. In turn, I also went into super compensating mode. We’d always travel to far off places alone and I’d give her more than I could afford to give her just so that she would have an experience like no one else. It wasn’t a ‘keeping up with…’ thing, it was more of a ‘don’t run away from me thing…please…I was begging’.
Little did we know we were creating someone who was going to give us a run for our money when she turned 13. As she got older, her attitude and my world started changing. All along I had gone in and out of two quasi-relationships because I didn’t feel they suited ‘her’ and now in my third relationship in the last 13-14 years I knew with her behavior brewing this one had an expiration date that was looming in the near horizon. I just didn’t want to deal with anyone who took my focus away from creating an illusion of perfection. If that doesn’t make any sense it will later.
I became more and more focused on my daughter the more she started pulling away and became more hell bent on keeping our relationship as it was rather than letting it evolve as it should have. I didn’t want to lose my baby girl. I lost sight of everything I had to gain instead: a life long friend on the other side of the teenage years.
To be continued…
Peace and love