Time to Grow the F*@! Up

Well, Carl, I think it’s time to grow the fuck up now, don’t you agree?
My stomach dropped when I saw that he was calling me shortly before lunchtime today.  We don’t care to hear each others’ voices and calls are made only out of dire necessity.
“Hello?””Long story short, they’re taking me to the County Holding Center for a traffic violation.  Do you have a credit card with $250 available for bail?”
“No, I don’t, I’m sorry.”
“OK, thanks, bye.”
And so several hours of confusion, anger, and a host of other emotions began.
Did I make the right decision not to bail him out?  He was crying as he said that last line, I could hear the fear in his voice.  I allowed my children’s father to go to jail.  What kind of a person am I?
I wrestled with these questions as I left my desk to go for a walk.  I talked it out with my brother, texted back and forth with a few other people.  My brother’s reactions and methodology for sorting it out was the most logical, as it often is.  What is the underlying emotion you’re feeling? Is it anger, pity, sadness?  It’s all of those, and more.
I’m angry at him for giving me all these experiences I don’t want to have, for putting me in a position to make choices I don’t want to make, for creating things that eventually will have to be explained to our children, for not stepping up and being responsible for himself over the last 19 months.
I’m sad that he seems to not be able to take care of himself, that he doesn’t seem to have learned anything about life.  I’m sad that he still relies on me, but I don’t feel any responsibility for him anymore.
I feel some pity, some empathy, for the same reasons that I’m sad. – that he can’t seem to grow up and take care of himself, that it’s gotten this far.  But at the same time, he made his bed, now he can lie in it.  I don’t need to hide his dirty laundry any more.
Over the course of a few hours, I did come to realize that it’s not my fault that he went to jail.  I didn’t prevent it from happening, but it was his actions that caused it.  He has missed at least four court dates for a simple traffic ticket.  What was minor exploded into something huge because of his inaction.  There has to come a point where you grow up and figure things out.  You can’t make it to court because you don’t have a ride, you need to call up the judge and explain yourself and at least make an effort to do something.  He spent time in a jail cell several weeks ago when he got arrested on an outstanding warrant for failing to appear on this same charge, as far as I know – that didn’t teach him anything?
I tried for almost 20 years to teach him how to take care of himself.  I did things for him, made sure things were taken care of.  Did he learn nothing from any of that?  Apparently not.  You would think he would have had to grow up quickly when he left me – he did make the decision to leave, after all.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink….
You can take care of a man, but you can’t make him think…
He’s out now, as of a couple hours ago.  I don’t know who paid his bail, though it was suggested that several people may have contributed to it.  Last I heard, he was trying to find a ride home from the Holding Center 30 miles away from his home.
I don’t know what happens next for him.  I saw his mug shot and the charge against him, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.  Now he has a bona fide record, one that will follow him for who knows how long, affecting his ability to get a job, a drivers license perhaps, and who knows what else.
I give up.  I grew up years and years ago, when I started taking care of him at the age of 17.  More so when I married him at 21, thinking that it was all temporary and he would mature and figure things out and I would help him learn the ways of the world.  Then 6 years later when we had a baby, and another one 5 years after that.  He’ll come around, it’s just a temporary rough patch, he has bad luck and things will change.
No.  It’s all him.  It’s time for him to grow the fuck up.


Like A Red Balloon

How is this fair?  You flip in and out of our children’s lives like it’s no big deal.  You’re around a couple days a week, then not for two weeks, then you demand to see them.  You don’t take them outside to play, you let them watch crap on youtube, you allow them to sit in the haze of your cigarette smoke until they reek of it.
You make promises to them, and most of the time you don’t bother to keep them.  Yesterday, when you told her you would be at open house at school tonight, you would walk there at 6:00, I was skeptical.  The way she was jumping around excited about it, I was sure you were setting her up to be disappointed.  She wanted her friends to see dad and her baby brother. (Remember when you told them that he’s their baby brother? And remember when you finally admitted to me a couple weeks ago that he’s not? Start saving up for the therapy they’re going to need to get over that when I finally tell them.)
Well, I’ll be damned, there you were, on the bench in front of the school, albeit alone.  I have to say I was much more pissed than impressed.  Not only because I had to be within 3 feet of you, be seen in public in your presence, but because of how excited they were to see you there.
I am the one who cares for them.  I’m the one they climb into bed with after a bad dream, I’m the one they ask for snacks, I’m the one cajoling and reasoning and bargaining to get homework done properly.  I’m the one they get mad at for making and enforcing rules.  I’m the one who knows their routines, their preferences, their dislikes.  I’m the one raising them to be responsible, productive adults someday.  To not be like you.  Yet, they get excited to see you there, at an event you wouldn’t have bothered to know about had you not been told about it, the first you’ve attended in over a year.
I got to follow the three of you around the school, lagging behind while they held your hands and showed you everything she’s prepared for this night.  Everything she’s been preparing for the last 6 months, while I’ve smoothed over your period absences, made up for your lack of financial support, clenched my fists and gritted my teeth while they gushed about their baby brother.
It’s not fair and it makes me mad.  I’m their primary everything, and you get to bounce in and out of it all like a bright red balloon, floating in when it’s convenient, breezing out on an excuse when it’s not.
I say it over and over again.  They’re going to see you for who you are eventually, and I don’t think they’ll like it.  I hope it’s sooner rather than later.  Karma will catch up with you too.