I had an interesting night with my family yesterday.
We had decided to surprise Kim at work and took the train to see her in action. While we were on the train Gabriel looked up at me and asked: "Daddy, why did you have tantrums with my mommy?"
I didn't see that one coming.
We got off the train and as we were walking I asked him where he learned about my "tantrums." He said that his mom told him. I asked what else she told him, and he had several more things to say. I asked him how he felt when he heard about what happened, and he said it made him sad.
It made me sad too.
My marriage with Gabe's mom was not easy, nor was I a perfect husband. Gabe's mom has valid reasons to not like me. I will not dispute them. I have spent too much time in therapy coming to understand the difference between guilt and regret, and when the time is right I will talk with him about the whole truth. He deserves to know the mistakes that both of us made, but he also deserves to be a kid. We divorced to create new, happier lives separately, not to relive past memories of sadness. I like to remind him how lucky he is to have two dads and two moms that love him so much, so why focus on the things I can't control?
Gabriel is forced to never forget a past that he cannot remember.
I put him on my shoulders and I promised him that when he was ready we would talk about what happened. Right now he doesn't have the right vocabulary to grasp the truth, and he will know the truth eventually
Don't worry, there were some funny parts to our evening too!
We made it to Kim's work, and Gabe saw Kim from the sidewalk and started pounding on her window. While she finished up her day, we went to the park across the street to play. When it was too dark to play any longer, we started walking to the bus station. My phone started ringing, and it was Gabe's mom. I asked him if he wanted to talk and he said no. I let the call go to voicemail. In our most recent custody arrangement it states that both parents but make "best efforts" for phone contact every 48 hours. As he was not even close to the 48 hour mark, I decided to not press the issue. (Lately Gabriel's mom has sent me some emails claiming that I have denied Gabriel access to call her. Through a series of electronic communications I repeated my stance that I would not force him to talk if he didn't want to. When we get close to the time limit, I tell him that the judge wants him to call his mom, and he does.)
I asked him a couple more times if he wanted to call his mom, and suddenly he remembered something and wanted to call her. This is a great relief to me because the more he talks to her, the less I have to. They chatted for a few minutes, and at the conclusion of his call he asked her: "I get a treat, right?"
I couldn't figure out why he decided to cooperate so quickly, and then all the pieces came together. After he hung up he told us that he gets treats if he calls his mom. We just started laughing and told him that was nice. That kid cracks me up. He sees every opportunity as a negotiation, and he has no problem asking for a little extra.
We came home, bathed, read stories, cuddled, and had family prayer. Gabe said that he was grateful for the "good love" that was in our family. You know what? So am I. There is a good love in this family, and it gets better every day.
Some things make me sad, but they always seem to be overpowered by the things that make me happy, and my family always makes me happy.