A Father’s Fear
If I were to pick one word to describe how I spend my time, it would be “worry.” I worry about my children in ways that aren’t even rational. The unknown terrifies me. The decisions my children will make worry me. What the world will put in their way, worries me. Whether the racist son of a bitch living near my kids will take out his angst on my daughter worries me. There is no end to my worry, because I am not present in their lives in any significant way. I know the struggles of my step-children, and it worries me that I don’t know my own kids. What I worry about most is going back to family court.
By nature I make things work, because I see how they work. I figure out the rules or nature of things, and I use that to then fix what’s wrong, or to bend it to my will. There are few games that I lose at more than I win. I don’t say this to brag, there are many people that are better than me at any given thing. I am just very persistent and very few things elude my ability to understand how they work. Strangely, as complex as I am able to think in regards to how things work, I am not a good chess player, but I understand it. I thought family court was like a chess match, and I just needed to hire a good chess player to make the right moves with the pieces left on the board to have a fair chance. I know that other courts are like this, but not family court. I understand politics, and am very capable at helping others who seek to run for office. I lack the personality for playing the game myself. Again family court doesn’t work like politics. What I didn’t realize is that family court works like a juicer. It gets as much of the heart and soul of those who go in and separates it from the rest of them. In the end you have a bunch of pulp and just a little juice. It doesn’t matter what you put in it, you always get a similar result. I know how a juicer works, I just don’t know how to make a juicer do something that it clearly wasn’t designed to do, and that is what I was trying to do with family court. I was seeking fairness or justice. I was seeking something that would be good for my kids and myself, and yes even for my ex-wife. These aren’t the things that are produced in family court. Family court gives one person the juice, which is good but hardly enough to sustain the family, and the other person the pulp, which is at best good for nothing. Going into family court worries me more than just about anything in the world. Every experience I have had in that court has been one that makes it harder for me to be father; harder for me to protect and care for my children; harder for me to be the man I should be.
I worry about my oldest. I have told a lot of his story here. He really seems to be on a good path. I worry less about what he will do to the world, and more about what the world is going to try and do to him. Its still worry. I also worry that he has fooled me and all the people in the program. That he hasn’t changed at all, but simply has learned how to talk the talk and walk the walk, but in his heart he still doesn’t care for others and simply cares to feed his own desires. I won’t know the answer for some time now. I see things going either way. I do believe he is not a threat to others in the ways that he used to be, but is that enough. Maybe it is. I love him, but I have to use good judgement as I see where he is heading. So far it is good, but I worry that there is something I am missing.
I worry about boy number 2. I see him choosing a path that doesn’t have a good work life balance, and he is only 17. On the path he is on, he is not going to enjoy the next few years at all. He is going to wonder what happened to his high school years, because they will have been spent in a stock room loading pallets. He does not believe that he can ask for time off. I believe part of it is avoiding being at home with his mother, and he doesn’t understand he could choose to stay here. He also doesn’t want to stay here, because I have rules and expectations. Not many, but his mother doesn’t have any. She just gets mad when things don’t go the way she wanted them to go.
I worry about my oldest daughter. She seems to be walking the line of party girl and good girl. I spent a weekend with her recently, and talking to her about things (not those things, but things in general) really rested my worry. I realized that the little girl that I loved so much still was in there. Her heart hadn’t changed, and what I saw on the surface isn’t what’s real. I still worry, but if I saw her more, I am sure I would worry less. She’s a smart girl, and she has opportunities abound. She is starting to look at them too. Her mother wants to limit her vision and dreams. I am glad that she isn’t letting that limit her decisions on what her future can be.
My youngest worries me too. I never know if her drive is who she is or if she is trying to please or impress me and her mother. She is smart and talented, and not afraid to try new things. I worry about how people treat her or if she will have friends. She has struggled in past with both of these. She seems generally happy, and she is the most like me. I sit here with very few friends in my life. I might even say none except my wife. I don’t wish this upon her. I worry that she will follow my path, and be very lonely. That no one will care for hurts. I worry a lot about this, because I know how it feels.
Most of these worries are driven by lack of contact and influence with my kids. I don’t wish this on anyone. I wish I could go numb, but I can’t. It doesn’t work that way. I will suffer until the day that I have my kids back in my life. I may suffer forever, because there are no guarantees that they will want me in their life at the end of the it all. They may choose to believe the narrative that has been told to them from their mother.
I also worry about my step-kids. Its a different kind of worry. Its a worry rooted in what I know. It doesn’t grow like a monster inside my head. I see them everyday. They are going through some hard things, but the scale and scope of them are real to me. I know what they are. I can prepare for the potential pain they are going to feel, and how that will make me feel with them. This is the normal worry of a father. The worry that we can manage, and harness to do the things they need in the moment.