Sunday, December 28, 2014

The one with the sun, the moon, the stars, the universe and everything that is glittery and shiny beyond that

Dear Dad,

I have a boyfriend of 6 1/2 years. We have 2 kids together - young ones for that matter, ages 4 and 2. The beginning of our relationship was great! Cuddles, sex, holding hands in public - all was good. Then we had our first child after 2 years of being together. Everything went downhill. He started making stupid jokes, which hurt my feelings a lot.  He started cussing at me too. I'm a Christian, but him - I'm not sure. He stopped kissing me in public, not like I like making out in public, but he wouldn't even do a simple kiss! Even holding hands he would sigh like it was a chore or something, and roll his eyes.

Skip foreword 2 more years and my daughter was born. He was making a living for us in a different state and she was born with him not here. I have a couple Hispanic best friends and she was born with a dark complexion. He flipped a lid and started all sorts of accusations. His mom flipped a lid on him! So did everyone else. When he was enlightened he was apologetic and all sorts. Still to this day he makes jokes about her and she's 2 years old now. Hurts a lot. 

Now present day I've caught him twice in 3 months cheating. The first time it hurt, lost all trust and respect. I thought about leaving, but have decided to try and work things out. Then, 1 week ago I went through his phone and found out the day he took off with our son for a father-son day, he took off to see some other woman and stayed the night with her.

Now you are thinking:  why is this dumb woman staying with such a low life?! I love him. My kids love him. Back home, my family could not help me. Druggies. So I don't want my kids around that. I try to make it on my own being a SAHM. I have my own business but it's literally seasonal. I don't have much skills for anyone to hire me even part time. Very discouraged. So, now I don't really have a question but just looking for hopeful words of advice.

Dear 'Hopeful':

Stupid jokes are kind of my thing, and I cuss like a sailor if the kids aren't around. But making stupid jokes and cussing at my wife? No. Just no.

As I was reading your question, and learned that he insinuated that he was not the father based on her coloring, all I could think of was: "this guy is cheating on her." I then read the rest of your question.  I am so sorry you are going through this, Hopeful.

As my readers know, I think a couple can get past cheating, and I do not immediately brand the cheater "evil," but rather "animal." 

Cheating, with that being said, is such a betrayal of trust that almost literally,  a new relationship has to be formed. If you are going to survive cheating, new boundaries must be put in place that make both partners feel secure about the relationship, and said boundaries must be respected.

But, Hopeful, your reasoning for staying (and I know it is limited to the information given in a short question) seems to be about lack of help and lack of skills/resources for you to consider anything else. Do not stay with him if that is the reason!  There is public assistance, if you need it, or you can brainstorm and figure out a way to turn your business into something year round. One can sell snow cones just as well in December as they can in July if they have the perfect "aha" moment, realizing the vehicle that will allow it.

My advice is to go in your bathroom right now and take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror. Are you there yet? Seriously, don't keep reading until you can see your self in a mirror.

OK: You are you, the mother of two beautiful children and you do what you do day in and day out for your kids! You deserve "to infinity and beyond" and then beyond that from your partner and he damn well better put in 100%! You gave this man the gift of his two children, and have come from a difficult place (I'm gathering), and are not dumb. You are beautiful, special, and unique - everyone is in their own way. You deserve to be treated as such, and owe it to yourself to demand that of your partner. Can you see past the pain and the hurt you've probably been through to truly see your self? Keep looking in the mirror!

Think about your children - would you want your son to be like this man?  What about your daughter -  do you dream for her to one day be in your shoes?  If you continue to allow this, Hopeful, your children will think this treatment is normal and acceptable.  

Can Mr. 'Non-Man' ever truly treat you how you truly deserve to be treated, and help mold your children into the adults they will one day become? Think back to when you were a little girl and tried on different princess dresses, and looked in the mirror and dreamed your beautiful dreams and envisioned your adult life. Is this it? If the answer is 'yes', set some boundaries in your relationship. If not, (I'm finally saying it, long term readers of 'Dear Dad', even though I can't stand the saying) kick him to the curb! 

Life is not a dress rehearsal...we get slightly less than what we expect for ourselves - so expect the sun, the moon, the stars, the universe, and everything that is glittery and shiny beyond that.

Sending good thoughts and energy to you, Hopeful. Please keep us updated.

This question makes me think about my married friends - most happily, some not.  Why do some people 'settle' instead of shooting the moon?  

As part of this advice column, I encourage readers to use the comment section to have a conversation on the subjects that are presented for 'Dear Dad.'  I will be around all day to be part of the conversation.  What are everyone's thoughts? 

The one with the probable booty call

Dear Dad,

This might sound somewhat pathetic, but here it goes. I met an awesome man this summer and we completely clicked right away. There was no nervousness at our first meeting and it's like we knew each other in another life. After just a few weeks, we talked about it and both felt very strongly for each other. Way more than we probably should for having just recently met. He's a very honest man and has always been straight with me so I have no reason to doubt his feelings. We hung out 1-2 times a week for a couple of months and started having sex. We weren't officially together, but neither one of us wanted to date or sleep with anyone else so it was cool. One day, he tells me he's not sure how he feels about his ex girlfriend and that he can't continue what we have until he figured out his feelings. He was waiting for them to dissipate on their own. He also said he knew we were heading to being serious and he wanted that too, but didn't want to get months down the road, just to have the unresolved feelings cause a emotional destruction for either us or our kids. He has a 13 year old daughter and I have a toddler son. I've met his daughter once and he's spent 20 minutes or so around my boy, nothing more. I didn't get to see him for a couple of weeks, but then I did and he told me he'd talked to his ex and they'd discussed trying to get back together. They hung out a bit and, from the get go, she was 100% "I should just move back home" and so on. He told her he didn't feel any romantic feelings for her at all and that was the end of that. He said he just needed some time to get his emotional self back on track, we started hanging out again and I let him take the lead and do what was comfortable for him. It was cool and we started having sex again, but I noticed that he'd get kind of distant a few days later. I told him I'd give him space because it seemed to "muddy his emotional waters" when we spent time together. He said it didn't, but a few weeks later, he told me, again, he needed some time and space and wasn't emotionally available right now. That was 2 1/2 weeks ago and I haven't heard from him at all. I know he's the kind of man who has a lot of feelings of self worth in how he's doing in his "provider" role and he was out of work all summer and had begun getting behind on bills. He was also having some issues with his ex wife and wasn't getting to see his daughter much. He got a job with a disaster cleanup company and was supposed to be promoted to project manager once they ironed out the details of the brand new position, but they dragged their feet and were a shitty company to work for so he was miserable. He's since started a new job at a great company so I hope he's on the emotional mend. 

Now to my actual question, I'm giving him the time and space he asked for, aside from 2 well spaced texts telling him I'm thinking of him, because he's an amazing man and its worth it to me to do so. I'm not going to be waiting 4 months down the road because I have more self respect than that, but do you think I'm even wasting my time now, after just a couple of weeks? I'm not ready to move on anyways so it's not like I'm holding myself back from any opportunities. Thanks, Brian.

Dear 'Not Holding Back':

I know what it is like to have an “instant connection” with someone. I've experienced it a few times…leading to a long term relationship, a booty call, and a marriage. 

I think he was being perfectly upfront with you when he communicated that he needed time to sort things out. The first time.
When he did it the second time, and has played a bit of a disappearing act, it makes me suspect that you are not on his radar (and if you are it is probably a booty call type of thing he is looking for).

My advice? Do not contact him again, and see what happens. If he contacts you, do not make yourself so “completely available” to him. Make it clear that you have your own thing going on, and that you, quite frankly, deserve someone who is willing to put in a little effort. If he does pursue you I would take it very slow, hold off on the sex for a bit, and see if he flakes off again. If so, he needs to "something else" off! Good luck to you!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The one with the question from another time

Dear "Dad",

I don't want to even take away from real dads by addressing you as 'dad'. You stay at home and live off your wife. Are you even a man? 

A man's job is to take care of his WIFE and children, not be Mary Poppins. Sorry, I don't get it.

Dear 'Anachronism',

Sorry, I typically like to find a quirky way of addressing the questioner where I call him or her by a defining word within the question. Here, I chose the first word that came to mind, and it was "practically perfect in every way," even if not a direct word from your question.  I can't believe that I am dignifying this question with a response - but this is not the first time I've been asked this question.

I can assure you that I fathered three children, and have a penis.  Does that make me a man?

I woke up this morning and I walked into my less than perfect kitchen that I will later clean spotless at least twice today (I admit to running out of steam last night, so dirty bowls, pans, and utensils remained everywhere), and cleared a space to prepare my children's lunches. I then searched in my cupboard that I organized myself, for some plastic baggies (and they have Elsa and Anna on them-- for the win!) to pack their snacks. I went to the garage, where I have two furniture restoration projects in the works, and gathered three bottles of water, as I learned that Florida has toilet to tap water, and I refuse to allow my children to drink the septic water that is recycled in school water fountains.

I packed everything in their bags, and then went to the laundry basket. I am imperfect, and do not put clothes away fast enough to be a 'good housewife'; but, I do enough to ensure that clothes are always clean. I took three pairs of underwear, six socks, three pairs of pants, three shirts, and then three alternate shirts (see, I've done this before and know at least one of my kids will complain about the outfit I chose). I then set the outfits on the dining room table so everyone can get ready, once they are awake and eat the food I placed on the kitchen bar. I made three portions of breakfast, and hummed the familiar wake up song.

I proceeded to brew my wife her first cup of coffee (I would soon brew two more that she takes 'to go'), and ensured that the leftovers from the dinner I cooked last night are ready to become an entirely new meal for her lunch this day; tucked perfectly in her bag, with a rose and a sonnet written on her napkin.

I walked into our bedroom that I had cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed the day prior, and with a concert of music with local critters whom I recently met upon relocating to Florida--including alligators, geckos, lizards, snakes, and bugs-- I belted out a loving and uplifting tune to gently summon my wife from her blissful slumber all whilst said critters harmonized with my earth-shattering singing. They took off the comforter from our warm bed, placed my wife's robe on her shoulders, slipped her slippers on her manicured feet (the critters JUST did her toes at my bidding yesterday), delivered her coffee, and drew her a bath. My lovely critters did All THIS whilst accompanying me singing our happy morning song! And this happens-- #man

I'm unclear, 'Anachronism' what year you think this is.  I don't mean to come across as stern, but I find it disheartening that there are people in the world who think like you and find it acceptable to be so insulting to someone you never met.  I can respect if you choose to do things more traditionally, but please respect others who choose a different path that works for them. 

I understand that part of a paradigm shift and in a revolution of gender roles that the pioneers will face backlash.  What do you think?  Can a man be a "real man" if he takes care of his children and domestic duties (even with a little help from the magical singing critters)? 

link to original comments, feel free to comment below (especially if you are the person who asked this question):  Click here for original Facebook post

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The one with the mom who needs to "let go"

Dear Dad,

I need some male/dad perspective. Lets start by saying I was raised without a father, so I really don't know what that family dynamic looks like. I am the mother of a 16 year old boy and I am having a hard time finding the line between letting him fix his own problems and stepping in myself. It was only him and me for the first 10 years of his life. Enter step-dad, who loves him dearly. My son has experienced his first big blow up with his close buddy over, you guessed it, a girl. He has two very close buddies and one of them broke up with the girlfriend because, from what I understand, he doesn't think she should talk to ANY other males while they date. My son is also her friend (no interest beyond friendship). His buddy thinks he should stop all communication with the girl, and by my son not doing that, he must be interested in her. Keep in mind we live in a small town and the entire sophomore class consists of 55 students. My son wants to maintain his friendship with both people, also believing his buddy is wrong for demanding she not have friendships with other boys. Step-dad is telling him, literally, "bro's before ho's." And I think I messed up and got involved by calling one of the boys' moms. What on earth is the appropriate action by a mother in these situations. I'm not a helicopter mom, but sometimes, I do act like a bird on shoulder wanting to make sure his world is perfect......Help.......

Dear 'Time to Let Go':

My three girls are still quite young (ten, six and six), so I can't offer you advice from experience; however, I can offer based off my first impression, and my experience as a once-16 year old boy. 

At some point every parent needs to "let go" a bit and allow their children to fall and figure out how to get back up. I have had personal experience with this a few times already, and ultimately stepped in (there were some kids bullying my oldest, and I ultimately had to involve the school.  All involved ended becoming good friends, and it was a great overall learning experience). I worried that I overstepped a boundary, but due to the situation and her age (she was 8) I know I made the right call. But at what point do I let her fend for herself?

I think this was a good opportunity where you could have let go a bit. I think you crossed a line by calling the mother of a 16 year old boy to try to fix '16 year old drama'.  I, with that being said, completely understand why you made that call, 'Time to let go'. 

I hope one day when I am in your shoes, I take my own advice, but know from experience I have not when faced with what you were faced with. I think back to the drama from when I was 16, and if my mom were to call anyone over any of  it--especially in a small town where word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire? I am sorry to say I think you were in the wrong. 

My advice is to talk to your son and apologize for over stepping a boundary. Explain to him that he is your heart/soul and you were only trying to protect him. I think he will appreciate your honesty, and also see that you are empowering him as a young man to fix his own problems, and he may gain a new respect for you by you acknowledging that you are a human being, imperfect, and make mistakes.

I would take it a step further and (if you agree with me) tell him his step father was wrong to say "bros before hos." Males and females can have platonic friendships (though I agree with anyone who says there will probably be some type of attraction on one side or another). Your son's friend sounds like a bit of a controlling an confused kid.  His own insecurities cost him a relationship and possibly a friendship. I applaud your son for standing up for what is "right," and agree with your son. This is not your son's issue, the girl's issue, and certainly not your  issue. This is the insecure boy's issue. I hope he learns his lesson. I hope you have a dialogue with your son to help him come to this conclusion on his own. 

Good luck to you!
Parents/Grandparents of teens:   what has been your experience with when to let go and when to allow your children to fight their own battles?   

As part of this advice column, I encourage readers to use the comment section to have a conversation on the subjects that are presented for 'Dear Dad.'  I will be around all day to be part of the conversation.  What are everyone's thoughts?