Let Me Tell You How I Feel

I told my college kid how I felt the other day.  It wasn’t easy, but it had to be said.  We’ve always had an incredibly honest relationship.  The unconditional love is there so at times, we’ve been more honest than most mom/kid relationships.  It’s grown since the divorce and it’s been a good thing to have.  Sometimes it’s tricky when someone calls you out, but there’s a deeper connection when you bond even more because of it.  So that’s why I was so honest below.

Here’s the backdrop:  You see, he could have come home this past weekend when his brother did because they had a small university break.  Instead, he kept putting me off everyday saying he’d let me know when he was coming.  And he never came.  Instead we texted, talked on the phone occasionally and then yesterday, he face-timed me for over an hour which was great!  But that’s all normal for us.

And I’m good with that, although I did miss him being here since I was cooking all their favorite foods since college food apparently, in their gourmet opinion, stinks.  LOL

But he was caught between the girlfriend and me (Mom) and I would never be like my ex mother-in-law, so I didn’t push him about coming home.  Until last night.

So their father calls, first time in 10 days that he reaches out to the kids at all.  He tells them both that he’s coming home next weekend and that he could come up to college to take them to dinner, but he’d prefer they drive home and stay with him and his parents.  Now mind you, my older kid’s biggest complaint was that he didn’t want to drive home to only turn around the next day to go back up to college (it’s less than 2 hrs away).  And I understood.

UNTIL…That same kid calls me last night to tell me his absent dad will be here next weekend and he’s coming home because he feels guilty that his dad lives so far away and he’s making the effort to see them.  And in my head, I snapped.  I couldn’t help myself.  I tried counting to 10 but it didn’t work.  I tried biting my tongue but I couldn’t hold off.

“So you mean to tell me that because Dad is coming home next weekend that you’re going to drive home for one night?”

“Yeah, because Mom, he’s making the effort and we haven’t seen him in more than 3 weeks.”

“He said he’d take you out to dinner so you didn’t have to drive home to see him and his parents.”

“I know, but I feel guilty that he’s driving so far to see us.”

Silence.  Because I want to scream.  Maybe it hit a nerve and I’m overly sensitive.  Maybe there’s some weird competition in my head that my former husband is winning.  Maybe I’m just tired of the All Hail Daddy syndrome because I’m here.  I do everything and the kids know it, but if their Dad makes the least bit of effort, he’s regaled.  Maybe that’s what comes out of being an absent father?  The joy when he chooses to see them even after weeks of being dismissive, absent and disconnected?  And meanwhile, here I am, sending money and favorite foods.  I have driven up and back (in the same day!) on numerous occasions in order to bring them something or help or just take them out to eat.  I’m on call whenever they need me…I’m attentive, loving, helpful and I feel like I just got shit on.

“So you’re driving all that way for one night stay to see Dad?”  The sarcasm was barely veiled.  I couldn’t help myself.

“Mom are you trying to make me feel guilty because I didn’t come home this weekend?”

“Guilty?  No.  I’m just trying to understand what the difference is.  Neither your girlfriend nor roommate are there now, but you still aren’t coming back home because it’s too long of a drive for an overnight visit.  Is it that you don’t want to come home?”

I knew I stepped over the line and in hindsight, I wish I’d kept my mouth shut but I was on it now.  I wanted him to hear what he was saying to me which was “it’s too long of a drive for an overnight but yet, when Dad summons him home, he runs.”

“Mom it’s not like that and you know it.”

“I’m sorry honey, but I just have to ask.  Because I’ll be honest.  My feelings are hurt.  You complain about your Dad all the time, that he never contacts you, etc.  And suddenly, when he does, you run.  And here I am, always Mom, always here and yet, you complain that the trip is too long for an overnight visit, because you’d have to pack up your computer and stuff, but you’ll do it for Dad.  I just don’t get it.  It makes me feel sad.”

“Mom, I love you.  I’m sorry.  This weekend just got away from me.  When I’m with Dad next weekend, I’ll make sure to see you.”

“Ok.  And I love you too.”

We got of the phone and I was hurt.  I’ll be honest.  It stunk and I felt badly on so many levels.  And I haven’t reached out to him again because I don’t know what else to say.

Any advice?




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27 Responses to Let Me Tell You How I Feel

  1. Yeah, I know all about how the “crumbs” of intermittent reinforcement work. The guilt and desire of wanting to please the one who should be doing all HE can to make amends with his kids/family and does the bare minimum but is hailed as a god while you’ve been doing all the hard lifting and don’t get recognition. I get it, I totally do. It’s sad and I’d be mad too. Children don’t understand how they’re being manipulated. Infuriating.


    • janieleeds says:

      They don’t understand and I can’t tell them because they need to learn in their own time. Thanks for getting it. I knew you would. And honestly, I WANT THEM to have a relationship with their Dad so I would never mess it up. I just wanted him to realize how I felt too.


  2. Let. It. Go. Not saying it will be easy. And I feel your pain. There are so many things that I want to say, but know I can’t say. Better to take the high road and try not to wallow. We will be here for you! Hugs!


  3. I understand this post so much Janie, it’s happened to me so many times, my ex has even jumped into joining our girls and their families on holiday next year, asking them outright if he can go with his wife.

    My youngest daughter told me the day after and I felt so hurt 😭 it’s not that I want or could afford to go on holiday with them it’s because I’m always there for them 24/7 He jumps in and out of their lives when it suits him.

    Deep breath……… BUT….. he is their father, they know his faults, they still love him and have come to accept him as he is.

    🤷🏼‍♀️ Nothing we can do sweet Janie, our children know we are there for them unconditionally, whilst their fathers give them scraps.

    I would like to say you will get used to it, but you won’t because you are a beautiful loving, giving soul. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • janieleeds says:

      Elaine, I have tears in my eyes. Thank you. I am sorry you have similar issues. It just amazes me how their Dads can jump in and out of their lives with little problem. I am proud of my kids for unconditionally loving their Dad for who he is and how he behaves. Perhaps I need to take a lesson from them. But I know the disrespect behind it at times, having been with him for years, and they do not have those old wounds. So maybe that’s why I fell the way I do. It touched a nerve for sure. But with all this loving support from you and everyone else, I don’t feel so alone in it. Thank you xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. P.S. I told my daughter the day after that it really hurt me and she said she knew it had and was sorry. 🌹


  5. Aww. This is sad. I don’t know what to say to comfort you but I’m sure you are a wonderful mother, it’s sad that sometimes, they forget that.


    • janieleeds says:

      He and I are all good I think. It was just a hard moment and I thought maybe someone else could understand and maybe had been through something similar. Thank you for taking the time to write to me. 🙂


  6. TJ Fox says:

    Your feelings are hurt. You absolutely have a right to feel that way and to express it. Our kids can be incredibly thoughtless in the most asinine ways. Part of becoming an adult is taking responsibility for our own actions so our kids have to learn that sometimes, the things they say and do can HURT. Being a parent doesn’t mean that they cannot hurt you. That is crap. You are human, just like them.

    This is something that I’ve been dealing with with my kids. Yes, I will admit that I’m at a rather needy phase in my life right now and my nerves are hypersensitive, but I spent years shuffling aside my feelings and hurt from family without saying anything and I finally stopped because doing so did damage to me. I will not allow my kids to walk through life doling out the same just because they are my kids.

    My kids have a tendency to amp the affection with Hubby because he works and don’t get to spend as much time with him as they do me since I’m home. Often, they do this in a way where they will allow something from him or spend time with him but not me. They are all little things that really aren’t that important and I tend to feel as though I’m being petty when they hurt, but… they do hurt. I have started calling them out on it. Most of the time, they just honestly didn’t think about how their words or actions were coming across and they genuinely feel bad about it.

    You kids would be horrified if you behaved in the same manner with them that your kid is doing with you. Say the kid that didn’t come home over the weekend, you planned to do something out of the norm with him the next time he came because you hadn’t seen him in a while, even though he made the choice not to come out of selfish reasons, and left the other one out. The one left out would be hurt and he would have every right to call you out for your behavior.

    It is up to our kids to decide the kind of person they are going to be when they get older. Showing him that sometimes our choices, even when we think we are doing the right thing, can be hurtful to others is one of those hard lessons in becoming an adult. Don’t feel bad for feeling hurt and calling him out on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bone&silver says:

      Great comment 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • janieleeds says:

      Thanks TJ for getting it and for understanding how I feel. And for doing so in such a great way with your comment!
      I called him out on it because I felt he should know . My other son, when he heard about it from me, said that he understood why I said it and also defended his brother for not thinking about it (but not in a bad way of defending him, just in a way that I could understand). And I’m grateful.
      Sometimes I think kids get myopic when the absent parent suddenly appears and because they really want a relationship with him and I’m safe because they know that our relationship is solid and I’m not going anywhere, they jump for their Dad. But it deosn’t make it right or less hurtful in the end. And I just had to tell him how I felt. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. bone&silver says:

    Aw Janie, you got triggered, and that’s OK. I’d have too. Remember, our kids are quite selfish, and don’t think through all the emotional consequences (esp boys). Your son is also wired to need some attention from his Dad (a male figure), so it’s actually important that he sees him, even if it just helps him realize how NOT to be a man.

    Take a deep breath. Love yourself. You’re doing (and have done) a consistently amazing job of parenting; part of that is letting them make choices we wouldn’t necessarily make… and as Mums, we will ALWAYS choose our kids over anyone else, but they won’t feel that urge, precisely because we’ve made them so secure and comfortable with us, so that they can fly the nest. It’s actually a compliment in a way! You’re awesome; be kind to yourself; I love it that you talked about it with him; reach out to him; don’t sulk; be the most generous & loving you can be, because that is the energy you want your son to take in, and seek in his relationships with other women. Hope that helps xx G


  8. Due to the fact that a relationship with the absent parent is wanted, the parent that is always there, who puts up with everything the disappointment the hurt the anger yet lets it slide, we are the ones who get sh*t on. Why? Because they know that we are always going to be here. The parent who is indifferent, only makes time when they want to, the child reaches out to. Been there, done that, living it all over again. Darling eventually they will realize, they will see, that you have been there every step of the way. However, we need to be patient because they need to discover on their own, what the other parent is like.


    • janieleeds says:

      Thank you. I agree with you and he’s learning on his own. Thank goodness because I try very hard not to say bad things about his Dad because that’s for him to see in time when he’s ready and not for me to fill his head with my issues with his Dad. And they need him. But yes, my kid knows we have unconditional love between us and he can count on me always (and I on him). He knows he can’t always count on his Dad, but he keeps hoping that this time will be different. I lived on that hope for years and it took me a long time to see the truth. And when he realizes the truth, I’ll still be here, with open arms and a loving Mom heart. So sorry you’re dealing with similar issues….thanks for sharing. It helps to know we’re not alone on this journey.


  9. I subscribe to your blog mainly because your journey with divorce. I see that some times your post are from woman’s point of view. Some time when I am feeling the pains of divorce i just get in this quiet mode with others. Anyways in one of these my old man told me of a time him and my mother were arguing and divorce was thrown around. My dad is very direct and said fine if that’s what you want. My mother surprise I am guessing said about the house finance ect and me and my siblings. My dad said keep everything. I’m taking my car and I’ll give you money for the kids. If you don’t want to to deal with the kids I will take my children with me and that’s it.

    Now much older my dad explained that struggles, and how fights get really emotional and that though that happen he believes children should never be separated from their mother. He believes es a that a child is to be at their mothers side.

    He loves me and my siblings and we have come to know how dad is. He was the strict one but once in awhile just gave in and mom was always there.

    Let me explain “mom was always there” she had my back always and stuck her neck out for me with my dad. Moving out and having my first kid at 19 ect every decision that came with severe consequences mom was there. Dad offered me a different type of help that I just can’t explain. He was distant in a way not your let’s go play catch or hey bud how was your day. Ect. But I remember getting in a fight (high school) out in the street, this man was furious that happened went into house out his steel toe boots and wanted to fight the kid too. I said, dad you will go to jail plus is already done we just got in a fight. No, he couldn’t accept someone fighting me. And he wanted to go to kids house and fight his dad. Anyways years later I moved out was with someone my dad never called me my mom once in awhile. But when I came home to visit dad was always the same loving in his way.

    After my mother passed away(cancer) I got closer to my dad actually he has changed a bit more but remains direct the biggest change is with my little brother he is 13. I am 34 and my mom was 46 when she passed dad had to learn how to change but I always remember the man he is his firmness and I always remember the woman my mother was she was always my back bone and my dad was the cane I needed at times he in his way showed me lessons I needed that he can.

    Idk how it was or it is for you and your home at one point. Somehow in a way your kids share a bond that is different.


  10. stormieday says:

    Having divorced parents is tough – I assume, my parents are still married – but I see my daughter and the effects of having divorced parents on her. I think it is the child’s attempt to still have that love and relationship with the other parent.

    You’re always there. You said it’s normal for you two to call/text/face time. You make the trip and, I assume, don’t complain. The child know you love him and are there for him.

    I know it is hard to let it go. I still have trouble at times. I see my kid texting ex to make sure he is okay. When I don’t get a text from her when she is with him. It makes me want to scream and cry. I bite my tongue until I taste blood.


    • janieleeds says:

      We are all in this together I think. Biting our tongues for the sake of our kids’ benefit and for taking the high road because honestly, it’s not their fault that we divorced. They were the collateral damage of the divorce and are blameless.
      We have since talked and we’re still good. I think that we just needed to see eachother’s point of view. I know who I am to him – I’m Mom who is always there for him and he knows it. I just think that sometimes as humans, we forget who’s always there for us when someone who isn’t comes into view. Does that make sense?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Excellent Advice For All Divorced Parents | Authentically 50 ~ Embracing Life's Changes

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