Beetlejuice…

It seems to be what happened that day, there really is no other explanation. He had been nearly gone from mind and soul, our lives were a bit more buoyant and relaxed, only punctuated by a random text every 4-6 weeks to the boys…to check if they still had a pulse, if they still remembered him or missed him…all wrapped up in a blanket of passive aggressive guilt, served coldly as usual.

But on that day, out of nowhere, the pediatrician mentioned him.

For some reason the office didn’t have my number, they were calling me (for a reason he never quite explained and I was too confused to question) only to realize that they had been “calling dad” instead. How odd I thought, my mobile number hasn’t changed in over 10 years and my home number has been the same for almost four years now.

Since we’ve been divorced and he moved in his future second wife – and the children and I moved out and into our own home.

Four years.

And then the doctor asked my son if he’d spent time with his “dad” lately. Again, an oddly uncomfortable question to ask a teenager during a checkup, with his divorced mother sitting there. Especially after telling the story of how they couldn’t seem to figure out how to contact me (his mother, that he lives with full time) and knowing that we’ve been in a quarantine situation for months so spending time with anyone lately was not happening, but I couldn’t bring myself to question him as to why he cared?

Or what difference would it make if my son had seen his dad or not?

Would that be the key to my son’s mental health somehow? Would it make him better adjusted to probably the most stressful time of his life, in competition with the year his parents blind-sided him and got divorced?

He has no idea what type of father my kids have, but he assumes that it’s better than nothing I suppose. I’m not so sure he’s right in that assumption.

And now that we’ve talked about him twice, within a half hour appointment, I decide to tackle Father’s Day plans with my oldest. Reminding him of the date because he’s 22, lives out of the state and he’s not good with these things yet, and to suggest a plan of action for all of them to see both their father and their grandfather during that weekend hopefully without much drama.

A balancing act I have almost perfected after twenty plus years with their father, and growing up in my own demanding family.

Nobody is ever truly happy. No matter how I try or what I plan. So I have started to no longer try so hard, but it’s like an itch that I can’t help but scratch sometimes. I’m too well practiced with this skill, I’ve been doing it far too long, it’s like a phantom itch of a missing limb.

Do they make a prosthetic for a dead marriage?

Someone has to talk about it, to make a plan, to cover the bases so we can avoid an apocalyptic meltdown on either end. Someone needs to take care of the details, to make sure everyone’s needs and wants are met. I asked the oldest son, then asked the middle son.

That’s how the monster appeared.

If you speak his name three times he appears. Beetlejuice. My own personal version, dressed much more impeccably, in Lululemon and Burberry, than the movie character but no less distasteful or irritating. Wreaking havoc on the lives of the people around him, with a sickening smile on his face and a gleam in his eye.

My parents try to be understanding, they know that what was once “normal” no longer exists, a divorce isn’t just between two people as most would assume. No, it affects an entire family in a ripple affect. Sometimes the ripples grow to huge waves, or have unseen undertows that suck you under.

You never quite know until it’s too late.

There was a bit of rumbling from my boys, they had been in touch with their father and the exchange was not going well. Reading one comment aloud to me, his reminding them that it was “Father’s day not Grandfather’s day” stung me more than it did them, as if he had slapped me across the face. They were shocked and stuck, bewildered about what to do.

Shots fired.

Then his text popped up on my phone, cold and calculated. “I kindly ask that the boys be available all day on Father’s Day and not expected to split time in NWI.” Kindly? Hardly. More like a summons to appear. And a slight flip off to my family in the process.

That’s how he rolls, like a steamroller over anybody in his way.

I have so many thoughts, so many comments, my brain is racing to the beat of my heart. Fast. Lightning fast. But I stop. Take a breath and do what’s best, because that’s what I’ve always tried to do for our children and my family, to hold it all together with the least amount of agony. I respond with what will release my kids from the strangle hold of helplessness and guilt.

“Got it. It’s fixed.”

On that day, they go at their designated time, the middle of the day on Father’s Day, ensuring that they will not have any time or the chance to make a trip out to visit their grandfather. Their only grandfather, the one who sang songs and spoke to them in Italian from their birth, and took them camping and fishing with their father so many years ago.

They stay for two hours.

Two. Hours.

They never made it out to my parents’ house, they didn’t know if they should, and truth be told, they were embarrassed. And hurt. Feeling lost, and helpless to fix it.

So, to answer your question my dear pediatrician, yes they have “spent time with dad”. As much time as he has deemed necessary to refill his narcissistic vessel.

Please don’t mention his name again, let the monster sleep.

3 thoughts on “Beetlejuice…

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