tales from the surviving straight spouse

Archive for the ‘Family Time’ Category


I start with a new therapist tomorrow.  Not for me, but for my 13 year old (son#3).  So much is weighing on him:

  • father who is gay, but pushing the Catholic Church agenda
  • older brother who can’t stop talking or apparently shaving parts of his body that have no business being shaved
  • parents who haven’t settled down into divorcehood
  • and the hormonic symphony of adolescence (cue Timpani)

I wish I could just travel with my own genogram and say “here you go, call me with questions.”  Instead I will tell the tale.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve told that tale.  I will hear the usual “Wow, that’s a lot” “Your sure do have a lot on your plate” or maybe just the blink blink and moving on the the next section.  It actually starts to get fun – cause it is a psychologist’s/geneticist’s wet dream. Then the “oh, shit this is a real person, not a case study” sets in and we get down to business.  How do we muddle through this shit and come out okay in the end?

July 3rd was my aunt’s 90th birthday.  She looked great!  We had a party at my brother’s house around the pool.  I stayed in the pool most of the time to avoid the family drama.

It worked out, until we sat down to eat.

“I wouldn’t go to Puerta Vallarta, it’s too gay.”

“How do you know it’s too gay?”

“Because of all the music they play there.  Gays love music”

A roar of laughter erupts.

“Yeah, I want a straight vacation.”

Son#3 looks at me from across the table.  His face is blank but his eyes show the hurt.

“Shall we swim?”

“YES!”  he jumps from the table and we get back in the pool.

He has medium brown eyes that express a lot, if only people would take the time to truly look into them.  Nobody makes time to really look at each other any more.  It’s as if there is a cursory examination – like searching a supermarket shelf for the exact brand and size of feminine product.  Have you been down those aisles?  Geez – too many choices!

“They forget your dad is gay,” I say.  “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not just that.  Why does it have to be so funny?  Why is it even discussed?”

“Because they ran out of bad things to say about Obama?”

Now, he is laughing.

I wish I could wash it all away.  I can’t though.  Tomorrow is Ms. Peach.

I hope she helps him make it to adulthood without too much resentment.

He is a key to tolerance.  His entire life is a lesson of tolerance.  I want him to know how awesome and unique he is.  I want him to learn to take his anger, expel it creatively and never let it fester inside.

That time of the month

I haven’t had a visit from Aunt Flow in about 5 years.  It’s okay.  I’ve got issues.

So when my son says, “it must be that time of the month” I want to laugh because that’s been ages – and he would know when I’m really having a hormone fluctuation.

Actually, he has no idea what he is really saying.  He saw it in a movie with his dad.  First he got mad at the baby sitter on Friday and he said it to her.  Then he got  mad at me today.  I was mortified.

They live a childhood divided, though.  “They” being my four sons.  I am told often “we can watch whatever we want at Dad’s” and “Dad always takes us out to dinner”

Tonight I blew it.  I did.  I yelled.

It was a very long day.  I was up at 6 to make sure that son #3 gets to his blacksmith apprenticeship at 8.  I have to get 2 of his brothers ready who struggle to get it together in the morning.  We stop for a quick breakfast on the way.  Then we go to the farmer’s market where I buy son#2 flowers to plant in his garden.  Then we go to the “Halo’s Farm” to buy juice.  Then we went to Goodwill where everyone got to pick something.  Then we go to Aldi’s (thank you Mz. P.) to buy groceries.  “Can I have this?” “Can we get that?”  “What about this?”  If I could get a monetary reward for artfully expressing the negative, I would be able to have someone shop for me.  Finally we stop at CVS because son#3 will be melting after working at the Forge all morning.

Then we went to my brother’s house for a pool party for my aunt.  She turns 90 this week.  It isn’t a big deal, but my family has gotten tired of having special needs relatives.  I don’t know how else to say it.  I have been told that I need to keep a good eye on son#2 because he “just asks so many darned questions and it is a bit much”   – not much relaxation at that party.

By the time we got home and I started cooking dinner, I was pooped.  I made a deal that if they didn’t like my dinner we could go out.  It was sweet potato fries, applesauce, carrot sticks and boca chicken pattis on deli-thins – not bad for a Saturday night and running around for 12 hours.  So, when son #1 began to complain that he needed to go to Memphis BBQ because Dad takes him there and son #4 pouted at the dinner…I had my say and a significantly increased volume.

Which was:

I won’t be compared to your father anymore.

I am not a bad mother because I cook dinner for you.

I say no, not just because I don’t always have the money – but all of you need to know that you can’t have everything just because you asked for it.  It isn’t how life works and I don’t want you to spend your adult life thinking it is unfair – I want you to love and appreciate what you have now.  

Love is not getting things or going out to eat.  Love is right here at this table and in this room.  

son#1 says “this is the better house, mom”

That’s not what I mean.  Your father and I both have a place in your lives.  I don’t want you to love me better or choose me over your father – I want you to understand that we both are important parts of your life.

I can’t fucking believe I am defending him.  I really am a bag of nuts.  Or maybe this is just wishful thinking – that he will be the father he should.  Oh, crap – doing it again – I just know it isn’t right to say – “You’re dad’s a fucking asshole and you may never get it.”  So I am sticking with the bipartisan post divorce statement.

I am sorry for the divorce.  I can’t change it.  I know it hurts and I know it seems unfair.  Regardless of what daddy and I are to each other, we are still you father and your mother.  We are both raising you to be good, polite, kind, healthy young men – I won’t stop trying.

I am sorry for yelling – but I am unable to keep it to myself anymore.

Five years.  That is what I see.  When son#3 turns 18, I move away.  Whoever wants to come with me, can.  Whoever wants to come visit for the summer, can.  I won’t spend anymore time or energy competing for something that has no winners.

Only one life — that is all I have and I am not going to keep living it like this.