Here's the thing. When Mr. Hate left, there was a part of me that knew, deep down inside, that the fatherhood thing was going to blow up in his face. He has never been what you would call a "natural" father. When we were together a good portion of my time was spent nudging him in this direction or that, trying to model good parental behavior. "Show your dad your good school paper!" "Kiss the kids goodnight, honey..." "Give her a hug..." His own dad was a lovely man, but never really got the hang of involved parenting. Therefore, Mr. Hate grew up without a dad to emulate when he became a dad himself. When First was a baby, I tried to get Mr. Hate to help out more, and I remember him sort of whinging and saying "I don't know how he worrrrks!"
Cut to nineteen years later. Third was TOTALLY bitching tonight about how she hates -- really hates -- going over her dad's house. She doesn't go for weekends anymore, and she resents the heck out of having to go there for dinners. I asked her, for the 800th time, why she hates going there so much. And I swear to God, she said to me "He doesn't get me. It's like he doesn't even understand how I work!"
And there it is. She now knows, without anyone having to tell her, the truth about her dad. The penny has dropped. He just does NOT get how to be a dad. I used to help him, all the time. I don't now. He still blames me for every single issue he has with the kids, by the way. I am not supportive enough, I am not doing enough to "promote" him to the kids, on and on. Heaven forbid he should consider his OWN behavior!
The thing is, I didn't feel the way I thought I would.
I thought I would feel completely validated. A sense of union with Third, almost....but I did not. I just felt terribly sad. As much as the kids drive me NUTS somedays, they remain the best thing I have ever done, and the people I am so very proud of. I am sorry that he can't figure out how to be in their lives in a positive, loving way. I am sorry that sixteen years of living with them did not help him. I am sorry for them. I am sorry for us all.
I have to go figure out how to be eternal now.....