Thursday, January 29, 2009

Strange days

When we got home today, there was a package on the porch sent to my name from Amazon. I knew I hadn't ordered anything, and checked with my son who confirmed that he hadn't, either. I opened the box and checked the packing slip, both the billing and the shipping were in my name, but the bottom of the packing slip read "this completes your gift order". Inside the box was both a Flip Video Camcorder and a corresponding tripod.

Weird, someone must have gotten something wrong. I do lots of freebies and sweepstakes online, but don't remember signing up for that.

I also received in the mail today a priority envelope from my son's father. I was surprised because it was consistently the same time of the month, the third month in a row that I had received something from him. We have no legal agreement for support, his name isn't even on our son's birth certificate although paternity is not an issue. Knowing that he had lost yet another job when he sent a money order in December, I assumed I wouldn't be hearing from him again any time soon.

Before anyone gets upset about what I just said, please understand that there is a huge backstory to this that I haven't written about before now. What we are doing now works for us as much as it can. He lives far away, and has little contact with our son. He had mental illness issues while we were together. When our son was about 5, he was in an serious accident that left him brain damaged. However, as he is stubborn as hell, he refuses to admit it.

He is constantly trying to better himself because he knows what he used to be - brilliant. So he'll go to school and learn a new skill, but then cannot keep down a job in that field. Then he'll go to school for something else, and can't hold down that job, either. I'll tell the whole story at some point, maybe.

I don't hold any animosity toward him, but cannot speak for my son. I've tried to be as honest with my son as I can about our situation, without giving him too much information. I've also tried very hard not to speak badly about his father to him. I figured he would make his own decisions on his own at some point based on what he experienced.

Our son has only met his father three times. He remembers that the last time he saw his father they had a really great time. But his father promised to come back to see him in three weeks or a month, and he never saw him again. His father has only acknowledged his birthday twice, neither in the last 7 years. His father has never acknowledged Christmas before.

About a year ago I told my son's father that he needed to step up to the plate whether he liked it or not - whether he could or not. Putting our son through Catholic high school was going to be the hardest thing I ever had to do and goddammit I needed some help! And he actually started helping more often, as much as he could. Almost every letter he sent with a money order stated that he would try to get online sometime soon; please send an email address he could use, please send letters and pictures. No matter how many times I sent him letters and pictures, he never sent me any emails.

He missed our son's birthday this past year. When he sent money the week of Christmas, he talked about getting our son a Christmas present. In one of the letters he sent, he asked if he could get the boy a cell phone. I let him know the boy already bought his own cell phone, I just provided the minutes. I didn't think anything more about it, other than to feel sad that my son wouldn't even read his father's letters, anymore.

I made sure my son knew that his father sending money the week of Christmas allowed me to provide the presents he opened on Christmas morning. That was the last thought I gave to it until I got the letter and money order, today. It tore my heart out.

"Thank you for the letter. The photographs were great, and he is a very intelligent, tough looking young man. All that hard work paid off, and good schools are not easy.

Am sorry that his XMass present did not come through. I bought him a present on "EBay" and think I got robbed. Am new to that. I had bought him a camcorder, so that he could send me digital photos, or maybe post them on YouTube/Facebook, places like that? All of this is new to me but am now able to work my broke laptop. Will get another email address, and send you email.

I sent you another present, for J, same thing. Please look it over, and tell me if it's ideal/suitable for that use. Thought he could show me pix of the school/his friends, etc.

... am going to school for a few months (6) to get an excellant "welding" diploma. This can get me into the "iron workers" union on the East Coast. There will be a lot of repair work under the Obama administration. This is good, steady work that pays well.

Lost my trucking job because they slowed. Have always sent you what I could. May be some problems down road, but nothing now. Once out of school, will be better off. Am going to visit (sister who lives 2-1/2 hours away), and look forward to seeing you both, if you want. Wanted to go before school, this Spring.

Drop a line. Take care.

Love to the tough guy in the pads, to J."

I told my son he has to write a thank you note, no matter how he feels about it. I also told him that it would be nice if he actually posted a video for his father to see, and include the url link in his thank you note or his email address or something. Who knows if his father will ever actually get online to see it. However, he must have gotten online at some point to use Amazon to send the kid a video camcorder. This was not a cheap toy, I priced it out and with the tripod it was $145.00 before shipping.

I told the boy he has the right to decide whether he wants to see his father (if he actually shows up on the east coast). While he adores this Auntie, his father's sister, she is almost as much of a flake as his father is. I will happily drive him there and/or back, if there is a firm plan that they will actually be there. If my son chooses to do so, I will back him up however I can. If he chooses not to, I will also back him up in any way I can.

It would be nice, for a change, if his father's side of the family didn't let him down.


Janie said...

Sad story. Thanks so much for sharing. Your son sounds neat.

Bella@That damn expat said...

You are a great mother.
I don't know what else to say. It seems like he is trying hard, but then he disappears. I understand why your son would be sceptic about that relationship.
But you are doing the right thing.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Interesting. It's a bit unnerving when someone you have no expectations of does something out of the ordinary. Sounds like he is trying-albiet a little too late.

I'm assuming your boy has a great foundation in which to proceed-cautiously-into contacting his father.Thank you mom.

Good luck.

Gwen said...

This story is very familiar to me but I'd rather tell it to you in an email. Keep plugging away, Fancy. You're doing a good job even though you've been given a tough row to hoe.

Dr Zibbs said...

Whoa. That's some story. I'm glad your son has someone like you. You're a good person.

Talullah said...

girl...sounds like we could swap stories for days. My kids have flipped roles now. They asked me if I could get their Dad's address because they're just going to go ahead and mail his Christmas presents they bought him since it doesn't look like they're going to see him anytime soon. Breaks your heart doesn't it?

Angie said...

At least he's trying? I'll admit, it seems kinda sketchy, but there's effort there. It took me a long time to recognize my dad's efforts to show me he cares. Now I accept them when they show up, and appreciate them all the more because they are so rare. I just don't expect them.

kate said...

Uuggh. I don't know what's more sad: having expectations that don't get met or giving up having any expectations at all.

A dear friend of mine and her 9 yo daughter do this dance with the father; the only thing he is consistent with is disappointing his daughter.

I feel for you, but it sounds like you handle it with grace.

JoJo said...

Mental illness and brain injuries are devastating. You are a fantastic mom for being realistic about the situation and supportive. Yes, it would be nice if his dad's side of the family didn't let you and your son down, in a perfect world.

Cora said...

Ohh, you have me crying like a baby here. I'm in a similar situation with my daughter and my ex-husband. It's so tough on the kids, isn't it? I mean, it's tough on us too when there is no help and no support, but I think it must be harder on the kids. My ex is often out of work and has three other kids to support, so you can imagine how that goes, I'm sure. My daughter feels guilty and worries about how we will afford college and worries that she costs too much money for me to handle. I swear, I never talk about money or the missing child support in front of her, but she knows when I'm short on cash, and she feels responsible for that, which is the very last thing I want her to feel! She's only 12 and she deals with a lot. Your story really touched me. I wish all the best for you and your son!

Laura said...

Sounds like you are doing the right thing. It also sounds like your son's father is trying, which is great. Maybe when he gets a little older, your son might understand a little more of what is going on. I think it's great that you aren't trash talking him though. Your son deserves to make his own decision on that one. Good luck with everything!

JD at I Do Things said...

Wow. What a sad story -- and I'm sure you've only revealed a tiny bit of it here.

I feel for your ex-husband AND you and your son. I can't imagine going thru something like that. I hope your son is able to find his way to his dad.

You're obviously doing something right.

Fancy Schmancy said...

Thanks, you guys. I really appreciate the comments. My son is a good young man, when the time comes to make a decision, I'm sure he'll make the one that's best for him.

JD, you're right about there being a lot more to this story. We were never married. I left him when I was 3 months pregnant.