Oops. We should have saved that one for your Dad.

13 May

For Mother’s Day, my son and DH detailed my car.  This is no small undertaking and should have been approached with bio-hazard suits on, but the guys worked tirelessly for 2 ½ hours.  After my son presented me with a very clean and shiny vehicle, he said, “Um, Mom, is it okay if I drive the car around the cul-de-sac?  DH said it was okay with him if it was okay with you.”  This would be his very first time behind the wheel. I gave him the green light and watched them roll very slowly down the street, thinking “Wow, what a great father/son moment.”  Then it dawned on me, maybe I should have saved this moment for my ex-husband (my son’s biological father).  Uh oh.

My ex-husband and I divorced in 2006.  His work schedule is a bit goofy so it’s hard for him to take the kids for a full weekend, but he spends time with him when he can.  What I realized soon after we split up is that he’s a great dad in short clips of time, and that’s what I’ve tried to give him in order for him to be successful as a father.  This isn’t meant to be a slam; he agrees with me and is thankful that I recognize that about him.  Unfortunately, this didn’t work for my son, especially when he hit 12.  He craved the attention of his father as any preteen boy would and really wanted to spend time with him.  I remember the day I had to sit down with him and tell him, “Honey, your relationship with your father may never be what you want it to be.  You have to learn to work with what you’ve got and embrace that.”  He got up and threw a chair across the room and I let it go.  I understand his frustration having the same issues with some significant relationships in my life. There are a lot of times I wanted to toss a chair across a room and through a window.  I can’t make it better for him and that’s hard on me.

Enter DH.  From the beginning, he told my ex-husband, “I’m not here to replace you as Dad.  I just want to support you both as you raise these kids.”  He’s stuck to that promise, but he’s also unknowingly filled in the gaps quite nicely.  Since we live together, he can’t help but to take on some of those “dad-like” duties like talking about grades and girls.  He’s even addressed some of the deeper issues like integrity and responsibility.  He’s taken a mentor approach but it has meant so much more to my son.  As I’ve mentioned before, DH and I are not married yet both of my kids from my first marriage refer to him as their stepdad.  They came to that place organically, completely on their own.   One day he was “my mom’s boyfriend” and as their relationships evolved, he became “my stepdad”.  We didn’t make a big deal out of it, we just rolled with it.  My ex-husband is okay with it too.  Seemingly unthreatened, he’s thanked DH a few times for being so great with his kids.  We’ve embraced the “it takes a village” concept and it makes our lives run pretty smoothly most of the time.  This means that there will be memories made in this house that don’t include their dad.  My son’s first time behind the wheel was one of the moments.

My ex-husband still doesn’t know about the stepfather/stepson jaunt around the cul-de-sac.  In fact, while we were out tonight I was telling DH about this post and he said, “I had the same feeling as we were driving away.  I looked over at him and thought, ‘Shoot.  He should be doing this with his dad.’”    He feels a little guilty for taking that moment away from my son’s father, but it’s done.  My son is still thrilled about his 30 second ride down the street, and his happiness is what’s most important here, right?

My son’s going to have a lot of shared moments with both his dad and DH.  Are there father/son moments that you think should be specifically saved for and shared with a non-custodial biological father?   How do you decide what those moments are?

2 Responses to “Oops. We should have saved that one for your Dad.”

  1. Jamie May 14, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    Your son is very lucky to have both in his life and it happened the way it was suppose to happen. Treasure it. I only wish my son was so fortunate:o)

  2. Lana May 14, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    That’s a tough one. My son’s father is out of state. They do spend about 9 weeks/year together. But it is inevitable that some rites of passage w/ occur with Stepdad rather than Dad. XH’s parents were divorced and in a similar situation so I just pray he will understand and we will try to reserve some rites of passage for just biodad.

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