So, it's been a week. I returned from Mexico a little more than a week ago. When I left town I was swamped at work and my kids were running amok. When I returned, it was worse than when I left. Everything demanded my attention, and I felt scattered and disorganized. Consequently when Rudy got sick last Friday, I groaned inwardly. I just didn't feel I had the energy to deal with him being ill, holding down the fort at work and at home. By Sunday it was clear, both of my children were sick. And they were whiny, crying, feverish, coughing sick. Mondays are my worst day of the week to have to miss being at work. I have juvenile court, so skipping out isn't a good option. Ever. Since Walter was off in the morning, I bargained with him to keep the kids for a few hours so I could try and get what was most pressing done. When I got home both kids' fevers had spiked and they were even more needy. We made our trek to the doctor, and we were told that both were likely infected with the dreaded swine flu. Our beloved pediatrician suggested I get the little one chest x-rayed just to be safe. All was well. No pneumonia, just two sick kids.
By Wednesday, I felt overwhelmed. I had tons of things needing attention at my office, and yet two children who needed me at home more. Luckily by today, the fevers were mostly over and the coughs subsiding. I learned a lesson these past few weeks. I'm on my own as a parent with these two babies. I have loving people in my life who will help me when I call, and try and assist me the best they know how. I'm thankful for my communities. They are invaluable, and they offer my children love and support. But, as for their father, well, he has his limits. I likely should have known this before, but it's crystal clear now. From the way he didn't care for the kids while I was gone to the way that he cannot seem to place their needs before his own, it is clear. This is a painful realization for me. I know that someday my kids will ask me, "why doesn't daddy take care of us?" And I don't have a good answer for that one. I know he loves the kids. I have no doubt of that. But he is not going to be able to put them first, whether it's taking their temperature or making sure they are cared for and loved, it's just not a priority.
All this talk of swine flu reminded me of the Sermon on the Mount - and the saying "pearls before swine." If I understand correctly, it's the concept that something valuable should not be given to someone not able to appreciate it's value. When I begin to have pangs of guilt and shame about my divorce, I remember this saying. Because if I'm honest with myself, my ex-husband was never able to value me for who I am. Partly because I'm not certain he ever knew who I was, and partly because I don't think he is able to value me. The same thing applies to our children. I believe he loves them, but I don't think he is able to value them in the way that I hoped he could when we decided to have them. At least part of this journey has been coming to terms with the realization that I deserve a partner that can value me. For me. Not because I earn it or have some intrinsic value, but just because I am. Perhaps this is too great an expectation, I don't know. I've finally been able to accept and receive that this is how God loves me and values me. That acceptance allows me to accept others and myself, even with my flaws.
Many of my colleagues have asked me recently why I haven't insisted that Walter get out of my home. I don't have an easy answer for that. It's not that I want him here. In fact, I keep thinking "when he moves out, I'll..." But, it is hard for me to be angry with him for his ignorance. While I don't like what he has done and continues to do, I feel some sadness for him, and I worry that if I push him out, he will pull back from our kids, leaving them entirely without a father. I understand on some level that I'm not helping things, and that I'm likely going to have to toughen up so we can all move forward. I'm just not doing well at toughening up just yet.
The key I suppose is to learn enough from this to be able to not fall into the same pattern or routine. Pearls before swine. It seems like a very different concept to me now.