Dad Habits Die Hard
This story was submitted by Jason St. to the Stories of Health and Pleasure collection as part of the March SEEQ sessions.
Dad Habits Die Hard
13 years and two kids in, my wife and I are folding our hand.
Rewind 30 years—my own dad is leaving our mom. Leaving us. Back then “divorce” was just a meaningless word. I was 7 years old with no reference to what family life is or supposed to be. It kills me now to know my brother and I would ask Mom, “When’s he coming home?” She had no idea, but had to provide an answer. None of us thought the answer was never.
He chose to go live a life without us and leave my mom to do the heavy lifting. All the lifting. I grew up fighting with her and without even knowing, blaming her. I was a bad kid. Year-by-year I started to see what was actually happening though and began shifting my anger and resentment from her to him. Back then I treated my mom like shit, but today cannot thank her enough. She single-handedly made me who I am today. She’s the strongest person I know and ever will know. She had an even rougher childhood than my brother and I did, growing up with two brothers herself, no mom in the picture, and a selfish, chauvinistic father (he still is today). I look at her now and I’m blown away. She’s stronger and more successful than all of them combined. But that’s another story.
Fast forward to July 2018—I’m sitting here in disbelief. I’ve been promising, “guaranteeing” myself for my entire adulthood, through the birth of two beautiful boys, this would never happen again. I’m in control now. I’m the dad who gets to choose whether I stay or go. You’d have to kill me to break this family apart. Yet a couple years of marriage counseling couldn’t patch us up and it’s all happening again. This very thing that’s haunted me.
It doesn’t have to be the same though, right? This is what I tell myself. Constantly. In fact there’s nothing in this world I love more than my two boys. I’m not going anywhere. And if there’s one thing I accomplish in this lifetime, it’s to prove it to them.