Pros and Cons

We’ve all experienced it.  We’ve all had to make a decision based on our knowledge of the situation at the exact moment.  Some are inconsequential like what kind of car to buy but there are some that eventually become life or death decisions and can weigh on a person for a long time.  How far would you go to be sure your kids are happy?  That’s the question of the day because there are so many ways and things that can happen to make a parent weigh pros and cons of the kids and sometimes, do a little fortune telling.

Everyone knows that I have children.  Yes, I have three children, a boy and two girls.  My divorce from my first son and daughter’s mother was so bad that it appeared in the newspapers on a consistent basis.  Seemed that whenever I was in town, something stupid would happen and the police would ultimately show up.  Visitation would happen on the weekend that my ex knew I wasn’t going to be town and eventually, everything turned to garbage.  There were psychiatrists, therapists, and other medical professionals involved because both of her parents were doctors.  Yes, the doctors were diagnosing the children with one thing or another and if my ex didn’t get the answer she wanted, she just brought in another doctor until someone would confirm what she wanted to hear.

Who was suffering through all this?  I lived about an hour and a half away because at her insistence, I took a job at a Honda Dealership who wouldn’t hire me until they met her.  At the time, we were happily married and she beamed with excitement at the thought of a new city and living in the suburbs.  She said all the right things because after meeting me, they hired me on the spot.  I think that’s when the plan started to hatch.  Thanksgiving saw me coming home to a dark house without her or the children at home.  The place was unusually cold and all the plans that were made before were, well, out the window.  She said that she and the kids had dinner at her parents’ house but everyone knew that her mother couldn’t cook to save her life.  My ex-mother in law made a ham once that had two inches of burnt char around it because “you have to cook pork thoroughly.”

 The kids were squarely in the middle with both parents going to war to try and get as much as they could including the children.  This war raged on for almost three years and the only ones winning were the lawyers.  It was that day when I really weighed the “pros and cons” of the situation.  Sitting outside in the quiet, smoking a cigarette with my third child just born, I decided to call my lawyer to see what it would take to end the madness.  The kids didn’t need anymore disruption and I was growing weary of the constant fighting.  Needless to say, I lost my job at the Honda Dealership when I got served divorce papers on Christmas Eve at work.  They figured that if I couldn’t take care of the marriage and had to go back and forth every month, it wouldn’t be worth keeping me on.

It was three years later and I’d only seen my kids a handful of times because of “scheduling conflicts and doctors’ appointments.” The divorce was almost as expensive as the house I was going to build and the least amount of time I spent with people about the marriage, divorce and children was six hours once for a deposition.  My lawyer told me that they were trying to put the “black hat” on me to make me out the villain here. It was time to weigh the pros and cons of the situation.  Little did I know the decision that I would make on that particular day would impact my life forever and pretty much define my life regardless of what I did.

There was never a more dejected look on my mother’s face when I said that she wanted the kids and me out.  She asked what was I going to do and my response was that I couldn’t see this ending well in any scenario so for the good of the kids, I was going to back down and let her have them.  I knew that her parents had enough money to keep them going and she was just finishing up nursing school so financially, everything would be alright.  There would be no more fighting, arguing or anything else and hopefully, the kids would end up happy.  I knew my ex loved the kids as much as I did and it was because of that love that I decided to pull back.  My mother told me that “one day they were going to come with questions and I’d better have the answers.”

I forced my ex to the lawyers office and made her wait in the waiting room while I went back to go over all the paperwork.  The lawyers looked over everything and I signed the papers.  My last words to my ex were “you got what you wanted” as I walked by her and out the door.  That was the beginning of what would seem the greatest mistake I’d ever made. 

I didn’t hear anything for seven years until I got a phone call one day.  The man told me he wasn’t a bill collector nor did he want to sell me anything but wanted to meet me.  By then I had a computer consulting company and taught at the University so when I asked him what it was in regard to, I was floored when he told me that he wanted to talk about my ex.  That was a subject that I thought was put to bed long ago but apparently, it was rearing its head again.  It was almost ten years since I walked out of the lawyers office, totally broken and when I heard what he said I knew that the repairs weren’t that great. 

I agreed to meet with him at a local restaurant and when I showed up, he introduced himself as an attorney for a hospital in Florida.  I sat and had a cup of coffee, listening to the story that he told me about a violent act that happened in the parking lot of the hospital and the lawsuit that had come because of the incident.  My head cocked when he said that my ex was the plaintiff and she and her husband were suing for millions.  Just then, another person came in handing the lawyer a piece of paper.  The lawyer nodded and the person left.  He asked me if I wanted to know where they were.  I wanted to know if the kids were thriving so badly but I just shook my head and said no.  With that, he handed me the piece of paper the other gentleman gave him which said “their house is on fire right now.”  I looked at him and he calmly said “aren’t you glad you’re sitting with me here?”  The perfect alibi. 

He wanted to go over the strange happenings which occurred during the divorce and custody battle.  I smiled and invited him to come with my over to the University where I typed out a letter for him that would give him access to everything my attorney had on the case.  I then called my attorney and told him this person would be coming along with the signed document from me and to let him see anything he wanted.  That was the last I saw of him but I did get a phone call about three weeks later from him.  He was back in Florida and told me that they settled the case but couldn’t disclose the figure saying only that it was seven figures.

I knew generally where they were and knew that if I were to keep my sanity, I’d better avoid that state entirely.  My youngest daughter’s mother ran out on her, leaving her with her mother and I had just finished a year long court battle with her and the state to get my daughter.  It wasn’t easy for a single father to get custody of a daughter even if their mother ran out on them. 

Knowing that everything was finished and there was nothing else to do in the matter, I went about my business and finally got remarried, moving to New Mexico.  The only thing I can say about the town I lived in was that I liked my jobs (yes two of them).  I came home one day to my now almost teenage daughter giving me a message that my ex had called.  I was a bit confused because in the paperwork that I signed was a restraining order prohibiting us from being within 1,000 feet of each other and a strict no communication paragraph.  I told my daughter she must of been imagining things but she insisted it was her and that she would call back in a little bit.  Needless to say my wife was not too happy about my hearing from me ex. 

She called me to tell me about a problem with my older daughter and her boyfriend getting together.  I told her that we were violating our restraining order six ways from Sunday and then laughed by saying that we didn’t have a leg to stand on.  We got married when I was 21 and she was 16.  We couldn’t do a “do as I say, not as I do” which would be hypocritical.  I went straight to the point by asking what she wanted of me and she told me that she wanted to explain things about my daughter and how the situation progressed to the state that it was. 

I had no clue as to what she should do and made that abundantly clear while I could hear my wife express in a subtle way her displeasure of my talking with her.  She started calling me a couple of times a week and my older daughter finally said she’d had enough of everything and wanted me to come get her and her kids and take them in.  I loved the idea of little ones running around but was very leery about things.  My father in law had just died and our financial situation wasn’t very good but my youngest daughter and I took the long trip from New Mexico to Tennessee in the middle of the night.  It was then that I found out even in the summer at midnight, it was still hotter than hell in Dallas. 

Needless to say that decision wasn’t a good one and my ex was back on the phone with me asking about what I was going to do and since I worked well under pressure, what was the next move going to be.  My wife got into it with her saying that she threw me away and I was hers now, thanking her because she was quite happy.  I knew there was something seriously wrong not only with my oldest daughter but with my ex too.  She started asking me strange questions about my decisions where it came to the kids and asked me if I could ever forgive her.  I told her I could forgive everything except her putting me in the position where my love for the kids forced me to give them up to hopefully have them grow up in a happy life. 

My wife and I moved from New Mexico to Nevada when I got a phone call a couple days after getting a phone hooked up.  The University in New Mexico called me and told me that my daughter was trying to contact me and they told her that I moved to Nevada.  I always stayed listed so it wasn’t difficult to find my number.  I called my daughter to whom I hadn’t talked to in a year or so and asked her if everything was alright.  She told me that her mother died a couple of days before my move to Nevada and she lived about 3 miles from my new home. 

It was strange and still is to try and make up for all that lost time.  Her adopted father, depending on who you’re listening to, is either great or an ass.  I’ve seen some candid pictures so I’ll draw my own conclusions. 

In weighing the pros and cons of this part of life, one sometimes puts the needs of others in front of their own.  Indeed I believe in this case, that’s exactly what I did.  I don’t hear from my son and haven’t for over 35 years.  I get messages from my daughter from time to time which make my day.  I have no relationship with my grand children and great grand children.  This is something that I never factored into my decision.  When the pros and cons were made, it was the immediate children that needed to be dealt with and not the projections of other that would come within my lifetime. 

What would you do for your kids?  What would you do if you started into the abyss?  Sometimes decisions are made not just to give up, but to make things hopefully better.  That’s the gift I thought I was giving my children.  Only time will tell

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