I know, I know. I shouldn’t snoop around in my mother’s email account – but I can’t help it. I am at turns, fascinated and disgusted with my mom’s relationship with my father. I am drawn (apparently to incredible violations of privacy) to how my mom seems to constantly engage my father in conversations. It is both pathetic and so desperately sad. I find their conversations, in their bad English, full of pain and the desperate hope from my mother that perhaps, my father can turn around. Not necessarily to be with her, but I think she must still love him. It must be so sad for her to finally be ending this marriage. Good, but sad, as well.

My dad, on the other hand, is just full of self-pity and passive-aggressiveness. Claims that we don’t want him. That I have made it clear to him that he is dead. (He sounds so whiny and bitter.) But you know what? I stand by my decision. Of course, it does break my heart – he is my father, after all, and it does make me snoop and “eavesdrop” on my mom’s conversations with him because of course I want to know what’s going on with him. But he should know that what he is doing is unacceptable.

I am alternately driven between contempt (perhaps that is too harsh of a word, but often, that is what I feel) and pity for my mother. I think that she brought on a lot of this pain and trouble upon herself by burying her head in the sand. By thinking that somehow, magically, my father would change and treat her as he should. That even though he has been terrible to her, the comfort of familiarity with this man trumps all logic and has ravaged her body with numerous health problems (wet age-related macular degeneration and Hepatitis C).

It makes me so sad. When I even give myself a moment to truly think about my father and the impact – the terrible impact – he has had on all our lives, I am reminded of the comet that crashed into the earth and obliterated the dinosaurs. If I even linger a moment too long on him, I feel myself on the edge of uncontrollable weeping.

I am always bewildered – especially when I look at my kids. How could anyone say they love their children and then willfully choose to destroy their home and security and their mother? How could anyone abuse their children as he did? I look at my babies and all I want is to care for them and be with them. Yet he constantly chose to be away from us, to pursue his “dreams.”

You know what? I don’t care. I know it’s not a popular thought, but really, when you have a family and people to whom you are responsible, your dreams cease to matter. I mean, they do, but not really. You are now beholden to taking care of these children and your spouse – even if it means that you do not get what you want. Your life is no longer your own.

This is why I hate so vehemently the pursuit of happiness clause in our Declaration of Independence. It has made happiness an entitlement. But often, we do not know what will make us happy – and the pursuit of this nebulous state often causes much UNhappiness in its wake, leaving ruined lives.

I’m sure my father just wanted to get what he thought he deserved in terms of affairs and business opportunities. But never once has he apologized for any of his affairs, for tearing apart our family, for physically abusing my mother (or me, for that matter) and for choosing himself over and over again. The irony of it all is, I don’t think he’s very happy.

That makes me sad. In a perverse sort of way, if so many of our lives were ruined (or at least, felt like they were and were carefully rebuilt), at least it should have been worth it for him, right?

It is precisely my parents’ horrible marriage and my mother being a victim of my father for over thirty years that I am such an ass to DH. I have to actively try to remember and act as if I believed that DH is NOT my father. That when DH works late or spends a lot of time on work, he is not my father. That when he does anything that may even hint or smell like something my dad used to do, that he IS NOT MY FATHER. It has gotten much better, but I tell you, it is an active piece of work.

The crazy thing is, I have never been at a better place in my life. And still, the power my relationship with my dad can wield.

It is this knowledge that our actions have such far-reaching consequences that makes me strive to be a better person – both as a mother and wife. I know I am not perfect and that no matter how awesome I am at either role, my kids will have issues. But hopefully, with God’s grace and my active campaigning, my kids will never know what it is like to be abandoned and will always know how worthy of love they are. They are beautiful and worth so much more than they could ever imagine.