Summer is here. Shelby’s last day of school is tomorrow. Work is slowing down, after the “sales” season rolls into the “build” season for the company I work for. Weekends are a time for rest and relaxation. Time to get things done around the house, and to spend time in the woods, at the beach, or just taking in an overnight trip somewhere with Shelby and Sarah. I FINALLY get to spend more time with my family.
Only, none of that is true. It has been an endless series of holidays, birthdays, baby showers, slumber parties, and family visits for almost two months. It is to continue until July. That’s right...every single one of our weekends is spoken for already until July, and none of it has been planned by Sarah or I. Hell, she had THREE birthday parties to go to this past weekend, a baby shower next weekend, then ANOTHER birthday party the weekend after that. I seemingly get no say or respect in the matter, and it’s about to come to a head, where I will forcibly isolate myself from any and everyone.
It reminds me that Megan is gone.
For some reason, Megan had a pass to just say “no” when a grandparent would ask to watch Shelby, or if she was invited to a birthday party/ baby shower/ slumber party/ holiday dinner/ etc. Not that she actually said “no” that often, but she could, without feeling guilty about it.
Perhaps she was given that pass because of the time she spent in the hospital made her time at home more “valuable”. It may have been perceived that she had more of a say in what she wanted to be doing with her free time with Shelby. Me? Well, I was just along for the ride, doing what I was told to be doing. Either way, it wasn’t all that frequent...the constant drives to friend’s and family’s houses every weekend. The commitments to be places that we didn’t plan or necessarily want to be at.
Now she’s gone. As I said, Shelby’s last day of school is tomorrow...Wednesday. She’s home for one night, and then I won’t see her again until Father’s Day. That’s right...I get to go PICK HER UP on the one day a year that she is supposed to be with me. I normally didn’t fret over father’s day, because Shelby was home already. Megan made sure of it. I might get breakfast cooked for me, a hug from Shelby and a card. It was all I asked, and I was content.
Suddenly, I have to drive thirty minutes in the morning just to retrieve her on the ONE day where she should be waking up in the same house as her dad. It seems that I’m just a damned “guardian” now to everyone else. I was asked if Shelby could spend a week, sort of a “staycation” after she got out of school, with a grandparent. That’s fine...it really is. But suddenly, when I try to plan out her return for the next Friday, that “week” turned into 10 days, and just an assumption that she would just still be with her grandparents on Father’s day. Then the guilt trip starts...with a series of “wellll, I had hoped” and “I took this time off and blah blah blah”.
If Megan was still here? Shit, she could have just said “you’re crazy...she’s my daughter, and I will pick her up when I see fit”. Me? I have to try to please everyone. I have to defer to grandparents, because of some odd perception that because they lost a daughter/ daughter-in-law, their time with Shelby is more important than my own. Everyone has suddenly forgotten that MY wife...Shelby’s mom...is fucking DEAD. Because Sarah is so good with her, and I have the both of them, it’s as if I haven’t lost Megan I guess. They lost a daughter...I lost nothing.
So “hooray! I’m not a widower anymore!” “Sure! Take Shelby all summer! I wasn’t looking forward to her being out of school at all! She was simply a burden to me, so why don’t you go ahead and watch her until the fifth grade starts?”
Sooner or later, Shelby will be able to decide for herself where and when she wants to be on any given day. Megan scheduled her life up until age 7, and she was an expert at balancing family time and visits elsewhere. People deferred to HER when planning birthday parties and get-togethers. Hell, her birthday and her cousin’s birthday were about a month apart, and they still made sure that they shared a party together, because each other’s time was more valuable outside of that.
Now, things are being planned for us in Megan’s absence, without any consultation with me, and for damned sure not with Sarah. It’s just assumed that I will make every effort to have Shelby where people want Shelby, without being able to just say “no thank you”.
And it’s coming to a head. By July, when things will supposedly “slow down”, I will end up isolating altogether. Shelby will be home every weekend. I’m going to have to be an asshole to everyone and just say “no, we’re not coming”, because I can’t really take it anymore. I DESERVE to be able to speak for Shelby’s whereabouts, and if I want to take her fishing on a Saturday morning, well, then “tough, I’m taking her fishing on Saturday, and yes, that is more important than her going shopping”.
Sooner or later, Shelby is also going to not want to hang around with her DAD on weekends. She’s 10...it can’t be far off. Although I appreciate to no end the help that I was given when Megan died, it’s been three years goddammit. I really don’t NEED the help anymore. Shelby is pretty much on autopilot most days at this point. We’ve got a solid routine, she’s well fed, well read, and well taken care of. I want to spend as much time with our daughter as I have left, because I will be allowing her to speak for her own self soon.
Megan wouldn’t have stood for it. Especially when she was healthier after her transplant. She didn’t want people coming to our home whenever they felt like it, looking for one stray sock on the floor, and thinking they needed to wash clothes for us. If Shelby said she wanted a snack, or was hungry, she didn’t need to be taken out to dinner. Megan was ALLOWED to say no, she doesn’t need dinner, or “I’ll take care of the clothes, and tell you what, we’ll come visit you on Thursday...YOU plan around that”
She was treated as Shelby’s mother, and as an adult that could speak for herself. Again, I feel like I’m treated as simply her guardian, and not respected as a very good one at that. This is notwithstanding Sarah, who has it even worse. She’s taking and picking Shelby up from school almost daily. She’s feeding her, entertaining her, doing housework, and making sure Shelby is loved, and respecting the memory of her mother, all while doing her own work and grieving the loss of not only Drew, but of both of her own parents. Even still, it all comes to me when someone tells us where Shelby is going to be. TELLS us, not ASKS us.
I’m sick of it. The time is quickly approaching where I (scratch that...WE) get to DECIDE, and feel just fine with whatever decision we make regarding Shelby. People aren’t going to like it at first, but they’ll deal. Megan was given the respect she deserved, and I’m just going to have to claim it for myself it seems.
I don’t know if Megan being gone that has made me less forceful about deciding what I will do with my family, or if it’s a perception that I can’t speak for myself and mine, but it’s wearing me very thin. I didn’t question at all soon after she died, because frankly, I needed family. I needed their help, and I’m eternally grateful. That never meant that the time wouldn’t come where I needed them to step away. Where I could say “no, Shelby has a friend’s birthday party to go to, sorry, but we can’t come to her cousin’s” instead of saying “yes, we will try to be in 3 places at once”. We somehow pulled that one off this weekend, but not without feeling guilty for cutting our visits short so we could rush here and there, trying to make everyone happy.
I am CAPABLE of getting Shelby all over the place and pleasing everyone as best as possible. That doesn’t mean that I WANT to do it.
And Megan wouldn’t have either.