A Game I’d Rather Not Play

Filed Under: Life

I did something this weekend that I rarely do – I stood up to my dad.

It’s not that I let my dad walk all over me, it’s that he’s usually too afraid of me to be an absolute ass in my general direction. I’ve never chased after him with a knife [though maybe he’s deserved that a time or two] so he’s not afraid of that. His fear is of losing my love because he has this almost creepy love for me that sometimes feels “wrong”.

Usually he’s a good boy and minds his manners. But this weekend he showed his ass.

Dad has convinced himself that his ex-wife cheated on him, got pregnant by another man, stole money from him, lied to his family and me…it goes on and on and none of it is true. I mean, it’s true in his fucked up mind but it’s not everyone else’s reality – just his.

Since we’ve finally settled on a date for Ollie’s one year birthday party, I figured that I’d invite Dad.

I gave him the details over the phone and before we ended to call, I told him that I had invited my ex-step-mom and my brothers and sisters to Oliver’s party.

Dad left out a sigh and he didn’t even have to say anything for me to know that we were about to have some issues.

I asked Dad to set aside his feelings for an hour. One hour so that he could see his only grandson turn one. Of course Dad assured me that he could do that and then in the next breath, he told me that he shouldn’t have to put aside his hurt feelings because of HER.

[I almost don’t want to finish this now. Not because it goes horribly bad from here but because recounting my dad’s craziness just makes me so damn tired.]

I pointed out to Dad that he had contradicted himself in under fifteen seconds and he started trying to come up with some kind of lie to cover up his misstep. Then, it was almost like he just gave up because anger entered his voice and a bit of craziness and he asked me if I understood why he didn’t want to be in the same room as my ex-step-mom. He detailed every reason that he’s made up in his head and by the end of it, his tone held the edge of an ultimatum.

I don’t do well with ultimatums and definitely not from him.

I had listened to him rage and rant and I was quiet through it all. Once he was finished, my voice dropped a bit lower than normal [the voice I use when I chew the dog’s ass for shitting on the carpet] and I warned him that it wouldn’t be wise for him to make me chose.

I told him that I would not allow him to put me in the same position that I’ve been put in with my mom and him – stuck in the middle and constantly being told to chose.

He started to interject some brand of craziness and I cut him off.

“If I hear that you have told her [my ex-step-mom] that she is not welcome at MY SON’S party or that she should not show up, YOU AND I WILL HAVE ISSUES. Is that clear?”

My voice had changed just a bit to the voice that I use when Cara has earned a good talking to. Not shrill but stern. And, as is often the case, I had taken on the role of parent and he had wrapped that old coat of lost little boy around himself and my stomach churned because I was/am so tired of the game. It’s always a game with him.

He tried to protest again and again I cut him off.

“This is MY SON’S birthday party. I decide who is welcome, NOT YOU. If you can not put your feelings aside for ONE HOUR then I don’t want you there. I would hope that your hurt feelings rank several levels below the happiness of your only grandchildren.”

Then, before he could grovel and prostrate, I told him in a very calm, neutral voice that I was very angry with him at that moment and that once I was not as angry, I would call him.

When I clicked my phone closed, I was almost shaking with the adrenaline. Usually I just avoid him and his insanity. Usually I keep our conversations to safe things like horses and farming. Usually, I would have hung up on him long before the completion of the conversation.

I looked at Tucker, who was sitting the car seat next to me, and he gave me a high five [no. really.] and I knew that Tucker was proud of me for standing up to my dad. Hell. I was proud of me.

The next day, Dad called about something [I don’t remember what since it was just an excuse to call] and I didn’t bring up the previous day’s conversation. Neither did he.

That’s how it always is with him.

Image|nestor galina


  1. Good for you! My parental issues are nowhere near as complex, but I had to have a similar moment, since my wife and mother can’t bear to be under the same roof together. Two years ago, my parents visited for Thanksgiving, and tension was so high I just called wife and mom into the room, told them that, ‘for 7 years, we’d put up with this cold war crap, and if I have to choose, I choose my wife, but I want both of them in my life… so they should just get it out into the open, put it all on the table and clear the air.’

    And they did. It was awful. They dredged up 7 years of maligned feelings on that Thanksgiving Day amidst tears and shouting and door slamming and returning. And then we ate the most awkward meal of my life.

    I’d like to say it made things instantly better, but the truth is that my parents left in the middle of the night for the 16-hour drive home. And we didn’t speak for a month.

    If there’s a bright side to this debbie downer ditty, it’s that, two years later, things are looking really good. The infected sore was exposed, and cleaned, and stung like hell, and then took a long time to heal, but now that everyone’s put feelings on the table, there’s nothing to hide behind anymore. We’re actually building a pretty strong relationship between my wife and mom. And it wouldn’t have happened if the air hadn’t been cleared. So good on you — and congratulations for taking a bold step. : )
    .-= Josh´s last blog ..My quest to discover Branston Pickle =-.

  2. Mary S from Twitter says:

    You did a great job. You may have to do it again. Don’t get discouraged. This is how we heal from that kind of insanity.

  3. First, I can’t figure out how I came to your page. I wish I could but I clicked on it, started reading it and then took some phone calls and came back. I think we are friends on twitter and I clicked on a link.

    Anyway, I wanted to respond to let you know that I know how it feels to have a parent like that. It’s great that you were able to stand up for yourself and your family. I know how it feels to have to tell a parent to act, when you never thought you would have to do that. I always expected my parents to be right, to do the right thing and to know more than I do.

    One day you will smile and realize that your children never needed to experience what you had to experience with your Dad. Hugs! Have a great birthday party and I hope it is drama-free.

  4. shit. i just read this post from five-star friday cuz i’m supposed to be hosting tonight….

    A) hosting for me means i have to stay awake til 11 at least which is not cool cuz i have a 15 month old son who is crawling on me at 7, if not sooner.

    B) hosting means voicing how unfuckingincredible i find your post to be. you are one helluva strong father… a strong man.

    i applaud you.
    .-= nic @mybottlesup´s last blog ..i would like to bust a cap =-.

  5. scratch that…. just realized the author was a woman. amy, i sincerely apologize…. however, in my defense, the strength in your tone is immense, and i associated that with a man, a father…. your strength overwhelmed me.

    i truly apologize and admire you that much more as a woman, taking a stand against your family for YOUR FAMILY.
    .-= nic @mybottlesup´s last blog ..i would like to bust a cap =-.

  6. your post alone is making me stay up past 11 pm EST (with a 15 month old) to discuss…. this is incredible writing.
    .-= nic @mybottlesup´s last blog ..i would like to bust a cap =-.

    • OK. Is it bad that I laughed the whole way through your replies? :0

      Ya humble me {and kind of embarrass me} with your praise and I can’t wait to “meet” you tonight.


  1. Amy Tucker says:

    New Blog Post: A Game I’d Rather Not Play http://bit.ly/naRm

  2. Amy Tucker says:

    I’m tweeting this again because I’m proud of myself: http://bit.ly/naRm

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