Mr. Wonderful is very career-minded. He has been working on advancing his career throughout the years of his marriage to Girlfriend, and she has been supportive. As good Mormons, they made sacrifices so that they could live the ideal: that the husband and father would provide for the family, and the wife and mother would remain at home to nurture the children. This has been their arrangement for the decade or so since they have had children.
It only seems natural, then, that on Mother’s Day, Mr. Wonderful would take a moment to express his appreciation to his wife for her devotion to the children in particular and to the family in general. The message he actually delivered, though, was somehow wide of the mark. He essentially told her that she was an unfit mother.
That’s not exactly characteristic of Mr. Wonderful. So let’s back up just a bit to get a little more of the story.
He recently told her that while she could continue to pursue her relationship with me, it would have to be done outside the home. She and I both understood that to mean that I was no longer welcome on his property. So a few mornings ago we met briefly at a local park before I was to go to work and before she was to drop off one of her children at preschool. The children entertained themselves on the playground while we stood watching them and talking.
Not wanting to hide anything from him, she let him know that we had met, and he was upset about it. He felt he had made himself clear before. Apparently, when he said I was not to come into his home, he meant that I was not to come into contact with anyone who lived in his home, with the exception of his wife. He told her that he wanted their world and my world not to intersect at all.
Yesterday as they were talking about it, trying to understand each other, they had one of those conversations. The kind where you take a look at the big picture. Try to figure out what you really want. What you really need. What you really think. The conversation even wandered briefly into the question of whether they would separate because of their disagreements. Girlfriend was trying to figure out what he was trying to accomplish by preventing the children from ever seeing me. She asked him if he was just using the children as a convenient way of trying to limit her contact with me, knowing that as a full-time mother she was rarely away from the children for very long. He assured her that he wasn’t using them as pawns, and insisted that his concern was for their well-being.
At one point as he was considering her request for some sort of compromise, he made the observation that if they did end up separating, he guessed the children would end up seeing me anyway. But later in the conversation, he apparently had a new idea. He told her that she shouldn’t assume that she would be the primary caregiver for the children if they separated. She asked why he thought there was any question about that. With his demanding job, how did he expect to be the primary caregiver? He replied that he would fight her in court for sole custody of the children, and that his parents would help him raise them.
I don’t know the exact words he used, but essentially his message was: “If we separate, I will prove in court that you are an unfit mother and I will take your children away from you.”
Oh. And Happy Mother’s Day.