The first time I saw my kids' father, he was sitting in the solarium at a Bennigan's in suburban Denver, where I worked and he was about to. I will never forget that moment - the clothes he was wearing, the jewelry around his neck, the angle at which he leaned in his seat, and the way my ovaries lept out of my abdomen and tried to drag him back inside with them. It wasn't attraction, it wasn't nerves, it was my 20 year old body saying MAKE BABIES WITH THAT NOW.
It took him a really long time to acknowelge my existence, and a longer time to tolerate my presence, but something deep inside of me, something I was wha-hay too young to understand at the time, knew from the first moment I saw him that I was going to have a lot of children with him one day.
Seventeen years worth of moments later, he and I are teetering somewhere between not acknowleging each others' existence and barely tolerating one another's presence again, but what we have that we didn't have then is three perfectly amazing children between us, and while maybe I don't actually like him anymore, and he doesn't actually like me anymore, I really am glad that my ovaries got what they asked for, and we - he and I - made these extraordinar(il)y (ridiculous) people together.
I watch him with our children in his new-found sobriety and as much as I wish they'd had more of this, more of him, when they were younger, I am so happy they get him now. I am so glad he didn't manage to drink himself to death, I am so glad that they get to know the father I chose for them to have, the man underneath those demons he had to battle his way out from under, and maybe still is.
I am grateful for the way he loves his children, for the silly things they share even though I am no longer a part of them. I am grateful that he is working so hard to be present for them, to be an emotional support for them, to be a healthy and productive man so that they will have a father in their lives for as long as a normal child should, until he grows to a ripe old age surrounded by grandchildren and/or grandpuppies, depending on who's future plans you're working off of.
Almost every alanon person I've ever met had also at some point wished their qualifier dead, and I am so grateful that those late-night wishes made over my tears and his gugrling, gasping, nearly-asphyxiating body were not granted. I am so glad that that I was so very wrong about so very many things, and my children, his children, our children get to know that their father is wonderful, good, and so very madly in love with them. I am so glad that they will come to think of his stuggles with alcoholism as an inconvenient bump in the road of their lives, because they will love him, and be loved in return by him, on the other side of this journey.
I see glimpses of him in their faces all the time - mostly when they are annoyed as all hell with me, but also when they are completely captivated by some new thing they are learning, and when they read or hear something so funny they laugh until it hurts. I hear him coming out of their mouths, in bursts of intellectual snobbery and cuttingly-sharp sarcasm. They are as smart as he is, as hilarous as he is, and at least one of them is as tall as he his, plus a hellofalot.
The easy thing, in the throes of this divorce stuff, is just to hate him. Mostly what I hate is what I let myself become with him, and that oh right, a lot of that was your bad pill is an awful one to swallow. I don't know that I would bother to swallow it, were it not for these kids. Hating him is easy. Remembering the shit is simple. I'm a professional people hater, born without a forgiveness gene. Our kids, however, force me to be gentle and kind when I am talking about him, and that forces me to remember the good while I tally up the bad.
I'm not saying I have this all right - I was nothing shy of a flamming bag of shit to him today when we switched kids for his visit, and I probably will be about the same to his face into the indefinite future. And in a lot of ways, it's desevered. But when I look at these three children whom I love more than any one single thing on this earth, and I see him bursting out of their hair and their eyes and their fingernails and their voices, I remember that once upon a time, I loved him that much, too. And in a lot of ways, it was desereved. I am reminded of everything lovely and captivating and and endearing about him, and I am grateful that it was him, they they are of him, and that my children get to have him as their father.