Ask Micah


Dad’s New Love

Dear Micah,

Tell me if I’m being over sensitive or not.  My mama died two years ago.  My dad started dating a few months back and now wants to move his girlfriend into the house he shared with my mother.  He’s moving most of the furniture and items they shared out and telling the kids to take any of it we want before he sells the rest or throws it out.  I think it’s a bad idea for him to rush into living with someone so soon and I think she has a lot of nerve coming into our mother’s home and tossing out her things.  It’s like mama’s being replaced.  My husband says I am over sensitive and there’s nothing wrong with what my dad is doing.  My sister and brother and I disagree.  I’ve kept my opinions to myself because the important thing is keeping my family together  I wouldn’t want to hurt my dad for the world.  If I have to accept this new woman, I will.  I won’t cause a split in the family.  I just want to know if I’m right or wrong.  I’ll keep my mouth shut whichever you say.

K.N.

Dear K.N.

I am very happy to hear that you plan to keep your mouth shut.  All that would come from stating how you feel would be to make your dad uncomfortable being around you with his new girlfriend, and believe me, he’s not going to ditch her.  You ARE being over sensitive, yet at the same time you are not necessarily wrong.  Here’s all you really need to know to be able to deal with what’s going on in a productive and pleasant way:

Your father spent a number of years being part of a couple.  He isn’t the type who can get used to being alone now.  He needs a companion.  His need to “replace” your mom is really more of a tribute to her than it is an insult.  Your mom made him so happy that he doesn’t think he can be happy alone.  Maybe it’s too soon, or maybe this is exactly what he needs so that he doesn’t wallow in depression and mourning.  This woman is a distraction from his loss and a means to start life over in a whole new way.  Instead of trying to fill the empty time between waking and sleeping, he’s chosen to introduce a new person into his life that may bring some amount of enjoyment to those empty days again.  As for his shedding his furniture and various things connected with your mother–Those things really should belong to her children now anyway.  It’s really probably best for him to remove these reminders of his loss so that he can focus on what’s good about his life:  His new love interest, his children, his grandchildren.  You may also want to consider the new girlfriend’s point of view.  She is just a woman who has found love and is beginning a life with this new love.  It isn’t her fault that your mother died, and though she shouldn’t ever try to erase your mother’s memory, she also shouldn’t have to live with her ghost on a daily basis.  The girlfriend needs to feel that her home is HER home–she can’t just be a guest in your mother’s house for the rest of her life.  It’s not your mother’s house anymore.  I realize this probably hurts, but you have to let this go and acknowledge that this new woman isn’t vile or wicked for entering the picture.  She’s just a woman who fell in love and who will hopefully give your father new reasons to wake up in the morning.  With all that said, you have every right to still be in mourning for your mom and every right to wish things were different.  Just try to remember that your father’s need to start a new life in no way invalidates the old one.  No one’s taking anything from you  that hasn’t already been taken.  He’s just trying to make the rest of his time here on earth less lonely.

What’s Wrong With Living in a Rut?

Dear Micah,

I’m in a rut.  Everyday the same thing.  Each and every day.  I get so bored.  My job.  Home.  Even the wife and kids never change.  Is this what life is or what do you suggest to make it more?

Ron

Dear Ron,

We’re all in a rut.  Life’s a rut, didn’t you know that?  Whoever it was long ago that invented having to get up, get dressed, go off somewhere to work only to then come back home again invented The Rut.  Ruts rarely change and they can be a pretty dreary way to use up our valuable time; However they keep us from wearing smelly animal skins and having to forage for food.  I think it’s a pretty fair trade-off.  It sounds like you’re going through a bit of a mid-life crisis.  As bad as it sounds I think that there is something you need to accept about yourself…You are not special.  So often we see ourselves as something more than we are.  We still hold ourselves to the dreams and expectations we had  when we were naive and unfamiliar with the real inner-workings of life.  I remember how sad I felt when I realized I was never going to become a famous writer.  I had always pictured myself becoming one.  Honestly, now I feel free after letting that dream go.  I’m probably never going to amount to anything more than I am right now–but I’m okay with that.  I like me.  I like my spouse.  I like my kid.  I like my friends.  I like my work.  All in all I have a pretty great life.  Is it in a rut?  Do I do the same things over and over and over?–Yes.  But hey, monotony is better than falling on a poisonous snake!  Ron, you have to shed your notions of greatness or of having spectacular things happen around you all the time.  No one really lives a devil-may-care life.  Anyone you find that does lead an adventurous, untethered lifestyle is probably pretty lonely.  They have no sense of home or connection.  Life can easily seem like a rut when you are constantly repeating the same cycle of events over and over, but remember this:  It’s the rut that affords us a home to relax in, a patio to sip a glass of wine on, and a yard where we can BBQ with friends.  The rut provides us with family and children and a sense of calm and stability.  Without ruts, we aren’t really able to live life worth a damn.

When Dad’s Missing Out

Dear Micah,

My granddaughter let slip a few times that her dad, my son, is always on his computer and doesn’t spend any good quality time with his children.  She tells me how she and her brother will do this, that and the other and how much fun they had doing it and when I ask about who else was there, its always their mom, never their dad.  My son is never there when all this fun is had.  I’ve asked my daughter-in-law where my son is at during all this, but he’s always busy in his home office on his computer.  Should I have a talk with him and find out why he’s missing so much of his children’s lives?  I think he’s missing some important moments he won’t get back and as his mom  I think it’s my duty to point this out.

Rita

Dear Rita,

If you and your son have the kind of close relationship where you feel like you can call him out on his neglect of his children without his becoming hostile towards you, then by all means do it.  Frankly I doubt that you do have this type of connection with him because it sounds like he isn’t very connected to anyone, period.  I think you need to probe a little deeper with your daughter-in-law first and try to determine what the distraction in the office really is.  Is he overloaded with work and has to bring it home to complete?  Is he a work-a-holic that just doesn’t ever want to put the work away?  Is he not working at all but playing computer games or chatting with friends on-line?  There could be so many reasons why he remains glued to the computer screen.  To have any hope of reaching him I think you first need to know what is so compelling about the computer.  Once you have that info, I think the best way to reach him is to try and come from a place of love and concern, not judgment.  Once he begins to feel as though you are accusing him of being a bad father, he won’t listen to anything else you’re saying.  So make sure that you do not cross over the line from concern to criticism.  Do your best to make him see that he is missing out on some spectacular memories with his children and how he will never get this time back again once it’s gone.  Some people will understand this and pay closer attention to their kids, some won’t.  Be prepared for the possibility that he’ll resent what you say rather than take a long look at himself and admit that there is some validity to your concern.  We can’t know what kind of reaction your son is likely to give you because this is such a personal topic.  In essence you are telling him that he is failing as a father.  That can be hard for some parents to swallow, especially if it’s true.  Often times, and this is especially true for dads, a parent will believe that just providing financially for their child is being a good parent.  The mentality can be “I don’t have the time to spend with you because I’m too busy making sure you have a good life.”  But really that just means “I’m spinning my wheels in all directions trying to provide the highest level of living I can for this family.”  Unfortunately all of this hard work, if it comes at the expense of quality time, isn’t helping anything.  Most kids would probably be happier with a downgraded lifestyle if it meant more quality time with the parent.  So, I agree your son needs someone to point out a few things to him, and as his mother you have the right to talk to him.  He is your son and these are your grandchildren and you do not want them to feel alienated from their father.  Just run your fears by his wife first and get her insight into the situation.  You don’t want to step on her toes.  She may tell you that you are wrong in your concern or she may be grateful to have you step in and back up something she may have already been telling him for some time now.

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