Declaration of Independence
Daniel: I've got some really great news, Madeline, and I wanted to tell you before you heard it from anyone else.
Madeline: Yeah? So, tell me!
Daniel: I got married.
Madeline (stunned): Wow . . . Huh . . . Congratulations . . . Um, when?
Daniel: Two weeks ago.
Madeline: Two Weeks? But you were just here last weekend. Why didn't you tell us then? Wait . . . did you tell the boys?
Daniel: No, I wanted to tell you first but you're never available to speak with me. I didn't want to wait this long , but you left me no choice! Why didn't you agree to meet with me like I wanted last weekend so that we could talk?!
Madeline: Daniel, you told me the reason you wanted to meet last weekend was so that we could discuss the boys' college funds, first of all, and secondly, I had plans on that one weekend a month when I do not have the boys.
Daniel (winding up): You Never want to talk to me! You're Never available to me!
Madeline: I am always reachable by IM or email, which is how our mediator suggested we communicate with each other.
Daniel: That's not convenient for me. I don't want to tell you by email that I've gotten married.
Madeline: Yes, well, I'm sorry about that. But Daniel, it's not like you have all the time in the world in which to prepare the kids; they're coming to visit you in two weeks, and they need some time to get used to the idea. I really can't believe you waited to tell us. It's pretty inconsiderate.
Daniel: It's no big deal! We got married at the courthouse! It was a civil ceremony! None of our friends were there!
Madeline: I don't care if it was a Wiccan ceremony in a cornfield, Daniel, it is a big deal. It is a big deal for the boys no matter how far away you are. This affects them. They've met her once, six months ago. It's not cool to spring this on them.
Daniel: You are overreacting, Madeline, as usual. Why won't you accept responsibility for this?
Madeline (unbelievingly): Um, because it is not my responsibility.
Now I understood why, suddenly, he was able to take the boys for his full two weeks in the summer instead of the one week he'd originally said he could do. Now he had help.
I wasn't surprised, really. Daniel is a person who truly can't be alone and I knew about the girlfriend. It was only a matter of time before he married again. I was, I suppose, mostly disappointed that he was staying true to form and putting himself first. I was also angry that he waited to tell me, and when he had a chance to, he made up a story about college funds.
It was a move for control, and I didn't bite. Instead of doing what I'd do for anyone else and what I used to do for Daniel and accommodating him, I stood my ground that weekend and suggested we discuss the college funds in emails. What he'd wanted was to have control by getting me to come to him under false pretenses and then drop his news. To see my reaction in person.
Madeline (suddenly feeling ballsy): So, is she pregnant?
Daniel (pauses): Yes.
Madeline (stifling laughter): Dude, I've got to go . . . I've got another call.
I was laughing through tears of anger and disappointment. I resented that he'd kept this from us, after all his talk about wanting us to be open and honest and adult with each other. I resented that he was so cowardly and that he'd left another potentially messy situation for me to handle.
Maybe I'm overanalyzing it. I know I've had the urge to protect the boys from Daniel's inconsideration when he's cancelled a visit at the last minute or has been two hours late picking them up without a phone call. I never make excuses for him and around the kids the most I'll ever say about a frustrating situation is to identify it as such.
But who the fuck does this?
I took a day to think it over. Constantly resurfacing was the relief that I was no longer married to this person. That I'd made the right decision. I felt badly for the boys for whenever they realized what I already knew: Daniel is most concerned with himself and that can lead to disappointments. I don't speak ill of Daniel in front of the kids. My belief is that his bad behavior will catch up with him eventually and the boys will discover it on their own. They need no help from me.
I would tell the boys about their father's new wife. I would not let him wait until their plane ride to tell them. I would be calm and matter-of-fact. And two weeks later I would tell them goodbye for half a month.