When my daughter Rachel visited for Thanksgiving, she hinted that she would like to spend New Year’s Eve in New York sometime.
Why not this year, I suggested? Your siblings will be with their mom that weekend, so we can enjoy some time together.
Her seventeenth birthday is a few days after New Year’s, so we could kill two celebratory birds with one stone.
She liked the idea. I thought, how cool—I can easily find some party where she will meet some of my artist pals, sneak a glass of wine and feel all grown up.
Soon after, May began angling for an invitation to come to New York for New Year’s Eve. I dreaded telling her I already had a date.
Last night, after midnight, I was online and up popped her instant message. She had been out with friends, and she was in a great mood. Our conversation went something like this:
She: I had the most fun tonight! I told everyone about you! Sarah can’t wait to meet you!
He: That’s great. Sarah sounds cool. I look forward to meeting her too.
She: You are so good to me.
He: I try!
She: I have decided what you can give me for Christmas.
He: What’s that?
She: The first kiss of the New Year.
Well, no sense delaying the inevitable. I plunge in.
He: Well, actually, Rachel wants to spend New Year’s with me.
She: Oh, she can spend it with us both!
Uh, no. I don’t want my kids getting too attached to someone who might not be in my life, or theirs, for long. It’s just too much. May knows how I feel about this.
Besides, May requires a lot of attention. She would want “alone time” with me. She would want sex. There would be an awkwardness about sleeping arrangements.
It’s true that I had confided in Rachel about May, and a few other women I am dating. But there was no way I was going to implicate her in awkward conspiracy about any of my relationships. If she spent a weekend with Dad and “Dad’s Girlfriend,” it would surely get back to her mom, and to thence to my ex Lucy.
Sharing her Dad with someone she doesn’t know, being in on secrets—the whole thing would be unfair to Rachel.
Anyway, I want some time alone with my daughter.
He: I don’t think that would be a very good idea.
She: I know your children need you, but I need you too.
He: You and I have spent a lot of time together lately. We will see each other this weekend, in fact. New Year’s Eve is just another night for us, but it’s a big deal to Rachel that we can spend time together. It’s too rare.
She: It’s a big deal to me that I spend time with you too!
I want some time alone with my daughter, and I don’t want to be given shit for that.
He: We are seeing each other this weekend. I see Rachel every few months if I am lucky.
She: You just saw her at Thanksgiving!
He: . . . and I’ve seen you since then, and I will see you before New Year’s.
She: You are being intentionally cruel.
That sinks it. I don’t want to go to bed mad.
He: It’s late. We can talk about this later. I’m going to bed.
I sign off. My cell rings immediately. I turn it off. The phone rings. I unplug it.
No word from her today. I’m in no mood to call. This weekend will be ruined with her complaining about the weekend we won’t spend together.
One weekend destroyed by the loss of another.