After several days of coughing and complaining of an “itchy” ear, Jason wakes with a fever. It’s too high for school, so on Friday, he takes a sick day.
I stay home with him, as I can try to do some work from home. My ex Lucy will be taking the kids for the weekend, but she will be unable to pick him up before 6pm.
I cancel a few appointments, but there is one problem: in order to be at a dinner party with May that night, I would need to leave New York by 3pm or so. Looks like I would miss that.
It’s a crazy weekend anyway, the last before Christmas. I have shopping to do, an apartment to scour, and loads of work. I may need to take Jason to the doctor on Saturday morning. And I have to be back in New York by Sunday noon for a work-related holiday function.
Given all of this, I should bag the trip to May’s. At any rate, I’m still annoyed by her reaction to my wanting to spend New Year’s eve with my daughter. I’m really not in the best frame of mind to be all lovey-dovey.
I call May with the bad news.
“Why can’t you leave after Lucy has the kids?” she asks.
It will be rush hour on a weekend, I say, so I wouldn’t be there until very late. I cite all the things going on this weekend and say it’s just not worth the trip to spend one day hanging out with May and her friends.
“So don’t go to your party on Sunday. Then you can stay until Monday.”
Well, I can’t stay until Monday, as I’ve got so much to do. And anyway, I want to attend that party—I work with these people, and I like them.
“So this party is a bigger priority in your life than I am?”
Uh, no. This party is a one-time event. I spend a lot of time with you. We have been on two weeklong vacations together since September. To do that, I had to sacrifice time with my kids, and time for work. I am very behind on work as a result.
“And that is my fault? If we don’t see each other this weekend, we won’t see each other for three weeks!”
I’m not saying that. Look: we have spent a lot of time together lately. We will spend a lot of time together after the holidays. My batteries are charged from all that time. I am secure with us. We can be apart for a few weeks.
“My batteries are NOT charged. I need you. If you can’t come to me, why aren’t you asking me to drive to New York?”
I don’t see much point in it. I need to get things done this weekend, and my son is sick. I can’t say for sure how that will affect things. I really don’t have time to hang out. And anyway, you have all those parties you want to attend with your friends.
“You are a bigger priority in my life than these parties. I see you don’t feel the same about me.” She begins to cry.
“Hang on a sec . . . yes, Jason?”
“Can you help me please?”
“Okay . . . just a minute, May, Jason needs me.” When I return to the phone, she is in tears.
“I wish you could make me feel loved and wanted. You don’t care whether you see me or not.”
I’m sorry you don’t feel loved or wanted at this moment. But we have spent a lot of time together. You need to focus on that, and not on this momentary set back.
“I can’t! I need you now.”
You need to be grown up about this. You can handle not seeing me this weekend.
“Three weeks! I won’t see you for three weeks!”
By this point, I am getting very annoyed. I know I should be consoling, and loving, and rip at my chest, saying yes yes, I will do anything to be with you this weekend, even if only for an hour, to show how much you mean to me.
But frankly, her whining and intransigence are pissing me off. I have a sick son in the next room, and I am on the phone trying to help her understand why that has taken precedence over partying with her this weekend.
May, I repeat, we have seen a lot of each other lately. We will see each other a lot soon.
“But I need you now! I really need to talk with you about a job I might be offered in California.”
I know all about this job offer. May is forever uncovering cool sounding opportunities that don’t pan out. Like the others, this one might, it might not. I have learned to be encouraging, and offer what best advice I can, without getting her hopes up.
I say that that job sounds interesting, and it is a lot of money, so it is worth looking into.
“But I will never see you!” she weeps. “Why aren’t you begging me not to take it?”
I’m not going to beg you to miss an opportunity you want. But this is premature, isn’t it? I mean, the job isn’t yours yet. I believe you will be a great applicant, but let’s not worry about how it impacts your time with me until it’s a reality.
“It can be a reality, it can, and you don’t care! You don’t care about seeing me.”
Well, that’s not true . . . I was saying . . .
“Look, I need to know now if there is a future for us, so I can make a decision about this job.”
I think we have spent a lot of time together, and things are going well, and I am glad to have you in my life. But do you need to know right this second that we are going to spend the rest of our lives together . . . ?
“I need to know if I am going to go to California alone, or stay here to be with you.”
That is asking too much. Look, I know you are disappointed about this weekend. I am disappointed too. But we have spent a lot of time together lately, and we will spend more time together after the holidays. This momentary disappointment should not precipitate a crisis in our relationship.
I am speaking very calmly, but I am very pissed off.
“You don’t care about me,” she wails.
“Dad! Can you help me again?”
“Just a minute Jason!”
May, I need to go. I understand that you are disappointed about this weekend, and I have said that I am too. Now is not the time to talk about this job opportunity, as you are upset and I need to tend to my sick child. I am going to end this conversation now, and we can talk about the job later.
“When? When can we talk about it?”
Another time, when you aren’t so upset. I need to go. Goodbye.
I look at the cell. We had talked for over an hour, when she knew I had a sick kid and tons of things to do.