Chanukah Story
A Minute to Myself (118)

The Symbolism of a Basketball Game

Basketball season has begun. My daughter missed the first game because she was out of town. In the second game, she made the tying basket and then the winning basket, so my concern about her abilities is not the problem. (And she played on an empty stomach, my fault, of course, and in sneakers that are too small for her, really my fault.)

For the first half of the game I talked to the mother of the triplets who would be going with her daughters and husband to see a play right after the game. (Speak of conflicted mothers, she had one daughter on each of the teams playing, and then one cheering them both from the sidelines.) Sitting or standing along the walls of the basketball court were fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, grandparents, and friends. For my daughter, I was there. Now it was quite obvious that most of the girls did not have a mother and father watching the game because it was not so crowded; but neither did it mean that they did not have a parent off watching a sibling play his or her game or at some practice. It simply meant that most of the girls had one person in attendance, like my daughter.

But my daughter had me there remembering the last two years of basketball games. Two years ago after her team lost in the finals, ex (with whom my older daughter sat) called me a bitch when I walked over to congratulate her and he was standing by; and last year he didn’t attend a single game, not even the finals, which her team won. He doesn’t even have the excuse of saying that he can’t stand basketball, because that had been his sport. No, the man is such a mental midget that he can’t put aside his feelings of “having to see me” over his daughter’s desire (need) to have both of her parents there.

I know that there are many instances which cause me to regret having married him, but the hardest is to see what a horrible father he is to his younger daughter. He does not ignore my older daughter; rather he has made her into a sort of surrogate wife, which is just too creepy and upsetting to think about long enough to write a post about. But his virtual dismissal of this girl, this charming girl with the beautiful eyes that are so much like his is deeply, deeply damaging and surely must be the cause of intense heartache for her. And there is nothing I can do. Yes, I can be her cheerleader and her punching bag, which I am, but I can never make up for presenting her with a man who is so lacking in compassion, so unable to leave his mental kingdom long enough to nurture another.

During a time out I watched as the coach showed her a move, and then she must have asked him a question, to which he calmly responded. I was thankful that she has at least some positive male role models. That at least some men take the time to nurture their own daughters, and then extend the nurturing to coaching. Maybe she will see her father as one manifestation of a father and a husband, but she will have these other men in her life to think of as well. She has friends’ fathers, her grandfathers, her uncles, her coaches (although last year I was thrilled that it was a woman who led them to victory), her teachers. Please, please, I think, let her not accept a man like her father as the standard, as acceptable.

After the game we went out for lunch, then for ice cream. She told me about her week, told me that I am annoying, even that I was prying when I wanted to know what subjects her best friend was failing. We had a mother-daughter outing, and it was lovely. But I wonder if she would have preferred a father-daughter outing.



So cool that your daughter is involved in basketball! Having an outlet does a world of good. My own daughter is a band geek, and she loves it.

It's so hard when the 'other' parent isn't involved (and doesn't want to be). My for my son, I have the same hopes and fears - please don't let his choice be like his mother.


Hmmm. My worst memories growing up with a divorce of my parents AND a set of grandparents are from the public issues that i had to witness. If he is at a point where he cannot control himself around you then only one of you should attend. It may be a bad way to have to do things, but there is nothing would than the potential for a scene in public...that was very damaging and I wish they would have done something similar.

I remember playing second base with the two of them yelling at each other down the first base line. I never wanted that 1/2 inning to end...that way I could just stay out there and not have to deal with it.


I think your daughter will look back and be grateful for her mother, despite the pain of her despicable father. And she's luckier than most, in having a whole slew of positive male role models. While that won't assuage the pain of having a father like hers, at least she will see that he's an anomaly, rather than the norm. Alas, until she reaches that happy state of maturity, I guess you will have to live with a normal, pissy teenage daughter, which a friend of mine has likened to crossing a minefield on a pogo stick.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

goodfather, I love band geeks. Here I go stereotyping, but they are generally such intense and consciencious (sp) kids.

When we were still married, he wasn't involved in my older daughter's life; he didn't even bother going to her 6th grade graduation. It's the "don't want to be involved" that's the hardest because it's such a rejection. As much as I am there for her, I will never fill the hole that he has excavated.

morethananelectrician, oh god, I am so sorry for what you had to go through.

I am pretty non-confrontational, and have never yelled at him in public, and rarely in private. He has decided to opt out of her life.

Tessa, I just hope that she doesn't find someone like him and try to make him love her, to gain, in a sense, the love that she didn't get.

"Crossing a minefield on a pogo stick," I can deal with that, sounds like fun, especially if you are covered in a layer of cotton, which I'm not.

Stepping Thru

My ex wasn't involved in either of my kids lives but when they grew up he made sure he contacted his son frequently and totally left his daughter out. Now 30 years later he still calls his son and tells him about holiday plans and never calls his daughter. This year he called her after Thanksgiving and asked why she didn't come see him and she said she just said "If you can't bring yourself to call me and invite me then don't expect me to come just because my brother tells me about it." I was so proud of her. I know that it hurts even if she is 36 and a mother herself. I remember all too well how I felt about my mother's absence in my life. Hang in there. They will see through him one of these days! I promise!!!!


You really hit home with this post. You just described my past life with my ex and children. It feels like hell and I remember just wanting to protect my children from him, their father. How hurtful those times were and I wish I could say that these things have been forgotten by them, now that they are older, but that is not the case. One thing all 3 of my daughters say to me now is that they will never put up with someone like their dad and don't understand why I did for so many years. They all 3 recognize that they have man issues. My middle daughter just went a year and a half not talking to her father because of his bullshit but then talked to him so that when we were all together for her sister's wedding, that it wouldn't be so uncomfortable. All I can do now is encourage my children to face their issues, get counsoling to help them when needed and listen to them.
My heart goes out to you and your daughters. I am so glad that your not in this toxic relationship anymore!


I sometimes feel this for my youngest. She's just never been as attached to her dad as her older sis since we parted ways when she was 3. Sometimes, I get overcome by all that she is missing, and it's even more than her sis. But there is also much that she has said and done that makes me quite confident that she will never let a man walk all over her. I sleep soundly with that thought.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Good for your daughter, for being strong and not needy. You know, so many of us write and comment on how ex-husbands are so cruel, in their way, to their kids. It confounds me that so many men (not generalizing here, just making an unfortunate observation) do not know how to be decent human beings. They don't have the mental and emotional fortitude to deal with all aspects of life in a mature fashion. It's as if they think they can ignore what they want and it will still be alright.

Lori, I hope that your daughters understand that daddy didn't start out that way, but rather that it started with charm and a real relationship. That slide into control and abuse certainly wasn't so easy to see, especially when we want to see other things.

April, I think what is so hard for my younger daughter is that he is here, and she is aware that he chooses not to be present for her. I'm glad your daughter is filled with other memories.

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Accurate records are kept and updated for most sports at the highest levels, while failures and accomplishments are widely announced in sport news.

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