I have five children with my ex-wife. I love them all but I can’t honestly say that I am proud of their choices in life. I know I need to respect that they have forged their own paths, but I don’t agree with everything. It doesn’t make me love them any less, but sometimes I do feel shame comparing my kids to everyone else’s.
My eldest is 27. He is obese and a borderline hermit. He and his girlfriend never leave their flat and will facetime instead of visiting us. I don’t know if he has any friends anymore. He has a degree, I was incredibly proud when I went to his graduation, but he has never held down a job for longer than six months. His birth was the best day of my life, but now I look at him and I hardly recognise him. He and his girlfriend smoke heavily, so their flat smells awful and they are the most unclean, unhygienic and lazy people I have ever met. I refuse to visit at this point. I miss the funny, ambitious boy he was.
His brother is 24. He was always our wild child, getting into fights, getting expelled, drinking underage, stealing, you name it, he probably did it. He’s dropped out of three different universities. He used to be a swimming star, I still have pictures of him and all of his trophies, but now I don’t know what he’s doing or what he wants to be doing. I doubt he even knows. One of my friends has a son his age, they were in school together until he got expelled, who has achieved far more. I love the kid, but I can’t honestly say that I like him.
My eldest daughter is 20. She finished school, got a job at a salon and is by far the most stable of the bunch, but she’s an utter doormat. All of her friends are little punks, they walk all over her, never pay her back what they borrow and yet she keeps giving. They’re rude to her, too, and insult her, and she just pretends not to hear it. And i hate her boyfriend. He’s a proper deadbeat, dropped out at 16 and has nothing to show for himself, convinced he’s going to be a sports star. She’s moving into her first flat with him next week and I worry he’ll ruin her life. She’s a smart girl, kind and funny too, but she doesn’t seem to know it. I tell her she could do better, find people that truly care about her, but she thinks I’m just out to ruin her life. It sucks because I know she could be doing more, and it would make her happier too, but she’s settled for this.
My middle daughter is 18 and fucking pregnant with her second child. My stepdaughter’s her age and it kills me sometimes to see her in school with lots of friends, active social life, goals for life, applying to schools, whereas mine dropped out to have the first kid last year. She’s going to move in with her sister and the boyfriend in their flat soon. I wish them luck. I suppose I love my grandson, but that doesn’t mean I wanted him. The father’s a shithead, too, no motivation for anything, doesn’t seem to like her or the kid very much. The relationship is doomed. They’re both miserable and she has no life outside that baby. She’s an idiot. Doesnt know how the world works, but she’s too stubborn and defiant to take advice. If i wasn’t worried for the kid, I’d have given up on her by now.
My youngest is 16 and already getting in trouble with the law. She and her friends have been caught stealing multiple times. I don’t know why. She has money. My ex or I will pay for her to have her nails painted if it’s that important to her. I think she just likes the thrill of it. She admires her older brother, and that scares me more than anything. I try to advise her to spend time with other people, look into a career, join a club, make some good friends, but she just tells me she’s happy with her life. She’s been suspended from school for biting a kid’s ear and says she doesn’t care about school anyway. She’s quit all of her hobbies and cut off a lot of really nice, but apparently uncool, friends. I won’t give up on her, she’s a kid, she could turn it all around, but I do worry. I feel like I’m watching my son all over again.
I’m hurting writing this. All of my kids used to be my world, they all had something going for them, something they excelled at, but I seem to be watching one by one as their sparks go out and they settle for less than they deserve. I don’t know what my ex and I could have done differently, we gave them everything we could, most stable home-life we could muster, private education, if they needed it we got private tutoring, took them to orchestras, horse riding, swimming, sailing, cadets, whatever they wanted. We tried to nurture them to be independent, ambitious people who took pride in themselves and cared for those around them, but something went wrong in every one of them. I’d never tell any of them any of this. I’m a failure of a father. My ex is a failure of a mother. It kills me inside.