Except I also feel like maybe this is the perfect time - while he is moving forward and trying to create a future and experiencing some successes - for The Oldest to be dealing with the stuff he'd rather forget. Both the wrongs done to him and the wrongs he's done.
We had a really wonderful Mother's Day - he invited me out for lunch days before, which I'm pretty sure is a first. The day of, we had fun and laughed and enjoyed time together - he bought lunch and gave me chocolate. The boy does know his mother well. And then we bought seeds and spent the afternoon gardening with My Man and his kids. We were just like any other healthy, happy family (though I did really miss The Little One).
But I couldn't ignore little snippets of conversation here and there that reminded me who we are and what we're dealing with. I mentioned his grandparents and what they were up to, and he stiffened. He said he hopes they're doing well, but he stiffened. I mentioned how well My Man and his ex-wife work together, and how I could never imagine The Oldest's dad and I like that, and he looked away and muttered "I don't get what his problem is."
It's not new or surprising; it's frustrating and predictable and sad. I watched The Oldest try to shake it off. To say, like he believed it, that his father has always really ended up making things worse and it didn't matter.
But despite his protestations, there's a little boy in there who still wants his dad to give a damn. Who remembers a time when he was the apple of his father's eye.
When we were married and I had a complaint, his dad's response was always "it's not like I beat you or drink or fool around,' and his approach to fathering has become similarly lame - he doesn't do the worst things possible, so we should lay off expecting his best. When The Oldest says 'it's not like he adds much to my life anyway', it takes more willpower and wisdom than I have to have him see another side to things.
I don't for a second believe that I've not made any mistakes, or that his dad is 100% a villain. But ... why cut off your own son when he's got a healthy place to live and a good job he's reliably showing up for. When he's applied to go back to school in the fall, and is making long-term plans and taking steps to have them happen. When he's assessing which friendships support him and which hold him back. When he's exploring hobbies and interests and sports and building new friendship with people who have interests other than getting high. When he's asking for information, not money. When he's riding a wave and needs nothing but encouragement to keep it going.