It has taken the better part of 2.5 years for me to come to the realization that eager parents don’t necessarily equal good parents. My wife wanted one for ten years before I gave her one, a fact about which she constantly lashes out at me to this day. All my talk of financial stability went in one ear and straight out the other. Having a baby too soon would have been irresponsible, especially in a country like the United States. She didn’t care then and she doesn’t care now.
In stark contrast to my wife, I never had any desire to be a father and I never believed I would be a good one. I never thought I’d be as bad a father as my own, but he set the bar pretty fucking low. In the beginning, I wasn’t setting it much higher. Those first three months or so, I was pretty awful. What my wife, who grew up in an overcrowded multigenerational Vietnamese household, failed to comprehend was that I had never once had any interactions with a baby in my entire life; as such, I had no idea what I was doing. I won’t bore you with any bullshit clichés about the day my son was born being the happiest day of my life. It wasn’t. Childbirth is no beautiful thing, it’s a horror show, and I had no affection for the small gray creature that emerged from the slime. My son was not granted my instant affection, he had to earn it, but it didn’t take nearly as long as I suspected for that to happen. The first hints that I was beginning to feel something more than frustration when I looked at him began to make themselves known to me about three months into fatherhood.
I haven’t since become a perfect father by any stretch of the imagination and I never will be, but I would certainly say I’ve become a loving father and I’ve also become good enough at this fatherhood thing to recognize when people I used to think were good with children actually aren’t good with children at all. I always believed my wife would make a good mother. I no longer believe that. In many ways, she treats her son the same way she treats her husband, which is to say she sees to his basic needs like food and clothing, but I cannot remember her ever having played with him. She doesn’t seem to have any interest in helping my mother and me to potty train him. On the exceedingly rare occasion she gets him to urinate in the potty, she doesn’t even give him a star sticker and forgets to give him his candy reward. She sure as hell hasn’t bothered to ensure that her parents are helping to potty train him, despite the fact that they babysit him two days a week.
My son woke up early the other day and wanted me to play with him while I was working. I was handling some important escalation tickets and couldn’t play with him for more than a few brief moments. My wife refused to get out of bed. She was clearly awake, but she just lay there. When my son said the word poop, she wouldn’t even get up to take him to the potty. “You won’t play with him. You won’t take him to the potty,” I said as I brought my work day to a screeching halt in order to take my son to the potty. “What do you even do?”
My mother told me on Mother’s Day that I need to spend as much time with him as possible, even if I’m tired, because he needs love and he’s not getting it from his mother. I think my son saw about five minutes of his mother on Mother’s Day. I picked him up from my mother’s house, I fed him, I read to him, I put him to bed, and I slept by his side. She was nowhere to be found. It really drove my mother’s point home. My wife’s parents aren’t any better when they watch him. They force him to eat fishy foods he very plainly doesn’t like, try to make him nap three times a day when he’s not sleepy, and snap at him constantly. They think they’re teaching him discipline when all they’re really doing it treating him like shit. My mother-in-law having his picture for her smart phone wallpaper doesn’t mean shit when, just like her daughter, I have never seen her play with him. She doesn’t even babysit him. Matriarch that she is, she just commands her husband to babysit him all day while she dicks around in the kitchen and stinks up my house. The only thing she seems to do is bathe him and my son cries every time. He has never cried when my mother or I bathe him, so she is clearly doing something wrong.
Next to my wife or her parents, it turns out I’m a pretty damn good father and, the more I become conscious of their inadequacies, the more time I am spending with my son. Once again, I find myself without much free time on my hands. When I hear him speaking English words and my parents-in-law seem to dismiss it as baby gibberish rather than applauding him, it breaks my heart. It’s not entirely their fault they don’t know English, but he’s not exactly using advanced vocabulary and it breaks my heart all the same. My wife, meanwhile, gives him mystery medications from Vietnam that were not prescribed by his pediatrician and she doesn’t tell me about it because she knows I will object. Her sister used to be a pharmacist in Vietnam, but I’d sooner trust an airport baggage handler in the United States to prescribe medicine than a Vietnamese pharmacist.
Bear in mind that my wife has been badgering me about having a second child since only a few months after birthing her first. This, of course, is all my mother-in-law planting ideas in my wife’s head. If my mother-in-law says jump, my wife asks how high. Ignoring for the moment that my wife has repeatedly threatened to divorce me, I don’t presently have any intention of giving her a second child because she has not adequately demonstrated her basic competency as a mother to her first child. As my own mother pointed out, he just doesn’t seem to be a priority for her. Having a second child isn’t so much what my wife wants as it is what she believes is expected of her. That is no legitimate reason to bring another child into this world.

I shared briefly and before the end of a post that I recently got a second promotion at work. As I’ve explained to my own supervisor among others, the rate at which internal promotions occur in this company is the reason I applied to work there in the first place. They’re passionate about professional development and the supervisors, more than anything, exist to steer the course of one’s career path within the company. If I had to offer criticism, it would be that the difference in pay between some of the positions and the levels within those positions isn’t as substantial as I’d like. All the same, not feeling like you’re just stagnating is a big deal. That’s not to say some people don’t stagnate. There are coworkers of mine who have occupied the same tier of the same position since I started with the company, but those who go above and beyond get noticed. What they’re doing works and it has continued to give me an incentive to put the effort in, something I’ve lacked at any other job I’ve ever had.
Yesterday I was informed that one of the managers from a department within my department is seeking to recruit me. It’s the first time I’ve ever been headhunted in this fashion. Despite having just received a promotion in April, I’ve been offered an opportunity on a special little task force in that department. I’ve already turned it down. It would be a lateral move into a department dealing exclusively with accounts that I just hate dealing with. I was trained on those accounts and worked them for nearly a year, but, to my immense relief, I stopped working them back in December. Nowadays, I deal exclusively with managed enterprise services accounts, which is what I was originally hired for, and those are the accounts I like to work on. Even if it weren’t merely a lateral move and actually offered higher pay, it just wouldn’t be the right move for me in the long run and that’s a shame because I don’t like saying no to someone who recognizes my talents. The reality though is that I am highly valued on my own team as it is. My supervisor calls me her right hand, but, at the same time, she never fails to sing my praises to management and keep me informed of opportunities as they arise. Despite the fact that she has essentially no sense of humor, a trait of hers I’ve never cared for, she has actually been my strongest advocate in this company.
I returned to the office for the first time in over two years Tuesday last week. I woke up at 3 AM to get dolled up for what, in my mind, amounted to my first real day at the office since I was still in training the last time I set foot in there. It was all an exercise in futility. I drove thirty-five kilometers across town to sit down at a strange desk, log onto the same laptop, and do the same job I do from home but with a lot more distractions and the delightful bonus of potentially getting exposed to COVID-19. For now, I am just going on Tuesdays, but I’ll be going back two days a week beginning in June. People have asked me how it was. “There were some desks and some chairs,” I answered. There really wasn’t much more to say than that.
The extra effort to get dolled up for the first day back was worth it. The director himself took notice and one of the supervisors who interviewed me for the Tech 3 position commented that the fact that I actually dressed up for the interview was a major factor in my getting the promotion since I was the only person they interviewed who wasn’t just wearing a T-shirt. That actually boggles my mind. I cannot imagine going into an interview, virtual or otherwise, without putting in the molecule of effort it takes to throw on a nice shirt.
I’m off to the office again tomorrow. I still don’t like it, but I’m a little more at ease with the idea than I was last week.

It has barely been over a week since my wife and parents-in-law returned from their five-week trip to Vietnam and I already wish they would go back for another five weeks. Or five months. Or five years. I don’t miss living in my mother’s frigid basement and I don’t miss having, at best, an hour a day for my hobbies, but, stressful though it was in its own ways, it was a vacation in paradise compared to the unending deluge of bullshit I deal with when my wife is here.
I was pleasantly surprised on Wednesday evening when she announced she’d be staying home on Thursday. I had been under the impression that I was going to have an extra day this week of being fully responsible for our son. When she woke up in the morning, she reminded me about our plans to go and get pizza and gelato. I had no objection as long as she let me sleep in a bit. When I woke up, she and our son were taking a nap of their own, so I enjoyed a little leisure time while I waited for them to take up. When I finally heard my son running around downstairs again, I quickly got myself ready and went downstairs. “Are you guys getting ready?” I asked, rather excited myself to listen to some music in the car and to eat some pizza from the reasonably decent pizzeria not far from my place of employment.
“Do it look like we ready?” my wife snapped. I could taste the venom in her voice and felt myself recoil internally. What had I done to deserve this sort of response? I was simultaneously wounded and befuddled, but I also wasn’t having any of it. I told her we’re not going anywhere if that’s how she intends to treat me today. She just shrugged. I couldn’t believe how she could transform so instantaneously with no provocation from me. I was furious, but I wasn’t about to leave without spending some time with my son. I was about to take him upstairs with me when it occurred to me that we had told him yesterday he’d be getting ice-cream. I wasn’t prepared to break that promise to my two-year-old just because his mother woke up with a tree branch up her ass.
I wound up taking my son to Dairy Queen for ice-cream. He’s two years old. It’s not as if he knows the difference between Dairy Queen and an overpriced gelateria. I ate some chicken strips while we were there.
Later, after we had come home, my wife ordered Indian food and went out to go and pick it up. She has never done that before. It was pretty transparent she was just trying to make me envious. It didn’t work.
As if yesterday wasn’t enough, my wife called me at 8 AM this morning to wake me up. She told me I needed to hurry up and get downstairs to take care of Daniel. As yesterday, I was so befuddled and the rude awakening wasn’t helping any. Since at least late last year, Friday has been the day my parents-in-law drop my son off at my mother’s house. She takes care of him for a couple hours in the early morning so I can sleep in just a bit. Traditionally, when I wake up, I shower, get dressed, and head over to my mother’s house, where I take care of my son and hang out with my mother for the rest of the day. To the best of my knowledge, nothing about this had changed, so why was my wife shouting at me on the phone at 8 AM? Her parents had already left and my son was downstairs with my wife, who was about to leave for work. I had stayed up into the small hours watching movies, I was in desperate need of a shower, and, without warning, I was being told it was babysitting time 2.5 hours before my alarm was due to go off. “It’s Friday!” I kept shouting, groggy and unable to make sense of anything.
As it turns out, my wife had been under the impression that I had told her I’d babysit our son at home today. What I had actually told her is that I would babysit him at home on Thursday, but she changed her mind about working Thursday and stayed home instead. I didn’t want to burden my mother with an extra day this week. With my wife’s English language skills being as fucking nonexistent as they are, she decided in her head that Friday is Thursday and that I would babysit him from home on Friday instead. I never agreed to this. I was livid.
Livid or not, I had no choice in the matter but, without so much as time to shower or brush my teeth, I got my son ready to go to my mother’s house. Awake now from the anger flowing through me, I knew my plans to hang out with my son today would have to be postponed. I was just too angry and too tired and the father I would have been today is not the type of father my son deserves. I drove him to my mother’s house and, despite all his howling and shrieking at the realization I would not be staying, I left him there. I had wanted to be there with him today. The weather is nice and we were going to go outside to play. My mother was already cooking pancakes and goulash when I arrived. The goulash is always ten times better when it’s fresh. I will now have neither pancakes nor goulash today. I am just too angry to enjoy anything. My wife has single-handedly managed to sabotage my entire weekend. I am missing out on what was supposed to have been a fun day for my son. Though none of this is my fault, I feel tortured with guilt.
I was supposed to have gone to my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner tomorrow evening, but I’ve already canceled those plans. I am just not in the mood to be around any of them. I am tired and angry and, above all, I am tired of being angry. I know my wife will take it as a personal insult and she is more than welcome to do so. My birthday was this very week. Do you know what my wife got me for my birthday? Nothing. Our twelfth anniversary back in January? Nothing. Valentine’s Day? Nothing. Last Christmas? Salt and pepper grinders. How about my fucking birthday? Where is my birthday meal? We could have gone out for my birthday meal yesterday; instead, she tried to bite my head off for reasons that remain unclear.