My parents divorced when I was young. I am not sure at what age but I think I was somewhere around eight years old when my father finally moved out to start his life anew without the burden or concern of the day-to-day of the five children he left.
I don’t remember him moving out or how long it took him to stop following the court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements or to stop paying the prescribed amount of child support at the designated time each month. But, at some point he did. At some point, he stopped coming every other weekend. He stopped making it to all of the important events. He stopped remembering to be a dad.
My mother, as many single mothers do, fought with him to take his children for his time. And, although I am sure she tried to keep it away from us, somehow I knew that dad just didn’t care and didn’t want us to come anymore. And as far as I was concerned, if he didn’t want me to come, then I didn’t want to go. But, mom fought with dad and, when dad agreed, she insisted that we go.
Mom: Your dad’s coming to get you this weekend.
Me: I don’t want to go.
Mom: You’re going anyway.
I hated it. I understand it now and probably understood it then. Mom needed her break and whenever she could get dad to even partly step up to the plate, she was going to take advantage. Except that he always said he was coming and almost never showed up. Which built more resentment.
I Am Not My Mother.
In many ways I am like my mother. She taught me to love and respect my father despite his faults. Regardless of her ill feelings toward my father, she taught me that hate was not an option and that we cannot expect people to behave the way we want them to behave.
Through an unfortunate turn of events, I have had to teach these same lessons to my children when their father promises and then doesn’t come through or doesn’t call or doesn’t send for them to visit. I have taken up the fight to remind their father to be dad.
Me: Your daughter is upset with you.
Him: Really? Why?
Me: Call your daughter.
Me: Call you son.
Me: Your kids need to see you.
I have given reminders and fought for the relationship between my children and their father despite the disgust which, of course, was borne of his cheating and nurtured by his disregard for his children and their needs. Only, I am not my mother. I will not continue to fight.
I am not certain the logic that is used to justify not communicating with your child regardless of the relationship that is between you and the child’s other parent. If I know that a friendship and respectful co-parenting is the best approach to raising this boy, why can’t dad know the same. If I am mature enough and love my child enough to acknowledge the importance of their connections with their father despite our disconnection, why is it that dad can’t do the same. If I am wise enough to know that no matter what the damage is between us, that damage need not spill over to damage him, why is it that dad can’t do the same? Why is it that dad thinks that when he is mad at me, for what I am not sure, it is ok to NOT speak to his son.
It is quite disheartening to think that this is the path we will travel but, I will not search for logic and reasoning where there is none. What I do know is that I will not spend the next 14 years of The Boy’s life reminding his dad to be dad.
I AM NOT My Brother’s Keeper!
- Feeling the Pain of a Fatherless Generation: Forgotten Fairy Tales (missionallendale.wordpress.com)
- the glue that held us all together (landingtrue.com)
- The Stir: 5 Things NOT To Say To Single Moms (huffingtonpost.com)