Friday, June 16, 2006

Dad: Theirs

I was seven-teen when we met. He was thirty-one. When I was almost twenty, we got married. I thought that he would help me achieve the safe, stable family life I was convinced I wanted. He said he would. He said he wanted that as well. To this union, two were born. YM arrived a bit over two years and YM followed in another three.

Infancy and early toddler years were pretty close to bliss. Hard work, but fun. The dad was fully invested and involved. He was positively giddy over the first pair of jeans and navy blue hoodie for the boy and the first pink and white frock for the girl.

As time went on and the clothing, feeding and nurturing of two young people became harder, especially in the wake of (his) joblessness and financial fall-outs. The novelty waned. It's too simplistic and unfair to say that he lost interest. It was much more complicated than that. Yet, I was determined to make it work.

His day-to-day enthusiasm and participation dwindled. He 'forgot' to go to games, plays, concerts or any of the other thousands of things kids are involved in when growing up. He once remarked that they were in too much stuff. Believe me, they were the least scheduled kids in the cul-de-sac. I fought, pleaded for an explanation and more.

YL the more outwardly emotional and vocal of the two wanted to know why he didn't love them. I did my level best to continue to sing his praises. I know what it's like to have a dad go missing, in any sense of the word. I tried to assure her that he did, that his expressions were different from mine. She eventually stopped buying what I was selling.

I could and did accept much during our marriage. This family was (is) the most important thing in my life. I committed myself, body and soul to making it work. The look in their eyes when we would return from some game or event, only to find him vegged out in front of the TV, tore me apart.

We were together for sixteen years. Even though the last few years were pretty divisive, the eventual separation and divorce was hard on YM and YL, not made any easier by his re-marriage a few months later.

He's recovering from a stroke. His wife put him in a nursing home. He is but a shell of himself, I'm told. The kids go see him, together, but they support each other. Whenever they return from a visit they are very quiet. I've pulled out photos, videos and spark stories of the better times. I hope this is enough to sustain them, to help them remember that while he loves differently, he did (does) love them. I hope this is enough, for he is after all, their dad.

7 comments:

  1. Oh. Wow. Excuse me while I go count my blessings.

    You sound like a great mom. Your kids are lucky to have you. Hope they know it.

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  2. Wow indeed. That's a tragedy of Greek proportions. Makes you wonder about karma and getting what you give. Good luck to your kids, I also hope that is enough.

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  3. Thanks. I think they do know it, they tell me in ways that twinkles my toes sometimes.

    If karma is in play-then we / they should be ok, but you can never be too careful. Gotta keep priming that pump.

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  4. If karma is the product of what you give then your ex-husband has reaped what he sowed, as harsh as that might sound. You have to wonder too if he was so racked with guilt that helped lead to his stroke. How can someone who is so loving towards his children become so cold?

    Like Suzanne says, your kids are lucky to have you.

    My brothers and sister and I went through a very turbulent time as children and recently talking to my aunt one thing she said that resonated, 'You were always loved. Some kids don't even have that.' That's what your kids have. In the end, love makes all the difference. They may have trouble with their father's love but they'll always have your love.

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  5. you are a good soul. and a smart mom to nurture your children's love for their father, whatever the circumstances. As you say, he is their father after all. They will sort out their relationship with each of you in their own way, and your support of their father is, in essence, just your support for your children. Great post!

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  6. tdharma: thanks for stopping by and for the comments!

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