I was a daddy’s girl. I admired my dad for many things and I knew I could go to him to talk.. He was humble and loyal and a life-long learner who lived with enthusiasm and honesty (despite the pain that honesty caused.) He had major flaws but he admitted to them, apologized for them, and tried to overcome them. When something big was happening, in my life, he was the first person I wanted to tell because I knew he would be proud of me. I knew he would encourage me and make me feel brave.
And sometimes I feel like I made a terrible mistake in marrying my husband. I know this is somewhat of an irrational, knee-jerk reaction to the pain my daughter is now going through. But you want to spare your kids pain whenever possible and this I can’t change and I can’t make up for it either. I married someone who has not lived up to his promise. It breaks my heart because my daughter used to be a daddy’s girl too. She really loved him and she still does but she doesn’t admire him anymore. She is disappointed and feels left, lied to, and like she doesn’t matter as much as the woman he left for. At least she feels this at times. And here I am blaming myself again.
This week Martin had to tell his girls that he was moving to America. It wasn’t a complete surprise to them but it was a difficult conversation. He is very close to both of them. They are adults albeit just; at 18 and 19 years old. They will miss him. They are very busy with classes and activities and friends and travels. But they will miss him. No matter what he says and how much they get it and understand, he is Daddy. And he’s going far away and that is scary. Because dads protect, they come to the rescue, and just knowing they are “there” makes a little girl and a big girl feel more secure. He is making a special point to see them as often as he can until he moves, which could be within a month if things go quick. And no doubt he will be soaking up the hugs and kisses he gets from them. He knows they will be out to see him and he will visit them regularly. I hope deep down they admire him for what he is doing. I hope they don’t feel left. I know for a fact that he will do everything in his power to make them feel close. And what is different about him and my ex is that he does not shirk from the responsibility to be upfront. He faces it.
I was telling my daughter about Martin and his girls and in my attempt to get her to understand, I said that it was like Daddy saying he was moving to England. And something happened that I didn’t expect. Her eyes welled up with tears and she looked at me and said, “If he did, I wouldn’t care.” And then she started bawling. I just hugged her and she let it all out. Her anger, her frustration, her disappointment. She said that he’s been inviting the kids out to dinner with his “person” and her kids. She told me she wanted to rip her eyes out at times because she was the one who made Daddy leave. I told her that Daddy was the one who left but she would not let this woman off the hook. In discussing things further she was describing this woman and she said and I quote, “Well her first husband was a loser so I guess she attracts losers.” And that hurt. That comment stuck with me and I hope she said it in anger but something tells me she’s thought long and hard about all of this and she said exactly what she meant. And I was just sad. So, so, sad. She would never ever admit this to him.
Dad’s don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be real. Girls love their daddy’s. It’s how we are built. But what it comes down to is this. Children can be very forgiving but if they feel lied to the game is off. She also said, “Mom his car smells like smoke.” This comment really surprised me. I know he’s been smoking for years but I only found out a few months ago. I smelled that smell before and asked him about it and he said, “It’s the air freshener.” He said the same thing to her. He’s learned nothing. He betrayed me and he’s betraying her in a different way but all the same…it’s lies. She said that if she found out that he was smoking she would not be around him at all ever again. And I told her that he was her father and he would probably disappoint her a lot in life but that she would need to see him flaws and all and learn to forgive and love him anyway. It was a moment because even though I was saying the right thing I wanted to pierce his heart or chop off his head because he took away from my little girl the best part I remember about being a kid. Admiring my dad.
And like I said before, it’s not that my dad was perfect. He most definitely was not. But I admired him and I knew he was being honest with me. My ex won’t admit his failings for whatever reason. I don’t really know but probably fear of some kind. It’s a lot to ask of the kids though and of course I would like to spare them the pain. But I said all we can do is pray for Daddy and also to look for opportunities to show godly behavior – in every way, even when it is hard – to whoever we are around. That is the best advice I could give.
I feel extreme amounts of animosity toward him sometimes. If I let myself think about what he took away from my kids, I can hate him. But I don’t believe all is lost. He could admit what he did to them. He can come clean. He can be honest and open and say, this is me, flaws and all, and I’m going to try to do better. But he’s not there yet. He is still trying to make everything he did seem okay.
I hope someday. I thought about the day my daughter gets married. Well I actually thought about the day I got married. And how proud I was to have my dad walk me down the aisle. I hope someday she will be proud for that moment too.
I know now that God has a way of healing lives. And the road I’m on could yield some surprises for me and for my kids. But I am not arrogant enough to presume to know how it will play out. But for the first time in a long, long time, I have not only hope but excitement. The last almost 6 months have been incredible and I can’t imagine what is waiting for me in the next 6 months.
And I’m grateful that we do have God as our Father. A father who will never ever leave. One who will love us at our worst and bless us with His best. I hope that His love will hold my daughter tight at night when she is feeling like she got a raw deal.
As a side note I asked her during our talk if she felt bad feelings when she hung out with me and Martin. And she said, “Oh no Mom, not at all. You guys talk to me and I don’t know it just feels different. I like him.” And I got the chance to be really real with her and tell her how much I liked him to. I got to tell her how much I appreciated about him and how I wouldn’t be dating him if I didn’t think I could marry him some day. And she got it. For real. And two hours later we stopped talking about everything under the sun. And she looked at me and smiled and said, “Thank Mom. I love you.” And I guess I can’t ask for anything more than that.
An open, and honest relationship with my 14-year-old daughter. Honestly she looked at me from across the room and made the symbol of a heart with her fingers and I melted. I love her so so much. I’m sorry I couldn’t stop this pain in her life, but I guess I need to just accept that everything happens for a reason and she wouldn’t be as great as she is or even around at all if I had seen him for what he was years before.
I have to remember that God knows what he’s doing. Trust. Trust. Trust.