Life blows us in directions that we never see coming – or that we see the possibility of coming, but believe that they will never get that bad. Finding out you are wrong, and that it doesn’t just hurt yourself but others – is a hard pill to swallow. My children have survived, managed, whatever word you feel best describes living through our divorce. There really hasn’t been a hard time, or adjustment period – there has been hard times – but mentally and emotionally they have remained intact. Until now…
Lately I find myself questioning if it is my fault that my daughter dislikes her father so much? Is it because I divorced him? Is it because I married my now husband, and he is more fun than her father? Should I have not remarried and stayed single until she was in college? If you find yourself asking these questions, the answer is no. Children need to see a happy, fulfilling relationship that works, that is stable and creates a safe haven for them. As for my daughter, she is simply an old soul – she is intelligent and very forthcoming, inquisitive and mature for her age. When she asks questions, I answer them – whatever they may be – and I tell her the truth, even if it makes me look bad. Personally, I think this is best way to be a parent, but it’s not for everyone.
If you saw my daughter three years ago, you would be confused by the difference. Her daddy was her world, he could do no wrong and if I said anything to contrary she was first to defend. This was 4 years after our divorce, she has always been a daddy’s girl. Now, she wants nothing to do with him – Odd don’t you think? How is that even possible? Not only does she want to exclude him from her life, she wants her stepdad to be her dad. Placing me right in the middle of CRAP no matter which way I turn. A wrong move, hurts both my daughter and husband, or my ex-husband – whom although contrary to his delusions of hatred I have for him – bothers me.
Sitting here, I put myself in her fathers shoes. What if she lived with him full-time, and she decided she wanted nothing to do with me anymore, who he support her in that? Would he go to court to modify visitation to ensure she didn’t have to follow the court order? What if she wanted her StepMom to be her mom, and they had the relationship we should be having – how would I feel, what would I do? Then it hits me… “What if’s don’t usually happen” and I know this wouldn’t happen to us. Is it because I am a perfect mother? Not even close. Is it because I am a better person than her father, No. Is it because I wouldn’t allow myself to be in the background and take a backseat to her life, whether I was the custodial parent or not? YES!!!
See, that’s just it. If in court that day, I lost custody of my children – and they went to their dad instead, I wouldn’t have let them go completely. My heart would hurt, I’m sure I would harbor resentment towards my ex, and even be depressed not having them as I had before. BUT, I wouldn’t allow that to come between us more. I wouldn’t miss a sporting event, a school event, a conference, I wouldn’t miss anything that I was allowed to attend. I would ask for more time, not less. I wouldn’t let my children down. When they look around a crowded room, or ball field to see if I was there, they would find me every time. If they were sick at school, and needed to be picked up, I would pick them up, no second thoughts about it. When my children tell the truth about illegal things, I would never accuse them of lying to cover my own secrets. My children would know I loved them, want them, miss them, everything, as often as I could tell and show them.
He didn’t do this. As soon as he lost custody, he checked out of his position of a parent, a confidant, a role model, even as a friend. Little by little, his lack of involvement, his distance and constant avoidance of activities and important events for the children caused both kids to lose respect, question actions and pull away from their dad. What happens in a home, where you are remarried, and the ex removes himself from the kids lives – and you have a husband who loves your children? Naturally, they fill in – they STEP up, and do those things that a father should be. Is that really so wrong? Should we stop a natural progression of a parent role being filled in the best interest of a child? NO!
For approximately a year, I emailed, texted, called, reminded, re-reminded my ex of every detail, every event, and tried my best to stop what I saw unraveling before me. Was it because I didn’t want my husband stepping in? No, it was because I felt like my ex owed his children more than stepping out. When I think of my stepson, I know I could never replace his mom – it’s just impossible. But, when I look at my daughter – I see that it is very possible for her to replace her dad, and that makes me sad. Not because he deserves my sadness, or because he just got a bad rap – but because I know my daughter lost something inside her – she lost her father.
I lost a father, it hurts really bad – it’s a deep inside pain, it’s a core shattering, confusing, left always wanting and never feeling good enough kind of pain. The thought of her feeling this – tops that pain. A father is supposed to love his little girl no matter what, to be the one man a daughter can always count on, a little girls first love, and the rock that pulls her through. I never had that, and now I see that she doesn’t have that with her dad. However, God must have seen it coming – because he sent in a replacement.
Replacement, may sound hard – Second string, alternative, Stepparent – whichever means that it wasn’t the first option – but it is now the permanent. My husband loves my daughter more than I could express. He puts his blood, sweat and tears into her for everything. He doesn’t let her down, he doesn’t try to be her friend, he doesn’t miss an event that he can’t avoid – he doesn’t break her heart, he simply does his best everyday to be a parent to her. He disciplines, he reprimands, he teaches, he practices, he listens, he snuggles, he shows, he provides, he protects, and for all those reasons and more – she respects him. She loves him, and she considers him her dad. As much as it pains me to admit it, I am thankful she has him. She doesn’t lose out, she doesn’t go without, she gets that role model, that picture of what a husband she be, a father should be – and I can’t pretend that I don’t appreciate him for that.
Who are we to decide who is socially accepted to be a parent? Just because my husband isn’t biologically her parent, doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t make him love any less, it doesn’t make him unfit, or inexperienced or less than any other father. It makes him better, bigger, more, it makes him a father to a daughter that loves him. Which is priceless if you asked me.
Does it make our situation magically improved and we can all ride off in the sunset together, unfortunately not. Life is far more complicated than that. I still don’t know how to react, or defend her in her choice to choose her stepdad. The law prevents me from many choices, and my conscience does as well. However, when I sit back and question the why’s and what if’s, I know the answer. GOD, he is why – he knows, and he knew she would need a father, and he provided that for her, for our family. The blessing of my husband didn’t just include the gift of my wonderful, loving, sweet stepson, it blessed my children with another dad. What could be a better blessing than that?