He left us. It was one of those terrible, awful situations you hear about happening to someone you grew up with and just cringe. No one saw it coming, not our friends, family, certainly not me. Suffice to say I came home from work on Thursday, he told me he was going, and by Sunday I was telling the kids he was gone. It was very sudden and harsh.
Apparently, he decided that he couldn’t see the kids after that. It wouldn’t be good for them. Too hard. Too painful. For them, he says. So, now I have two little girls, five and seven who went from living with him for over two years to nothing. He has seen them only three times since he announced to me he wasn’t happy.
Was he their biological dad? No, and they didn’t call him daddy. But he is the one who taught them how to ride bikes, swim, and grow veggies in our garden. He was Santa, the Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy. Every picture has him in it, every video, every memory includes his presence. He loved them, seemingly much more than their rather uninvolved father. More importantly, they loved and trusted him completely.
Now, almost four months later, it’s getting better. For the first couple of months, weeks, days, it was excruciating. More than my own pain (which was nothing to shake a stick at) was watching my girls grapple with abandonment. And anger. And frustration. I could go on, it was truly worse than getting divorced from their father and I really didn’t think that could be topped. As for me, it’s a broken heart, what can I do? I just work a lot and frankly, I didn’t need to make New Years resolution to lose weight…20lbs just peeled off.
In no way did I expect him to continue being their primary father figure, or contribute financially. I actually asked him if he could remain in their lives as a family friend. For them to know they could talk to him still, even if he didn’t see them all the time. He declined.
A couple of weeks ago my youngest lost her first tooth:
Her: “Mommy, can we tell Randall?”
Me: “I don’t know when I’ll talk to him again sweet pea.”
Her: “He’s not a real grown-up yet?”
Me: “Not quite.”
Good things did come from the situation although I’m not sure what they all are just yet. The girls have a closer relationship with their father than they ever have before. I’ve actually been impressed by how much he stepped up. Long term, it’s still best we’re apart. I’m not saying he didn’t have the right to go. It’s more the method that he chose.
When a woman trusts you with her children, she has handed you her soul…her core. There is nothing she holds closer to her chest than that relationship. If you take that role, whether you’re biologically the father or not, you have a responsibility to the children involved to remove yourself gently should the situation arise.
Single moms definitely have a lot to give. Most of what is written is true. We don’t have time to play games, but you can bet your ass we’re there when you need us. We’ve already learned to love unconditionally and with abandon. The moment a woman becomes a mother, whether by birth or adoption, she finds out there is a part of her soul unlocked that she didn’t even know existed. It’s pretty cool, really.
I am a far better woman for being a mother. I know this, without a doubt. My children make me a better person. But still, it’s a lot for a man to deal with, and I know that. Whether I should or not, for now I blame myself. I didn’t protect them and trusted someone I shouldn’t have.
That’s something I can’t ever walk away from.