The Absent Father
He hasn’t been around for the past few years. Since she turned 16, they “allowed” her to choose if she wanted to come visit. After how she was treated and forced to endure the harassment from her step mom in her tender years as a child, she chose NOT to visit. Others in divorce situations were not forced to go visit if they did not want to do so. They could decide as early as their parents would let them, but in most cases when they reached 13 years old, they could refuse to go. Not in my daughter’s case, though. Her step mom demanded that she visit and then said that by law she HAD to come until she was 18 years old. Yet every time she went, her step mom would say ugly things to her, often harping on her clothes and telling her how they were not good enough. Then the step mom would start in on my daughter’s makeup, and it became the norm for her to be called a “slut” or “whore” due to how my daughter wore her makeup. She preferred eyeliner, while, obviously, the step mom did not. The comments were uncalled for and extremely hurtful. Makeup, nor clothes, make one a “slut” or “whore.” The step mom would often shame my daughter as well. She picked at my daughter about having a tummy, to the point that my daughter would not eat. I did not want her to become anorexic, and I tried to talk to my daughter to undo the damage that her step mom continually did to her by the comments that she made. My daughter has NEVER been fat, not one single day in her life.
We celebrated with my daughter the day she was no longer being forced to endure this torture from her step mom. We danced around the house and were so thankful that it was all over. She had freedom every other weekend now and several weeks during the summer and at Christmas. She did not have to go to their house where she would stay in her room the entire time to try to avoid the harsh remarks and ill treatment from her step mom. Then they labeled her anti social. That simply was not ever the case. She just chose not to be around, out in the open, for her to become a target yet again.
This whole thing has been so heartbreaking to sit back and watch all of these years knowing that I could not do anything about it. By court order, she was to go visit her father. Under normal circumstances, I would never ever have a problem with her going to visit her father. But knowing what she faced each and every time she went at the hands of her step mom … we all dreaded when the time would come for her to go. She would cry the entire time to his house (one hour), begging us not to “make” her go. It wasn’t us, though. Our hands were tied. I tried to talk to her father before about the treatment she was receiving at the hands of the step mom when he was not around, but of course, he defended his wife. The majority of the time when she was there, he was working so he was not around to see or hear the remarks made.
When they finally realized she hated it there, they gave her an out. Thank GOD! If only it had come a few years earlier, though, so she would not have had to endure all that she did …
She had mixed emotions at first. Thankful that she finally had a say, yet disappointed that he’d rather turn her room into his office instead of have her there. It’s hard to deal with emotions like this. She feels torn as she loved when she could visit with him – just him and her brother – yet her step mom did everything to keep them apart when he wasn’t working and everything in her power to make my daughter’s visit miserable. Each … and … every … time! She was not allowed time alone with her dad to bond either. That is what her little girl heart wanted and needed most, though. She would even get up super early in the mornings to go with her dad to the construction sites JUST to spend time with him. Then her step mom would make remarks about that or just flat our refuse to let her go with her dad.
I am a “Daddy’s Girl.” I always have been. It is heartbreaking for me to sit back and see that my daughter craves the attention from her dad, yet he gives none. I have tried to encourage their relationship all of these years. I tried to get him to call her, but he wouldn’t. Then I tried to ensure that my daughter called him. He was the adult, though, so he should have put forth more effort. I, the ex wife, should not have had the responsibility to ensure that they talked during the week between visits. Finally, I stopped. And no phone calls were made by either party. I even called him before to ask if he’d take her out for ice cream, my treat, just so they could have some bonding time together. That never happened to my knowledge. My attempts to make him spend time alone with her doing father-daughter bonding failed. So I stopped that, too.
He came to her graduation in May, but she stood in the hallway moments before the ceremony was to begin with tears in her eyes because she did not think he would show up. I stood out there with her, encouraging her the entire time. “Yes, honey, he will be here,” all while silently praying to God for Him to make sure that man walked through the door! Finally, he did. He had his wife with him, though, and other family members that appeared standoffish. After the graduation, we invited him to the graduation party we were throwing for her. He declined. When we returned home after her party and she went to open his graduation present, she found cheap items from Dollar Tree along with a few framed pictures. She was deeply hurt and saddened that they thought so little of her to give her … THAT … for her graduation.
A week later, we would discover that he rushed down to the Clerk of Court’s office to have the child support terminated. Her graduation was May 22, and the court papers were signed May 26, 2015. He wasted NO time in going to terminate it, yet he was ordered to pay the arrearages due to him not paying several times over the years to where a huge balance accumulated. To date, he still has not paid the arrearages. So, back to court we shall go.
In the mist of all of these months that have passed since her graduation, he has only tried to contact her once. He left a “guilt” message on her voicemail saying something to the affect, “This is your daddy, I thought maybe you needed a reminder of who I was since I haven’t heard from you.” She did not return his call.
She is angry and hurt all rolled into one. The absent father is still causing her pain to this very day.
She found an article online and shared it on her Facebook page about how her father should have been the first man to love her, cherish her and treat her right. It went on to say that he should have tried to have a relationship with her all of these years and how he should have made HER a priority in his life. Her hurt and pain was apparent that evening through her Facebook post. I wrote under it:
I love you more than you will ever know in this lifetime. And I promise to always do everything in my power to make sure you know how truly special you are. I know you miss your dad. I can’t be him, but I can cradle you in my love always. I can’t make up for when he should have been there. But I am here. I am your biggest fan, and I am so proud of the young lady you are. He is truly the one missing out. ((Hugs))
The next night when she was laying on her bed as I passed in the hallway to tell her good night … she stopped me in my tracks as she asked, “What is so wrong with me that my own father doesn’t want anything to do with me?” I sat on the edge of the bed as I looked her in the eyes and said, “Honey, there is not a single thing wrong with YOU. YOU, my dear, are NOT the problem! You are smart, beautiful, and my pride and joy! Your dad is the one with the problem, and he truly is the one missing out.”
We talked for a little while longer. I can still see that she is hurting over not having her father in her life. I want to make this all better and take it all away from her. Yet, I know realistically that I cannot. As hard as I tried for 18 years, I have come to the realization that I cannot make him be the father that she needs, wants, and deserves to have had all of these years. I have stopped wasting my time and energy trying to encourage a relationship with a man that does not have his priorities right in his life. Yes, you can work all your life, but on your death bed, are you going to say, “The one thing I regret is not working more …” ??? NO! You will not! The biggest regret he will have is not making his family a priority, not spending more time with his daughter and not telling her how much he loves her. In my heart, I know he loves her. I am not sure why he will not SHOW it and be there for her … but I realize that people are different in the ways that they love and in how they express their love. I tried to tell him before his father’s passing in 1997 to SAY what he needed or wanted to say to his father so he would not have any regrets later. Their family was not ones to say “I love you” or hug. I tried to encourage him to TELL his father that he loved him. To my knowledge, he did not. He, instead, tried to remain as distant emotionally as possible, and now, years later, he does regret not telling his father what was in his heart. I believe one day, he will have the same regret with not having the relationship he should have had with his daughter and not telling her and SHOWING her the love he has in his heart for her.
While her biological father has been absent the past several years, my husband stepped up years ago when we married and became the father that my daughter needed in her life. While he was her “step” father, he has been more of a father to her than her biological father ever has. We have never tried to replace her real father, but I am thankful that my daughter has had a father figure in her life for the past 17 years. Together, we have tried to give my daughter all the love we can so she will know how truly special she is to us!
If you are a father reading this, MAKE TIME for your child! You do not have to be the absent father any longer. Go to your child if it is where you can, and TELL them how much they mean to you. Start now with mending the relationship between you two, and vow to BE THERE from this point forward. The children need you – regardless if they are infants or 60 years old. They need their fathers in the picture and in their lives!