Today is Monday. I have Morgan for ten more days this summer and then I go back to the doldrums of my once a week / every other weekend life. I've been so absolutely miserable lately and I've had friends ask me why I endure all of this.
Yesterday I was driving with a friend to a lodge in a very rural section, to pick up a generator. Noting the beauty of the landscape, he asked me "Why would anyone want to live anywhere but Middle Tennessee?". He, like myself, is not a Tennessee native.
I told him, in no uncertain terms, that my time here is quite limited. I joked, tongue-in-cheek, that the day Morgan leaves for college, I am leaving with her. Not to the college, of course, but back home. Open an Italian Ice stand in Ocean City MD and live out my days from whence I came. I hope my friends here in Tennessee will understand that I am not railing against Tennessee. I am miserable and the only thing besides time with Morgan that seems to change my mood for the better is going home. Family, friends, familiarity. I need that desperately right now and it's nowhere to be found. I have good friends here, and the most wonderful church I have ever attended. But something is missing and I only seem to find it when I cross the Millard Tydings bridge at Havre De Grace and I know that I am 30 minutes from home.
There is nothing like a cheese steak, there is no sports talk like W.I.P. there is NO lake on this planet that can match the sun rising over the Atlantic, or the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay.
So why do I stay? I've had friends suggest that given the current situation I should just go home. Call Morgan every day and see her when I can during the year and still get my two months every summer.
Of course these friends fall into two categories...those who don't know me very well or those who don't have a perception of what it actually feels like to not see their children every single day. I imagine that regardless of how much you love your kids you could grow weary every once in a while and need a break. But I never get that chance with my schedule. I couldn't even picture a scenario where I don't see Morgan every week. I get her on Tuesdays and every other weekend and that's not enough for me, so I have lunch with her once a week at school. She loves it and it makes her feel very special. If I were to move back home, I'd be useless. I'd be curled up in the fetal position in a darkened room somewhere.
And it isn't just me needing her, she needs her daddy as well. All little girls do. All children do. Dad's lend stability to a crazy world and they shine a light in the darkness. Dad's make sense out of things that seem senseless and they are a calming voice in the great cacophony that tries to shout us all down. They can be anyway, if they choose to be.
Morgan needs me so I stay. It's as simple as that. Whether I am happy here or not is immaterial. Being here is my job, and besides the fact that the time with her is more than a fair exchange for the unhappiness of the rest of the week, I will always do my job as a dad. Nothing else on earth matters.
Morgan will always need me in some way. Right now she needs me a lot. She needs me to make sense of this life we thrust upon her when we divorced. She needs to know that just because her parents divorced, it doesn't mean they change their feelings for her or the execution of their parental duties. She needs to know that just because I don't live in the same house, she can always call me and talk about whats on her mind and if she needs me I'll be right there.
Saturday she called me in tears because her Beta died. (A beta is a fish) She loves animals and the fish's passing broke her heart. She is the most tenderhearted person I've ever met. I can't ever put myself in a position where that call would be hard to make or she would know in the back of her mind that I was too far away to get there in a hurry.
She will need me in the future too. She will be a teen ager before I know it. She needs a daddy who is present in her life to define womanhood and run off the ill prepared suitors. Daddies can instill a sense of beauty and purpose and self esteem that nobody else can do for a little girl. And I can't abdicate that privilege just so I can live somewhere else.
She will need me when she grows up too. She will need me to help her pick a college, a vocation, a spouse. I will be there, regardless of the cost.
She will need me when the waters get turbulent and the way seems dark. She will need me when life throws a spitball and the ump let's it go.
I know this full well right now. I am 45 years old and my life looks nothing like it did a year ago. My world has essentially crumbled and my dreams with it. And right now I could use having my dad around to talk with, about what is happening and what I am going to do about it. But he is not. He will not. And it hurts. I will never ever do that to my daughter. I will give up whatever I need to at whatever personal cost so that she doesn't have this sort of fear in her heart when the trouble comes, and this sort of knot in her stomach and this sort of pained feeling about the phone call she can't make.
It's a privilege not a burden, and it's an honor not a sacrifice.
Dad's are too necessary and I will not fail my daughter.