Saturday morning. Good morning dads. Hope this weekend is a great one for you and your kids. I'm not going to be seeing my daughter this weekend. Next weekend we will leave for vacation. It's the first time in 5 years I've been able to take her on vacation. With all that happened over the last 4 years it wasn't a luxury we could afford.
This morning I was thinking about the passage of time. My daughter is 14 now. She starts high school in 3 weeks.
I can still smell the baby powder in her receiving blanket and she's heading to high school. Time passes so quickly when you have children. I guess that's not universally true. I suppose for those parents who view parenthood as a giant drain on their personal space and who see every minute spent as an infringement on their time, the time doesn't go by fast enough. There are parents like that out there, trust me. There are dads like that out there. Those are the men upon whom the stereotype is based. They spend 30 minutes with their kids every week, have them over to their house every other weekend but don't really spend time with them, and are more concerned about their golf game or scoring some 20-something at a beach bar. Those aren't dads.
Time races past us at light speed when we love our children. Somehow, divorce is a time accelerator. Being divorced seems to speed up the time as it passes. I have watched my daughter grow up in weekly and monthly visits instead of nightly bedtime prayers. I have helped her with homework 1/5th of the time I should have. I spend far more nights each month wondering what she is doing than knowing what she is doing. It's not that I'm worried...she is a good, godly young woman and I don't worry about her being in trouble. I just wonder what she is doing sometimes. My daughter has an amazing singing voice. I don't say that strictly because she is my daughter and I am biased, I say it because it is true. She was accepted into a performing arts High School this year because of that talent. When she is with me, she will frequently go into her room and sing for hours. She sings her favorite songs and the sound pours out from behind her door like a bird. I should be hearing that sound every day, but instead I don't. It's once a week and every other weekend and 2 months in the summer.
If you think 14 years passes in a blink when you have your kids every day...try having them on that schedule. The years don't just pass...they escape you. You grip them tightly enough to choke every second from them but still they slip through. Their escape leaves scars in your hands and in your soul like a rope-burn. You can almost see the minutes flying past and you know they aren't coming back and you know that instead of being able to comfort yourself with "It's okay if she goes to the mall with her friends tonight, we can spend tomorrow night together..." you know that there won't be a tomorrow night for another week or more. And the blackness of the oncoming fortnight without her begins it's evil laugh and it's vacuum pulls away another little piece of your fatherhood...and your heart.
That's how it feels. I "take her back" far more than I "take her home".
I spent almost 4 years being homeless...but in many ways I was homeless before I lost my house and I'm still homeless. It's only home when she is here because that's how it was supposed to be.
I find it hard to remain positive and hopeful when she is not around. I was meant to be a dad. It's in my DNA. Time is screaming past me now and it's painful to see that day is now beginning to appear on the horizon...when she graduates high school and heads off to college and the pursuit of her dreams. That scene is hard enough for any caring father, but when your entire parenthood was dissected into weekly and monthly segments connected by much larger periods of emptiness...that scene is unbearable. If I could remove all the time spent away from her and add up only the time she was with me I would come up with less than 3 years. 36 months of my daughters life and she is 14. That's what I got from the court. And my visitation was considered liberal. My heart might never heal totally from this wound. I am over being divorced. I no longer miss my ex wife or grieve over her, in fact we get along quite well now. I have forgiven myself and accepted that God holds no grudge for me not being able to convince her to stay. Some decisions that effect us aren't about us. I understand that.
But the gaping wound where my fatherhood should be is going to remain just that...probably for the rest of my days. I take comfort in knowing that my daughter knows...she knows, without a doubt...that her daddy loves her. And that the times apart physically are no indicator of a distance emotionally. She will never leave my heart.