Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Passing of Time...

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.
High school.
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.


ChambanaDad said...

Thank you for sharing these feelings. my divorce is not yet finalized, but the custodial visitation has felt like this to me. You are not alone.

m.mccarthy said...

Well said. I have been divorced for a little over 6 months now. Lost my job, home, but most importantly, my children. You see, I had a job as a government contractor in which I was able to work from 6-2 in order to pick up my girls from school and run them to their various activities and appointments. I LIVED for this. It was absolutely the best time of my day. I am unable to put into words the joy that I experienced hearing how my then 5 year old's day in Kindergarten was. Or hear how my 4 year old, who is on the Autism Spectrum, took a step foward. Now I sleep on a friend's couch and work at a temp labor agency. I have seen my daughters twice in the past two months because their mother has moved over 3 hours drive away and I cannot afford to see them and pay child support. While I do talk to them every night, I miss tucking them in and reading them a story so much I feel actual, physical pain in my heart. There isn't an hour that goes by that I don't wonder what they are doing, feeling. I cry often, not for the loss of my ex, but the loss of my children. I know my life will get better, but what about theirs? Thanks for reading this, sometimes it just feels better to spout out feelings into the void of cyberspace than to be consumed by these feelings.

CraigD2599 said...

Hey M,
I'm sorry you're going through this. Dad's like you are the reason I wrote this blog.
I'm doing the radio show tomorrow night at 7 Central. Try to listen and call in if you can.
I'm here if you need me

Anonymous said...

I've been divorced for 5 or 6 years. Since the begining i split custody with my ex as evenly as possible. When my baby was four or five she she said she was sad for me because when she wasn't there I was alone. I realized that to be a good father I had to find my own direction and have my own life seperate from her. Not just for her, but for me as well. The way to be the best dad for her was to be the best man I could be for me. Sometimes I forget a little to keep both of us in the front of my mind. Those weeks without her hurt more than I can describe. Don't forget to take care of yourself. As hard as it is to hear or to say the best man and father you can be is not one who is always sad watching what he doesn't not have elude him. But one who sees what he wants and grows where he is. Don't forget to grow. You both need that.