It’s January 10, 2013
Another long winter season is upon us. It’s that time of year when there is nothing really going on until Easter. A few scattered holidays for Presidents and leaders but nothing that lasts more than a day here and there. Something to break up the monotony of the bleak, grey winter outside and the bleak grey shroud in our hearts as we wait for the signs of Spring.
The Christmas Holiday is over and my daughter has returned to school. There is a normalcy to that for most people that divorced dads miss out on.
The Holidays get started in November, with the long Thanksgiving weekend. Then they race toward us and we have Christmas and New Years and then the kids go back to school and we resume the pace of the other 11 months of the year. There is a transition that starts to take place around mid-November. By Mid December, you are in full Christmas mode. Christmas is busy and overflowing with sights, sounds, smells, and family moments. Same with New Years. We visit family and friends and spend far more time together than usual. Then some time right after New Years day we feel ourselves sliding back into the routine of the rest of the year. It is a smooth transition and for intact families it is almost imperceptible.
However, for me, it’s staccato. It’s broken pieces linked together with cords of desperation and sadness. There is no smooth transition from School year to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years and back to school year. There is no thought of “She’s back in school and I’ll see her tonight at dinner”. For me…and for millions of dads like me…this Holiday period was jagged and broken. Pick her up for a weekend to make cookies and do our Christmas traditions. Take her back to her moms. Pick her up to go home to Wilmington for Christmas. Spend a few days with family, and then take her back to her mom’s. Instead of a smooth ebb and flow, it’s broken and irregular. It’s like those old movies where someone was sending a Telegram and they would be dictating to the telegrapher and at the end of each sentence instead of saying “period” they said, “Stop”. I found out that the reason you did it that way is that telegrams used to be sent using Morse Code and it takes more characters to send a punctuation mark than it does to write the word “Stop”.
My fatherhood reads like an old telegram… “Pick up my daughter. Stop. Spend a weekend. Stop Take her home. Stop. Go home for Christmas. Stop. Take her back to her mom’s. Stop” The time apart is infinitely more painful because there is no transition. She is simply here one moment and gone the next and she’ll be back in a week.
But my father’s heart isn’t built like that. I think of her every single moment of every single day. I can’t begin to explain how I miss her when she is not with me or how it hurts when I see her rocketing toward adulthood and I have missed so much time.
I never get a real rhythm going. I never get the easy transition. I am a dad who spends much more time missing my daughter than being with her.
I cannot explain how badly that feels.