Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Just a smile...

I've been so worried about my daughter lately. I've chronicled it here. Her home life with her mom and the man her mom is married to is deteriorating and she wants to come and live with me. There is a possibility of a career move on the horizon and so this is looking like a probability now. This past weekend, Morgan was with me. I have never been more worried about her than I was on Saturday and Sunday. She was sad in a way I have never seen her be. I was afraid I was losing my daughter. 
Part of her misery -besides her home life- is her desire to leave the school she now attends. So yesterday, in an effort to maybe give her some hope, I picked her up early and took her to the high school here in my neighborhood where she will be attending. School was out already when we got there, but the staff was still there and they let us walk through the building. As God would have it, the art teachers were still in their classrooms. Morgan is a supremely gifted artist as well as a singer. We walked into the art room and she lit up. She met the teachers and they were genuinely excited at the idea of a gifted student like Morgan coming to their school soon. We walked to the music rooms and the theater. I watcher her as we walked through the beautiful building and I got tears in my eyes. My daughter was smiling.
I haven't seen her smile this way since Christmas, and our trip home. She seemed to stand a little taller and her pace was a step quicker. She had hope.
I love my daughter...more than anything. I haven't been able to give her much lately but yesterday she got a shot of hope and it made her smile. Seeing her smile -just a smile- gave me hope as a dad. 
It didn't cost me a dime. It came from knowing my daughter...really knowing her. Knowing what would give her hope and then doing that thing. That's how you love someone. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Daddy's Regret

It's Sunday morning...
I'm sitting at my laptop while my daughter sleeps downstairs. We're staying at a friend's house overnight. Actually I've been staying here for a couple of weeks while I do some work on their bathroom.
Yesterday, Morgan called me asking me to come get her from her mom's house because...for the ______nth time (I stopped counting long ago) the situation is explosive and neither one of them wants to be with the other one.
I don't fault her mom completely. Teenagers are...teenagers. And her mom has stresses on her that are quite a lot to deal with. My situation hasn't helped. I have not had a place to live for four of the past five years. There's no need to repeat my story here...I've told that tale.
(I have recently gotten hired for a decent position and at very least will be able to get a place of my own in about six weeks)
But her mom doesn't really understand how to resolve this problem...and to be honest, she doesn't really know our daughter.
Morgan was as sad and overwhelmed as I have ever seen her yesterday. I've never been truly worried for her like I am right now. I worry about her as any good dad does...but I am worried for her right now.
My daughter is at-risk. And the majority of it is because her mom and I are divorced.
I feared this would happen. I watched for the signs. The year her mom left, I read a book by Judith Wallerstein called "The unexpected legacy of Divorce...a 25 year study"  The book explodes many of the myths of divorce. It was the first study ever to follow a kid from as young as 18 months, until long into adulthood. (Prior studies had selected cases at each developmental level but had never interconnected them)
Perhaps the biggest myth it explodes is that kids "get over" divorce and they are "resilient".  They are not and they do not. In fact the study revealed that the effects of divorce are cumulative. They build up over time. A child processes divorce at 4 years old and then again at 12 and 15 and so on. With each season of life, another layer gets peeled and the divorce rears it's hideous head in another way.
My daughter is facing a whole new set of layers right now.
She is a beautiful, beautiful girl who doesn't need beauty to feel good about herself. I'm thankful for that but it can create awkwardness. She is a strong personality and her mom interprets that as "rebellion". She is anything but a rebel. I am a strong personality as well, but confident enough to let my daughter have her own personality too. And when we disagree we discuss it like adults. I don't back down...but she understands why I take whatever stand I do and that removes the friction. Her mom doesn't have that sort of makeup.
Morgan needs to be with me now and that is going to take a little time. But I don't know that I have that kind of time. I'm worried. I'm scared, to be honest. And I have regrets.
I regret that her mom chose divorce. I never wanted it and fought it as much as humanly possible. But you can't stop a freight train. We live in a no-fault society and a divorce is simply a matter of course now.
Her mom remarried and has another child. I remained single. But I am starting to regret that. Because maybe Morgan needed to see a healthy family modeled for her. Her mom ummm..."chose poorly" in this area. (I shall refrain from speaking my mind here) There isn't much health there. Morgan sees only bad. She was only 18 months when her mom divorced me so she barely remembers us together at all.  Maybe if I had remarried someone who truly loved Morgan and who truly loved me and Morgan saw this...maybe she would be happy today instead of so brokenhearted.
I lived in dread -from the day we walked out of the courtroom- that Morgan would become a statistic. A girl who distrusts love so much that she'll never let herself fall. And I fear it might be happening.
I ask myself  "Where is God in all this?" and to be very honest...I am out of answers for that. I just don't know. I don't care if He comes to my rescue...but come to my daughters!
I know I get a lot of readers on this blog. A LOT. I don't know how many of you men who read this are in the process of divorce and have the option of stopping it and making a go of the marriage. But I beg you...I never had that option, but if I did I would have endured hell for my daughter's sake. If you can...DO IT!
Your personal "happiness" is secondary to the happiness and health of your child. Because you're the dad.
And if you have already divorced or if you can't stop your wife from divorcing...let yourself love again someday. Don't rush into something...that would be an even bigger error. But work on your healing, get your heart well...and let love find you. Make sure it's someone whose heart is big enough for your children. Show them that love can be bent and misshapen but it never breaks. I wish I had. I regret that I haven't