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


Shawn said...

Strong words Craig. So many of us divorced dads fall into the same situation as you. We give it all for our kids after divorce. We refuse to let them become that statistic. And by doing that, we become one ourselves. We give all our love, and forget what it's like to be loved by a peer. My daughter is just younger than yours, starting high school tomorrow. Her relationship with her mom is strained, I fear she won't come to her mom or me when faced with "girl problems" as she grows up. What can you do? This life is such a fine line between madness and ignorant bliss!

Tony said...

I agree with completely and I would love to turn the clock back myself but I cannot and I have to deal with the situation now rather than what I want it to be. It is never easy but at least I know in the long term I will have a goos relationship with my two sons.


Anonymous said...

Craig , I followed your blog and the heart wrenching pain ! After 26 yr's of marriage to a ''control freak'' who was affecting my health , I sold up gave her the 60% share she was entitled to under Australian law 10 months ago. Found life very difficult with the excuses my daughter who is 12 made for not visiting as much as she could . Fought my inner demons went spent a few months in the Uk with my mum . But the pain of not seeing my daughter every day as made me return she as since bought again I am 56 don't realistically have that option . So I pay rent to her and have a small room for my self , but I can see my daughter every day and my own personal sanity at the hands of a constant controller is a small price to pay . There is no price on memories ! Remember on are death bed it is not what you have done or owned , But who you have loved and for that Craig you are rich !
Ps I have a son who 23 a daughter who is 26 , she was bashed and raped at 19 and as been through hell and back and her drug addiction is hopefully over and I am happy I was there for her and pray every day she is a survivor . My other daughter Ethan is with god but I thank her every day as she is with me spiritually rich with many instances of '' proof of existence '' !