Kaitlyn and Skylar,
I love you. I miss you. I wish things had been different the past few years. Things should have been.
Your mommy and I divorced in October 2014. That’s it. Everything in the divorce had to deal with mommy and daddy not being married anymore: marriage over; property divided; money matters worked out; and, parenting the two of you, ideally the two of us co-parenting.
Nothing in any of the divorce paperwork said you only had a mommy. Instead, the paperwork said that both your mom and your dad are, and would continue to be, your parents, that mommy and daddy would do our best to cooperate with each other and resolve disagreements in a friendly manner, and that neither mommy nor daddy would say or do things (or allow others to say or do things) that might make you not like or not love the other parent.
In other words, I am not your ex-daddy. After the divorce, I am still your father just as your mom is still your mother. In your dad’s heart, I always held true to this point. There were times I did not like the way mommy was treating me and keeping us from each other the last few years. But, I never held someone else out as your mom or a better “substitute” for her. I never kept you from your mom. As much as it pained me not to do so, I rarely bad mouthed your mom. (When I did, I did my best to stick to the facts and speak the truth, which is not always fun or easy to do in divorce.) And, I never acted like your mom didn’t exist or should be forgotten. She. Is. Your. Mom.
I wish your mom could feel and do the same towards me. I. Am. Your. Dad. Unfortunately, she has not been able to do so. I fear she is incapable of doing so. If she could, there would have been no reason for all of the drama, secrets and lies the past four years.
At some level, I feel I let you both down. Whether it was a broken toy of yours, talking through an issue at school (such as being bullied, playing by yourself on the playground or helping you sort through an issue with a friend), teaching you to swim or any other challenge I have faced in life, I always was able to fix the problem or overcome the obstacle. Not so with your mom. Nothing was ever resolved that your mom didn’t want resolved or that wasn’t resolved the way she wanted it done.
Even with a signed custody agreement, your mom still had a problem. Joint legal custody was not what she wanted. She wanted you all to herself, to parent as she pleased and to do so with whomever she decided. She wanted me out of the picture, out of her life and even worst out of your lives. Her actions and words over the past four years unequivocally support this view.
If I did nothing and just accepted the way your mom wanted things to be, I feared two possible outcomes. At best, things wouldn’t change, as I was effectively kept from being a part of your lives in any meaningful way. At worst, I risked losing you altogether. With not much left of our relationship to lose by last summer, I decided doing nothing was not an option.
Trying to address the drama, secrets and lies was both futile and extremely costly in terms of time, money and energy. Even worse, the drama, secrets and lies had, in effect, become all of our reality–for your mom they were, in fact, the truth and justification for her actions. For me, the opposite was true.
Now, recognizing I am powerless to do anything about the situation, I am simply left to ponder the question, “Why?” But, I realize this not a question only I can answer. It is something your mom would need to answer, too.
I blame myself for letting the situation get the better of me. I let my love for you and all that has happened and managed to get between us, keep me from moving on with my life. I have been stuck in a moment. But, being your dad, I had to try everything I could to salvage our relationship for me and, most importantly, for you. I could not fathom either of you thinking your dad abandoned you and no longer cared for or loved you. That I walked away. (In an effort to be honest, I have a shed a few tears just writing this paragraph.). After all my efforts, I have lost you…. for now.
I have come to realize and accept that my love for you was not enough to overcome your mom’s hate and disgust for me, and am heart-broken as a result. When your mom and I would talk about something we had different views on, she would often times say we were arguing. Sometimes we were. But, most times I would say we were having a discussion. Your mom was arguing because she wanted to be right. I, on the other hand, was discussing because I was trying to decide with her what is right. When it comes to the two of you, it has been “Who is right” (your mom) vs. “What is right” (your dad) rather than both your parents simply trying to do what is right, as set out in the custody agreement.
Someday, when you read this and my other posts, I hope my words give each of you a sense of just how much your dad loves you, many good memories of your childhood for you to look back on and reflect, some answers to the questions you may have had/have for me that have gone unanswered and, selfishly out of my love for you, a reason (or two) to reach out and reconnect with me.
I love you “to the end of the universe and back, and then some.”