Friday, June 19, 2015

How to erase the pain of Vanishing Dad? Buy a plane ticket for daughter to San Diego

Father's Day. I used to love this day because I get to celebrate my dad. And my dad ROCKS. I was talking to William last night about my dad after we finished getting massages. I was sharing some of my favorite childhood memories. My dad was a teacher and had ample time to do "stuff" with us kids. We sometimes drove out to Mill Pond and got on a Tom Sawyer-type raft and floated around the lake. We drove up to the mountains and cut wood for the frigid winter months. And we went on numerous trips in our motorhome, sometimes camping at Mammoth, or heading to Reno, Seattle or Salt Lake City. We skipped rocks on lakes (I could never get this one quite right). And we took picnics to the park and went swimming at Keoghs. Great memories, a happy childhood.

For my children, though, Father's Day is really painful. Like knife in the gut painful. It reminds them that their dad has vanished and they often wonder what they did to make it this way. I tell them all the time that it's his fault, not theirs. But hearing it and believing it are not the same. Anyway, I could go on and on but I write about it in today's Divorced Moms column. Yesterday, I purchased a plane ticket for Morgan to go hang with her step sister, Kalie, for a few days. She is ecstatic. When I texted her that the tickets were purchased, she called me from camp (a big no-no) and started screaming. While Kalie is no longer her legal step-sister, you don't divorce children and so Morgan considers Kalie her sister forever. She loves her and misses her and I am so incredibly grateful that Kalie is so kind to the kids. She is an amazing person and I know the two of them will have a great few days together.

Anyway, happy Father's Day weekend, my dear readers. Morgan comes home from camp tomorrow and I can't wait. I miss her like crazy. Siena and I are heading to the zoo for Family Day as part of her Bible Camp. William may join us but he's really super busy these days. I will make some pretty big announcements about him soon. But a little teaser: He is doing something amazing and grand, and something that will help bring awareness to myeloma, too. And... we are leaving for one of our two Big Summer Trips next Wednesday right after my infusion appointment. We are going to Seattle and then up into Canada. I am so excited.

Much love, Lizzy

When Father's Day Is Anything But Happy
by Lizzy Smith                     
June 19, 2015
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Fotolia_55534857_XS.jpgLast Sunday, my oldest daughter, Morgan, and I were at brunch. We started talking about what we should do for Father's Day. As soon as I brought up the topic, I felt I had made a mistake. Father's Day. Ugh. Her dad decided to vanish after the split because, well, he's not a good man. He knows full well that the number one way to "get me" is to hurt the children. Their pain is my pain, only a million times worse. Plus, the kids were "too stressful" for him (alcohol is his number one solace) so he's simply cut them out of his life.

"I was thinking, Mom, that Daddy doesn't even know what I look like anymore. It's been three years since I've seen him or talked to him," she said with tears in her eyes.

What was there to say? "I know. I'm so sorry. You have to know that it's not your fault, it's his," I said. My heart was shattering. I started thinking about escape topics. How could I distract from where this was heading.

"The last time he saw me, I was just a kid. Now I'm driving and in high school. I'm so different and he doesn't even know it." I noticed she wasn't eating her food even though it was now pushing noon and she hadn't eaten all day. Isn't she hungry?

"If he saw you, he would recognize you. You haven't changed that much," I answered. And I wondered... Would he recognize her? What would happen if they met up again? Will he ever allow her back into his life? Oh, please, God, let this somehow work out.

Rob and Morgan were really close. They loved the same things-- fishing, boating, the ocean, lobsters. Their relationship, though of course Morgan was severely impacted by the explosive alcohol-fueled fights between Rob and I, was sweet, genuine, and loving. They were great friends and they loved each other deeply. How I wish I had picked a better man to be a father. How I wish that his choices and behavior wouldn't impact innocent children, skew their view of fatherhood, husbands, and men. Impact their future. Oh, dear God.

"I really miss him, Mom. I miss everything. I text him and he won't even answer back."

"I just say things like I love you or Happy Easter or whatever. Nothing." There was a pause. "Why?" she asked.

"I don't know. I hope that some day it will change. I just don't think he can. I have to think that he has a conscience and it hurts him to know how horribly he has behaved," I answered. "I think he's embarrassed."

Finally, and it seemed like an eternity, we switched topics to an outdoor camp that she was interested in attending. "Let's sign you up," I said.

And this is the only way I know how to handle life when it comes to Daddy. Distract. Give more. Try to make things "better" and more cushioned in their life. And, really, I know that this is just simply one of those deeply difficult life lessons that they are learning far too young: that people, including men who should love them, can disappoint and hurt and that nothing is guaranteed. And there is nothing I can do to make this lesson less awful and painful and devastating. It's just "one of those things."

Always trying "fix", here's how I've at least tried to distracted Morgan this summer:

1. Purchased a plane ticket for San Diego to visit her step sister, Kellie. Kellie is Rob's younger daughter by his first marriage. During my marriage to her dad, she mostly didn't live with us. She refused to live with Rob's alcoholism and when he refused to stop drinking, she stayed with her mom fulltime. Kellie and I stay in touch and I love and respect her. She is smart, kind and funny. Morgan is ecstatic to spend a few days with her step sister, just the two of them. In fact, when I told her the ticket was purchased, she called me up from camp screaming.

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