Dear Ex Love,
When our first son was a little boy and would cry, it was simple to figure out. Little boys cry, Mommies fix it for them.
But….now he is 13, not so little anymore. On the cusp of manhood. And I’ve watched him cry quite a bit recently. Because of you. Sometimes its just a little redness around his eyes as he ducks into his room. But last night he sat at my kitchen table crying, wiping his eyes, saying things about how hearing your lies might be better than not having you in his life at all. And my heart broke into a million pieces. And it wasn’t for my own hurt. I don’t give a rats ass about my own hurt. I just tried my very best to take in the hurt of my 4 oldest sons, especially the eldest, and heal it. And I CAN’T. The only person who can make this any better is YOU. And I doubt that will ever happen.
You left us 7 years ago. Decided an 18 year old stripper who did drugs was far more fun than raising 4 young sons. And I was left here to sweep up the pieces you left behind. Sure, I was devastated over the loss of a love I had believed in and the fact my marriage was gone. But more so, I was here dealing with the hurt your boys had. Zane, my sweet, calm boy who suddenly became a tornado of rage and would hit me and throw things and call me names. Aidan who started hurting any children that came into our home (not great considering i was a home daycare provider.) and also lapsed on his potty training and began peeing the bed and peeing all over the house at random. Bailey, who was so little and went chasing after your van one day when you came to visit one day with your new girlfriend and didnt even bother to say goodbye to him. His chubby little toddler self went running down the sidewalk alongside your van screaming out in his tiny voice “Daddy! Daddy!”, and the memory of it, so many years later, still makes me cry.
But I doubt you even remember.
And a few nights ago when I tried reminding you of WHY the boys and I have some problems with trusting you, you had the audacity, the nerve, the balls, to tell me “Why are you bringing up the PAST? It’s over and done with. It doesn’t matter. ” But the thing is, to you it NEVER mattered. You never apologized. You always had someone else to blame. It was somehow MY fault. And on the rare occasion it wasn’t ME, you had some handy excuse. Always an excuse. Never man enough to just say “Hey, I messed up. I was wrong. I’m SORRY.”
You dropped off of the planet in 2007. Literally vanished. Skipped town to avoid a court order in child support. I didn’t even know you were gone until you didnt show up for your court date after they put a warrant out for your arrest for lack of payment. It was better that way. how many times had you called and said you were coming to take the boys someplace and never showed up? I would get them all ready and the oldest two would stand at the door, coats and hats on, watching and waiting for hours. I was glad you wouldnt be around to do that to them any longer.
But last June you popped back into our life. Not physically. Long distance. Via the phone. And it was hard to allow my sons to speak to you after all these years. I was afraid of you hurting them again. Plus it just rubbed me wrong you kept calling them OUR boys. As if you had had anything to do with who they were at this point.
Do you know how much can happen in 6 years?
School, potty training, Christmas mornings, taking the training wheels off of bikes, took them all rollerskating, picnics, hikes, teach them to swim, their step dad died, a few pets died, Aidan won a spelling bee, Zane wrote/drew his first comic book, Thanksgivings, the leprechauns came on St Patricks day, family vacation to the beach, family meetings, movie nights, church, Aidan and Bailey got baptized, Zane and Aidan went to a friends funeral, learning manners, chore charts, stitches at the ER, wrestling matches, 2 new baby brothers, …….LIFE. Just life. and you missed every damn minute of it. Because drinking and drugs and selfishness, that’s why. Wipe away your excuses. Make room for some humility. Find it in yourself to be man enough to say simply “I messed up. I did wrong. I am sorry.”
A few days ago you got on the phone with me and began to cuss and yell and express your frustration that I wouldnt “send the boys” to you. You proclaimed a desire to be a father in person, from half a country away. But yet, Christmas had come and gone and the gifts you had promised to them never came. You told Bailey you were “too busy”. Two months after Christmas. Too busy. At 8 years old, he is not stupid enough to buy that.
Then Zane turned 13. And I knew days in advance you would let him don. Knew it in my gut. I bought him a couple gifts, took him out to eat just he and I on a special date because 13 is a big deal. And he got his favorite dinner at home that night and his requested cheesecake. It was fun. It was nice. And he waited. For the phone to ring. For a gift or a card to come. For you to show up in some form.
And you didn’t.
And at the end of the day he went into his bedroom and cried alone.
Happy birthday to him.
Thats a stain that will never wash away from his memory. And no matter how special I tried to make that day, it will also always be the day his dad let him down and forgot his birthday.
HOW can you forget your sons birthday????? Don’t you recall that day 13 years ago, when he made his debut on this earth? All scrawny and pink, 5 weeks premature. They intubated him and wrapped him up in an isolette. He was so small but so strong. Began his life in the NICU. Remember? Remember how when he cried it sounded like an indignant lamb? Remember?
I cried while we talked. One, because you were yelling at me, but two, because I realized you still didnt GET IT. Didnt see the pain in the boys hearts every time you let them down. You told me “Stop your blubbering. This isn’t about YOUR feelings.” You cannot understand a real parent does not separate her childs hurt from her own. I ache deep for the tears I cannot stop from falling, for the disappointment in my sons hearts. I cried because my oldest son cries. Because where the other boys dont really recall you very much any more, Zane still remembers being a Daddys Boy. And he wants that back. And at 13 he is grieving the loss of such a huge part of himself. I told you “Theres a little boy here that thinks you are Superman, no matter how many times you fall from the sky.” and then I hung up. Because you were already back to yelling at me and I was done. Done trying to make you hear or understand.
And last night, Zane came home from his week at Grammys house. And I sat him down at the dinner table while he ate cake and talked to him. Explained to him why I had changed my number.Why we were taking a break from you. Not forever. If he so chooses to contact you down the road, I will allow it. But right now I am putting my foot down. My boys need a break from the emotional roller coaster. And I for one cannot allow a man into my realm who cusses at me in rage and yells at me. If thats the kind of “man” you still are, I dont want my sons around that, frankly.
My boys and I, we like our peace. Our simple days of love and laughter.
I won’t apologize. After this many years of being here with these boys every single day, I’ve earned every right in the book to call them MINE. I’ll be the one to respect my son enough to make no mention of his tears or attempt to wipe them away. But I sure as hell WILL fight like a lion to defend his heart and make a voice for his hurt.
I don’t know if you will EVER fully understand what you missed out on.
But if you do, I imagine it will be the greatest regret of your life.
These boys are pretty amazing, wonderful young men. It’s a shame you won’t ever know them the way I do.