I met my husband a year after I divorced my first husband. He was handsome with dark hair, dark eyes and a personality that was out of this world. He went to high school with me and everyone loved him. He moved in with me six months after we met. My ex worked with his dad and his family was well known and loved throughout the community. They were a very close knit Hispanic family who moved many years before from coming to Ohio as migrant workers.
As a sober man he was loving and caring. As an alcoholic he would spit in my face and push me around and say the most awful things to me. There was a time he pushed me through a wall in our home and I landed on the other side of the wall and hit the washing machine. I stayed. Why? Because I loved the sober man and I figured this was a phase.
He never abused me around my kids. Then he said he quit drinking. I had a tubal ligation in 1989 after the birth of my second daughter. Who would have thought in 1994 that the doctor would look at me and say, "Congratulations! You're pregnant."
I laughed and said, "Good one, Doc. Now, be honest, what the hell is really wrong with me?"
She looked at me puzzled and said, "Seriously, you're pregnant."
Wow. Talk about a shock and a half. I came from a family of girls and he came from boys. I thought, "Lord, this is my chance for a son."
I was not supposed to get pregnant but here I am. It has to be a boy. Wrong! A few months after finding out, the ultrasound revealed yet another little girl.
He became a great liar hiding beer. I went into labor shortly after he choked me drunk, at only 29 weeks and little Marisa Juliana was born. She weighed in at a whopping 2 lbs 11 ozs and screamed so everyone heard her in the waiting room. Sixteen months later her father would take her in the car after drinking and crash my Jeep in a ditch and fracture her skull.
I ended our marriage that day, I have no regrets.
As time passed his visits with Marisa lessened. One night he came beating on my windows at 2 AM and scared the hell out of my oldest and I panicked as little Marisa slept in her crib in the nursery in the farm house I had rented. I had a restraining order on him which was not worth the paper it was written on. I called the police and they came out and let him go. They said they felt sorry for him. I questioned those jerks how sorry they would feel if they found my body.
My heart ached wanting him to be the father I felt Marisa needed. She was really too little then to care or realize, other than her occasionally asking me where Daddy is. But as she grew she saw the loving relationship and closeness my older girls had with their dad.
I married again in 2001 and eight years later my husband was transferred to South Carolina for work. I filed a court paper which Marisa's dad signed and took her with me. He never saw her anyhow and his family stepped up where he didn't. The one I married in 2001 never was a father to her. He just bought her anything she wanted and being a parent is so much more than that.
Today, Marisa is 20 years old. Here are seven ways her father's absence from her life has affected her. There are lessons to be learned here.
1. Marisa has questioned many times why her dad has never been a dad. She has spent many wonderful holidays with my oldest girls' father who took her in like she was his own. It made her feel like a part of a family being with her older sisters on holidays. She traveled back to Ohio with me and her father knew most times we were there. He was remarried and he and his wife had lost a baby at six months old. His wife became insanely jealous of me and Marisa after that and said some crazy things. I never wanted Marisa's father back but I did want him in Marisa's life. I stopped contacting him once she turned 18. I left everything after that up to Marisa and I gave her the child support when she turned 16. It was her money as far as I was concerned. The takeaway? Don't talk bad about your ex in front of your kids, even if you know he is a loser. They will see it themselves.
2. My daughter struggles with panic attacks and has been on meds since the age of 12 to control them. Some are because of him and the stress he has caused by coming in and out of her life whenever he feels the need. Don't push the father. It only makes the strain worse. I have held her many times while she cried after talking to him. I will do that for the rest of her life.
3. We lost her grandfather a few years back to cancer and Marisa and I traveled to Ohio for the funeral. I felt so bad for her having to sit in a car with her father and his wife and beside a half brother she doesn't even know. His wife wants nothing to do with her and it shows. The sad thing is he allows it to happen. She no longer cares about him yet has such a close relationship with his mom, her grandmother. They taught her Spanish and all about her ethnicity. I am so proud of that and proud of her. I have never stood in her way with her father and I never will. I do not have a relationship with mine and I don't miss him. It took me 40 years to stand up for myself. Marisa has time. I give her the chance to be with her grandmother whenever I can. Never keep his side of the family out, especially if they want to be in your child's life. That is your child's family.
4. Spend Father's day with your father and let your child see a real father figure.
5. Her father has missed out on vital milestones in Marisa's life. I have watched her graduate and go to college. My heart aches for her thinking about him but she doesn't mind. So I don't push the issue.
6. If your children want to contact Dad, let them. If Dad lets them down just give them your love and support. That's what moms are for.
7. Best tip ever: It takes more than sperm to be a father. Remember that. Anyone can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad. My oldest daughter's dad proves that. He is a dad who loves his children and my youngest daughter.
I am lucky to have the relationship I have with my daughter's father's family. They care about us. I am grateful for that relationship. Marisa will text my oldest daughter's father and wish him a Happy Father's Day. She is content with that and so am I.