How do I comfort my children because their absentee father isn’t around often?
As I comforted our youngest tonight while he sobbed “I want to see Daddy,” as he often does, I thought “why?” I also had an overwhelming urge to rage at my ex-husband to my heart’s content.
I wasn’t questioning why he left me; I don’t care about that anymore. And I certainly don’t want him to come back.
But why did he leave our kids?
More importantly, why, after he did leave, hasn’t he been there for them? Why am I the one comforting them when they miss him at night or when they want to spend the day with him instead of going to school?
I know he’s a fine dad when he’s with them. He’s fun, giving them all the junky, frivolous things I won’t, and sensitive to their needs. But the visits are always brief and they spend most of their time in front of the TV or in the company of another adult. Rarely do they enjoy one-on-one time with him.
If I figure out the actual amount of time he spends with them, it averages to not even 10% of their lives.
Not once has he asked for more time. If only he knew, cared about, or appreciated all the moments that he has missed.
He misses putting them to bed at night, kissing their sweet faces and knowing that he will see them again in the morning to start a brand new day of love and life. He misses the chance to help them when they are sick or scared in the night or wake up to the joy, wonder, and innocence in a child’s face.
Their delight when they master a new skill or build a cool Lego creation is not seen.
He doesn’t get to be silly and laugh with them or watch the world through their eyes. There is no comforting them when they injure themselves, helping with homework, or cooking for them.
He’s not around to show them what a good role model looks like, all day and every day, and feeling good about that.
Sure, I suppose those things come up – occasionally – during the couple of nights a week the kids have dinner with him and the one overnight a month they have at his place; but it’s not the same as every day or even the more typical 50% custody arrangement.
My own heartbreak over the end of our marriage pales in comparison to what I feel about our kids’ dad leaving them. And while he’s been there in a smaller capacity since then, it doesn’t even begin to compare to when he was here, being their Daddy on a daily basis.
A stay-at-home dad turned absentee father; who could have predicted that? I realize he got fed up with the whole “family life.” He wanted more freedom and less responsibility. I know being a stay-at-home parent can wear on a person, and I guess it precipitated a midlife crisis for him.
Fine, he wanted to leave me; he wasn’t “in love” anymore. My quirks became annoyances, and that greener grass with the blond hair and hot bod seemed like nirvana (a nirvana that lasted all of 2 months).
But our kids? They didn’t have anything to do with it. Even if we’re not a family unit anymore, he’s still their dad and they need him!
I waver between wanting him to come to his senses and decide he wants 50% custody, because I know that would be best for them, and hoping he doesn’t see the light. I love them so much and I ache when they aren’t with me. I don’t want to be apart from them and I can’t quite grasp how another parent couldn’t feel the same.
But if he changes his mind, I would selflessly let them spend more time with him. They want that and they need that. I will always, ALWAYS put their needs first.
I wish I could say the same for their dad.
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