She’s a “lost little girl” to some.
No father, destined to become a prostitute, a stripper, a drug addict or a teen mom.
I spent the better part of my pregnancy and the first five years of motherhood terrified by the statistics of what single motherhood meant. But I was told over and over (by well meaning people)
“You are raising her different”
“She does have a dad. God is her father. As long as you raise her to know that she’ll be fine”
I believed those words, took them to my core especially because of where I was at in my faith journey and my own struggle with not having a dad.
It sounded so simple. Of course; all I had to do was teach her that God is her father and it will be okay. I didn’t think about the absence of her physical father or the lasting effects that would have on her.
My not having a father is a completely different situation than Abigail’s and has its own intricate ways of being dealt with. But it is NOT in any way the same.
I have heard that we are not complete family because I am not married. This has been spoken by pastors, from their Holy Pulpit.
If they knew the story would it make a difference? I left because drugs were more important to him than his child. I left because I wanted my child to grow up in an environment different from the one I grew up in. He had the choice to change and he chose not to be a part of her life. More than once he had the choice to clean up his life and really be a dad; but he always chose to stay in his drug filled world.
But we are a complete family. Because we are bound by the Spirit.
He started calling again three years ago before her fourth birthday; making big promises of being involved and calling all the time and sending money. I got my hopes up because that’s what I had wanted for the both of us. It came to the point though where I was enabling his behavior. He’d not call for a few weeks and I’d listen to his excuses and absorb them as I had before but because my hopes were so high I brushed them off. I had a moment where I realized that he was never going to change and that everything he said was out of guilt, his own guilt. I gave him an ALL in or ALL out ultimatum on New Year’s Day 2011.
We haven’t heard from him since and it’s taken me a long time to become okay with the fact that he really has chosen not be a part of his daughters life at all.
So here we are 7 years later. My sweet girl who doesn’t even know her dad; half the time she forgets his name when talking about him. But she wants him or a dad in general. She sees her friends with their dads and I know her little heart just breaks in two because I know my little girl heart that still aches from not having a dad breaks in two with hers.
I’m learning that I am parenting Abigail all while parenting myself. I am parenting my little Bethany that never had the dad she needed. It’s hard to do that when your flesh and blood baby girl whose hurts you would wipe away in an instant asks why her daddy isn’t here but then can’t tell you his name. Then finds the easiest thing to do is to blame herself.
The older she gets the more questions she asks obviously; about why he isn’t here, where he is and why I divorced him.
I tell her very gently that her dad and I were never married, that he is making poor choices and that it has NOTHING to do with her. That she did not do anything wrong to have him not be a part of her life
Then she hits me with a gut punch last night.
“Mommy I tell my friends that you and my daddy got divorced because I don’t want them to know that he never was around”
I can’t tell a seven year old that her dad would rather smoke crack and drink beer every night then be with her. OHMYGOD. My heart ripped apart. She thrashed on the floor, a mess of feelings, and suddenly I realized that it’s going to take a lifetime of healing for HER to see why he isn’t here.
I can tell her what I know. I can make wise decisions about what I tell her when. I tell her everyday how much God values her and how much Jesus sees her.
But she is going to have to find this healing when her heart is ready. This isn’t my healing to give her, it never was. She knows and has a relationship with God that is quite beautiful actually and I believe that the way He speaks to her will help her heal as she gets older.
Right now though I can’t force her to understand why Jeffrey chose to walk away. I have my own healing to continue to do from his and my relationship and part of that I believe will help in how I help her see that it wasn’t her fault.
She is loved by so MANY people but she is missing that love of a daddy and when she sees her friends with their dads it rips her heart apart. I want to provide that for her but I can’t. I’m her mamadad (what we decided on father’s day) but I am not her dad. I can’t provide those things that a healthy father would.
I’ve tried to have guy friends provide that for her but it isn’t the same and we really don’t have any other male influences in our lives so it’s tough right now. However I do believe in a God who promises healing and redemption and new things.
Whatever that means for Abigail and I.