Parenting is a tough job. To be a single parent is even tougher. And if you are the parents of a child who had to experience a divorce between the first role models he/she ever had, it’s that much more challenging for the child growing up.
Let me say up front, that there is probably nothing more devastating to a child directly or indirectly than to witness the breakup of their parents. I regret that my children experienced that pain – and though I know for sure that my ex-wife and I were not meant to last forever, still I regret the affect it had on my children – especially my oldest daughter. It has taken my first born most of her years to cope with and struggle in finding her identity and get a glimpse of her potential. It also put a terrible strain on our relationship.
A major part of the reason for this (outside of the normal pains of divorce which would have been enough) is because she was given a lot of negative and at times false information about me from her mother. She painted a picture of me that my daughter could not seem to shake regardless of what she saw with her own eyes. Even as she witnessed me coming through to aid her mother and her brothers (my two sons) above and beyond child support, whether it was monetarily, morally etc. it wasn’t enough to take the villain tag off of my head. Eventually she started keeping her distance in her mid teen years. I understood that to be a growing up thing and I didn’t push her. But after she got involved with her first love interest, soon after she pretty much decided she didn’t need me.
As much as it hurt, I always made it clear to her that I was there for her no matter what. And that I love her more than life itself. Things got worse instead of better. She got further and further away – resentful for some reason and I found I was always the one reaching out trying to prove myself with no positive feedback from her. One day we had a big argument on the phone. She went “adult” on me and said some horrible things. It was the most disrespectful she had ever been. I remember being so angry and hurt, that I called my mother screaming into the phone. Mom actually ordered me to pull the car over till I calmed down, because she feared for my personal safety. Speaking of safety, I remember thinking to myself that if she were not pregnant at the time, she would have gotten an old fashioned East St. Louis project beating for acting like she was grown and forgetting who the hell her daddy was! I remember going ‘Godfather’ and telling my mother, “That’s it! If we never talk again thats up to her! I will never reach out again! I am done…FINISHED!”
Well my mom in all her wisdom explained that I couldn’t do that. “You can’t disown your kids son. You just can’t do it no matter what they say.” She and those close around me said that my daughter will come back. That she will come to herself after experiencing some hard times in life. At that time I should be there ready. Whew… I could never imagine that happening.
Oh there were troubles alright. Sometimes there were fights with the boyfriend – me having to track him down for her car, house keys and cell phone. Sometimes he was such a jerk I wanted to kill him. Flat out! But no matter what I did to help, I never got a thank you, kiss my ass or anything from her. I would think, “Surely she saw what I just did right? I was Super Dad! I just saved the day for all man-kind.” NOPE! She just got further and further away. She had child one and two and neither of them would recognize me from T.I. I pretty much gave up the fight and decided that I would love her unconditionally, and hope one day I could be a grandfather to my grandchildren.
To be continued…
* Picture: My daughter age 9