Submitted by: Maya
As a child of divorce I suddenly have an urge to talk about something that lies very deep within yet can be scratched so easily…
I hated it when my kids would ‘have’ to go to their dad’s house. They’d pack, half reluctantly, half excitedly ~ and I think they’d pick up on my emotions and act accordingly. Looking back it wasn’t fair to them.
It turns out that my dad only left us to save his own sanity. It wasn’t that we were impossible or that my mother was a shrew, it was more that he was cornered, paralyzed like a deer in the headlights ~ and to leave was the only way that he could breathe again. Even as a child, I understood that. The events that had preceeded his departure were soul destroying for him and I understood even back then. But then again, kids do their best to understand why dad left ~ and it was easier for my sunny disposition to make it into an escapade of delight, untainted by the ugly words that my mother (bless her heart) never uttered.
My brother had just died, my dad’s beloved marina, where he had spent the previous 15 blissful years ~ had been sold by an unscrupulous uncle and my dad was without a solid base. His job as a used car salesman was driving him insane and he longed for freedom.
If my sister and I hadn’t gone to him and given permission for him to leave, he would have stayed ~ and withered away to nothing ~ just to maintain the status quo. But I also inherited his restless spirit and I could see it fading out in his eyes.
My mother did a stellar job of ending her marriage without rocking the boat. She picked up and carried on without blinking an eye, determined to keep her home safe and happy for the two girls still in school. She never said a word about my dad and she taught me exactly how a woman does this with dignity. I wish I had followed her lead in the early days of my own divorce but I am not as solid as she was and I had a bit of a meltdown before reclaiming my grace.
But my dad ~ as I came to understand many years later ~ was more lost than we were. He followed his dream and became the skipper/captain of a fleet of yachts belonging to an affluent family. His enforced alienation from us created a longing in him that he journaled every evening.
While he did go on to marry several times and sail the Atlantic coast, his empty heart was like an anchor dragging in the bottom of the ocean. He wrote beautiful letters to each of his children and made us promise to keep our eyes on one another, to keep him informed, to carry on and to not forget him.
Yes he left. Yes my little heart was broken. Yes I envisioned his empty Christmas’ and I did my best to fill him with letters every week. I loved my dad, despite his ‘abandoning’ his family. What he thought, what he said ~ what he felt ~ all were important to me.
I write this to remind you that ~ in the heart of your children lies their dad. He’s human, he’s gone, he’s made mistakes but he’s their dad. They love him no matter what. Please remember that when you speak of him. Please remember that when you look into their eyes. I’m still that child who misses her daddy because while he left the family home, he could never leave me. He’s in my blood. He IS me.