I had the least bad Father’s Day in a few years this past weekend, which was nice. You’re probably confused, let me try to explain just a little.
My two children, a beautiful daughter and a slightly fragile son, live 482 Miles away. I do not see them as much as I would like. Their mother, my ex-wife, has full custody of them. For several years after the divorce were able to work amicable visitation, no court order was necessary. She would happily call my mother up and say that the kids wanted to come down and visit for the weekend. Turns out this probably meant the ex-wife wanted a Saturday night to go out and pretend like she was single in a nearby shit hole city. That was all well and good, I was able to see my children often. I even had them stay weekends with me in my downtown studio apartment. It was tight space and often tense, as I was a bartender and waiter at the time, and waking up at 5am to watch Finding Nemo and cook scrambled eggs was not part of my regular schedule. But we made do. Everything was good, I was a father, if only a couple weekends a month. Even after I moved away, for better life and better opportunity, I still was able to see them at least once a month. That was until the Ex-Wife remarried, and wanted her new husband to be Dad. And then she had another baby – a pasty, chubby blue eyed thing, and everything changed.
This father’s day it has been six months since I have since my children. And it is not for a lack of effort on my part. There was great snow in the winter, preventing travel – yes they do live in what’s called, appropriately, “the North Country” of New York State. It is a land that regularly receives feet of snow at a time, so a general lack of travel in the winter is understandable and almost expected. But then in the spring, the kids get busy with softball practice and games. Their weekends are all booked (this also happens in the fall, with soccer). I like to believe that that is the truth, but part of me suspects that the Ex-Wife is simply trying to replace me, trying to move on. Her life has been more complicated with the addition of the new baby, and the new husband, and the new family, and all that that entails.
In recent years Father’s Day weekend has greeted me with an intense sadness. It usually begins about the Wednesday before, as all the Father’s Day plans start to come up. Then comes the actual day when too many friends and family members call to wish me Happy Father’s day, which makes me feel like some kind of phony and is only another reminder of what I do not have. Last year, at least there was a random text message from my daughter, wishing me a Happy Father’s Day. This year no such luck. It should have been the worst Father’s Day to date. No card, no text message; nothing from the children that I love so much. Just a lot of old pictures to look at on my old laptop computer.
But what I have come to is this realization, 482 miles away: there is nothing more I can do. I have tried in every way to connect with them more. Either the Ex-Wife is keeping them from me intentionally or as some kind of punishment, or worse yet, my children are moving on too, and they are busy in their daily lives with their new little brother, their new Dad, and their new family.
All I can do from here is work every day to be a man that will one day, hopefully, make them very proud; To be the Daddy that they want to come running to. There is no fixing the past, there is only rebuilding to be done. We have no choice but to keep moving forward, and keep hope for a better tomorrow. Fresh starts and new buildings from the old bricks.