Posted on | June 20, 2016 | 6 Comments
Father’s Day brought out a whole mess of emotions this year, this first year where we have a stepdad and husband. There were obligatory pancakes and sausage and gifts and cards. There was a little tennis, a little playground time, and some shopping.
And then, as evening rolled around, there were tears.
So many tears.
See, something I haven’t written about on here is what’s going on with the other “dad” in J’s life… the one who helped give him life, the one who changed diapers when there were still diapers to change. Around this time last year, maybe a bit later in the summer, that “dad” decided he needed some time off… a little break from being a once a month visitation “dad” and time to be a “Not even a phone call” kind of “dad.”
Mostly, J has handled this turn of events the way he handles everything in his life… with a sweetness and understanding that surpasses his years. I told him his “dad” was sad… that he was trying to get his life together and needed some time to do that. I told him that dad just wasn’t at a place in his life where he could take care of J, so I decided he wasn’t able to see J right now. And J has nodded and asked pertinent questions about what he can do to help his “dad” feel better. Because he’s a great kid. Because he is as tenderhearted as he is strong.
Deep down I think he knows that I took the blame… but he lets me.
He gives me this burden to shoulder.
Maybe, even at six, he knows that I gave his “dad” an out… a way to step back in later with a smile and a “sorry.” A way to smooth over the hurt he might have caused our little boy.
But even if he knows, I still maintain that burden, that blame, that sadness. Because it’s what parents do… we shoulder as much of the hurt as we can to protect the little ones we love.
Oh but last night, we reached a breaking point.
J has seen his biological father twice in the past year, both times for less than two full days. He hasn’t seen him since Christmas. I can’t recall the last time he spoke to him on the phone, though I believe it was at least four or five months ago.
Yesterday was Father’s Day. Yesterday, after he loved on the stepfather who adores him, J asked to call his biological father. The phone rang less than twice then the voicemail kicked in. A brief message was left, and the moment the “off” button was pressed, my sweet, strong, amazingly wonderful child threw himself in my lap and sobbed a mountain’s worth of tears.
“Why doesn’t he want to talk to me, Mom?” He asked between sobs. “Why doesn’t he miss me?”
And honestly, though words came out of my mouth, I had no real answer. This isn’t a puzzle I can piece together. This isn’t a booboo I can tape a bandage across and watch heal.
This is a heart wrenching, gut kicking, horrifying hurt and there is not one thing I can do to fix it.
So I did what we do as parents, when we don’t have an answer. I called for Banks. I held J close. I rocked him. I cried with him. I promised him that this isn’t his fault.
And then we both leaned into the arms of the man who is here every single damn day trying his best to love us both back to whole. We leaned into the strength of this amazing man who isn’t perfect but who is here, throwing the ball, answering the questions, reading the bedtime stories, and drying the tears of a child who isn’t of his blood but who is so much of his heart.
Because that’s what real fathers do.