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.


6 Responses to “Fathers”

  1. jana
    June 20th, 2016 @ 9:05 am

    Oh, how my heart breaks for J. And I’m so grateful you both have Banks. <3

  2. Miranda
    June 20th, 2016 @ 9:23 am

    So, I don’t talk about it much on my blog (not that I talk about much of anything anymore…) but I was raised by my stepdad, a man who literally STEPPED right into the role of father. He was 23 when he did that. I never, ever doubted that he loved me as much as he loved his biological children, maybe even more in some cases. (I don’t like to brag 😉 )

    He was the steadfast father always there to shuffle me to school when it was his turn, take me to events, bring me medicine when I was sick. He taught me how to ride a bike and later to drive. He told me the boys who broke my heart were just stupid boys who didn’t know better.

    My biological father was never there. For a long, long time, I, like J, thought “why doesn’t he want to have anything to do with me?” And then I met him after not seeing him for about 15 years and he had the audacity to call himself “dad.” A rage like no other welled up inside me because HOW DARE HE. I was 17.

    So my point, which I know you don’t necessarily need me to make, is that, while this totally sucks for J right now, deep down he gets it. He knows that Banks is his and he is Banks’. And if part of him wavers on that point, his soul will still know it.

  3. Sharon
    June 20th, 2016 @ 9:44 am

    Aww, that’s terrible. Your poor son.

  4. Michelle
    June 20th, 2016 @ 2:45 pm

    Oh, Mama… you did what you could do, all that you could.. you were there, Banks is there… this will be a wound that will fester, but together you will stitch his heart back.. Then you decide whether or not maybe the father even gets a chance to come back? Seriously, what he’s doing is just not right. I cried reading this because I have heard similar words before from a child and its just heartbreaking when they see through it all but can’t do a thing about it nor can they understand it. They shouldn’t be expected to.

  5. Michelle
    June 20th, 2016 @ 2:45 pm

    Oh, and hugs.. hugs for days.. hugs, hugs, prayers, and love to your family xoxoxoxo

  6. facie
    June 21st, 2016 @ 8:11 pm

    That made me burst into tears. I had no idea. You are a rock and an amazing person for saying what you do/did. I am not sure I could do that. I want not to be all judgy, but I will be and throw in (out?) my 2 cents: If you live within a few hours of your young child, you don’t see your child only twice in six months, unless you are an addict, abusive, incarcerated, or an invalid.

    Way back when, I was glad to read you found Banks for you and your happiness, but I know now your little guy needs him every bit as much as you do.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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