That was the title of movie from the 90’s. I never did watch it, so I don’t know if it was a statement – “Men don’t leave” – or if it was an appeal – “Men, don’t leave!” For whatever psychological jargon you want to apply, I always say it as an appeal.
Note: My parents did divorce after 20 years, but it wasn’t my dad who did the leaving. Granted, he did do a lot of leaving – leaving to go to work (night shift), leaving to go hunting, and leaving to go fishing. I’m older and wiser than I was at 14, and I’ve left my pet monkey (aka The Blame Game) far behind me. Both of my parents love me very much. On with the real point of this post.
When my husband was 17, he and his girlfriend decided to get pregnant so they could get married. They did get married, and they had a daughter.
Note: Just like my parents did. The common denominator here is they were both teenagers. And “in love”. Later we’ll be doing a study on chemical responses that take place in a person’s brain the first two years of a relationship and how they change over time. Extremely interesting! My advice to everyone is don’t get married until you’ve been with them for at least two years.)
Without going into all of the sordid details, they divorced, and he signed his rights over when she was three. He did not see her again until she was 20.
After we had our son, Jace, I decided I didn’t want any more children.
The real reason was because I didn’t want to take the chance of having a special needs child.
I’m not going to feel guilty for saying that (unless you leave me some horrible comment), because I don’t think there is any one out there that is praying to get pregnant with a special needs baby. I have close friends that have been given this journey, and I know the heartache that is involved. Every mother wants a healthy baby! We all know the saying “God will never give you more than you can bear.” (BTW, that is not a scripture. It’s just a common saying.) And I had a fear that because I was scared of having a special needs baby that He would give me one.
I ran out of birth control, and guess what? I got pregnant again. Jace was 4. We had been in church for 3 years at this point. I was working full-time. Life was good, but very busy. I specifically remember telling my husband that I hoped it was a boy. I was such a difficult teenager that I dreaded having a girl. My parents divorced when I was 14. I was already in a rage of new hormones, so the divorce was just adding fuel to the fire. So, anyway, I didn’t want a girl.
We got a girl.
She so completely softened my heart the way only a baby girl can do. But I know that however much I loved her, she meant so much more to Jimmy. Often times, the true value of something is known only when its lost. He is an excellent father to both of our children. He knew more about babies than I did. He excelled at all things “baby”. Except breastfeeding. I was the winner there. : )
A father’s relationship with his daughter is different (and should be) than the relationship he has with his son. They are two different students. He is very close to Jace, but this post isn’t about fathers and sons. We’ll get around to that later.
So for the last 4 ½ years of Gigi’s life, her father has been home everyday, usually around 2 p.m. She greets him at the door in one of her princess dresses. She tells him silly jokes. She doctors his boo-boos. She dotes on him. He is her daddy!
When he left last Saturday, she didn’t understand that he wasn’t coming back for a while. Every day, she asks about Daddy. She hears a tractor drive by and thinks it’s Daddy on his motorcycle. She sees a man in town and thinks it’s Daddy. So she’s on this daily roller coaster of high hopes crashing into disappointment.
We were going to go see him for the weekend, but he walks in the door Thursday night. She’s playing one of her educational computer games, comes in the kitchen to talk to me, looks at him, doesn’t say a word, and goes back to the computer. I call after her to come talk to her Daddy. She ain’t hearin’ it. She doesn’t want anything to do with Jimmy.
This goes on all through the next day. Finally we sit down for supper, and she does not want to take her spot at the right of Daddy. She wants to change places. She is very adamant about this, so I send her to her room. Jimmy waits a few minutes and then goes to her. After a few minutes, they’re both back at the table like nothing had ever happened, resuming their normal roles as Daddy and princess.
The next day I asked him what did he say when he went in there. She was laying in bed, and he went and knelt down next to her bed. He asked her, “Are you mad at me?” She hesitated then shook her head. He apologized to her for being gone and told her that he loved her. And that was that. Peace was restored.
If you have an absent father who wants to apologize, I would like to suggest that you let him. His leaving may have hurt. His leaving may have been for selfish reasons. If you are a Christian, you are commanded to forgive unconditionally. You will get more out of the forgiveness than he does. None of us deserve it, but we all want forgiveness. Don’t deny him what God has so graciously given you. Let me go one step further and say that even if your dad is not seeking you out, you need to seek him out. He may be waiting on you.
I heard this said once about forgiveness: You’ll know that you have really forgiven someone when you see them face to face. Your heart will let you know.
Put your own pet monkey to sleep. They may be great entertainment, but they’re really quite nasty to own. Warning: the pet monkey will fight back! You may have to get down and dirty with it. As in down on your knees in your prayer.
Sunday when he had to leave again, she said, “I don’t want to miss Daddy.” At church last night, she said, “I want my father.”
All this week, I will be getting packed so that we can go ahead and go up there. It’s not going to be comfortable having all of us in the motorhome, but it is going to be worth it.