I never prayed so hard in my life. I prayed that the man I had grown to almost hate would not be on that plane…
As an author of children’s books on divorce, a life coach and motivational speaker on divorce I want to instill the importance of fathers during and after divorce. I think many times the “single mother” is in the spotlight, and society seems to focus more positively on that role more often than the single dad role.
I feel that many single fathers identify themselves as a part-time parent whose major purpose is to pay child support. Many slowly back away from the struggle to feel important, as many times, as the non-custodial parent, their importance is often not recognized. Men need to recognize they are important and realize that there is no one who can replace them, so they can grow a closer relationship with their children if they move from the children’s home.
Many years ago, when my children were very young, my husband left us. You might want to say he didn’t leave “us,” he left “you.” No, he left “us.” Bitter because of the circumstances ― a newborn and two-year-old and the fact he was leaving for another woman ― I had a hard time getting past what he did to the children. The toll it took on the kids and me was very traumatic.
Without getting into the details, I wanted nothing to do with him because I had offered and begged for him to be in the children’s lives and gave up begging when his only connection with the kids was on a very limited basis. Years later, he began to establish a relationship with them; not the kind anyone would hope for, but it was a start.
Because I felt he was not a very good father and, in my case it hurt them very much emotionally, I secretly wished something would happen to him, to make him just disappear. I felt that my troubles would be over. On a bad day, as many single mothers do who have had problems with their ex-husbands, I fantasized about his demise so that our life would be easier.
One day there was a plane crash, in which the plane’s destination was a place he frequently visited. That is when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that no matter how this man behaved in my kids’ life…that my kids loved their father, regardless of what I thought of him. They would be devastated if they should lose him, for one’s REAL father can never be replaced with a step father. Children always long for their father.
I never prayed so hard in my life. I prayed that the man I had grown to almost hate would not be on that plane. When I found out he wasn’t, I was a changed woman and I lost much of my ill feelings toward him and started to appreciate him because of what he meant to my children.
They, like many other children, need their father in their life and they eat up every second that he can give. Because he does not live in their house anymore, the time they now share with him becomes special…a real treat. They see mom all the time but when with dad…nothing compares. Some single moms don’t really want to see the joy in their kids’ faces when Dad shows up, and they try to ignore or block out the stories they hear when their children come home, wanting to share of how much fun they had with him.
Because many dads don’t get to see what happens when they drop their kids off, or when they are not there because they don’t see the need to share this with you, I will. Believe me when I say that kids do miss you and cherish what time you can share, as well as all the wonderful things you can muster up that are surrounded with the fact that you love them and will take care of them regardless of where you live. This is by far, the only gift that you will truly see appreciated when your children grow up to be a well-adjusted and loving adult without baggage. You are just as important as Mom, and no one can ever fill your shoes!
Susan McKenna is a speaker on issues of single parenthood, and the author of Feelings Only I Know and More Feelings Only I Know, both books deal with children and divorce.
Write McKenna at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org