If you think that you have just one life, think again. There's the life you think you have, the life others think you have and the life you really have- three lives!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Memorable Moments #1- The Day my Boys Reconnected with their Father

I separated from my first husband when my two sons were just 3 and 1 years old. It was not a happy marraige. Having reached the age of 21 and thinking that I knew everything, I naively got married despite many of my friends warning against it. My parents were happy though, relieved that their 'wild child' was choosing to settle down. It lasted 6 years.

For the first year or so after we separated he kept in contact with the boys. He still pulled his usual tricks- promising to take them out and then not showing up- leaving me to comfort and console their tiny little hearts. Then he moved to Sydney. He still sent birthday presents and cards but within a year he had stopped all contact.

Many times I tried to contact him, to find him and let him know that his son had had major surgery, that his other son was top of his class, that I worried about the bullying at school, that his son, at just age 7, had read his first novel in 2 days- but to no avail. I was a struggling single Mum (he has never paid a single cent in maintanence) but I managed to scrimp and save for a private investigator to try to find him. No luck.

So I brought up my boys as best I could and, despite their Mum, they are fine young men who make me proud. My eldest is in his final year of school and is set on being a human rights lawyer. The youngest is a math wiz and wants to be a doctor or robotics engineer. But they have seen so much heartache for such young lives.

After 7 years of being on our own with no contact from their father I found my eldest son walking around the house clutching a photo of himself as a baby with his dad. I asked him if he wanted to talk and took him into the bedroom for some privacy. He sat on the edge of the bed silent for a long time until he could no longer hold back his tears. Still clutching the photo of his father he turned to me and asked "Mum, is my dad dead?". My son was just 10 years old but in his eyes I saw a pain that I had seen in lonely old men who had said goodbye to children, friends and family.

To say that it broke my heart is an understatement. It was as if my heart had shattered into a million pieces. I am fighting back the tears just writing this now. I wanted to yell and scream my anger at the man who had caused my babies so much pain, who had left them and forgotten them and refused to share in their achievements, their joys and their sorrows. I wanted to take a knife and find him and pierce his heart a million times for each time he had made them hurt. But instead I smiled at my son, wiped his eyes and said "Son, I don't know where your father is, I have tried to find him and I failed. But I do know that he loves you and your brother very much and that every moment of every day he thinks about you both and that he wishes he were here and that he is very proud of you."

It was the hardest but also the easiest lie I had ever told in my life.

Small miracles do happen. The next morning as if by God's merciful hands, I was woken by a phone call. It was their father. He was coming back to see them and to stay for good. Just like that. Just out of the blue like that. I was skeptical but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The day he arrived, I dressed my beautiful angels, who were now 10 and almost 8 years old, in their best clothes and told them that their father was coming to see them. When his car pulled up in the driveway I went out first to meet him.

I stood there, face to face with the man who once held so much power over me that I thought I would surely die by his hand. No more fear- just rage and anger. "You have hurt these boys so much, you have been the cause of their suffering, you have let them down, you have made them cry. Today you are here and in a minute you will see them again. But I am here now to tell you that if you ever let them down again, if you ever make them cry again, if you ever break their hearts again- you will be dead to them. Do you understand me? I will do everything in my power to make sure that you are dead to them- that you never ever ever see them again and that they forget your name and who you are. Do you understand me?"

The man who once wielded such power, stood helpless, a shadow of the man I had married and shared a bed with and from whom I used to cower in fear. To me he was nothing now.

I went back in the house and got the boys. Clutching their hands tightly for fear that he might once again break their hearts. My eldest, who had memories of his father, immediately recognised him. He let go of my hand and ran into his father's arms, smiling like I had never seen him smile before. But my youngest, my little talkative angel, who was just a baby when his father left stood behind me, clutching my skirt and staring at me with his big beautiful brown eyes, looking bewildered and confused. His father stood at the end of the driveway, arms open and tears in his eyes, beckoning his youngest son to him. But he would not go.

I bent down and looked him in the eyes. "It's OK son. He is your father. Go, go say hello to your father and give him a hug." My little angel touched my face with his tiny hand, he looked over at his father and then back at me. Then he let go of my skirt and ran towards his father grinning widely, he jumped into the air and straight into his arms and held his father tightly.

I cannot say that my thoughts and feelings were noble right then. I was damn angry and felt cheated. Cheated that I had endured the long sleepless nights, the nappies, the illnesses (my eldest son has one kidney), that I was left alone to hold their hands and see them through their vaccinations, their scraped knees and broken arms. I felt cheated that I had given everything to them, that I had struggled, put my own life on hold- for this day. For the day that he could return and feel their arms around him and see their smiles and feel their love- 7 years worth of love pent up inside their tiny bodies- all at once overflowing into HIS arms- the man who had done nothing for them but cause heartache.

And so that was the day that my boys reconnected with their Dad. A day they and I will remember forever- each of us for our own reasons.


kinzi said...

I'm crying with you. Mother-love is a fearsome thing. The amazing Father-mercy of God to show his hand at the perfect time. God bless you as you help them in their last years of living under your wing.

I've heard this story so many times in the Arab world, in other worlds,...how can it be so easy for men to abandon their kids, especially their boys?

The Usual Suspect said...

Thanks Kinzi
It was so hard to write that post- probably because I've always felt guilty about my feelings that day.

I don't know what it is that turns men into absent fathers. But I have a friend who went through a messy divorce some time ago. He stayed in contact with his kids but he said that there were times when he thought his kids would be better off without him. I told him that was a selfish attitude to have and that he had done the best thing by maintaining contact.

My current husband also has a son (hence I say I have 3 boys)I've known my step son since he was 18 months old- he is now almost 14- the same age as my little one.
My husband separated from his partner when his son was just 9 weeks old and he has always been the primary care giver. We have my step son more than his mum and my husband has never ever abandoned him and would never think of it.
I guess that's something that definitely attracted me to him in the first place.

And yes, God does show his hand at the perfect time. He was certainly watching when my boy cried with pain at the loss of his father. And while the return of their father was painful for me, God, in his infinite wisdom, has shown me that it is best for them. That's all I want and need.

Anonymous said...

well reading your heart-breaking story..thank god my father died when I was 5..I mean it could have been worse right?.....god bless you and all the single mothers in the whole widw world....el masry affendi

Mumbo Jumbo said...

Your post made me bawl like a little kid. Being a mother, as I read your story, I could feel your pain and anger out of wanting to fiercly protect your kids' feelings.

Nothing hurts more than seeing your child hurt.

God bless you and God bless them. Seriously, I have so much respect for you.

The Raccoon said...

I applaud your generocity of spirit - I'd probably be more inclined to remove the man's liver and feed it to him than let him come back and have influence on the children. Uhm. Maybe it's a good thing I'll never be a mom :)

How are your kids feeling about him nowadays?

And did he improve as a father?

pommygranate said...

A very touching story and beautifully written.

I have two young children myself - kids need two parents. It must have been very hard for you.

Path2Hope said...

I'm not a mother yet but reading that has increased my admiration for single mothers. I now understand completely why heaven is underneath the mothers feet. I cannot imagine the struggles and sacrifices that a single parent goes through.

I've been away for a while but as always this is strong and passionate, it's a pleasure reading your posts.

The Usual Suspect said...

Thanks to everyone who posted comments here.

The boys father is now a constant part of their lives and they have managed to re-build their relationship with him. We now share responsibility for them.
He's a lot older now and I think perhaps that age has made him wiser (although I don't want to believe that) and more responsible as a parent.

Haroun El Poussah said...

Very moving...

hipster said...

TUS, your words brought tears to my eyes.Jah bless your beautiful children.

I know where you're coming from.You remind me of my mom( a widow)although your situations differ.

Your children are blessed to have a strong, kind-hearted and loving mother.

Allah yihfazkum & sry for the belated reply.