An Open Letter to the Dad without Custody
I want to encourage you, today. I want to share with you what your children think about you and what they will think about you in the future. But first I want to start by making a few obvious points. I don’t know why you don’t have custody of your kids. I don’t know what happened between you and their mother(s), and I won’t pretend to. I have no idea if you’ve even seen them in a while. But I know where your mind goes sometimes (a lot). I know that you are missing many nights of fun bath times and giggles over silly bubbles. I know that you are missing many nights of struggling to run a comb through their wet hair and hoping their pajamas still fit because it’s been so long since they’ve stayed a night, and you swear they have grown 4 inches since you saw them last. I know that even when you do get to keep them you often spend your time a little sad that you don’t get to experience those moments every night, with them. I know that for every night their mother struggles through night time routines you wish you could struggle through it more, because you hardly ever get to.
Maybe you have a really great co-parenting relationship with their mother (lucky you!). Maybe you don’t. Maybe your children’s mother has chosen to keep them from you. Maybe she chooses to manipulate them into not liking you, or maybe she defends you more than you think. Either way, there is something I want you to know.
They are not stupid!
Even if she chooses to make you look bad when they are younger, believe me when I say it won’t take them long to see more and more of the truth as they get older. And we all know who they’ll resent once they figure that out. Let me give you an example. When I was a little girl I adored my grandfather. He was amazing! I was the only girl, of the grands, and he made sure I believed that I could run just as fast, climb just as high, hit just as hard, and throw just as far. He made me feel like I could conquer the world. No one in my family ever spoke ill of him. When I got a little older I started noticing him being unkind to my grandmother. The older I got the more unpleasant it became to be around him. I once asked my dad if he had always been that way. My dad told me that he had, but that us grandkids adored him and my parents and my aunts and uncles didn’t want to ruin that for us. He also said that they often wondered what us kids would think of him once we grew up.
That is a true story. My point is that no matter what their mother is saying to them, or trying to make them believe, there will always be a part of them that will see and find out for themselves. Most of that you have no control over. But there is something you have a lot of control over, that will also make or break your relationship with them.
Fight for them!
I’m not talking about fight with their mother, or the ole in-laws. I mean keep trying! No matter what they hear while with their mom, you keep speaking words of affirmation to them. You keep reminding them, even if it’s too much, how much you love them and think about them. You keep telling them how much you wish you could spend every single day with them. You keep filling their little hearts with the truth of your love. And when they ask you why mommy says differently, don’t speak badly of her! Just say you don’t know but that it isn’t true. There will come a time, when they are older, that they will treat you badly. They may not even want to see you. Just remember that kids push away what they want and need the most…..even if it’s you. In kids, depression comes out as anger. They aren’t really angry at you….they are sad about something. There will also come a time when they realize their mother was wrong, and even malicious. This will also make them angry and possibly push you away. Just know that it doesn’t have anything to do with you, personally. They are trying to work through their emotions and feelings and need the space to figure it out and come to terms with the truth. Still speak words of love and support to them.
Then they grow up.
So what happens when they grow up? I want to assure you that what we are blind to as children, we see fully as adults. Just like how my cousins and I see our grandfather. And don’t you dare let them grow up and realize that you never fought for them. Don’t you dare let them grow up and have to ask you why you didn’t try, for their sake, regardless of what their mother did or said. Because they, too, will become parents one day. It’s then they will realize the love between a parent and a child….and everything about who they are will question that love between themselves and you. Make sure they are confident in whatever conclusion they come to.
So hang in their, dad. Your day is coming. You have many years of being unsure, feeling like you aren’t enough, being treated like you aren’t enough, and spending your time always making-up for lost time. The day will come when they will be old enough for you to tell your whole side of the story. They will appreciate what all you went through for just a handful of hours with them. They will see how hard you fought all those years. They will see the ‘why’ of many things they hated you for, in the past. And their hearts will break for you. They will finally see, on their own, just how amazing you were all those years. They will see how much crap you put up with, or how much it cost you just to win some time with them. Just to win a hug from them. And they will absolutely adore you for it. I promise.
Hang in there Dad,
Your Mediocre Mom