I wish I could post a “normal” picture of a smiling family and slap the theme of “happily ever after” on it and call it a day. But things haven’t gone as I planned when I was a little girl.
I’m not going to write EVERYTHING… but here is the “most” of it.
I got pregnant when I was 23. I thought that the right thing to do was to marry my baby’s father, so I did. Within that marriage I got pregnant again, but just after a few weeks of having that baby, Suds packed up and left. Drugs and personal interests were more important than worrying about raising a family. When he left, he left completely and had nothing to do with the boys. Then it was just the 3 of us.
I then was 25 with a 2 yr old boy and a 2 month old boy.
I determined that IF I would ever be with anyone again, it would be with someone of character. This man would have to be the 20 things that I had written on my list. My demands were not tall, dark and handsome, but honest, hard-working, a Christian and loved my boys. Cede found me when my boys were 3 and 15 months and we were married when they were 4 and 2 1/2.
That day was one of the happiest days of my life. I had found someone who truly believed what the vows of marriage truly meant and I had found someone who loved my sons as if they were his. I had found my partner for life and the man who I would grow old with. Only a few months after the wedding I got pregnant with my 3rd son.
Things went pretty good for a while until sports and cars became more important than family. The more that I tried to explain that he was withdrawling, the more I was “nagging.” The more that I cried and begged him to spend time with his children, the more I was ignored. I asked over and over for his opinion or his decision about family plans and all he would say is, “I don’t care”… so I finally stopped asking. I stopped begging him to join us on family outings and we (me and my 3 children) started going and doing things by ourselves. It seemed from the outside that things were fine. It seemed like everyone agreed with the way that things were being run. He didn’t WANT to make any decisions, so I made them all. Cede didn’t WANT to spend any time with me and the boys so we just went and did things on our own. Besides, he was busy doing his own things and he seemed happy.
I don’t know when things started to get bad. I guess I didn’t know. I was alright with the arrangement. I assumed that he was playing his sports while his body was young and I was the parent that parented the boys while they were in the house and when his body grew old and the boys left the house – that would be our time to grow old together. We would re-connect and become close again and become like those old gray-haired couples that you see still holding hands. I had vowed that I would be faithful. I had vowed that I would stay and that I would love him. I did. It was a hard time in our relationship and there was work to do, but I had vowed before the Lord that I would never give up – and I took that vow seriously.
He started disappearing more and more in the evenings after work. He was spending more money at all his bowling and softball and dart league and dodgeball. Him always being gone and not being a part of the family had always been a source of tension, but spending more money when we didn’t have enough was more stress. I tried to bring it up, but I don’t think he understood what I was saying. Next, I started smelling beer on him when he came home. Then, he started lying where he was when he wasn’t home. I didn’t find out about this until later, but that’s the progression of how things happened. On the last day, he stayed out all night. When he did come home that next afternoon at 4pm, the first words he said to me were, “I’m leaving.” I sat with him in the kitchen for more than 2 hours crying and trying to convince him to stay. He didn’t have any clear reason why he was leaving. He only kept saying, “It won’t work.” After going in loops and not getting any answers, I asked him if there was anything that I could do or say to make him change his mind, and he said no. He walked towards our bedroom to start packing. I pulled out a large red bag from my closet and told him he could use it.
The only thing on my mind that night, is that – I know this man. And this is not who he is. He loves me and he loves his children. If I let him walk out the door (which it’s obvious I can’t stop), he will realize how dumb this decision is. He will snap out of this, realize that there is no way that he can go forward with this decision and he will come back. He will not be able to live without his family. There is no way… he can’t…. he loves us. He’ll come back.
Cede packed his bowling ball, his baseball glove, his softball uniform, his clothes, cleats and his towel. He didn’t pack a single picture of me or his kids. I always look back at that and realize at that moment what was most important to him. I realize where his priorities were.
He never came back. He refused to go to counselling. In the last two years he has visited the boys maybe 10 times, and most of those times he just comes and takes them out to eat and then leaves. He has lost their respect. I am so thankful of other role models that have stepped into my son’s lives that have been great examples to my boys to show them what a real father is so that they won’t repeat the cycle.
He’s hurt us so badly. He has crushed me. Only recently with the help of a therapist have I been able to move on and accept his lower level of cognition and comprehension. I meant the vow / promise that I made before our relatives, friends and God but he either was too simple to understand it, or lied. It doesn’t matter which one it was now, it’s too late and he’s gone.
We are moving on and healing. My little guy breaks my heart at the honest reality of his words. He says, “Maybe dad will wake up one day and say, ‘Hmmm, now what did I forget when I left? Let’s see, I got my bowling ball, and my cleats…. what did I forget…? OH! I forgot my kids! Ah! That’s what I forgot!’. Dad will say that after 5 years.”
He’s joking and he’s not. I have to be both parents. I have to be stern and also the soft place where they can land. I have to teach and guide, I have to do this all on my own. I guess I was doing it all by myself anyway really.
Pictures taken 09/2014