Usually the questions come in spurts. He used to ask me where his “daddy” was, then once he was old enough, it’s when is “daddy” coming back to visit (and I put “daddy” in quotes because it kills me to use the word daddy when he hasn’t earned the right to be called it). I’m not here to publicly trash his dad on the internet, but let’s get a little background first, shall we? I moved to Chicago to nanny after I graduated high school many moons ago. After a few months there, I met and fell in love with this amazing man-child. Fast forward a few years and I’m pregnant, and him and I were preparing to move back to Ohio to raise this little bean we are growing. Last minute he decides not to come, I’m broken hearted- but not as broken-hearted as realizing he had another child two months before ours was born. He came to visit Elijah was he was about 4 years old and ended up staying for a year and a half. During this time we tried working out a relationship and I realized that we could never have a healthy relationship nor could we co-parent this child with completely different views. He ended up moving back to Chicago or Wisconsin or somewhere, and I got to keep the prize :)
Before his dad came to visit, Elijah was always asking where is he, why don’t I have a dad, when can I see him, on and on the questions went. The only thing he knew was that he lived in another state, and I told him it was because of work and his family; he would miss them too much if he came here. After his dad came, and then left again, he asked me when he was coming back. I told him he got a job in Minnesota and that’s where he had to be. He was okay with that answer for a while, but the older he got, the smarter he got as well. He went through a phase where whenever his dad would call, he decided he didn’t want to talk to him. His answer was always, “Nah- I’ll call him back tomorrow” when his dad called and I asked if he wanted to talk. Tomorrow didn’t come for a LONG time for him, but alas, he began to miss him again.
Recently, he begin asking me when he could talk to his dad again, or if his dad could come back here and visit. I didn’t even have any contact information so that Elijah could call him, but after 8 long months of waiting (that’s right- it took him 8 months to call his son), his “daddy” finally calls him to say hi. Oh, and to ask if he could come pick him up and take him to Minnesota for two weeks before school started. I’m sorry, “What?!?! “. My immediate response was “Hell to the NO”. His dad was upset that I was “keeping him” from Elijah, and he’s his dad and has every right to see him. I said he could come here and see him, that option would never change. I wasn’t sure where he lived, what kind of people he hung out with, or what he would be subjecting Elijah to, and I’m not comfortable with sending Elijah into the unknown with him. And poor Elijah is standing in the background shaking his head no, he doesn’t want to go. No matter how much he may miss him, or wish that he were here, the fact of the matter is; he is still a stranger to him. He has only seen him for a year and a half out of his almost 11 years. He never bonded with him, and listening to their phone conversations physically hurts me at times. Awkward silence anyone?
I used to get upset with his dad when he wouldn’t call, or try to be involved with Elijah. I’ve since gotten over my anger- it’s obviously him that’s missing out on the awesomeness that is Elijah. However, I hate to see my child sad and hurting. And while he’s working through these feelings and figuring out whats going on with his absent dad, he’s sad and hurting and that hurts me. And when I’m hurting, I get angry.
Up until recently, I’ve never said anything negative about Elijah’s dad to him. I feel that isn’t my place to put any negativity in his head; he’s got plenty of time for the thoughts to come on their own, and they will, I’m sure of it. No matter the questions he would ask me about his dad, I was almost defending him, which in retrospect, makes me a little sick to my stomach. My response was always, “You know Daddy loves you, he’s just busy working” or “Daddy wishes he could be here, but all his family is there with him” or “I’m sure daddy would LOVE to come see you, but it’s probably hard for him to take time off work”. The last time Elijah asked me if Daddy could come visit, and why he hasn’t seen him in so long, my response was “I don’t know honey. But I do know that even though you miss him a lot, it’s HIM that missing out, not you. You’re an amazing kid, and he doesn’t even know it.”
I have a hard time understanding how anyone could have a child out there in the world and not go crazy because they don’t talk to them in weeks or months, or see him/her for years! It doesn’t make sense to me, and I don’t think I ever WANT to understand how that’s even possible. So here’s my question; I know I’m not the only one in this situation. How do you guys handle absent parents and what do you tell your kids about them?