And no, I don't mean Santa Claus. This time.
So, you guys know I have a pretty terrific kid, right? There are moments when I'd like to trade her in for a puppy, but most days? She's pretty fabulous...
That's my girl!
In some ways, she's very much like me, which is understandable, as we spend a LOT of time together. I have full custody of her and though her father has liberal visitation, he chooses not to take advantage of it. He hasn't seen her in nearly a year. I'd like to say this is unusual, but it's not. Since we split up six years ago, I can count on both hands the number of times he's seen her. This once-a-year thing has been the norm for the past three years. He makes all sorts of excuses for his absence, but that's what they are -- excuses.
Luckily, Ryan was never used to him being there. Even when we were married, he was working away from home and only (barely) there on the weekends. So when we split up, not seeing him was just par for the course. She didn't really miss him. And when she did, I'd make excuses for him, on top of his excuses. I stopped doing that, though, when she got older and wiser, as I try not to ever lie to her. But I work hard to make sure she understands that his absence is not about her. That her father's lack of attention is about his deficiencies; that he loves her more than he loves anyone... he's simply not capable of love or expressing love the way most people are. And that is not her fault.
She's been willing to forgive him a lot. I do a pretty good job of being Mom and Dad, so not seeing him isn't the end of the world. And for a long time, he still called her a few times a week to check in, and that seemed to be enough for her.
But things changed this past year. He did a few things that were pretty unforgivable... things even I couldn't spin. He let her down. He broke her heart. And then he pretty much abandoned her. Since her birthday at the beginning of August, with the exception of a one-line email on the first day of school, he has made no attempt to contact her.
I look at her and see the amazing person she is growing into and I simply cannot imagine how he doesn't want to know her; how he can go 12 months without seeing her; how he doesn't have any interest in her life. I don't get it.
She doesn't get it either. But even though it would be understandable if she acted out or got depressed or put me through Hell because of the heartache he has caused, she doesn't do any of that. As I say, she's like me in some ways and, thankfully, she inherited my sense of humor. I love this, except when she uses it against me (which is more often than I care to note here)... then it's not quite so funny. But it serves her well, in general. She chooses to laugh at this awful situation with her dad rather than wallow in it. She has dubbed her father, "The Donor." It makes me chuckle, as that's how I think of him (though she didn't get the name from me!). She makes a lot of jokes at his expense now and though I don't (usually) allow her to be disrespectful or ugly, I let her get out how she feels, grateful she's able to deal with her pain in some way and wind up laughing about it.
A couple of weeks ago, we were in the grocery store, picking up a bottle of wine to take to a friend's house for dinner. I was looking for my favorite Merlot when Ryan started to laugh. She nudged me and pointed to a bottle of wine called, 'Fat Bastard'. Then she said, "Look, Mom, they named a bottle of wine after Daddy!"
I tried not to laugh. I tried to look stern. I failed. Miserably. Then I hugged her, kissed her head, and said, "I'm so glad I'm the parent you like!"