To the man who made me a mother,
Happy Father’s Day.
It’s been over a month since you last saw the boys, and I’m not sure yet if today will break the ice. It would make sense if it did because after all, this one is “your day.” You’re their father.
But you’re still missing everything, and you’re still not really being a dad.
This isn’t a day to make you feel bad. It’s not a chance to get all the glory for being the one around for everything for our sons. It’s not a time to take away the importance of your role in their lives.
In fact, quite the opposite.
It’s on these kinds of days that the sadness sets in about our situation. It’s on these days that I realize how far gone you really are and how your sons and I will never be enough to change that for you. And it’s on these days that I look into our sons’ eyes and realize that despite all you’ve missed, they still long for you.
They haven’t seen you in a month, but they still think you hung the moon. When you cancelled on them last weekend, again, their little hearts broke. They looked at me with their hopeful hazel eyes and said, “Oh, daddy’s still sick?” I choked back my own tears as I simply replied, “Yeah, sweet peas, daddy’s still sick. I’m sorry.”
You refused to answer the phone when I called. You said you wouldn’t be able to keep it together long enough to explain to them why they wouldn’t get to see you … again.
You left that job to me.
While it rips my heart out seeing how excited they get when you promise them they’ll see you in a few days and then don’t show up, I’m glad they can still love you that much.
Right now, they love you the way I used to. They love you when it doesn’t make sense. They love you just because you’re you. They love you with reckless abandon.
It’s a fierce kind of love they have for you, and you haven’t even done anything to earn it. That’s OK, because you’re their father. They’re supposed to love you like that. What you seem to miss is that though their love is fierce, it’s fragile. You’re supposed to be the one who protects it, not breaks it.
The other day I found a video from two Father’s Days ago. You were chasing the boys around the living room that Sunday afternoon, and the house was filled with laughter and joy. You were sober. You looked healthy. You were their daddy.
They squealed in excitement running away from your tickles, all the while wanting you to catch them in your strong arms. You scooped them up and wrestled them down like daddies do, and in that moment we were a real family. The kind of family I hoped we would be forever.
I don’t know what was going through your mind back then, but in that moment, you were the kind of daddy our boys deserved. You were the man in our lives, at least on that day.
Today, that’s not the case. And it’s devastating.
My heart no longer breaks for me. I’ve let you go, because I’m strong enough to do that. But your sons? Your sons aren’t. They haven’t let you go, and they likely never will. At least not completely.
You’re their father. You’ll always be their father.
Whether you drink yourself to death or you get your life together and realize what you’re doing to yourself and your sons, you’ll always be their father. But you may not ever be their dad.
I don’t know. That piece will be up to you.
I’m thankful that despite your absence and lack of positive influence, the boys have strong men in their lives like my dad and my brothers. But as much as I want that to be enough for them, it seems there is a daddy-shaped hole in their hearts, and they feel it even at age 3.
That hole should be filled by you.
I look at the life you lead and I feel sad. I feel sad not only for our sons, but for you. I’ve realized over time, however, that just as I was all along, I’m more heartbroken for you than you are for yourself. It’s not until your own heart breaks that you’ll do something to change it.
In the meantime, it’s your sons’ hearts that break. It’s your sons that have a father but not a dad. It’s your sons that look to me to help them make sense of why they never see their father and why he’s always sick.
I don’t know if you will ever understand the importance of your role. Your own father didn’t understand his, and now, you’re missing yours.
Here’s what I promise to you, though.
There will never be a day that I don’t uphold your significance in our sons’ lives. There will never be a day that I say a bad word about you to them. There will never be a day that I degrade you or demoralize you to those boys.
I don’t have to. You’re doing it all by yourself, and eventually you will fade from their minds just as you’ve faded from their lives.
Regardless of whether or not you get it or care about it, you are their father, and Father’s Day is a day to recognize and appreciate fathers.
So that is what we will do today. The boys and I will pick out a card for you, and either they will give it to you themselves or we will put it in the mail. They might draw you a picture. And then we’ll move on, because that’s what 3-year-olds do.
But I’ll still feel the loss in my chest. Not for me, but for you and our sons.
In spite of your choices and the damage you continue to cause, I do want to say thank you, because although you’re not being a dad right now, you gave me the gift of being a mom. It’s because of you as their father that I get to be their mother. It’s because you’ve chosen to miss so much that I get to be present for everything.
And so I celebrate you today. Not because of the wonderful father you’ve been to our sons lately, but because you made me their mother.
I pray someday you get it. I pray someday you wake up and stop missing everything. I pray someday, you become more than their father and become their dad.
Until then, thank you. And Happy Father’s Day.