My husband has been out of town for well over two weeks now. He has been traveling quite a bit since we separated. While this is hard for me, I know it’s twice as hard for the kids. Even after 18 months I still feel the emptiness without him, I know they do as well. At times I wonder how he can go days at a time being away from them, only because as a mother I can’t stand to be away from them for very long. For awhile I let this really get to me, I think it probably hurt me more than it hurt the kids at times. I have since tried to separate my feelings from theirs and really try to pinpoint why this bothered me so much. I’m still not sure I really have that part figured out but I feel like I’m getting closer.
While I have no doubt in my mind that he loves our kids and loved our family, I remember having to push him to be involved. His work always came first for him. As much as I tried to be respectful of that, it irritated me greatly. I think a lot of that had to do with my childhood. I pushed a lot of my expectations as a child onto him; the attention that I didn’t receive, the simple act of attendance at some of my milestones. I thought I had let that go as an adult, but I’m beginning to think maybe I didn’t. I think I pushed all of those unmet needs onto him. I wanted him to be to our kids what I needed from my parents as a child. That was not fair to him. Unfortunately when he failed to be there for our kids, I took that so much harder than I should have.
However, I do see those same tendencies in my kids now. The missed games, the missed plays, the missed competitions….that disappointed look a child has when they don’t see the one person that they’re searching for in a crowd.
I was sitting in the counselor’s office this past week while my youngest was in his session. There was a separated couple in the waiting room with me along with their little boy. The little boy couldn’t have been more than a year old. He was just starting to toddle around holding onto furniture and would go 2-3 steps before looking up at me and flashing a precious toothy smile. He was a cutie! The parents were sitting there quietly talking about what was left for the husband to move out of the house and the entire time this sweet boy was taking turns flashing his smile to me and then looking up at his daddy’s face and trying to grab his attention by hitting his leg or letting a stream of baby babble out. Not once did this dad take the time to look at this little boy. He wasn’t even looking at his wife, his attention was solely on his iPhone. He was communicating (a nod here, a yes or no there) with his wife, but not once did he look at her either.
At one point the wife made eye contact with me and in her eyes I saw myself. The resentment, the hurt, the anger, the disappointment, the sadness…there were so many days that I felt like there was nothing that I could do to get my husband to really see me or our kids. My way of dealing with those unmet needs was to lash out.
Last night was another test for me. My daughter had her final night of a show at the school. All of the moms and dads were waiting for our cheerleaders to come out after they performed. All of them except for one, nearly all of them had either a single rose or a bouquet for their daughters. I watched her as she took it all in and I could see everything in her eyes before she quickly looked away. We made eye contact and I quickly pasted a huge smile on my face, gave her a big hug, and said I’m sorry. The only difference is that I didn’t make an excuse for him this time as I had numerous times in the past. The words that came out of her mouth broke my heart. “I don’t have a dad anymore.”
It hurts me to see my kids hurting and I’m still trying to separate that from my own hurt. As a mother, I want to take all of their pain away. As debilitating as my pain can be, I would take theirs from them in a heartbeat and add it to my own to keep them from feeling this.
I know I’ve been a little all over the place with my emotions lately and this post took me a few days to put out. The emotions that I’ve been feeling keep bringing me back to a post written by a friend of mine. If you have time please go check out her blog. http://threeboysandamom.org/2015/02/12/youre-missing-everything/