You are only 4 right now, and it will be a long time before I sit you down and tell you the truth about your dad. I dread that day because I want to keep you in the oblivious bubble of your little world that I keep such a tight seal on. Mommy never wants to see you hurt. This is one truth that will hurt, but I hope one day will give you closure and understanding surrounding the mystery of “him.”
When I met your dad mommy was not in a very good place. I had just graduated from a great private college. I got a degree in Psychology because mommy always was interested in how people worked. Mommy got a really stressful job working with abused kids. I wanted to save them all, I couldn’t save a single one. I drank a lot. So did your dad. So we would drink together. Your dad had good qualities. He was funny, the life of the party. It was too late before mommy realized he was the life of the party because the party was inside him fueled by things that are not good for your body. In the beginning he made mommy feel special. You dad had a lot of problems, but that was part of what drew me to him. He had a really rough life, and I think I thought he needed someone to love him and he would become a better person. Snugglebug if there is another lesson I want you to really understand that you can’t change ANYBODY. When I found out I was pregnant with you, mommy was super scared. Your dad wasn’t the “daddy” type and I was worried early on that he wouldn’t do the “daddy” stuff a dad should do. I was unfortunately right.
After I got over being scared, I got really excited. I knew I would be a great mom and love you and protect you and teach you all kinds of amazing things about this world.
Mommy had a high risk pregnancy. I had a blood factor that caused me to be at risk of losing you at anytime. Mommy was worried about you all the time. I would drive two hours a week to the special hospital where they monitored me. Your dad never came to an appointment. Wait, actually he did come to the appointment when I found out if you were going to be a boy or a girl. He was happy you were a boy, and emailed and facebooked every person he knew, before I had a chance to even tell our family. I was lying on the ultrasound table and he left the room to share the news. When mommy was getting ready to have you, I took birthing classes. Your Nana came with me because daddy thought that was “stupid.”
The day you were born was the best day of my life, but also a day that I felt so sad for you. Mommy was in labor for 48-hours. I think you thought my belly was comfy and didn’t want to come out. My epidural came out (you will understand all of this one day), and your dad came to the hospital 15 minutes before they took me in for a c-section. Your Nana and Papa never left my side.
Your dad saw you for 20 minutes after you were born. Then he left. He wanted to go out and celebrate with his friends. I remember sitting there holding you looking into the most beautiful face I had ever laid eyes on, my heart ready to burst with all the love I had for you. After all, I loved you before you were even born. I didn’t even know you could love someone so much. The next day all of our family and friends came to see you. Your dad didn’t show up. He was still out celebrating. That night I held you and cried because I felt so sad for you when I looked at your precious face. How could anyone even set you down, let alone not see you for your first two days of life? From that day and to this day I have worried about you not feeling wanted. I worry that you will feel there wasn’t something good enough about you for your dad to want to stay, to get healthy, and be a part of your beautiful life. I knew at that moment your dad and i would never be together, and knew the chances of him being around to be a dad to you were slim to none.
When we got home from the hospital I tried so hard to breastfeed you. It was much easier in the hospital with the nurses getting me all set up. Your dad was screaming at me telling me you had to eat. He went to the store and bought bottles. Then he left. Your dad was never home. He went out every single night drinking and doing drugs. If he came home before morning, he would go into the bedroom (I was sleeping on the couch with you next to me because it was easier after surgery for me to get up), turn the fan on as loud as it would go, shut the door and pass out. I know he did this because when you woke up every two hours he didn’t want to hear you cry.
I want you to know you were the easiest baby. You only cried when you were hungry or needed your diaper changed. You never, ever frustrated me when you were an infant. When you would wake up crying ready to eat, I would happily change your diaper in my sleep stupor and gaze into your eyes as you sucked down that bottle. I was fascinated by you. I would sit and hold you and stare at you and cry, not because I was sad but because I couldn’t believe that this beautiful boy was mine.
I told your dad he had to move out. Dads are supposed to feed their babies, change their diapers and bathe them. But those weren’t even the important things. They are supposed to hold you, tickle you, ooh and ahh over every face, noise and fart you make. Mommy sure did. Do you know that I have over 14,000 photos of you? You were growing so fast, I think I took so many pictures because I wanted to preserve every minute of you growing up that I could. Your dad started sleeping in the dirty unfinished basement. Liquor bottles were everywhere down there. He didn’t come up unless it was to leave. Mommy was tired, I would go to Nana and Papa’s house and they would hold you and rock you and cuddle you while mommy would sleep. They were there through everything.
Papa and I gave you your first bath. We called Papa the “baby hog.” Nana would have to tell him when people were coming over that he needed to “share” you because he wanted to hold you all day long. He was so proud of you. He immediately started calling you “my boy.” He was just like a daddy to you. He adored you and jumped at the chance to change you, feed you, rock you, and snuggle you.
When you were 7-weeks-old something really scary happened. You started running a fever. Mommy called the doctor and he told us to meet him on the pediatric unit at the hospital. You dad was furious with me. See he had these fear of hospitals and thought I was being dramatic by calling the doctor. When we got there (and your dad did ride with), there were no other kids on the unit. Mommy still wasn’t worried I figured your doctor was on call and needed to see you there. He came into see us and his face had a look that terrified me. He said we need to do a spinal tap on him immediately. I told that doctor absolutely not. I wasn’t going to let them hurt you. He told me that at your age having a fever can be very serious. There was a baby with meningitis in the week before and he was worried you could have that too. I asked him if he had a son what he would do. He said I would do the spinal tap immediately. He said you could die in 24 hours. I told him to do it. I called Nana and Papa and they came immediately. Did the doctor just say you could die? I just met the love of my life and he was telling me you could be gone. They wouldn’t let mommy go in the room with you for the procedure. I learned later Papa had convinced them to let him go in. I heard the most blood curdling scream coming from you. I had never heard you cry like that. When they brought you back to me your face was covered with broken blood vessels from crying so hard. Mommy was a wreck. Your dad was a wreck of sorts too but his questions to the doctor were “Could I get the meningitis too?” Then he asked the nurse for a POPSICLE and left. They put you in a crib that looked like a mini jail cell. Tubes and wires and you looked so fragile. I slept in the chair next to your bed. The next day they said that there was something in your fluid but they didn’t think it was meningitis. They wanted to keep you on the antibiotics for 5 days and make sure nothing developed. That day I learned I could sleep in the crib with you. I never left your side those first four days. I had Nana stop at the house and bring up your Sami the seahorse that played music that you slept with every night. Also your heartbeat bear. We were a team, just like we had been from the beginning. By the fourth day mommy started getting sick. You see I wasn’t getting much sleep because the nurses would come to check on you every hour, and you would wake up every two hours for your bottle. Papa told me to go home and get some sleep. I refused to leave you until he told me that if I got sick I wouldn’t be able to take care of you. I knew he was right. If there was anyone to stay with you, Papa was the closest thing to your mommy. I cried when I left you that night, but I knew you were safe with Papa. I woke up early the next morning and when I walked in the room I knew Papa had taken GREAT care of you. We joked that you boys had had a “party” because there were bottles all over the room, the bed, the floor. There were paci’s everywhere too. I wish I could tell you that your dad stayed up there those six days watching over you like we did. He was there for 2 hours total while you were there. He blamed it on his fear of hospitals. When you have your own child one day you will realize that you would DIE for your child, and never let ANY kind of fear keep you from them.
Papa finally told your dad he HAD to move out. He told him that mommy didn’t love him anymore and he had to find a new place in 2 days. Papa told him to go to rehab for his drinking problem. He said he would and he moved out. Your dad was scared of your Papa because he knew that your Papa was more of a dad to you then he had ever been.
When he moved out our house turned into our sanctuary. There was no more tension, him yelling at me, or talking down to me. Your dad was not very nice to me. He said a lot of really, really nasty things to me. I brushed them off because i had YOU. I no longer walked on eggshells and we began the real journey of me and you.
It was actually less work for me when your dad moved out. He had never fed you, bathed you, rocked you, held you or played with you. He had never been alone with you because I didn’t trust him that he wouldn’t pass out or put you in the car if he had been drinking. I was used to doing everything for you so nothing changed. I loved every minute I had with you.
I want you to know I tried to let your dad be a part of your life. I really did. I would let him come over to visit you, but he didn’t show up much. When he came to see you I would try to get the laundry done, the bottles cleaned, because when I was with you I spent all my time WITH you. His visits consisted of him putting you in your bouncer and getting on the computer saying he was looking for jobs. He never got one. It pissed me off so much because how could he not be jumping to hold you when he hardly saw you. Your dad was sporadic with his visits. Sometimes it would be months between visits. He missed your first Christmas, Easter, and Fourth of July. Your first birthday came and went and he was drinking a lot so I didn’t invite him to your party. He never even dropped a present off for you. Ever. Nana and Papa and mommy were always there for those.
You won’t remember when you are older but mommy makes a BIG deal about your birthdays. I make your cake, 1st birthday was a big dump truck full of “dirt” cake, your 2nd a dinosaur, your 3rd a robot, your 4th a Lightning McQueen race track. I make all of your invitations. Don’t worry about remembering I have LOTS of pictures. I do this for your parties because I want you to know how special you were and are. You deserve the world, and mommy is trying to give it to you.
When you were about 14 months old your dad hadn’t seen you in awhile and I let him stop by for a visit after verifying he was sober. He tried to pick you up and you ran and clung to me. He started screaming at me “that I was turning you against him.” You didn’t KNOW him. I know and you know that I have never said a bad thing about your father to you in your life. I hope I have been doing things right.
A week later your dad was supposed to come see you. I told you “daddy is coming” you stood by the front door saying “daddy?” for an hour. He never showed, and that is when I closed the door on your father’s relationship with you.
You see Snugglebug, I think it would be much worse to have a “sort of dad” than to not have one at all. You deserved and still do deserve a full-time dad. Not someone who might keep a promise, might show up, might follow through, might but never did come help me when you were sick. Having no dad was not what I wanted for you, but it was the best way to keep you safe, physically and emotionally. You had your Papa who treated you like his own, and you had a mommy who was willing to make up and do whatever I could to make up for your dad not being around. Double love, double snuggles, double everything. I know it doesn’t really make up for it. After all I am a mommy not a daddy but I really, really try my best.
I told your dad he had to go to rehab if he wanted to see you anymore. I was serious about it. After watching you stand at the door I couldn’t ever let that happen to you again. You quickly forgot about that incident and that stranger faded from your mind once again. You were at your aunts the day I was going to take your dad to rehab, he drank as much alcohol as he could consume and drove to your Nana’s house to meet me. I got him in the car and we started driving to the hospital. I gave him a really clear talk on the ramifications of him not following through on this. He jumped out of the car at a stop sign. Said he couldn’t do it, but then he got back in. I want you to know sweet boy how hard I tried to help your dad so he could have a relationship with you. When we walked in the hospital I had pictures I had just taken of you in my purse. I thought if I gave them to him while he was in rehab it would help motivate him to get better. While he was checking in, he started shaking bad. He turned to me and said “I can’t do this, I don’t want to do this.” I looked at him calmly and said “you know what this means, you can’t see him.” “I know” he said.
I walked out of the hospital and started crying in the parking lot. I looked at the pictures I had brought for him and cried some more. The pictures of you in the overalls playing in Nana and Papa’s back yard. I wanted him to want to get better so bad. The problem was Snugglebug I wanted it more than he did. Like I said earlier, you can’t make people change no matter how hard you try. I never looked back.
A year passed and I stuck to my word. I wouldn’t let him see you. He would call, email me, text me, saying he was going to change. I didn’t want to hear about what he was GOING to do, I needed to see results. It was the only way he would ever be a part of your life. Eventually I had to block him from my phone, my email, and facebook. I thought he knew I was serious.
One day when Nana went to pick you up from daycare and I was going to meet her at home to get you, your dad showed up. I hadn’t seen him in a year and he just walked into Nana and Papa’s house. He was so drunk he could barely walk. Papa’s truck was parked outside and I couldn’t believe he had just come in like that. He scared mommy really bad. I asked him what he thought he was doing. He said that “he wanted to see you, he was your daddy, and that he was dying from cancer.” Snugglebug I didn’t tell you this yet but your dad was a compulsive liar. He couldn’t keep his lies straight. Twice he told me had cancer and was dying, all lies. You hadn’t seen him for a year, you were 2 1/2. The psychological effects on you of him just showing up ready to stake his claim on you could have been devastating. I had worked so hard to keep this bubble of safety around you and he planned to literally walk in and pop it. Do you know what that could have emotionally done to you? I was so thankful you weren’t there and I was furious with him. He was getting really angry and mommy had to call the police. They arrested your dad and mommy got an OP against him. He can’t come near us for 2 years.
I want you to know that every moment I have with you is beautiful. We are each other’s Snugglebugs. You are my super pal and I am yours. I have been here for all of your firsts. I fix your owies, and when you are naughty I put you in time out because I love you. You are going to grow up to be a great daddy. You tell me that you will be a great daddy and I know that.
You have done so much in such a short time, and I was there for it all. First faces, first smiles, first crawls, first walks. First new foods, you really liked your veggies when you were little. Learning to count, your alphabet, writing your name, all the songs you know. You recently went through a “call me maybe” song phase. Don’t worry I have that on video for when you are older. Maybe your wedding day? Acorn and rock collections, learning to pump your legs and swing by yourself. Finally learning to dress yourself, putting your dishes on the counter (we are still working on that). Your beautiful drawings, you really have a talent. You are so smart, when you were 3 you started talking about concepts like God and angels. You can think in abstract ways that truly baffle and amaze me. We are expert lego builders, and can recite the Lightning McQueen movies by heart together. Your car collection is vast, and you have always been obsessed with wheels. Before you could sit up you would lay on the floor with your cars, and organize them. You would check each wheel methodically to ensure that they spun correctly. You are a play-doh fanatic, you prefer to make animal prints and tracks then to build with them. You love puzzles and board games.
You are a beautiful boy, and not just because I am your mom but because people tell me all the time. But above all your soul is beautiful. You are a mommas boy, and you always run to me for comfort. You are kind, lovey, snuggly, and cautious. You ask so many questions mommy can’t keep them all straight. You are kind and love your family. You adore your cousins and they adore you. We have our routines. Pancakes for breakfast, stories every night before bed. You love the water. You just finished your first year of t-ball, and just started swimming lessons. You love to dance and have a sense of humor that is very infectious. You can be a handful and mommy could be more patient, but we make a good team. You are so incredibly smart, you score a year and a half above kids your age in school. Your memory is shocking. You will talk about things that happened over two years ago with such detail that you even remember the clothes we were wearing. But you don’t remember “him.”
I hope when you are older you remember me answering your questions the best I could. I never spoke poorly of your dad because everything I have read, studied and researched says never to do so. I try to simplify the situation for you as best I can. I tell you that some people don’t just know how to be mommies and daddies. That they have to learn how to be them. That adults can make bad choices, and when they do this they have to learn to make good choices before they can be around their kids. I tell you I hope he is working on things. You ask me when you will see him again, and I answer you honestly that I don’t know. But I do make it clear every time that I am so sorry that it is the way it is. You deserve a real daddy and you deserve the world. I hope when you grow up you understand why mommy made the choices I did. I hope you see I tried to help your dad, and I hope that you never, ever blame yourself for any of this. You were the best thing to ever happen to me, you made mommy want to be a better person. Mommy is in school now getting her master’s so I can be an Occupational Therapist and help other kids. All because of you. As we say in bed..
Me: “I love you”
You: “I love you more”
Me: “I love you most”
You: “Yeah well mommy I love you all the way to pluto even though it isn’t even a real planet anymore!”
I love you more than you will ever understand. Maybe when you have your own child you will understand. I am so proud of you and I thank you from the deepest part of my soul for saving my life.