You were there at conception — brought your seed to the soiree. Congratulations, you successfully contributed to the population. Not much of an achievement, but what an honor. Too bad you don’t fully understand what fatherhood entails, and the enormity of your personal responsibility to grow up and get your shit together in a real way. No one expects you to be perfect, but there is someone who expected you to, at the very least, be present: your son.
This is where I bleed on the page, because this is where I tell you what you’ve done to my heart: my son (our son). He’s as cocky as can be; his room is a moldy mess, complete with stale socks and candy wrappers from last Halloween. He’s lazy with the lawncare, quick with ridiculous excuses to abandon his chores — “Yard work is for farmers.” But this obnoxious teen has a supernatural hold on my heart. He can twist it with his words, melt it with a sad stare, leave me in full blown arrhythmia with his brute boy actions. He has my heart. He is my heart, and many mothers know the feeling.
So when you chose the door, you crushed us both, because when he hurts, I bleed. So watch yourself, fool. I forgave you for the nights you left my bed, telling me lies about overtime hours at work while you ripped the clothes off some seductress in the backseat of your Sebring. I forgave you for a decade of bad marriage, broken windows and belittling statements. I played a role too, and I don’t deny that. I wasn’t so wifely and warm all the time. But this post is not about me. It’s not about divorce; it’s about dads who choose the door and cause incomprehensible damage when they walk away from their own children. It’s about your decision to carve a hole in the child you helped create.
You were supposed to be here when he slid his first razor across his not-so-hairy face. It was your job to hold the hammer when he learned to pound a nail, and to prod him to “pull your finger” and do all the disgusting male things a mother cannot. You were supposed to sit among the throng of proud parents as he broke his first board in martial arts class. When a torrent of teenage emotions overwhelmed him, when he became confused and depressed, attempted to take his life and was strapped to a stretcher for a quick ride to the hospital, you were supposed to see the pain swimming in his eyes. You were supposed to break down, be horrified and feel the lethal blow of a parent’s worst nightmare. But you were not. You chose to walk the easy road of absenteeism.
Pardon me for not wishing you well this Father’s Day. I’m currently busy being both mom and dad to the most amazing young man you don’t know.
P.S. To be fair, I will say that the “dad” to which I’ve addressed this letter was present in the early years of our son’s life. Together the two built Lego kingdoms and pushed Hot Wheels on hard floors. I will never understand how a parent can leave a child — whether early on or later in life. I only hope we who remain can convince every abandoned child of their intrinsic value despite what’s been done. And though this letter was harsh, I do not hate my ex (I only abhor his actions). Hate is a personal prison, and it only enslaves the hater.