Open Letter to the Dad Who Chose the Door

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.

 

26 Comments
  • Corinne Rodrigues
    June 6, 2016

    It’s always so hard for us to watch the ones we love suffer and know that we can never compensate or console them. It is his father’s loss. But so hard for your son to understand how the man could walk away. Hugs.

    • Rica Lewis
      June 6, 2016

      It is so very hard, Corrinne! Thanks for reading, and for the hugs too. 🙂

  • Julie
    June 6, 2016

    So powerful. It’s sad that your ex will never get to know his son the way you do. I can tell you are a strong role model for your son. It says a lot about your great character that you don’t hate your ex, only his actions.

    • Rica Lewis
      June 6, 2016

      Thank you for your kindness, Julie. I appreciate your taking the time to comment. 🙂

  • Shann eva
    June 6, 2016

    Such a powerful and emotional post. I can’t imagine how someone could leave their children, especially after spending the first few years of life with them. Your son is lucky to have you as both a mother and a father, and I can feel how much it hurts you that his other father isn’t there for him. It is truly his loss, and I hope he realizes it someday.

    • Rica Lewis
      June 6, 2016

      Thanks so much, Shann Eva! We’re encouraged by your kind words.

  • Taylor Mobley
    June 6, 2016

    That was very raw and emotional. I just can’t see how someone can leave their family behind. It blows my mind.

    • Rica Lewis
      June 6, 2016

      It is mind blowing, Taylor. Thanks so
      much for reading and commenting. I appreciate your response

  • Sally
    June 6, 2016

    Wow, this is really powerful and emotional. I’ve been very fortunate (as a woman) to have my father in my life, and I honestly can’t imagine having to grow up with out him. In the end, it’s your ex’s lost for missing out on what a strong young man your son has grown up to be. Your son is lucky to have you as a strong role model as both mother and father :).

    • Rica Lewis
      June 6, 2016

      You have been lucky, Sally! So sad that many kids aren’t as fortunate. Thanks for stopping in and sharing. And thanks for your encouraging words!

  • lori
    June 6, 2016

    I’m sorry for the hurt you both feel. It really is your ex’s loss. He missed out on the greatness of being there for a child. Your son is very lucky to have you by his side.

  • Gina Leslie
    June 8, 2016

    I am so sorry for your experience but from the sounds of it you are a very strong woman!

  • Klaudia
    June 8, 2016

    So touching , I absolutely understand what you are going through. My man has 2 kids from previous marriage. We go on so well with each other. The kids have always said to be blessed with having everything double. 2 moms , 2 dads , 4 grannies … Couples split up , you can maybe after years not love your partner anymore , but how the heck do you not love your child anymore ? I am very sorry for your son , a SON as well . If I think back when our son was a teenager and how he turned from mommy’s darling boy to dad’s tough pal . Your ex does not even deserve to be a dad ! I hope , he doesn’t make any more . How horrible for your son and for you . We can replace a partner – but you can’t replace mother or father . All the best wishes for you both , don’t forget : Karma will do it’s job ! I am sure about .

    • Rica Lewis
      June 8, 2016

      Thank you so much for that amazing comment, Klaudia! I don’t understand how any human can do such a thing but I don’t try to make sense of it. I just do the best I can to mend the damage. It’s so nice to hear about your family, and how you’re nurturing those kids. Well done! You’re fabulous!

  • Leanne
    June 10, 2016

    That was so heartfelt Rica – I can’t imagine how a parent can walk away and not want to be part of their child’s life – watching all those milestones and building into that child’s character. Maybe one day he’ll come back but it will never make up for those missing years. Good on you for doing your very best to fill his role as well as your own x

    • Rica Lewis
      June 10, 2016

      Thanks for reading, Leanne. I think my son understands that even if his dad were to return, it wouldn’t matter now. Sad, but some people are so wounded that all they’re capable of is destruction. At least that’s been my experience.

  • Molly Stevens
    June 10, 2016

    Well said, Rica. I like the way you advocate for your son and attack actions but not people. Hate does hurt the hater more than the hatee. You post portrays the loss on both ends of this estrangement.

  • Faye
    June 10, 2016

    So raw and poignant… You discussed this difficult topic beautifully. It’s such a shame that some people don’t understand the impact they’re leaving behind . I am so sorry for the hurt for both of you.

  • Carol Cassara
    June 11, 2016

    Wow. That is one deep wound for your son and for you, too. I can’t understand this kind of behavior, either. Blessings to you for carrying the load. I’m sorry you have to.

    • Rica Lewis
      June 11, 2016

      Thank you so much, Carol. Blessings right back at you!

  • Alistair
    July 2, 2016

    I am a man contemplating choosing the door. I’m not having an affair, but I am sick of the constant put-downs, nagging, bitching and screaming that I and my sons must endure daily.

    I work from home, and my work frequently involves late night international teleconferences finishing at 2 or 3am. My wife doesn’t work, and goes to bed at 8pm most nights. So even though I still get up at 7:30-8am, I am told SHE is tired and I need to do more.

    She spends her day on Facebook, doesn’t eat (and pukes what little she does eat). I am beginning to think she has mental health issues and frankly I am afraid she is taking the boys and me with her.

    Even yesterday, in front of visitors in our house, she said “Why don’t you just leave?” – so I’m being shown the door.

    My point is, not every Dad that chooses the door is having an affair, but simply can no longer accept the abuse.

    • Rica Lewis
      July 3, 2016

      I am so sorry, Alistair. Perhaps if your wife needs help, it would be best for you to take your boys out of the home for a time? I’m wondering if she is suffering from depression? I’m no expert, but if your wife is unhappy and making everyone else miserable, a change is in order. I hope you get some help for all involved. All the best to you and your family.

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