Good Grief

No, not a post about Charlie Brown….

First, a little background. Some or most of this I’ve already talked about on this blog, perhaps obliquely, perhaps not – it’s hard for me to know. The meat of what I want to say will make more sense if I describe this though, so here goes. I was single when I made the decision to become a parent via adoption. I did all the paperwork to adopt from China, then sat back for a year and waited for my referral. A lot of things can happen in a year, and in mine, I met a guy. While he hardly jumped on the parenthood bandwagon, he also didn’t want to lose me, and when I got my referral we chose a name together and he traveled to China with me when I adopted Krystal in 2002. She has always known him as Daddy, and we married later that year. During my marriage I was a single parent, and he even agreed with that assessment. With the wisdom of hindsight and perspective, I believe most of that was driven by his emotional immaturity, and I’m truly not saying that in a nasty way. He was not really ready or prepared to become a parent, and he disengaged from me and from our family pretty much immediately. I also believe he was depressed and angry at the change to his life that he didn’t feel like he had a say in choosing. At any rate, despite agreeing before marriage, and much begging by me during our marriage, he never adopted Krystal, and thus never became her legal father.

After our divorce we moved away, and he now lives 7 hours away by car. Over the last 3 years he has visited Krystal here at our house several times a year, sometimes staying in a hotel, sometimes he takes her to his parents who live about 2 hours from us. He will call her occasionally and sporadically, and she always loves hearing from him. I’m amazed at the progression in our relationship – sometimes he and I spend more time chatting than they do. Sometimes I see glimpses of the guy I thought I married.

Krystal’s birthday is in January, and for the last 3 years he has seen her for a weekend between Christmas and her birthday to celebrate both, and this year was no different. However, due to a heavy travel schedule on his part and various other conflicts on both sides (I suppose), that was the only visit this year, up till this past weekend.

He arrived in our area on Friday, and he, Krystal and I actually had lunch and saw the movie Wall-E together. Then Krystal spent Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night with him, returning home on Sunday. She called twice and had a great time as always.

And then trouble set in.

Krystal was weepy and sad Sunday night. I was sympathetic and acknowledged her feelings, comforting her and letting her cry. I let her sleep with a special stuffed animal of mine, which she likes to do when she is feeling lonely or sad, and I “put good dreams” in her head. All seemed well.

Yesterday she spent most of the day playing at a friend’s house down the street, so I barely saw her all day (for the 3rd day in a row). When I finally got her home for the night she immediately turned on the attitude  and began wailing about how much she misses “Daddy” and how she wants to see him everyday and why can’t he live near us. She said she wants us to get married again, and when I said that wasn’t going to happen she got angry at me. And I am not proud that all of this made me angry. If he had been half the father to her when we were married that she thinks he is now, we might very well still be married, and she could see him all the time. I also said a lot of things I know I shouldn’t say to a 7 year old, and I tried to leave the room when I felt it getting really bad. She was sobbing so hard, and the sobbing and the grief were breaking my heart, but I also could not help feeling angry and resentful because all of this is so misplaced. He deliberately chose not to become her father for his own selfish reasons. He is lucky I let him see her and need I remind you he does not pay a dime in child support – which was his spoken motivation for not adopting her – and this was said while we were married, mind you. A real prize, eh?

Tonight Krystal was cradling the movie ticket stubs, all 3 of them which I thought had been thrown away. She asked me if I knew which one were Daddy’s, and when I said I did not, she said she would keep them all to make sure she kept his. And I told her that hurt my feelings, because I was there too, and I’m the one who does all the hard work. “What do you mean?” she asked. And I just said that someday she would understand. She left the room right after that, while I was reading Belle’s book choice, and when she came back she insisted I go into my room after I turned out their light. She had written me a note, and left me a photo of herself at age 3, and a necklace of hers, on my bed. Melt.

So I’m left feeling broken at Krystal’s grief, angry at the cause of it (on several levels), guilty about my reactions, and at a true loss on how to deal with this, both with her and internally.

Just venting I guess. If you read this far, leave a comment and let me know!

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4 responses to “Good Grief

  1. Being a parent is the hardest thing in the world. Take a deep breath. We don’t always react to our kids the way, in a perfect world, we wish we could. This is only one moment in time, surrounded by a whole lot of wonderful moments. It sucks while the storm is going on, but it helps lead everyone to a better relationship later on. Hugs.

  2. I read, and I care……..Hugs to all of you…..

    Marcia

  3. I also said a lot of things I know I shouldn’t say to a 7 year old,

    You know what — I can promise you this ….

    Single parents have done this

    Married parents have done this

    Divorced parents have done this

    Biological parents have done this

    Adoptive parents have done this

    So no matter which way you look at it – you’re perfectly normal. And I can’t say I blame you (nor should anyone). You have the hard work — you’re a single parent. He comes along a couple of times a year and she gets the focussed attention and she gets spoiled and then it’s back to mom — who has to tow the line with her. Yeah – she’d probably love the life of a child getting total focussed attention from two adults — instead of having to share one parent with Belle.

    Do you think it would help Krystal if there were some kind of a set schedule where she would know when she’s going to see “daddy” again? Perhaps the grief wouldn’t be as sharp if she knew that she’d see him in so many weeks or so many months and if she knew that he’d call every other Monday or something.

    I mean — I know he wasn’t ready to become a parent — and he has no “legal” obligation to her – but from her perspective, he certainly has an emotional obligation to her. And it’s pretty obvious that he’s attached to her.

  4. What rambling said. He’s the one who should feel guilty, for reneging on all prior agreements (and good lord, I don’t want to adopt so I don’t have to pay child support? What a complete, er, well, I don’t typically use those words. In print.)

    We all say awful things to our children. Last night, DeBoy bit me so hard he left a mark that is STILL THERE. I turned around and popped him on his bottom, which happened to be naked (it usually is these days) and left fingerprints (which are NOT still there). Sometimes you act or speak before you have time to think. Pain and emotion make it worse.

    I’m so far behind on reading your blog that I think I won’t even try to catch up. But I’m still around.

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