My daughters were about 3 and 5 years old when it became blatantly apparent that my marriage to their mother wasn’t working. My divorce wasn’t final until 2012, but I haven’t lived in that house, or even that state, since early 2010. Making the decision to move from Western New York to Southwest Ohio, 300 miles away from my girls, back to where I had grown up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I don’t think a day has gone by since that I haven’t wondered whether they’ll grow up to resent me for it.
But this Valentine’s Day, I think I finally breathed a sigh of relief that we may come out of this alright. My girls made me the absolute best cards I could have hoped for.
The inside reads: “Hope you have a Valentines day as sweet as you. Happy Valentines day dad. Kaitlyn.”
The inside reads: “I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day as great as you and that’s pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty great! You are the best Dad in the world so you deserev a fantastic Valentine’s Day So I made a gift for you. Look on back.”
My eyes were getting misty at this point. It reads: “Dad you are the best Dad ever and you are the Dad I love Happy Valentine’s Day. Love, Sarah.”
I couldn’t stand it. I tried not to get teary-eyed, but I’m pretty sure I failed. But my girls gave me the absolute best gifts ever and didn’t even know it; they let me know I was doing a pretty okay job as their dad and that despite the distance and the obstacles, we actually have a pretty great relationship. Melanie has told me more times than I can count that having left that place and that bad situation, I made it possible to actually be their dad, whereas that wouldn’t have been possible there.
It stings when I think that Katie will probably only remember me being there to a very limited degree and that Sarah will probably never remember me living there. But I’m getting to the point where I’m okay with that because now we can make our own memories. As a result, rather than associate me with a place where I was miserable, they’ll now associate me with this place, this beautiful house, this home we’re trying to build for them in Ohio, and all the memories we create here. And honestly, I think I’d prefer that. I’m just lucky as hell that I have such an amazing support system between my mother, step-father, step-sister, and Melanie, not to mention all the friends I’ve made in the last few years who have become like family to me (*ahem* Chelly) because I really couldn’t have done all this on my own.
I won’t say that depression and ennui didn’t weigh me down, because for a long time I felt like a huge failure; I couldn’t even keep my family together, for God’s sake. And there were times I wished there was a support group for dads who lived 300 miles away from their kids because I didn’t know how to do that. But in the end, I came to understand that I wasn’t meant to be there. I had to find my own path and figure out who I was, not just as a person, but as a father, which, again, I never really would have had the opportunity to do in that relationship on either count. So, basically, we needed this in order to be a stronger family. And it’s nice, too, that the girls have accepted Melanie so well (I figure there will come a time when they can’t really remember when she wasn’t in the picture). In fact, they each made her a Valentine’s Day card, too.
“Roses are red Violets are blue. Hope you have a Valentines as sweet as a bowl of you.”
“Hope you have a Valentine’s Day as sweet as a flower. Hope you like this card I’m makeing you and you have a great Valentine’s Day as great as you and thats really really really really great.”
Are these the best kids ever or what?