My experiences as a father have been much different than I ever thought that it would be. I never fully understood the impact of others decisions and how those decisions would directly affect my opportunities with my children, nor how that would dictate the time I could spend being a dad.
As a young man I always knew that my children would be the center point and primary focus of my life. I have always loved plaiying with kids. I would look forward to the day when I could coach my kids in sports. I knew that I would be there every step of their lives.
When my children were born I would stay up to take care of them. I would read to them every single night. I couldn’t wait for morning to come so I could hold them. Before I would leave for work I would hug them and give them a kiss goodbye. I couldn’t wait to get home from work, each day upon returning home from work they would race into my arms. They were young yet they were so fast as they would race into my arms. Life was good. I loved being with them and spending time with them.
My wife was blessed to stay home with our kids while I worked. I wanted my kids to learn respect and love for their mother and would make certain that they saw me helping her with the household chores and taking care of the their needs. I tried to be a team with her to make our lives good.
Then one day it all changed. The decisions of my wife would forever alter my dream of being a dad. Her life was not exciting like it was in the soap operas that she would watch. The decadent life style she watched on TV everyday soon became what she wanted. After each of her illicit affairs (5 0f them in all) we would reconcile and attend counseling. I was determined to keep our family together. It was heartbreaking, painful and emotionally draining.
Finally one day I returned home from a 3 day business trip to find our house empty of everything and divorce papers on the counter. My world was ended. My children were not home. I was not able to tuck them into their beds at night, unable to say their prayers with them, unable to hug them and to kiss them. It seemed the choices that were made by my wife had now hit me square in the face, I was paying for choices that were not my own. My heart ached for my kids and I missed them terribly. I didnt care about all the possessions she had taken from our home. I longed for my children. Days would drag on without them.
The divorce took only weeks to complete and then she was immediately remarried. She had taken our children and moved in with a man they didn’t know, and one who wasn’t kind to them. They were torn apart inside. The family courts in Utah being as extremely dysfunctional as they are granted me the minimum parent time of one 4 hour visit per week and every other weekend. My life had now been impacted again by another person.
I found myself alone, lost, sad and frustrated at what had happened. My children and I did not choose this course for ourselves, yet we were the ones missing out. My days were spent planning our weekly activity and our weekends our weekends together, That little amount of time became most valuable and precious. It was sacred time and I wouldn’t let anything interfere with it.
Now as time has gone by, the wounds are deep and painful. Time doesn’t heal these wounds, it only masks the pain. The pain and anguish is present daily. My children became the victims of choices that were not theirs, nor their fathers and yet the relationship they had shared with me was incredibly different and changed.
Through my ex wifes multiple marriages and relationships my kids have been deeply scarred. They are afraid to open up and share the pain that they feel. I try to be there for them to listen, yet as she denies them the ability to call me, or to talk to me during the weeks, our time is limited to resolve all the heartache that they feel. During our summer breaks we reconnect and rediscover that long lost connection we shared daily of bedtime prayers and stories. We laugh and enjoy the sacred moments of precious little time together, We live life and enjoy life. The rest of our lives together are spent trying to keep a foundation of love and trust between us through this rollercoaster we call life, I love my children and pray daily for them to be happy and know how much I love them. They are still my world. Every decision I make revolves around their happiness and future to the best of my ability to keep for them. Every job promotion and transfer that I have turned down, every trip I have refused, every mile I have driven to see them and every school lunch I have eaten with them is worth every precious second I get to spend with them.
This is not the life I chose for them or for us. This is the life we have been dealt. All that I am and all that I do is to show them my unconditional love. The rest is in our Heavenly Fathers hands to help me where I cannot be. I deeply pray that my children will always know how much I love them and what they mean to me.
The next time you see a father, alone, waiting for the small window of time he gets to see the children he loves. Please remember, that it’s not always their choices or their decisions to be placed in that spot. They do the best they can in spite of the obstacles created oftentimes by others.