Sidelines – A Father’s Heartache part 23

sideline

Lies and Deception, and Stories told

Turning a loving heart to one bitter and cold

I loved my child, from the very start

The lies she has told you has torn us apart

Forced to the sidelines, where I have watched you grow

Pleading with God that my love you would know

Faithfully watching from the sidelines each day

I stood there and watched you as you would laugh and did play

So many lies and deceptions were placed in your heart

While behind the scenes she would keep us apart

I fought and I fought for my fathers rights

While never letting go and out of my sights

Now that you’re older You struggle to know

That I did all I could for you while I watched as you grow

Doing the best from a distance that could possibly be done

I filled our brief moments with love, happiness and fun

Now you struggle to know in this life what is real

I pray deep in your heart that you know what is real

So please stop hating me and believing the lies

For each day you were gone from me I felt I would die

For you see I’m a father, pushed to the sidelines of life

By the same one that’s pierced our hearts with her knife

Yet in spite of the heartache, the sadness and pain

My love for you is grows deeper and will always remain

I OFTEN SIT IN SILENCE, I OFTEN SIT ALONE – A Fathers Heartache Part 9

IMG_5097

Last night was my sons annual football banquet.  Each year I put together a highlight video for the boys and their families to watch, each boy is given a copy as a memento of the season.  Last night was no exception and after hours of preparation the video was again ready to go and copies made for each boy.

I arrived at the restaurant early to make certain that everything was ready to go and that video would play on their televisions. Once this was finished I anxiously waited for my boy to arrive.  I hadn’t seen him in days and was excited for the opportunity to talk with him.  I quietly sat and  waited about twenty minutes for him to arrive. 

Suddenly I felt him place his arms around my shoulders as he hugged me and said hi dad, I love you.  My heart swelled momentarily until I heard his mother sternly inform him that he couldn’t sit with me and had to sit with her.  I watched a sadness appear on his face as he gave me another quick hug, whispered I love you and went to sit near his mother.   As I surveyed the room, I noticed that the other boys were all sitting together in the center tables, my dear boy was sitting head down next to his mother as he quietly obeyed her demands.

I sat there, my heart aching for my boy as he humbly and dutifully did as he was instructed, all the while watching the other boys laugh and play.  I was grateful to see his mothers friend arrive nearly 30 minutes later when she finally allowed him to sit with his friends, so she could have her moment to “talk”. 

Alone I sat at my table, watching my boy both quietly sitting next to his mother and also as he laughed with his friends. I fought the tears and anger at the way his mother controlled him.  I thought to myself how much I would have loved  to have been able to sit with him, yet this was his night to be with his friends, it wasn’t about what I wanted, it should have been about what he wanted, this was his night for him and his team.

I often sit in silence.  I often sit alone.  The numbness from the continual hurt at watching my kids many times from a distance pierces my soul.  I hunger for the days when they can express their love for me, their dad, without fear of the reaction from their mother.  My only hope and prayer is that one day my children will come to grasp the magnitude of my love and devotion for them, even if at times it is from a distance created by others…

BRIDGERS COURAGE – A Fathers Heartache part 4

Image

My son is devoted to his football team.  He loves playing football, he even turned down a trip to Disneyland with me so he wouldn’t miss a practice, he wouldn’t let his team down.  He has spent the past 3 1/2 years playing quarterback and loves to be in the middle of all the action.  His team took 2nd place two years ago and are the defending champions from last year.  Sports have helped keep my dear boy on stable ground during all the tumult of his short little life.  In spite of all his mothers moves, we have been able to keep him on the same teams throughout these years which has allowed him to develop some deep friendships on the team, many of the boys play on the same competitive football, basketball and lacrosse teams.

One week ago today after practice Bridger called me, which is extremely rare and NEVER happens so I knew something was up. I could hear the sorrow in his voice as he fought back the emotion coming from his broken heart.  I quietly listened to my son through his cracking voice as he told me that the coaches had decided to bench him because he missed a block in Saturdays game.  Immediately my mind raced back to Saturdays game and I could recall the block he missed, I couldn’t forget it as I vividly remember the assistant coaches tirade directed toward my son from the sidelines.  As a parent, it is often difficult to hold my tongue when a coach goes off on the 11 year old boys.  I choose instead to discuss privately with the coaches that my opinion is that the yelling is overboard and that they can be more effective and get better play from the boys with a calm criticism instead of the ranting and raving.

My heart ached for my son.  I knew how deeply important this is to him.  I know all too well that this is what has helped my son cope with the heartaches he feels and the sorrow at not being able to see me when he wants.  Sports, especially football have been a lifeline for him, he has devoted himself to his team and being there for them.  His example of commitment and what that includes has been inspiring to me.  His focus and dedication to practice and game time has been exemplar.  My immediate thought as a loving father was how can they do this to him for one play?  Wisely I kept my tongue and asked first how he was doing with the change.  His voice broke now, with tears as he told me he understood and wanted what was best for his team.

Now it was my turn to fight back the emotion and the tears as my heart broke for my son.  I cleared my throat and asked him what now.  He informed me that the coaches said he could play on special teams and fill in at safety.  I asked him who the new quarterback was going to be and if he would still be the backup.  He quietly told me that it was the coaches son who would take his place and that he wouldn’t even be backing him up.  Never in my life had I had to deal with the politics of little league sports in this manner.  How can I explain to my son that it is ok that after 3 1/2 years in his position and being very successful in it that he was now taken out so that the coaches son, who had never even taken a snap could be the star player?

Then as I was fighting the building frustration at the incredulous politics of little league football, my son said, “it’s OK dad, it will be best for the team.  i just want our team to do well.”  My son reinforced in me at that moment that all the long conversations over the years we had shared, about being a leader, about teamwork, about lifting those around you and making them better, about how leaders lead from example, that these conversations had sunk in.  My boy understood more about life, more about people, more about leadership, more about compassion than most adults do.

Sadly, the call had to end as I could hear his mother telling him he had to get off the phone now.  I expressed my deep love and admiration for my boy as he quietly whispered, “I love you Dad” as he hung up the phone.

My heart was breaking for more reasons than my sons sorrow.  It was full of love and gratitude with the knowledge that although our time is extremely limited and our moments to talk rare, my son had learned the important things in life that I have tried so hard to teach him.  My efforts have not been in vain and those small moments of time when we are together have impacted my sons life.  I had made a difference in his life that I never thought possible given the circumstances we were forced into.  I ached to hold my son in my arms and comfort him, yet I knew he could feel my arms around him without me being next to him to hold him.

Saturdays game came. The team suffered their worst loss of the year.  I watched him as he awkwardly paced the sidelines while his offensive teammates were on the field.  I watched as he cheered for his friends and congratulated the new quarterback when he made a good play, i could see his heartache and longing to be in the game written in his eyes, yet he hid that from his team. I took tremendous pride as I watched as my son stepped in on defense and prevented 2 touchdowns. Yet during all this, he made a contribution to his team that I am not certain even the other boys realize,  my son showed by tremendous courage and true leadership on Saturday. Although he wasn’t the one leading the offense, he led the team from the sidelines with his quiet courage and strength as he accepted willingly the decisions others had made, while cheering on his teammates in a futile loss.  My son has learned that choices of others impact everyone, even his own.

FOUR HOURS – A Fathers Heartache part 2

                          Image

Four hours… that’s it.   One weekday visit of four hours.  The time flies by, so many things race through my tired mind as I pull up to the school to see my children.   My heart is pounding again with the anticipation of their little arms around my neck hugging tightly as we embrace.

I have spent this week in a convention for work in Southern, California.   After a week of meetings I anxiously jumped in the car Wednesday afternoon with the sole purpose of being home on time to see my little ones.  I allowed myself plenty of time to get home and experience any delays.  My life is planned around this four hour window of weekly time, especially during the weeks when I don’t see them on the weekend.  Two traffic jams and 14 hours later I arrived home with little time to sleep.  The adrenaline at the excitement of seeing my children was sufficient to propel me through the shortened workday Thursday.  Anxiously and exhausted I left my office and found myself standing under the familiar tree at the schoolyard where I wait for my children each week.

Off in the schoolyard I see the blonde heads of two children as they weave in and out of the other children as they race to me.  They race into my arms and as we hug, I fight the tears again of gratitude and joy of seeing them.  Our little time is precious.  As my kids have gotten older, the Thursday visits aren’t like they used to be.   The activities that keep my kids grounded with normalcy in their lives often make their way into our short weekly visit.  These make for our time together all the more fleeting, yet deep down inside as I fight the pain of our shortened time together, I realize with great love that I have for them that this is what they need.  The dance, football, basketball and soccer provide my children with the opportunity to live and enjoy life, free from the sorrow that has been brought upon us by another persons choices.

Quickly, we head for home.  The car ride is full of conversation as the kids talk over one another in the excitement to tell me about their week.  I catch up on school and how the assignments are coming.  We talk about the tests they have that week as we make certain they are prepared.   The spelling lists, vocabulary lists, the math, all discussed on our 20 minute drive home.   Their mother prevents us from talking on the phone during the weeks.   Our only conversation occurs during these short visits or on the semi monthly trips I make to eat school lunch with them, just to see them again.

We get home where we can play with the dog and get something to eat.  I sign their homework assignments for the day as we finish them, and then we are off to drop my son at football practice.  Oh how he loves football, he works so hard at it,   It has been good for him.  I remember the first day when he told me he had landed the starting Quarterback position.  How his eyes lit up!!   He was so proud of his accomplishment and I was so proud of the young man and leader he was becoming.  I pray daily for them to continue to press forward with their goals in life, so they can overcome the obstacles we are presented with.

On the way to football they call their mom to let them know that my son stopped at home to get the football gear.  I hear her ask them how their day was.  I find myself fighting down the pain, anger and frustration at the irony of her preventing our phone calls.  How I desire to be given the same.  I replace the hurt as I focus on the deep love for my children, the desire of mine to keep them free from the heartache at my home from this situation.  I focus on my desire to love them and not allow them to be hurt when in my presence and painfully I swallow the bitter pill, consuming it internally so that my children can be free of the poison, if only for a short time while they are with me.

Two of the four hours, my son is at football.   Sometimes we watch his practice, however today was some quality daddy daughter time.   I ask my 8 year old daughter where she would like to go…  She wants to look at Halloween costumes so we spend the next couple hours looking at costumes while we walk hand in hand with her skipping along, she talks incessantly.   We talk more about her cheer classes, we talk about school, her friends.  She asks about her step mom and sisters, who are out of town at a different convention.  She asks me about my trip and how it was.  She squeezes my hand and says I love you dad!  My heart melts, the tears form, as I fight the emotion from overwhelming me.

The two hours with my daughter fly by.. she sings roar and the fox song to me on the way to the football fields.   I smile and sing along with her.  We get my son and head home for him to change, we grab a pizza on the way.  They play with the dog, eat pizza and we laugh about silly things.

It’s again time for them to go home.   I dread this time.  It is always painful for me and wish how it didn’t have to be this way.   The drive to their moms is never long enough.  Never enough time.  We talk.  They inform me that they are moving again, this will be the 10th move in 7 years at their moms.   My heart breaks for them again with the constant change.   I wonder why they can’t stay with me permanently in the home they know and love.  We don’t move.  We stay in one place.  I wonder why her and this husband can’t stay in one place.  I wonder why my kids must suffer for the choices of their mother.  I wonder why the courts believe that the mom is always the best place for the kids.

We arrive..  I keep the tears in check as I tell them how much I love them.  I promise to see them at the football game on Saturday.  We hug,  We Kiss and then it’s another goodbye… they are gone for another 7 days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, 604,800 seconds until I can talk to them again.  As my dear children walk away, the tears are now flowing freely, my heart is breaking again, my sorrow is full.  On my drive home, I rebuild the walls to keep the emotion at bay as I begin looking forward to the next week.  It will be better, we have the weekend.

Let your voices be heard

Repub-Dem 1

The progressive or liberal movement has become louder over the years reaching this current feverish pitch we are now engulfed in.   As I ponder the reason this fight seems to be prevalent in our society I am struck these observations.

Most conservative individuals that I know choose to remain quiet on the sidelines.  They watch from a distance not wanting to get involved in the current debates that are raging, while on the other hand the progressive movement has been very outspoken in an effort to get their points across to the public.

I look at myself in this issue.  I have had many friends who for the past decade have been very outspoken in their vision of the world, what is wrong with it and where they would like to take it.  I would quietly sit by and listen to their viewpoints in an attempt to allow them the freedom to express their views.  I disagreed with many, not all, of their opinions, however I never debated them.  This was partially due to the fact that anytime that I would ask clarifying questions they would oftentimes contradict one opinion while defending another, ie.. guns kill yet abortion is good.  Logically this makes no sense, if killing is wrong then killing is wrong under any pretense, it cannot be argued for both ways with any credibility let alone logic.

Over the years as I continued to let this go on without argument, I found that the opinions no longer stayed opinions, anyone who disagreed with their opinions were quickly attacked for feeling different.  They would not allow anyone else the ability to say anything without it turning into a personal attack.  Anyone who disagreed with them were belittled, verbally assaulted, degraded, demeaned and harassed.  I found myself reflecting back on the years that I had remained silent while allowing them to voice their opinions without any objection.

This behavior of mine allowed these individuals to feel empowered and with that power they felt it appropriate to then deny the very freedom of expression they had been granted for so many years without obstacle.  It was at this time that the realization of Edmund Burke’s statement he is so famously credited for hit me and the significance of this warning:  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”

As the encroachment continued upon my personal beliefs and my freedom of expression, I realized that all these years while disagreeing I had remained silent in this debate.  I had allowed the momentum to build, through my silence, that would in the end create a movement wherein the attacks on our liberties and freedoms would grow.

Ironically, as I began lifting my voice to be heard, those very individuals whom I had listened to for many years as they shared their viewpoint on issues, (some of which I had come to agree with, not many, but some) I was lambasted and ridiculed for speaking out in the very way that they had done.

I believe that the primary reason for the perceived widening of the gap on issues is that more and more of the conservative base is now speaking out.   Their voices are rising up to combat the progressive voices that have been so loud for so long.  Many in the progressive base are feeling this pressure of the conservatives finally standing up, and this is driving the conversation to become more bitter and hostile than ever before.

As these debates continue to rage the side whose voices are the loudest and most outspoken will in the end prove the victor.  The progressive voices have been organized the longest, have the majority of the major media outlets and are winning this battle, the conservative voice is quickly catching up and becoming louder.  The side with the most people sitting quietly by in the sidelines watching will lose.  Will your voice be heard?