Today is my ex-husband’s birthday. He is 59 years old today. When we met, I was 22 and he was 29. He was so handsome and charming—a country singer and musician. He was my prince charming, straight out of a Disney movie. He spoke so lovingly of his family. He loved his parents and his brothers and sisters. I fell hard. I felt I had found what I had been lacking—a loving family. I couldn’t wait to escape my horrid childhood and start a life where I could feel loved and happy.
To make a long 20 year story short, things didn’t turned out as I had planned. In fact, the best years of my life have been the past decade where I’ve been independent and on my own. However, this story isn’t just about me. It’s also about the one human I love more than anything, my daughter. Today she boarded a plane to Norway to attend a performing arts school. She is an amazing 20 year old young women. I wouldn’t change anything about her. She turned out better than I ever imagined or expected.
My biggest regret is my ex-husband and my child don’t have a relationship with one another. I know many divorced couples often struggle to be the favorite parent, or try to one up each other in the parenting game. This was never the case. I always wanted my child to have a close relationship with her father, because it’s what would be best for her—to have a loving father she can count on when things get tough. However, one day when she was 17 years old they got into an argument. An argument that could have been solved with one, “I’m so sorry, I screwed up. What can I do to fix it?” That didn’t happen.
What happened, is an insecure man couldn’t handle a teenager girl forcing him to look at his own faults, and it turned into an irreparable relationship. Let’s face it, none of us are perfect. We’re all damaged in some way. I’ve tried to put myself in his shoes and wonder what I would do if my daughter called me out on my shortcomings as a mother. I can honestly say, I would own up to those faults and apologize. In fact, I have apologized for all my fuck ups, because the two years following my divorce, there were many.
Children want their parents to love them, even if their parents are not perfect. Because let’s face it, none of us are perfect. We’ve all screwed up and wished we could have re-do’s when it comes to parenting.
My heart aches for my girl today. I’m sure she would love to have a father she could call on his birthday and wish him well—a father she could call, and tell him she’s flying to Europe to attend college. A father she could call and tell him she worked her ass off to save thousands of dollars so she could go on a grand adventure in Norway. A father she could call and tell him how excited she is, and how proud she is that she did this on her own. I’m sure she would love to hear him say how proud he is of her for all her hard work, for all her achievement and perseverance.
I wish my love and admiration for her was enough for both of us, but I know it’s not. Regardless of how resilient she is, this I know–I know it hurts her. I know there’s a void I can’t fill. She is an extraordinary human being. She is a gift that should be treasured and appreciated. I hope one day he realizes what a precious, amazing human being she has become. She’s worth putting ego aside. She is so fucking worth it.