It was January 2005. I was 19 years old, working my first job as a Medical Assistant at a doctor’s office during the day and as a cashier at a clothing store in the evenings. One evening, a guy walked in who immediately caught my attention. He was with another guy and a girl. He wasn’t the type of guy I’d normally be into, but there was something about him that peaked my interest. When he got to the register to pay for his items, I asked him if the girl with him was his girlfriend. When he told me no, I wrote down my number and gave it to him. He called me the next day, and I learned he was 28 years old and had one child (I later found out he actually had another). Things moved pretty quickly between us. Within two months I was pregnant.
Initially, he seemed very happy about me being pregnant, saying he wanted to move me in and start a family. But all of a sudden he started changing. Almost overnight, he went from being the sweetest man I had ever met to being distant and cold. I was about 8 weeks into my pregnancy at that point and had no idea when I left his house that that would be the last time I saw him until my daughter was almost a year old. I was so sure that once he saw her for the first time, he would fall in love with her and want to be in her life forever. But I was wrong. He saw her a few times and disappeared again. I never ever thought I would be a single mother. I remember growing up seeing my brother’s and older cousins’ girlfriends chase after them demanding they take care of their children; I told myself that would never be me. But there I was in the same situation with my child’s father. After regularly showing up at his job throwing things and cussing him out, they told me I couldn’t come back. I found out he was fired shortly after. It would be 5 years later at his mother’s funeral when he saw my daughter again. That was the first time he saw all 3 of his children together and the last he’s seen any of them to date.
Throughout the years I actually prayed that I would run into him. I had it all planned out in my head. My plan was to pick something up off the ground and beat him with it. I was so angry and serious about hurting him. Although my daughter was still young, I knew one day she would grow up and ask why her father wasn’t around. And the thought of hurting her feelings angered me. I would often wonder, How could he not love her? She’s amazing. I felt like it was unfair that I was struggling to take care of my daughter by myself while he lived his life as if he had no children. As time went on, I got tired of being angry. After all, if I had done something to harm him physically I would’ve ended up in jail, and my poor baby would have no father or mother. It took a long time, but I gradually began to accept that my daughter’s father didn’t want anything to do with her.
One of my friends, who is a divorced mother of 3, always tells me how blessed I am that I don’t have to co-parent. “Blessed?! How can that be a blessing?” I asked her. She went on to tell me how her ex-husband constantly undermines her authority and how every time her children come home from spending the week with him, they have picked up a new habit and are sometimes disrespectful toward her. She then spends that following week trying to break those habits and reteach her rules. It wasn’t until I noticed more of my friends going through the same thing that I began to understand what she meant. I don’t have those type of problems because I’m the only one raising my daughter. And when I’m honest with myself about the kind of lifestyle her father lives, she would probably be exposed to environments I wouldn’t want her in anyway. He is always running from the law and even now has a warrant out for his arrest. His own brother has even said he wouldn’t add any value to her life. And then I had to ask myself, “Would I rather him come around, get her hopes up, only to let her down over and over again?”. The answer is no. I would rather him stay away than to come around and make promises only to break them. AND, the selfish part of me is glad to have my daughter all to myself LOL. Just kidding… But not really. LOL.
While I began to see the good in his absence, I knew my daughter would never be able to wrap her mind around how it could possibly be a good thing that her father is not in her life. And I don’t expect her to. All she knows is she wants her father. The moment I had been dreading came while we were at the dinner table one night. In tears, she told me she wishes her father was around. She admitted to being jealous of other kids who have their father in their lives. It broke my heart to pieces knowing she was hurting and I couldn’t do anything about it. As her mother, I could love her, care for her, nurture her but I could never take the place of her father. Every little girl has something inside of them that craves the presence of their Daddy, which is why most girls/women tend to be forgiving of their absent father no matter how old she is when he finally comes around. Fighting back my own tears, I held her and told her I was sorry. I told her I don’t know why her father is the way he is, but I do know that there is always a purpose in our pain. Perhaps God is protecting her from something. Perhaps she will grow up to make better decisions than I did. Perhaps she will grow up and help the generation after her cope with the absence of their father. Whatever the purpose, God knows what He’s doing. At 11 years old, she is more open about her feelings now. She regularly expresses her desire for a father. I encourage her to make her request known to God. It is absolutely okay to pray for a father. Her Heavenly Father knows her wants and more importantly, He knows her needs.
I am in no way glorifying single motherhood or having children outside of marriage. I do not believe it is God’s Will for so many children to grow up in single family homes. It is not what He had in mind when He created the family. He does allow us to have free will, the ability to make choices. And some of our choices, whether our own or the choices of the other parent, can result in single motherhood. (And single fatherhood) I am just happy to find the good in my own single motherhood finally. And it started with me looking at the positives of my situation and being thankful that things are not as bad as they could have been. I am finally able to think about her father and not get angry. I am finally at peace, no longer bitter and wishing ill on him. I was unhealthy physically because of the stress, and spiritually because I hadn’t forgiven him. And because I hadn’t forgiven him, I couldn’t heal. And if I am not healed, I am no good for my daughter in her brokenness. (I touch on this subject of healing in Confession From An Imperfect Mother.) She relies on Mommy to be strong. And Mommy gets her strength from the Lord. When I give my anger, my pain, my own brokenness over to God, His strength is made perfect. I give it all to Him daily which is why I’m able to forgive, and why I’ve been able to find some good in my single motherhood.
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