YOU MISSED OUT
There was a time when I thought that love ruled all. It was a time when I believed in promises and the people who made them. Words held as much value as action. I had dreams and you were a part of those dreams. I dreamt of a family and a husband who loved me as much as I loved him. I was going to get married, have children and be the best wife and mother I could be. So, when I met you and you promised all of those things, I believed you. We got married. You kicked butt at your career. And I followed you around the world, raising our sweet, smart, head-strong little boy.
It’s been almost 10 years since I sat across from my friend, in a German cafe, talking about our failing marriage. That day, I came to the terrifying, yet liberating realization that you did not want to be a part of our family. It was only months later that I heard you speak those words and the inevitable truth.
When you left I was mad. I was mad because I should have left you long before that. I sat at home waiting all night for you to come home. I answered the phone in the early mornings only to accept your excuses and apologies ‘one last time’. I was scared. I was scared because I didn’t have a job, let alone a career, which meant that I didn’t have a dime to my name. I was humiliated. I was humiliated because I was the one who looked like a fool. I was the one who sacrificed college and a career to be your wife and support your career. But, mostly, I was sad. I was sad because I had to answer questions like “Mommy, why didn’t Daddy come home last night?” I had to explain why you didn’t show up to soccer games and school plays like you promised you would. I had to explain why you didn’t live at home anymore. I had to see the hurt on our son’s face. I felt his disappointment and confusion. I had to comfort his crushed spirit when you let him down-every time you let him down.
And I did it all without telling him what I really thought of you. I should win an award for that.
When I think about what you have missed out on in the past 9 years, I get sad. But, I don’t get sad for me. I get sad for him and I get sad for you. You really, really have missed out.
You have missed out on seeing those hazel green eyes every morning. I couldn’t have lived without that sight. You missed out on watching that lanky little nine year old grow into a tall, handsome young man. You have missed out on the WWE wrestling moves he used to like to try out and his year of football.
He probably could have really used his Dad that year.
Did you know that he practiced five to six days a week for two to three hours a day only to play for the last minute of the game, if he was lucky? I bet having his Dad there to practice would have made a big difference. You missed out on his season of Little League too. I can still see those long legs trotting out to right field. You could really tell the skill difference between the boys whose Dads helped them practice. Oh sure, Mom’s help practice too. But, I was working seven days a week and going to college, so that I could pay our bills and buy groceries and other necessities. Child support would have helped a lot.
You missed all of his hockey games. He loved hockey! He was pretty good at it too. Oh, and there was no better skateboarder his age! I used to take him to the skate park and watch him do tricks. It scared me so much but he just loved it so I made myself be brave and let him try every trick he could think of. I used to take so many pictures and videos of him at the skate park. That was the happiest I saw him after you left.
You missed it all.
You missed all of the parent-teacher conferences and good report cards. Until eighth grade he was at the top of his class every year. Eighth grade was a tough year for him. Middle school is a tough year all around but it was especially tough for our son. You missed the bullying he went through. You missed the fist fight that landed him and myself in the principal’s office with the local policeman. You missed the daily torture he endured while walking home from school being followed by a car full of high school boys threatening to beat him up. And, I could have picked him up from school but I was working a full time job and a part time job trying to make ends meet. Child support would have been nice then, too. Oh, and there is that time when our son was cornered by three boys who refused to leave him alone until he fought them. I wonder if having his Dad around would have changed any of that for him. I guess we’ll never know. But, that’s okay. We figured it out together. He made it through all of that. He survived middle school.
Did you know that you missed out on him learning to play guitar? For his birthday one year, I got him guitar lessons because he wanted to learn to play. He went to one lesson and refused to go back. Did you know that every day after school he went home and watched YouTube videos on how to play guitar? He now plays acoustic bass and guitar and electric bass and guitar. And, he plays really well. But, what you missed were the practices. I got to hear him practice. I got to listen to him trying to play songs over and over again. I got to be a part of the learning process-it was an amazing experience watching him teach himself such a skill. That skill is so much of a part of who he is now. My favorite part, though, was being there for the intimate concerts he would put on in our one bedroom apartment. We didn’t have much but we had each other. Those are some of my favorite memories.
It’s too bad you missed out.
Not everything you missed out on was happy, though. You missed the night his ex-girlfriend’s father came to our apartment door at 1:00am looking for him. He was 16 at the time. That was scary but at the same time it was the craziest I have ever felt or acted. My protective instincts kicked in 100%!!! But, the father wasn’t very threatened by me and followed our son around whenever he would walk in town. I guess the father didn’t want our son talking to his daughter anymore. I just remember the fear in our sons eyes when that man came pounding at our door, demanding to see our son and again, when he told me the guy had followed him. I can’t help but wonder how having his Dad around may have changed that experience for him.
Some other things you have missed include learning to drive and the elated feeling he had when he passed his driver’s exam-on the first try! I wasn’t surprised, though. We spent hours and hours practicing. That was funny and frustrating at the same time. Another part of his childhood that I would never want to go without experiencing.
Sometimes I wonder if you think about what you have missed. Do you think about missing out on his high school experiences? Dates, dances, friends, girlfriends, grades? Do you know that he was part of the school musical? It was a lot of work and he was reluctant to practice sometimes but the show was great and seeing him be a part of it was a proud moment. He also had a guitar concert in which he had a couple of solo parts and a duet. But, you probably saw a video or at least heard him talking about it.
You have also missed the fights, arguments, debates and everything else that makes me want to pull my hair out when we talked about his grades and his future plans. He once had a plan to travel from state to state playing music. That was his plan. You missed that, you should feel lucky you missed that. I have spent many long, grueling, painstaking hours making him understand that the real world will not work like that. But, it’s all good now. He has a plan and is following through with it.
He will follow in the same career path that you did.
In two months he graduates from high school. You have spoken to me about the possibility of missing that. I really hope you don’t. I really hope you don’t add one more thing to the long list of things you have missed in his life. I hope you are there for him. I hope that you decide to do something for him, even though it will cost you money. Even though you have to leave your comfort zone, I hope you will put his feelings first. Your presence would mean the world to him. He still looks up to you. Lord knows you don’t deserve it. I hope you realize his forgiveness, his desire to have you there, his need for a father that he can depend on and his hope to have a relationship that makes up for everything he didn’t have when he was growing up.
I hope you don’t miss out on that.