Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What do you say after 15 years?

What do you do when your father comes into your life after being absent for the last 15 years? When he saw you last you were anesthetized. He also left before you woke from having your tonsils removed? Even though mommy said he would, I had no proof he’d been there. Christopher never saw him, he was 6 years old.
I divorced him when Christopher was 4 and we moved in with my parents. I got a job bought a house and new cars, took my son to church. I never asked for child support when we divorced and he never asked for visitation. Because Christopher wanted to, I allowed him to visit. The last visit came when Christopher had a bruise on the side of face and he was covered in flea bites.

I petitioned the court for support 2 years later. Even at that time he did not ask the court to see Christopher. Based on him making minimum wage I was entitled to $49.00 a week. As time elapsed, the amount owed continued to grow. I would get a state or federal refund check from time to time that is if he bothered to file taxes. Every other year or so we would be summoned to court and rehash the support (or lack there of) issue. The court had several warrants for his arrest for nonsupport and he spent a 30, 60 and 90 day stint in county jail because he didn’t take this debt (or any debt) seriously. To date, the amount owed is $29,106.05. That doesn’t cover the tuition I paid at Trinity High School.

Throughout the entire 16 year ordeal no one spoke ill of this man. Christopher would ask my mom, whom he’d always been close, about his “dad.” Through clenched teeth (and newspaper clippings detailing his arrest and photos of my bruised face the day my niece was born tucked away) my mom would turn the questions on Christopher to see what he remembered and that usually pacified him for a few months. My brother and sister in law told him we just fell out of love BUT loved him very much. He never asked me and I offered no information. Maybe I should have.

Every birthday and Christmas that passed without so much as a card in the mailbox brought sadness and disappointment to my son (and me). I was hurting for him, a simple call or card from him would have out shined anything I could have put under the tree. Like I knew his address, he knew ours, it’s on court papers and our number has always been listed. Yet for 15 years he chose to be out of the picture.

Time passed and I moved on, realizing he didn’t want to be a family with Christopher and me after he got out of prison, I found a wonderful man who became the dad Christopher needed.

Nick never had children of his own, and I told him up front I was a package deal. My son came first. As we dated, at least 2 days during the weekend the 3 of us spent together. Ball games, family parties you name it we did it. After we wed, Nick only became more fatherly, completely taking his roll seriously, doing all the things a dad does. Teaching him to tie his tie, how to use a knife and fork and to drive. When Christopher failed his test for the second time in the Jeep, Nick purchased him a Pontiac Grand Am, you know, so he could pass his test. Private schools, soccer camps, birthday at the ball park and a Diamondback Joker bicycle that was all the rage for those who rode to school. Nick would wake at 4am during the week to get Christopher to the rink for hockey practice. He would wake at 5am on the weekends to drive him to work at the hospital cafeteria, where Nick also convinced me at 14 Christopher needed to get a job. Not that he was a drain on our income, rather to teach him responsibility, the Protestant work ethic and the value of a dollar. All that entailed employment of a minor Nick took care of. Going to our city high school for a work permit (Christopher went to a Catholic High School in a different city) to 3 weeks of physicals and TB testing, Nick was there adjusting his schedule to get it done for his son. Upon his graduation from nursing school, it was Nicks idea to buy the 2005 Mustang for his son.

I knew this day would eventually come. I hoped it would have played out differently than it has. Wishing my, our son would have told this person he’s not needed in his life, he’s got a dad. (The spitting in his face was just an added bonus had that happened, I can dream can’t I?)
Christopher now has 2 stepsisters whom he proudly displays on his fridge and bedroom dresser. During his visit last weekend (while I did 6 loads of his laundry, Nick and Christopher shopped for a new computer) I learned that my son plans to pursue a relationship with him. He didn't elaborate.

It is my prayer that when his curiosity is fed Christopher tosses him to the curb. The man is a poison. He was an abusive husband and a scofflaw. Either people add or take away value to your life. I know this man, I’ve know him since I was 15. He’s a charmer, and could get the rattle off a snake. Like I’ve outgrown him it’s my prayer Christopher will come to realize that as well.


UPDATE
In case it's eluded you, I have feelings of betrayal and Nick feels heartbroken. Like a lioness protecting her cub, I feel that need again, to protect him from what I know will only bring him pain. I kept him from the poison, that is his father, for many years and many reasons. Reasons not mentioned here, just knowing he was better off in a home with a mom and dad who loved him without the bad influences that being shuttled between families would have brought. We taught him morals, values, patience and love of God. This man could not.

I know he's confused right now and has visions of grandeur this man could never live up to, believe me, I've had them too. I pray Christopher's smarter than I was at 21 and turns and walks away before the heartaches begin.

11 comments:

SkyePuppy said...

There is such an intense desire to be accepted and loved by the people who brought us into the world, and that doesn't go away with time or adulthood. Christopher may know in his head that his bio-dad is poison, but his heart still yearns to erase the rejection and to be told by the rejecter that he (Christopher) is valued after all.

It's a collision course with heartbreak for Christopher, and all you can do is watch and be there to help him pick up the pieces. Probably more than once. (My friend's son is going through something similar.)

It reminds me of what Simeon told Mary when she and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple (Luke 2:35b): "And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Motherhood is the source of incredible joy and sometimes incredible pain, but I wouldn't give it up for anything.

I'll keep Christopher (and you and Nick) in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I think Chris has to find things out for himself. If his dad really is a scum bag like you say, Chris will find it out for himself, and if he isnt and Chris finds some sort of value in a relationship with his father, I still think that's a good thing, even if you dont like him personally. And I also understand Nick feeling weird about it, and I really can't speak from experience because I always had both of my parents, but I wouldn't take it as an insult. Im sure Chris appreciates Nick as much as he always has, he just wants to find things out for himself.

Putting the character of Chris's dad aside, I do have friends who still have good relationships with both their step parents and their biological parents. So I wouldnt feel too betrayed, although, Im not a parent and im sure thats easier said than done.

janice said...

Thank you for the prayers Skye, I've been searching for solace in Psalms.

I asked Christopher "if I was so sad and upset because I hadn't seen him in 6 weeks (since we moved) how could someone not want to see you for 15 years?" Is everything now forgotten?

I've never been this upset is many years. Because I know he'll be hurt. And if not, then can all the good we've done be undone by him?

I would absolve him of all the support owed to me if he'd leave Christopher alone.

janice said...

Anonymous, I didn't call him a scumbag, I called him poison. If you knew him you'd agree. It's not a character flaw, it's a way of life. Constant DUI's and drug possession charges (since being released from Mansfield Reformatory) and being a deadbeat dad. Lifestyle not character is what I'm concerned about!

And, what good, as you say, can come from this?

janice said...

One more thing Anonymous, have you been invited to the palatial estate in Garretsville? That could have been Christopher and me, but I wanted more and wasn't going to wait for him to get out of prison.

As for the stepsisters, they're 3 and 5, not much chance a relationship will be taken up on Christophers part. I thought I was pregnant 10 years ago and he had a cow. If you haven't noticed, he's a bit selfish.

Thanks for your imput but you need to get more of the facts, as does Christopher!

SkyePuppy said...

Janice,

Is everything now forgotten?

No, of course not. Christopher certainly has no doubts at all about how much you and Nick love him. So his seeking out his bio-dad isn't turning his back on you.
He's able to take the risk, because you've given him a safe place to start from and return to.

I know it must hurt to watch him walking into heartache, and it probably feels like he's telling you that you weren't enough, but it's more that he needs to hear from his bio-dad that he's enough. And if his bio-dad won't do that, that's when the pain comes.

Hang in there, Janice.

janice said...

I know you're right Skye. But my head says one thing and my heart says another. I raised a smart compassionate young man. It's the compassion part that I believe will be exploited.

Christopher knows he can always come to me and his dad at any time.

Christina said...

Janice,

I just don't know what to say to you (and Nick) right now. I've never been in your shoes or even close to it, but I want you to know that you and your family will be in my prayers. Never underestimate the power of those prayers,

I do know that your love and hard work in raising a strong, smart, compassionate young man will not be for nothing. He may have some rough spots, but the foundations you laid will hold strong. Remember the Proverb "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Prov. 22:6)

Many thoughts, prayers and hugs,
Christina

Shawn said...

I'm sure, knowing first hand Chris, his character and his ideals, that Nick would never be placed to the wayside. Chris knows who his father his, and he knows that donation of sperm doesn't elicit automatic dad status. On the other hand, that IS wholly half of Chris, and he has a right to see, talk, punch, spit in his face, yell, hug or any interaction he chooses to have with his biological dad. Remember, as hard as it can be to do at time, wresting one's faith in God and God's agenda is really the only comfort one can rely on. This is something, despite you being the mother, that you must watch not as a participant but as a bystander, ready to jump in ONLY if it gets to the point where you must. Mother bird, allow your chick to try and fly. If it falls, be there to pick it up, but ALLOW IT TO TRY! And I'm sure you know when that is. But I'd like to see Chris interact however he needs to with his biological father. In an optimistic light, he can only gain from this experience. He already has one kick ass, rockin' dad, so really he can't lose, only gain!

janice said...

Christina (and everyone) thank you so much for lifting us up in your devotions. I know my faith and trust in God will carry me through this like He always has in the past.

janice said...

Shawn, I know this must be Christopher's choice now. His dad and I will be there when he falls (like we've always been).

I keep hearing form people "Chris can only gain from this" and not to worry. During my evening prayers I was struck with a thought, the gain isn't always positive.

Let me explain. Christopher could "gain" much info from this unearthing, realizing for himself, he's a poison and a scofflaw, not worthy of any more of his time. It's Christopher's time to figure it out for himself.

I hope he never gets Christopher's social security number. If so, Chris won't be able to finance a bagel. Trust me, I know of what I speak. The depts of deception knows no bounds. The man is truly a user. A user of drugs, people and the system. I'm worried about my sons nursing license. If he's with this poison and caught with drugs on him, Christopher's nursing license could be taken away. He could cry "poor mouth" and ask Christopher for money.

There's just so much that Christopher needs to be made aware. When I call him poison, I'm being very, very generous.

One more thing Shawn, if you know Christopher, you also know his family loves him very much. And trust me on this, the only thing he can gain is pain and heartache.