Monday, August 8, 2011

Broken hearts and promises

It bothers me that I held my newborn baby girl in my arms in Sparrow Hospital on the morning of February 26, 1991, and whispered that I’d never do to her what my biological father had done to me – become estranged – and that’s just what’s happened. Again.

My marriage to Amelia’s mom lasted ten years, give or take. At first, after the split, we remained friendly and civil, for Amelia’s sake as well as our own. Then Amelia got older and hidden resentments revealed themselves and alcohol became a variable and things unraveled and Lorie and I stopped speaking and started hating.

But I never trashed Amelia's mom. I might have said one or two things in frustration or made one or two jokes at my ex-wife’s expense but I never made it my mission to speak ill of my baby’s mama. I’m smart enough to know that railing against the woman who gave her life, who nursed and soothed her and lived with her and provided most of her support, would only drive my daughter away from me. As a child of divorce myself, I know it’s harmful and wrong when one parent maligns the other (although my mom bit her tongue far more than my father deserved).

So I don’t understand why Amelia felt it necessary to sever our fragile tie. Again.

We were estranged before, for a year. Then she came to her senses, or so I thought, and agreed that wasn't the best decision. We saw each other a few times after that, at a park or gym or restaurant, but we soon slipped into our pre-estrangement pattern of me reaching out and Amelia being too busy, too broke, too far away to connect.

I went back to getting my news about her from scanning her Facebook posts. I received four-word text messages on Father’s Day and three-word messages on my birthday, and I took comfort from knowing that Anita’s kids love me. They give me homemade cards and I teach them right from wrong and make sure they brush their teeth and drive them to play dates and wipe their tears away and love them back. They’re mine, for now, but Amelia’s not.

I don’t know her favorite color or what kind of music she likes anymore. I don’t know if she prefers jeans or dresses or why she’s with the boy she’s with or if she’s still going to school or if she has hobbies. I assume she votes but I’m not sure. I have no idea if she likes to dance or paints her nails or has a laptop or a BFF.

I’m not sure how she can have time and gas money to travel to Lansing for community college classes and doctor’s appointments and to connect with friends but not to see her dad.

I’m surprised she thought a flippant reference I made to my ex in Facebook meant she needed to unfriend me, denying me my only source of information about her, and I don’t know how long this will last.

At least I know we’re officially estranged. Again.


  1. :/ Sorry to hear it. Being a single kid of divorced parents can be a very lonely thing. Keep reaching out, she'll come around in her mid to late twenties, she just needs to do some growing up first.

  2. Pat,
    I feel your pain. I went through being the one separated from my Dad. It took till I was 45 before contact was remade. While it has been great, it has also been slow. Keep the chin up

  3. Patrick, you are hurting right now, but don't give up or give in. Your daughter will come around and your relationship will be the more strong for it. Continue to try to reach out to her, and let her know that no matter what, you will always be there for her. She is trying to test her wings and you have got to let her test them and when she learns to fly on her own, she will realise that her ability to fly came from the strength you gave her. Keep the faith, my friend.

  4. I'm really sorry to read this, Patrick. My story is way to close to being a carbon copy of my life. Calling it heartbreaking is an understatement. I hope you reconnect someday. Best wishes, Darrell.

  5. Sorry for the typo, Patrick. Your story made me feel so sad I didn't notice my error. I meant to say Your story instead of my story. How sad.

  6. I once dated a girl who came from a broken marriage; she couldn't figure out who she was...poor girl. Amelia will figure it out, because Dads know what to say to a girl that can't find her way, and daughters that have dads know where to go for advice. Neither of you have done wrong that I can see, but perhaps her mother has tried to poison her view of you...she will get it!