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.