Throughout the journey of my marriage, motherhood, and divorce, my dad often quoted this to me:
The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. ~John Wooden
I don’t understand why that’s the best thing a father can do for his kid. How is that best thing? Why isn’t some other thing the best thing? I feel as if some crucial connection in my brain is missing. My eureka moment is lurking behind some curtain in my psyche. Maybe if I understood this thing about fatherhood then I would understand love, or vice versa, and I would be able to not only recognize a good man when I found one, but be capable of loving him too.
What worries me most is not what I’m missing about how a man loves his baby mama, but what I could be missing on how a man is supposed to love his child. If I don’t know what I’m supposed to be looking for, then how do I know when it’s missing, or if I’ve found it?
My husband and I are now exes. I understand that he probably doesn’t like me, he might even hate me. By all indication he doesn’t enjoy having to see me, talk to me, or deal with me in any way. I fully take responsibility for any wrong I did to him, for not loving him the way he needed, for not accepting him the way he was. Maybe I tried to change him. Maybe he’s bitter and resentful towards me because he loved me and I left him. So, given the fact that we are no longer married, is the best way for him to love our son still to love me?
My heart squeaks out in a tiny mousey little voice (remember Pinky?) and says…yes. Yes, because I still love you. And sometimes my heart physically hurts from it. I can’t love anyone else while I’m still loving you…and I look at my son and I see you in him and him in you and, and, and….how can you not care? I gave him life! He is a part of me! Just as much as he is a part of you.
I’m not sure I ever knew what happiness was before I had my son. Yet now I know what joy is. Even through the pain of life and the heartache of a divorce, I can look at my son and smile behind my tears. When all I want to do is be miserable he makes my heart still glimmer and sparkle like a fading Tinkerbell. And Tinkerbell never really fades, she might get beaten down by a lack of faith in who she is, but she always comes back!
Back to the point though, why is it the best thing? Is it better than a father loving his son? I need to understand this. I know we take for granted that parents love their kids. But not all parents do, some genuinely don’t care. My ex is not one of those. He genuinely loves his son and that in and of itself will always be a reason I love him. Yet he told me today that when he looks at our son he doesn’t see me at all. In fact he regards our son as a totally unrelated person to me and no matter how much he can’t stand me it won’t ever affect how he loves his kid.
This is a good thing! Right? The world needs more dads out there who love and take care of their kids regardless of how they feel about the mother! I am so thankful for his committment to our son, truly I am. What he said is also valid in that we are separate people. So why do I feel like he just dismissed the fact that once upon a time we smiled at each other and meant it? We made a baby together, watched him grow in my belly for 9 months and drove to the hospital together and shared a glossy-eyed look that contained thousands of unspoken thoughts which can all be summed up in these two breathless words: he’s here!?!?! Why do I feel like he completely discarded the fact that my son is a part of me and I am a part of him?
I feel like he just denied my existence; yet without my existence he would never have his son. I am crushed. Haha…funny this isn’t the first time he’s told me that, and I’m crushed every time. My mother’s heart will never stop loving him, because without him I wouldn’t have my son either.