I was working on a report three days ago, when I checked the time and it was almost time for Isabella to come home from school. I quickly packed up my work stuff and went to the kitchen to fix her lunch. I was still dicing the carrots for her noodles when I heard her rush in through the front door. I was still wondering if she wanted sausages in her noodles, when she ran into the kitchen and asked “Mummy, when is daddy coming home?” Now, this question threw me back for so many reasons. First, Isabella rarely asked about her dad; I allowed her spend time with her father’s parents, but the last time Kenny saw Isabella was the day I left his house. And this wasn’t because I was trying to prevent them from having a relationship; Kenny relocated out of Nigeria about nine months after we broke up.
Second, I was thrown aback because Kenny had not shown interest in his daughter’s welfare; they never talk on phone and he doesn’t send birthday gifts, Christmas cards or anything of the sort. I am mother and father to Isabella. Isabella’s question was flung at me, as though we all lived together, and then daddy went on a trip and she wanted to know when he was going to return. I wanted to handle this dicey matter wisely, without breaking my daughter’s heart; but I also did not want to lie.
“Where is this question coming from baby?” I asked, trying to buy myself time. Her innocent eyes peered at me as she replied “You and grandma always say daddy is in Dublin, I want to know when he is coming home. Barbara asked me today and I didn’t know what to tell her”. I put my cooking on hold, washed my hands and led her to her room. “Daddy is going to come home someday” I said, while helping her out of her uniform “but mummy can’t say exactly when that would be”. I thought I had gotten off easy until she said “why can’t you call him and tell him to come home? I want him to attend my graduation party”. Way of escape! I quickly started telling her what my plans for her graduation were; the people that were coming, what she would wear, what I would wear and the restaurant we would go to afterwards, to celebrate. Just as any child graduating from nursery school to primary school, Isabella got carried away and I had a little breathing space. Until she asks again…that is.
Dealing with an absentee co-parent is one of the hardest parts of being a single mom. You not only have to play the role of both parents, you often have to cover up for the other person. I cover up for Kenny, not because I am that nice or because I care about his reputation; I do it because of my daughter. I dread anything ruining her childhood and I do everything to ensure that she grows up grounded and well-formed, not having abandonment issues to deal with.
Kenny doesn’t send anything for her birthday, but she doesn’t know this. I wrap gifts and write cards for her in his name, and because I also know when she wants an Elsa school trolley or a new barbie doll, I always ensure that “daddy” sends just the right gift to make her dance all night. Moments like those, make me cry to sleep. Seeing her so happy to receive a gift from a father that doesn’t care about her, breaks my heart. On her last birthday, she preferred ‘his’ gift to mine, and when she told me so, I was almost tempted to tell her that I was the one that got both gifts for her, but I held myself back. My daughter’s development is way more important than my pride.
Because I do not want it to seem as though I am the one trying to prevent a father-daughter relationship between Kenny and Isabella, I have reached out to him countless times, and begged him to call her once in a while. I know that she is growing up so fast and soon, she won’t ask me to call daddy again, she would want to speak to him herself. I know soon she would realize that the handwriting on the gifts from mummy and daddy are the same. I know soon she would query all the stories I have given and demand for the truth. Why don’t we have daddy’s picture anywhere in the house? Why can’t she speak to her daddy? Why doesn’t he ever want to return home? I dread that day, and I have done everything to avoid it. Kenny simply doesn’t want to be a part of our lives, and you can’t force a man to do anything. On her last birthday, I called him and begged him to call her and just talk for a few minutes; then he asked me “what’s in it for me?” I was so furious! Was it not bad enough that I have been covering up for him? He wanted me to pay him to talk to his own daughter too. Sometimes, you just have to reach out for the sake of the child, and hope that the other person can meet you half-way.
God is in control
I am of the firm belief that no matter how badly we want something, or how we plan out our lives to be, it is the counsel of God that stands. My life today is not what I had planned out when I was a teenager; but now, I wouldn’t trade my life for my teenage dreams. I know I sometimes worry too much, but at the end of the day, I leave everything in God’s hands. I can’t control certain circumstances, and I am doing the best I can with what I have. Who knows? Kenny might just decide that he wants to be a part of his daughter’s life. Isabella might also learn the truth when she grows and be very fine with it. Whatever happens…I am willing to do the best in my daughter’s interests, but I am also conscious that God loves her more than I do, and it is His purposes for her life that shall stand.
So my dear people, do the best in whatever situation you find yourself. Having done so, be still and let God do His thing. Take care!