As I drove down the road in silence, I did not know what to do to lessen my daughter’s pain. She wasn’t ready to go to stay with her dad, but I knew he missed her dearly. As angry as I was with him, I did not want to put her in the middle of our “shitty” relationship. After all, she had suffered enough through the years watching us do everything in our house besides show one another love.
I debated turning my car around and just sending him an email letting him know she wasn’t coming (Yes, our communication was so fractured that the only way I agreed to communicate was via email). But, I thought about all of those conversations I had with my female client’s over the years.
“You know, it is important that the children have both parent’s involved in their lives.”
“ Yeah, I know he is a lying and cheating ass hole, but you have children, so can’t we try to work things out for the sake of the kids?”
“ I know you want to rip his head off, but think about the kids.”
All of that advice racing through my brain, I hit the gas and raced toward our meeting point. As I drove, I wracked my brain for things to say as our daughter sat in the back seat, crying. As I began to speak, the crying became an all-out wail.
“Why do I have to go?”
“I don’t want to go!”
“I promise I will be ready tomorrow!”
“Please talk to him!”
Gasping for air like I did in the doctor’s office, all I could say was, “sweetie, you know your daddy loves you and really wants to see you. I can’t imagine how hurt I would be if you didn’t want to come and visit me. I am sure he has some cool stuff planned for you.”
Pondering that for a brief sec, she paused, only to break out in tears again, “but, I just don’t want to go!” As I listened helplessly to her pleas, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt rush over me. What had I done by making the decision to leave my marriage while my daughter was so young? Had I really made the right decision? I knew she loved both of us, but she absolutely did not like being shuffled back and forth between houses. In fact, one day when I was bathing her, and we were having one of our talks, she told me, she didn’t think it was fair that she had to be the one to go back and forth just because me and daddy could not get along. And, because my husband spent the bulk of our marriage traveling for work, she was used to being alone with me, but, had not quite navigated that territory with him.
I was stuck because I knew if I tried to talk to him, he would blame me for what she was feeling. But, I really hated to see her torn and crying. As I was riding down the road, I got an email from him asking that I give him a call. Reluctantly, I unblocked his number and called. Fortunately, he agreed to let her come tomorrow. As we turned the car around and headed home, she beamed with joy and said she was looking forward to seeing her daddy tomorrow!