I struggle with the idea of my daughter not having a father in her life. It hurts to think that one day I'll tell her the story and it will break her heart. And just the fact that I can't relate to her in that way pains me even more. My parents split when I was still a baby, but my father still managed to be a very big and important part of my life. He was never absent and I never wanted that for my child, I feel like I should have known better.
We fall into cycles that have been laid out by our previous generations and watch our lives play out like movies we've seen before. We get caught up in the guilt of it all, and allow ourselves to be drowned in sorrow and our own disappointment in our decisions and in ourselves.
I am not disappointed in the decision I made to remove myself and my daughter from a toxic and abusive situation, it just took a while for me to come to terms with how I got in that situation to begin with. I totally went against God’s will and His word and ended up in a mess of a situation with a tiny baby depending on me. I tried to stick it out so that she could have a present dad in her life, but it just became too much to bear and unsafe, even for her. I did the right thing by getting us out of that, but when Alice started talking and asking where her father is, the guilt welled up again.
It is that same guilt that has been driving all my parenting decisions up until now. I’ve had a hard time setting boundaries and disciplining her because I’ve always been more concerned with making up for what she lacks. She is three and a half now and she is getting a bit more difficult to deal with all together. The tantrums, the attitude, the defiance. It is all reminding me that I never meant to do this alone. Then of course, I don’t get a minute to feel bad for myself because this reminds me what is missing, not from my life, but from hers, a father.
Regardless of the guilt, I’ve realized that I am not doing her any favors by letting her run wild with no home training. God’s word says, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” (Proverbs 13:24). I’ve been trying a new approach these past couple of weeks and it was pretty rough at first, but Alice is getting the hang of it. This has also helped me realize that although Alice doesn’t have a present father, she lacks nothing and the space that is left empty by her earthly father is being filled by her Heavenly one.
I don’t know what our lives would have been like if I would’ve stayed in that situation. I am not even sure if I would still be alive if I would have stayed. What is clear to me is that God swept us up out of there and has not stopped moving us since. Being a single mom has pushed me even closer to God because I can’t do this on my own. I move through His strength alone, and this is showing Alice to be the same way. In everything she would depend on a father for, she seeks in God. Alice is learning that God never lets us down, while I am learning that God is in all aspects of our lives, even in my parenting.
Last night, before bed I was putting our laundry away and I heard Alice in the next room playing with her toys and praying, “ Father God, in heaven, thank you for the snow and the food today, and my toys.”
My heart welled and the last bit of single-mom-guilt vanished. My child is not Fatherless.