Recently, our daughter Ellie has come into a new phase in her life that has brought us to a point where it became time to tell her some things about her father I wasn’t quite prepared for. Isn’t it funny how I had just got done telling you guys about Rick and then an incident pops up so soon after that I also have to reveal this to Ellie? It’s a little ironic if I do say so myself.
Back Story: Just before Ellie turned 5, Rick had gotten in touch with us via Facebook. He wanted to Skype her and begin a relationship with her. I reluctantly agreed because I never thought he’d actually follow through with any thing and/or maintain it. Hell, I never even thought he’d think to Skype her or do anything for her. After all, it had been 5 years after her birth (close to any way) and he didn’t want anything to do with her. The last rumors I had heard was that she wasn’t his any way so what was the need? If I could, I would insert a million laughing cry face emoji’s because if you were to see a photo of him and her put together, there is absolutely no denying that she is his relation to a “T.” There was also an incident that maybe, just maybe I will explain later on that happened to me that will help clear the air about that rumor too. No, I don’t have to, but I want to because it’s part of my healing and growing process.
Any way, he actually started Skyping her once a week. She got to meet her big brother and little brother (teenie-bopper’s kid and they too were married by this point). She was excited every time she got to talk to him. But she had one major question for me that, thankfully, I was ready with an explanation. She asked why her daddy wasn’t her real dad and what it meant Rick was her real dad. My answer in context is as follows,
“(Showing her a picture from her first year calendar that had all three of us ready to leave at the hospital, I pointed to him) Baby, this is your real father, Rick. He and I broke up before you were born. Mommy tried to get him to see you, but he was very busy. Do you know how you and Saige have my blood in you?”
“Yeah, like when I cut myself and bleed?”
“Yes baby, just like that. You two have my blood so you are real sisters. But daddy doesn’t have the same blood as you, Rick does and that’s what it means that he is your real father. But daddy is your daddy because he always takes care of you in every way. He makes sure you are fed, you get to bed, you get medicine when you are sick, he listens to your stories, he plays with you, he spends time with you, he cares for you by showing up every day. Rick doesn’t do that and I don’t know why. I can’t answer that for you. You will have to ask him. But he wants to see you and talk with you now and that is all that matters. He’s going to try. Will that be ok with you?”
“Yeah! That will be fine!”
And that’s how that conversation went. I didn’t really know how else to explain it to her that was age appropriate. She wasn’t going to understand the adult events that took place. She wasn’t going to understand the adult choices made. She simply wasn’t going to understand that being an adult is a complex thing sometimes. I did the best I could and honestly, I’m glad I didn’t say anything else to her about him. I could have said he was mean and was a bully to me. I could have said he hit me a lot. But I didn’t. As a girl who’s always had her daddy and though Ellie had a daddy, I knew one day she would get to a point where she felt she didn’t belong and then I’d be forced to spew years of events that I kept hidden and it turn into a struggle where she no longer trusts me. I knew I had best be as honest as I could and as time would go on, I would be able to explain a little more. More so, I didn’t want to explain the bad parts. People can change; people do change and I didn’t want to hinder her or him should he change. But there will come a day when I know it will have to come out. She will have questions I won’t be able to ignore or explain unless I tell her the truth. And part of that truth came out just the other night.
Back to the present: With all the lovely influences of different family dynamics when our children attend school, one can come to the conclusion that our children will influence each other in ways we don’t exactly appreciate. One of them is lying. Now, having been a kid who lied a few times in school about small things myself, no one believed me about the things that really did happen that seemed out of the ordinary. I didn’t want my kids to have to experience that on a level I did. I’m sure having lived in a very small town when I was a kid didn’t really help matters for me. Daniel, me, and our kids live in a much bigger town. News doesn’t travel quite as fast. There’s a little recovery time here. However, it is still a fairly small town. Thanks to my experiences we decided to nip things in the butt.
Ellie came home Friday afternoon, knowing she had a play date with her best friend that evening. She ideally wanted to distract herself in her own way to pass time. That isn’t what was going to happen with us though. She was told to fold her laundry and put it away. She began with a whine in her voice, telling us she had homework (all the while sitting with nothing on the top bunk in the other girls’ room). Daniel called her out on not having anything to do homework with, just sitting on the top bunk empty handed. She rebutted with the fact that she was just “thinking.” Well, while you think you can go fold your laundry and put it away. She threw a fit, folded her laundry, put it away, and proceeded to get back on the top bunk and take a nap. No homework done.
We were fairly busy with other things, Daniel at that point out of town and myself getting the house cleaned and other laundry done so we could travel with ease the following day. It came time for Ellie to go to her friend’s house, which at this point I had already forgotten about the incident earlier (I really should write everything down). It dawned on me as I was driving her to her friend’s house that I probably should have called off the play date. I still could have but thought I’d save her the embarrassment of going to their door and telling them what had happened and that she wouldn’t be able to hang out. I let her go (yes, I know, I am freaking retarded for allowing that – did I mention that at times of heightened anxiety I freeze like a deer in head lights? Pretty sure I did). Any way, when I realized I had forgotten and ran through some scenarios in my head real quick, we pulled around the corner to their house and told her that her lying wasn’t necessary, that doing her laundry would have passed the time by a little quicker and would cause a lot less drama in the house. She apologized but was warned there would be a lecture coming later from me. Off she went.
So, when Daniel got home (I forgot to talk with her – go figure – I forget everything. Seriously, I do! I can remember it the next day usually, but typically I am running around with crazy toddlers and a 10-year-old who likes to argue. To say I get distracted is an understatement) we took her in the garage to talk about it.
Now, as small as a little lie seems, he and I both know that those little lies become habits. They’re like seeds that grow into bigger things. We wanted to make sure she doesn’t make a habit of lying so we can trust her, so she can have more freedom. We went on to tell her that trust is huge when it comes to parents. When you get to that teenage stage, it’s really hard to say no to peer pressure so we are merely trying to make our trust one of the biggest factors, most influential when it comes to peer pressure. That lead into drugs and drinking talk. And that lead to drinking, be it a choice or an inherited disease/gene/trait, being a problem amongst both Rick’s family and even my own family (my dad’s dad was an alcoholic). We expressed to her that drinking comes with a lot of different consequences, both physically and emotionally. We added that we just want her to be careful when she gets to that stage because bad things can happen and we want nothing but the truth so we can help her and trust her in the aftermath. Of course we shared our own experiences with alcohol and being teenagers. We made sure that it turned back to the real issue at hand by explaining how choices surrounding lies can add up to bigger and most often, worse things.
While the talk turned in to something bigger than the issue at hand, we both know she’s capable of understanding the entirety of our conversation. She is wise beyond her years so it was just time for a talk like that. But holy hell was I sooooooo not ready to talk to her about the issues her father had. I still didn’t get in to the physical and emotional abuse I endured. I just don’t know when I will find that appropriate. Time will tell when that needs to happen.
And right now, just now, I had this grand way of explaining to you, the readers, about how gut wrenched I felt telling her about Rick and alcohol, but suddenly I just don’t feel the need to go on about it. Now that I am here, explaining to you the events and how angst I was, how my gut was churning and my chest pounding, I am now more calm than ever. I just now realized that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would go. Her reaction, well, let’s just say she didn’t act surprised or sad. Daniel’s been in her life for almost all twelve of her years of life. She’s watched him drink and have most of his self control. If anything, she watches how funny he gets. She’s watched me drink. She absolutely knows how rare it is for me to drink and that I really don’t get drunk. She’s also seen the ugly parts where Daniel and I have both gotten drunk and have fought in front of them (I know, shameful right? It happens, get over it), and still slept in the same bed, still woke up together, still spoke to each other, still loved each other, and continued to move on. She knows we don’t drink and drive. She knows that we are safe when we do it because typically we are at home!
More than anything that I want you all to walk away with, is this:
Daniel is more than a step dad/parent. From the beginning, he has always done without me having to ask. He has always known instinctually what to do when it’s come to all of our kids, but even with Ellie before he had any of his own. He has always made sure she’s had everything she needs and more. He, without a question to me or anyone, put her on his insurance when he started his big, new career at a power plant. He even signed her up for life insurance through his benefits. She is one of his beneficiaries. She is never left out, ever. It doesn’t cross his mind that she’s not his, though I’m sure he thinks to himself how he will handle it when she comes to us with questions about Rick. He has surpassed my expectations when it came to her. I was still in the mindset that I would do for her, not him. I’ve never had to doubt his loyalty to her. He is what Rick should have been, but better! I thank God every single day for him!