Detaching from Daddy

Little Dude, just over 1, looked up with glee every time the door opened today. He squealed “daddy!” and ran for the door. This is his association of daddy, all that he’s known for almost half a year: daddy comes to visit, every day, and enters through a certain door.

Daddy hasn’t entered that door in four days.

Now, in grown-up time, four days is nothing.

But to little ones? Four days is a long, long time. Those of you with kids know it’s all about the routine. So, whenever we come home, they ask, “Is daddy here?”


As we’re sitting down to dinner, “Is daddy coming?”


Bath time. Daddy? No.

Tucking-in time. Daddy? Still no.

Big brother throwing a fit because he doesn’t want to go to sleep, crying for daddy… Sorry, kid, he’s not here. He’s sick. You’ll see him soon.

But will they?

We signed our separation paperwork Monday. It’ll be filed with the court soon. It’s not really finalized until we sit before a judge, which I understand will take at least a month, probably more. Even after the paperwork is finished, he’s allowed supervised visits. I told him we could start visits as soon as the papers were signed. That was two days ago.

He hasn’t called to ask about the kids. He hasn’t called to say goodnight. He hasn’t asked for a scheduled visit.


He did text me about our insurance plan–apparently he’s considering going back to rehab–but he’s only texted about the children once. And that was to see how I’d explained their absence. No “how are they doing?” or “Can I tell the kids goodnight?” or “You told me everyone had the stomach virus. Are they better?” or perhaps, “I’d really like to see my kids. When can I have my first visit?”


My heart is breaking for them, my lovely, loving, spirited boys, who miss their father dearly. I’m a good mom, but they love their dad, too. He wrestles with them. He brings a different energy to the room. He plays with them while I do chores, and vice versa. He takes one somewhere while I mind the other. Even though we’ve been separated informally, we’d been operating as a pretty good co-parenting team, until now.

Now everything’s gone to shit, and I’m left filling in both roles.

While I put Little Dude to bed, Big Brother watched a movie, by himself. Previously he read books with daddy.

While I took Little Dude to the doctor, Grandma filled in (thank God for her). Before he would’ve been off to the park or a museum with dad.

I’m grateful that the little one is old enough to play with is brother, now. They chased each other around the house while I thew “dinner” together, if you can call frozen veggies and boxed soup a meal. And grilled cheese that I burned (I always do. Husband was our grilled-cheese chef). That made dad’s absence a little less painful.

I feel terribly guilty about all of this. I worry that I’ve made the wrong move. I try to chant the 3 c’s to myself: “you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, you can’t cure it.” But here is what drowns those validating thoughts out:

  • Why did I have to make such a big deal of everything and ruin my children’s lives? Everything was going fine. I’m sure he wouldn’t use those drugs around the kids, not really… Would he?
  • Lots of my friends use recreational drugs, and they’re ok. Well, they’re not parents, but is Husband so different? Why should I judge him?
  • Maybe I’ve been too hard on him and expected to much. Maybe if I’d been easier to live with, he wouldn’t have gotten so out of control with his substance abuse.
  • I’m a classic codependent, I know now. Maybe if I hadn’t argued with him/begged him to stop/given him ultimatums he wouldn’t have had a reason to use.
  • Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he’s never done this drug before. Maybe he wouldn’t have once it arrived (it was an online order that I found evidence of that brought on the change in parenting plans).

I know, were I a friend, listening to this story, and the self-blame to follow, I would be really upset. What’s wrong with you, I’d shout. This man has a history of lying, manipulating, drug use, drinking, hiding money, and lying some more. This isn’t your fault! He’s in the wrong! You’ve done everything, everything, you possibly could, and nothing made a difference. Let it go.

But I’m perhaps kinder to my friends than I am to myself.

And watching my kids beg, cry, and ask for daddy is slowly tearing me apart.

I’d love to know where the fuck daddy is.

Is he asleep? Too fucked up to call? Ashamed? Dead?

I’m not sure why I’m surprised, but I am. I thought he’d at least make an attempt to see the children, establish some sort of connection.

But he hasn’t. This is the kind of man he is. He’s sick, and has nothing to give. Even to two innocent boys who idolize him.

And I need to accept that not only is my husband gone, but so is my boys’ father.